SAN DIEGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) announced the winners of the science education and outreach awards at Neuroscience 2010, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news on brain science and health.

"The science education awards are important for recognizing the outreach efforts of neuroscientists at all stages of their careers," said Michael E. Goldberg, MD, president of SfN. "The Society also believes that supporting science writers is another key aspect of engaging the public and recognizing progress in the field."

Science Educator Award: James E. Olson, PhD, Wright State University
SfN founded the Science Educator Award in 2003 to recognize an outstanding neuroscientist who has made significant contributions in promoting public education and awareness about the field. The award includes a monetary prize of $5,000.

James Olson has worked diligently to promote the inclusion of neuroscience topics in state and national Science Olympiad competitions. His efforts have introduced grade-specific neuroscience education to over 5,000 middle schools and high schools across the United States. He currently helps define Health Science and Anatomy events as a member of Science Olympiad’s Biological and Life Sciences Committee, ensuring that neuroscience topics will be included in the Science Olympiad curriculum.

Olson is currently a professor of Emergency Medicine and Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Physiology, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University.

Next Generation Award: Gregory Gage and Timothy Marzullo, PhD, SfN Michigan Chapter
Established in 2007, the Next Generation Award recognizes individuals nominated by SfN chapters who are making significant efforts in public communication, outreach, and education about neuroscience. The award honors an outstanding individual or team 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.

Gregory Gage and Timothy Marzullo are the creators of the Backyard Brains project, which aims to provide a simple and inexpensive way to make neuroscience accessible for teachers and students. The project’s teaching kit includes an item called the Spiker Box, which demonstrates nerve cell electrical activity. Workshops have been conducted throughout the United States on using and incorporating Backyard Brains into outreach efforts, and the project was featured on Public Broadcasting Service’s “NewsHour.” Gage and Marzullo have also authored and illustrated a laboratory manual with several neuroscience-related investigations that is intended to appeal to budding neuroscientists.

Student Journalism Award: Smitha Mundasad, MBBS, City University London and Ferris Jabr, New York University
SfN’s Science Journalism Award encourages the pursuit of a career in science or medical journalism by helping students attend the Society’s annual meeting. The recipients receive an orientation on navigating and reporting the meeting as a journalist, an on-site mentor from a leading science or medical publication, complimentary meeting registration, and $750 to defray expenses.
Smitha Mundasad recently earned her master’s degree in science journalism from City University London. She has written for New Scientist, produced programs for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and was chosen for the prestigious European Union science journalism project RELATE based on the high quality of her work.
Ferris Jabr is currently a graduate student in the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting program at New York University. He has interned with Psychology Today and NOVA and is currently completing projects for Scientific American MIND.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of more than 40,000 researchers and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.