Science in Storytelling

comebebrainy2015

Wednesday night’s Story Collider x braiNY event provided audience members with five stories from five accomplished scientists of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, all of whom had participated in a six week storytelling workshop.

The event took place in the charming lower level of El Bario’s Artspace in East Harlem, where brick walls, black curtains, and bright lights alluded to a crowded comedy night. And the storytellers did not disappoint–their recounts and anecdotes poked fun at either themselves or their situations in an endearing and hilarious way, garnering laughter from the audience throughout the night. But the event offered more than just humor; many of the stories took on a more serious tone as the night continued.

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braiNY Storytelling Now on Podcast

As part of braiNY (the NYC celebration of Brain Awareness Week), Story Collider hosted an evening of brain awareness-themed storytelling in Brooklyn. I was lucky enough to attend the event and my recap was featured on this blog.

Now you, too, can listen to many of these often humorous and inspiring tales for free through podcasts on the Story Collider website. Specifically look for Stuart Firestein, Andrew Revkin, and Paula Croxson (who also helped to organize the event), among the many available podcasts.

Story Collider regularly hosts storytelling events with a science angle.

– Ann L. Whitman

braiNY Storytelling

On Monday night at Union Hall in Brooklyn, Story Collider and braiNY (the New York celebration of Brain Awareness Week) joined forces for a fabulous night of storytelling. Six people from different walks of life told personal stories that involved something to do with brain awareness. Some stories revolved around disease or trauma (which apparently can stem from dating a philosophy of the mind professor), while others focused on the career twists and turns that led them to be neuroscientists.

Of the latter, we had Mike Nitabach of Yale School of Medicine, and Stuart Firestein of Columbia University. Both dabbled in two professions before ultimately choosing neuroscience as a career. For Nitabach, an associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology and of genetics, neuroscience was not an immediate calling. In fact, he went to college with a legal career in mind. But after an interest in philosophy of the mind (no relation to my previous mention) led him to the biological sciences, he followed that path to graduate school to get his PhD. in neuroscience at Columbia.

In graduate school, Nitabach found the intense research of one “thing” to be a bit stifling. In college you learn about the breadth of the field, he explained, but in grad school, you need to focus on one thing for five years. “And it’s a privilege,” he quipped. He began to think about law again, and when he graduated from Columbia, he signed up for three more years of graduate school—this time law school. After taking the bar and before starting an internship, he visited an old neuroscience graduate school friend at his new lab at New York University. Cue instant lab-envy.

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