Public Release: 

Society for Neuroscience announces awards for excellence in science education and outreach

Society for Neuroscience

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will honor the winners of science education and outreach awards at Neuroscience 2015, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

"The four winners of this year's science education and outreach awards stand out as shining examples of neuroscience ambassadors to the public," SfN President Steve Hyman said. "Their passion and their hard work should be celebrated by the entire neuroscience community. They help build and maintain public understanding, excitement, and support for discovery."

Science Educator Award: Adam Gazzaley and E. Paul Zehr

SfN created the Science Educator Award in 2003 to recognize outstanding neuroscientists who have made significant contributions in promoting public education and awareness about the field. The award honors two outstanding neuroscientists: one who conducts education activities fulltime, and one who devotes his/her time primarily to research while conducting outreach activities. Both recipients receive a $2,500 honorarium funded by the Dana Foundation.

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, serves as professor of neurology, physiology, and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and is founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at UCSF, where he has made important contributions to researchers' understanding of cognitive decline in the aging brain. In addition, Gazzaley takes seriously his responsibility to educate the public about his research and the field of neuroscience, as evidenced by his hundreds of presentations to audiences around the world. Gazzaley recently wrote and hosted a nationally televised PBS special called "The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley," which he is now turning into a book for the general public.

E. Paul Zehr, PhD, professor of neuroscience and director of the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria in Canada, studies the neural control of movement and neural plasticity after stroke. Outside the lab, Zehr has established a public outreach community seminar series called Café Scientifique and has used media including live presentations, radio, television, magazine, and blogs to communicate with the public about science. Zehr has also authored three popular books, including Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, which uses superheroes to explain scientific concepts.

Next Generation Award: Diasynou Fioravante and Nicole Baganz

Established in 2007, the Next Generation Award recognizes SfN chapter members who have made outstanding contributions to public communication, outreach, and education about neuroscience. The award honors two individuals or teams at the pre/postdoctoral level and junior faculty level with a $300 honorarium and a $750 travel award to attend SfN's annual meeting. Additionally, the recipients' chapter receives $2,000 to continue outreach efforts in the coming year.

Diasynou Fioravante, PhD, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, got involved in public outreach immediately after joining the faculty by organizing an outreach event at the UC Davis Neuroscience Center. Several prominent UC neuroscientists presented their research to a public audience, and videos of the presentations were used to develop online educational materials. The well-attended event was met with enthusiasm from the public, faculty, and students, and plans for future events are underway.

Nicole Baganz, PhD, has been active in outreach efforts as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and she will soon join her local SfN chapter leadership committee as outreach coordinator. Among her many efforts, Baganz has forged a productive relationship with the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and she has presented neuroscience in the context of yoga, drawing on her education in Eastern medicine. Notably, she organized an event called the Vanderbilt Music and Mind Exposition, which brought together the neuroscience community with Nashville's thriving music industry and highlighted music as a way to better understand the workings of the brain.

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The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.

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