Paula Croxson Receives SfN Science Educator Award

Paula Croxson (photo: Veronica Szarejko)

Each year, the Society for Neuroscience recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who have strongly added to public education and awareness about the field. The Dana Foundation sponsors these awards. This year’s award was presented to Paula Croxson, D.Phil., of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, during the society’s annual meeting, in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

Q: How did you get into doing events like “Pint of Science” gatherings?

Dr. Croxson: I started by taking part in Mount Sinai’s outreach program, MINDS, and through that was introduced to others who were taking part in the Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week efforts in New York (BraiNY). My first event was when I told a story for the science storytelling show The Story Collider. I found myself on stage telling a true, personal story about my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease and how my own research into memory disorders helped me understand what she went through. It was incredible. I hadn’t imagined what an impact my story would have on other people, and I hadn’t realized how much more connected it would make me feel to the impact my work could have on the world. It changed my life.

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Public Event: The Anxious Brain

anxious brain AAAS.jpg

Phobias are the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting about 10% of all adults, and many of them can be highly debilitating. They are a type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation, leaving some people unable to function in ordinary life. You have likely heard of acrophobia (fear of heights), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces). But have you heard of ephebiphobia (fear of teenagers), mageirocophobia (fear of cooking), or phobophobia (a fear of phobias)? The list goes on. Why do people develop phobias? Are some more susceptible than others? What mechanisms in the brain are in play when phobias strike and what does research reveal about effective treatments? Join us for this event and learn more about why phobias arise, the damage they can do, and how best to treat them, unless, of course, you are afflicted by sophophobia.

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Communicating Science Takes Center Stage at Brain Awareness Reception

“Communicating science is not just the noble thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said adolescent brain expert Jay Giedd, M.D., at Saturday’s annual Brain Awareness Week reception at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting. Dr. Giedd, below, the recipient of SfN’s Science Educator Award in 2012, was alluding to the fact that in order for the public to want to invest in brain research, they have to be able to understand its benefits.


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Staying Sharp Mandarin Inspires More Events

Public engagement continues to be a crucial part of the Dana Foundation’s mission. Dana’s public outreach arm, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) shares information about the brain through programs like Brain Awareness Week, Lending Library, and Staying Sharp. The Staying Sharp program is a series of public talks that give people information on how the brain works and how they can maximize brain function and health. Over the past few years we shared this information with many communities, from African-American churches in Oakland, California, and Mt. Vernon, New York, to seniors living in Lexington, Kentucky. One of our most recent live forums was geared to the Chinese community in New York.

Staying Sharp Flushing panelist Xiaoyan Hu

Staying Sharp Flushing panelist Xiaoyan Hu

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Neuroscience 2013: Brain Awareness Week Reception

On Saturday, neuroscientists celebrated public outreach about the brain at this year’s Brain Awareness Week (BAW) reception at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting in San Diego. BAW partners traded outreach tips and demonstrated their success in posters, and we heard from several speakers, including BAW Campaign Director Kathleen Roina, post-doctoral researcher and science communicator Jean-Francois Gariepy, and Dana Alliance member and SfN President Larry Swanson, Ph.D.

Drawing attention to the impact BAW can make, Roina shared a story about how a Brain Awareness Week event affected one young woman’s educational path. Sayeeda won the New York Regional Brain Bee in 2006 on her second attempt and later went on to win a prestigious New York Times Scholarship. In the Times article announcing the scholarship winners, Sayeeda listed the Bee among her accomplishments and credited it for fueling her love of neuroscience.

Addressing the audience, Roina said:

I know most of you have had similar experiences—whether it was a student who said “the brain is cool, I want to be a neuroscientist” after you visited their classroom; or an audience member who thanked you after a lecture and told you how much the information meant to them.

It’s what Brain Awareness Week is all about, and it’s why, year after year, we all remain committed to the campaign—a campaign that’s for all of the “Sayeedas” out there, whom we touch and inspire through the work we do.

BAW Team

BAW Coordinator Simon Fischweicher and BAW Campaign Director Kathleen Roina.

Roina congratulated the partners on the success of the 2013 campaign (the most successful to date), which reached more than half a million people in 58 countries.

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