Community Change Starts With Your Local Chapter
When the Greater New York City Chapter of SfN (braiNY) began, it was a networking venue for scientists. Over time, it was difficult to focus on just this aspect. We identified the needs of the city and how we could play a part in filling them.
Now our chapter is a hub connecting people and organizations and a place to share resources that promote successful outreach.
Here are our three impact areas:
We work with outreach programs around the city to support classroom visits to almost 5,000 students every year. We plan year-round K-12 classroom visits and more than 20 events each year for Brain Awareness Week.
Throughout the year, our chapter and partners offer valuable resources including:
- Access to scientists, speakers, event volunteers, and guides.
- Scientific resources such as brains, microscopes, model organisms, and more.
- Novel content and lesson plans.
- Support for volunteers to develop events based on their own interests.
- Free web organizational and publicity tools.
Many students are asking, “What career options are available with my degree?”
To provide students with the opportunity to explore jobs and professions outside of the academic environment and network with professionals and neuroscientists across the city, we planned – and sold out – two career symposiums featuring professionals from the pharmaceutical, law, and consulting industries.
Public Education on Diseases
As scientists, communicating to the public what we do and why we do it is one of our most difficult challenges. Some events can have a huge impact. We have hosted:
- A panel on Alzheimer’s disease. The Eventbrite page for this event had more than 750 hits and 200 registrants, which let us know that public education of diseases should continue to be a focus area.
- Education forums with field experts.
- Science seminars aimed at the general public.
Through our events, we give the community a reason to become advocates for what we do.
My involvement is not a chore — I find participating in the chapter to be quite rewarding. By hosting classroom and public events, we communicate our science and demonstrate our value within the community.
Personally, I’ve spoken to many different audiences, ranging from small children who are holding a brain for the first time to adults who are concerned about health policy issues. I’ve been able to focus on my communication skills. I’ve also broadened my horizons in terms of what’s available for nonacademic careers.
By working with the public, I have appreciated the depth of why I’m doing my research and have been able to work with the organization internationally to support education and medical research.
Adapted from the webinar, Outreach: Supporting Your Career, Supporting Your Field.
*Photo provided by NW Noggin.