BAW Partner Interview: Michael A. Burman

This is the third in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Michael A. Burman, Ph.D., is a an associate professor at the University of New England in Maine, the K-12 outreach coordinator at its Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, and also a member of the Dana Alliance. 

Burman_MikeThrough the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN) at the University of New England, you regularly work with students in grades K-12 to encourage interest in STEM disciplines. How do you expand this effort during Brain Awareness Week (BAW)?

This is a great question. We really like doing outreach work. We think it’s important for both local K-12 students’ STEM education and for the long-term viability of our programs. Public support is critical for science and reaching out to the public helps raise awareness of the great things going on at the University of New England (UNE). However, Brain Awareness Week typically falls over our spring break, which makes staffing events somewhat challenging. Thus, we’ve adopted a two-fold approach. First, we engage in year-round outreach. Our 45-50 volunteers make an average of two visits a week to local schools throughout our academic year. These visits can range from a single classroom to seeing an entire 1,400 student school over the course of a day or two. This is really our “bread and butter.” We reached over 4,000 students last year in this way.

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BAW Partner Interview: Ana João Rodrigues

This is the second in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Ana João Rodrigues, Ph.D.,  is a faculty investigator at ICVS, University of Minho, Braga, in Portugal, and the neuroscience outreach coordinator at ICVS. Rodrigues is also a Dana Alliance member.

Ana Joao Rodrigues

The University of Minho’s Brain Awareness Week (BAW) program draws hundreds of people to its events, ranging in age from young students to elderly people. Can you give an example of a well-received activity or topic for each age group?

BAW is one of the several programs our institute organizes every year to promote interest in science and to disseminate scientific knowledge. BAW initiatives include participants from 4 to 80 year olds, and more than 30 researchers!

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BAW Partner Interview: Inga Griskova-Bulanova

This is the first in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Inga Griskova-Bulanova, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the department of neurobiology and biophysics at Vilnius University in Lithuania, as well as a European Dana Alliance member.

Inga Griskova-BulanovaHow and why did you first become involved in Brain Awareness Week (BAW)?

I’ve always felt it is challenging to talk about science (and brain science in particular) to people from other areas. We do not do it as often as we could and should.

In 2013, we launched a normative database collection to be used as a comparison for our schizophrenia project. We needed volunteers and I started recruiting subjects from everywhere. In the process, I realized that what we do is really interesting to people. Everyone listened to my explanations about what we were doing with such curiosity, admitting they knew so little about the topic. And so I took an action to make community more informed– I proposed to make BAW our regular activity. My colleagues were very enthusiastic about that idea as well. And we still are!

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