Message From SfN President Hollis Cline: Member Engagement Drives Member Value
One of the most important benefits of SfN membership is the Society’s ability to connect neuroscientists from all over the world. There is no greater example than the SfN annual meeting, where I look forward to seeing 30,000 of you next month. Even as we plan for this unique yearly event, it’s worth observing how much SfN offers to our field year round and how committed SfN’s Council is to doing even more in years to come. As I conclude my presidency, I’d like to thank you for your membership and remind our field of the great value that you gain from SfN and also what you enable through your membership.
A prime example of SfN’s year-round member value is our recent virtual conference on glial cells. This daylong members-only event, hosted on Neuronline, brought together nearly 2,500 members from around the globe to engage in a robust scientific program, and by all accounts, it proved highly valuable to the members who participated.
I’ve come to appreciate how much work goes into putting on these events that serve the membership and the vital role that SfN members play in making them happen. The glia conference emerged from discussions among volunteers from two important SfN committees: the Online Program Steering Committee and the Global Membership Committee. They wanted to explore how the Society could expand its flourishing webinar program into a full-length scientific event, and we are thrilled it was so successful.
This is just one example of benefits that SfN members enjoy year-round. In addition to the significant value members receive through our annual meeting and scientific journals, the Society serves the professional development needs of its members with a growing array of career development opportunities, including online and in-person resources and programs. Scientists looking to take the next step in their career path can peruse NeuroJobs for openings, participate in webinars for career guidance and scientific training, and communicate with peers about their careers on Neuronline.
SfN also serves as a strong and growing voice for its members in the advocacy arena by engaging with agencies such as NIH and NSF, legislative bodies, and the public. SfN will expand these critical efforts in coming years. They communicate the importance of funding biomedical research, especially basic science and animal research, by informing legislators and other policymakers about new scientific discoveries and developments in neuroscience and their implications for public policy, society, and continued scientific progress. In addition, we are so proud to support global public awareness efforts in partnership with so many members around the world, and to host BrainFacts.org, which now receives millions of visits per year from around the globe.
In short, your SfN membership benefits you and supports all aspects of the field’s efforts to understand the most complex biological structure in the universe — the brain. All this activity is designed by your peers, with dedicated volunteer members behind the decisions that guide the development of SfN’s programs and events.
The SfN Council, a group of elected volunteer leaders, myself included, governs the activities of the Society, with assistance from the committees. The genesis of any new SfN program or initiative begins with these leaders evaluating what members need and how the Society can support them. Our understanding of member needs comes from both informal avenues, such as conversations at scientific meetings and other events, as well as formal processes such as member surveys and committee discussions. With this information in hand, Council outlines a strategic plan and works in concert with SfN committees and staff to implement new programs and ideas that support a diverse, international membership encompassing neuroscientists at all stages of their careers.
To secure the future of our field, Council continues to make significant efforts to address the needs of younger members. Those efforts include the Trainee Advisory Committee’s focus on the issues most important to younger members. Programs like the Early Career Policy Ambassadors, which trains members to be effective advocates for science, and the Neuroscience Scholars Program, aimed at increasing diversity among neuroscientists, have their origins in the careful listening and actions of Council.
Similarly, the Global Membership Committee and Council are conducting critical efforts to enhance the field’s global nature, such as by investing in web-based communications and technologies to help meet the needs of members around the world.
None of these efforts happen in a vacuum. Members play an essential role in the life of SfN, and the Society is effective because of our dedicated volunteer leadership. I encourage you to take advantage of all that SfN offers and to get involved in one of many ways. Engage through Neuronline, join a chapter, offer to review journal papers, or become part the Advocacy Network. These activities advance the field and can lead to greater engagement in the life of the Society through service on a committee, for which nominations will open in January. We are here to serve you, and in turn, your membership and engagement makes the field stronger. I hope to see you in San Diego!