Eric Kandel is Alan Alda’s Podcast Guest

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Image courtesy of Alda Communication Training Co.

On the latest episode of the Clear + Vivid podcast, host Alan Alda, well-known actor, writer, and, in recent years, crusader of science outreach, sits down with old friend and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Eric R. Kandel, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University and author of The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves. Kandel speaks to Alda about his work, the satisfaction of connecting with audiences, and fleeing Austria in the aftermath of its annexation to Nazi Germany.

The podcast focuses on communication and connection. It’s through conversations with individuals holding mastery in various fields that Alda guides the listener, stopping to appreciate peaks and valleys of the art form. In this, Alda and Nobel Laureate Kandel find and sustain a relaxed stride, offering listeners morsels of wisdom: The importance of being mindful of your audience, focusing on one person and changing your approach based on their responses (favorable or not); the role of laughter in forming connections; and the delicate dance of simplifying your ideas to a lay audience without treading on and distorting the science. Continue reading

International Neuroethics Society Essay Contest

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Submissions are being accepted through July 9 for the International Neuroethics Society’s (INS) Student/Postdoc Essay Contest in Neuroethics. The contest aims to promote interest in neuroethics among students and postdocs from around the world.

Those looking to enter can submit in one of two categories: academic or science communication.

From the INS website:

One winner from each category will be selected by the INS Student/Postdoc Committee in August and recognized at the 2018 INS Annual Meeting in San Diego—the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to neuroethics. Winners will also receive a free 1-year INS student membership and a Michael Patterson Travel Stipend ($250 USD) to support travel expenses to the meeting.

In addition, up to five authors of science communication essays will also be selected to participate in a 1-on-1 editorial mentorship with INS Chief Operating Officer Elaine Snell and INS Board member Mo Costandi, co-chairs of the INS Communication, Outreach, and Membership Committee. The winning essays and those selected for the mentoring opportunity will be considered for publication by the INS or by another institution appropriate for the topic discussed.

For additional details on eligibility, topics, and how to submit, visit the INS website. Good luck!

Science Communication: Dana Resources

In the past decade, I’ve seen more and more scientists step outside their labs—or invite people in—to share how science affects our daily lives and why basic and translational research is important. Spreading the science love isn’t just the purview of reporters and PR people anymore, and interest is high.

Groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have included plenty of sessions on science communication in past years, including workshops to help researchers hone their “elevator pitches” and find compelling stories in their data. In 2017, both the International Neuroethics Society and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) included scicomm sessions during their annual meetings. I couldn’t even get into one of the workshops at SfN because it was so popular the room was already packed before the session started, with a standby line down the hall! (See also video of SfN’s 2017 “Dialogues” chat, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and physician Siddartha Mukherjee chatting with SfN President Eric Nestler about “the excitement and importance of communicating the promise of scientific inquiry to the public.”)

Since part of the Dana Foundation’s mission is educating the public in a responsible manner about brain science and the potential of research, we’re glad to see this trend. Here are a few of our resources to help you reach out.

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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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Advice for Scientists on Engaging the Public: From the Archives

Researchers Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik and journalist Devin Powell recently ran an informal survey of scientists who had made an effort to popularize their research. You can guess the tenor of their results by the headline they ran under in Scientific American: “Scientists Should Speak Out More.” That story is behind a paywall, but an anecdotal list that goes with it, “How Scientists Can Engage the Public without Risking Their Careers,” is free to read.

We interviewed Martinez-Conde in 2014 on her outreach, including her talks featuring magicians and illusions and starting the annual “Best Illusion of the Year” contest. On the question of why do outreach now, she said:

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