Like many young neuroscientists, SfN Council member Li-Huei Tsai worked in a lab early in her career that didn’t have the resources to send trainees to scientific conferences. Tsai said attending events like the SfN annual meeting is extremely important for helping young scientists to explore the field, which is why she donates to the Friends of SfN Fund.
In addition to supporting public education and outreach initiatives, the Friends of SfN Fund provides Trainee Professional Development Awards to young neuroscientists to help them attend the annual meeting so they can present their scientific abstract, discover the latest research in the field, and network with senior scientists.
“I just think it’s time to give back, to help other people who would like to come [to the meeting] but may have financial difficulties,” said Tsai, director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT.
Since 2010, the Friends of SfN Fund has awarded about $400,000 to help more than 300 trainees who have demonstrated scientific merit and excellence in their research. The fund plays an important part in SfN’s mission to provide training and professional development opportunities for students across the field.
“These days, NIH funding doesn’t give you a lot of flexible funds to do these kinds of things for your students,” said fund contributor Sangram Sisodia, director of the Center for Molecular Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. “This is a great way of getting students … to this meeting to meet the best scientists in the world.”
At Neuroscience 2014, nearly $75,000 was granted to 56 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through the Trainee Professional Development Awards, including seven students who traveled internationally to attend the meeting.
“It is great exposure and a great opportunity to network,” said 2014 award winner Inna Tsirlin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “I can benefit from more of the workshops and more of the sessions here because I got the award.”
Last year, more than 700 contributions helped support young scientists by providing them with the opportunity to network and explore the field at the annual meeting. But with more than 400 applicants, the Society was only about to fund 16 percent of qualified candidates. Visit SfN.org/support to learn more or make a contribution.