SfN Chapters: Promoting Neuroscience Locally
As part of its mission to strengthen the global neuroscience community, SfN supports member-driven grassroots activities through locally organized chapters. By voluntarily forming and participating in SfN chapters, members gain access to resources for local training and outreach programs, as well as the chance to nominate graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for travel awards.
Chapters also enable members to network and share information across institutions, engage and educate their communities about neuroscience, and increase involvement with SfN.
Chapters are created and led by SfN members and exist to serve members where they live and work. Any group of members in any locality around the world is eligible to petition SfN to establish a chapter with the support and signatures of 10 regular or emeritus members. With 154 chapters in 22 countries and 47 U.S. states, there may be an active chapter near you.
SfN Resources Support Chapters
To help chapters achieve their missions, SfN provides approved new chapters with start-up grants to launch chapter activities. Chapters are also eligible to apply for a variety of chapter grant and travel award opportunities. The Society distributes approximately $140,000 each year to chapters through its growing chapter grant programs.
In 2012, two new grant programs were available to chapters. The first is aimed at supporting local mentoring and other professional development workshops, similar to those provided by SfN during its annual meeting. The second, modeled on the highly popular Grass Traveling Scientist Program, allows chapters to host visiting neuroscientists from other parts of the country or internationally.
Engaging the Local Neuroscience Community
Chapters frequently plan activities such as Brain Awareness Week (BAW) and other public outreach events, Congressional lab tours in the United States, student conferences, and lectures. Each year SfN recognizes outstanding contributions of chapters through the Chapter-of-the-Year Award.
The 2011 Chapter-of-the-Year Award winner, The Lehigh Valley chapter in eastern Pennsylvania, organized a successful undergraduate student neuroscience conference and visits to the local public library and elementary schools. Their student members have been heavily involved in these and other chapter activities, including developing and maintaining a chapter Web site.
In 2011, SfN's Michigan chapter hosted Brain Bee events for high school students, opened research labs to the public during BAW, and demonstrated fascinating neurophysiological experiments at local high schools and small colleges. Active student and postdoctoral members of the Michigan chapter have received SfN travel awards, as well as the Next Generation Award, which recognizes chapter members who have made outstanding contributions to public communication and outreach about neuroscience.
Chapters Around the Globe
Chapters around the world have access to the same SfN funding opportunities as U.S. chapters. Using such support, international chapters like the one in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, have benefited and contributed to advancing neuroscience through innovative local activities. In addition to supporting a wide range of BAW activities at local schools, the Ile-Ife chapter offers an ongoing series of public lectures and radio programs to raise awareness about epilepsy and other topics.
SfN chapters outside the United States often work in collaboration with national societies to support common goals. For example, the Rio de Janeiro chapter in Brazil, established in 2011, is working with the Brazilian Neuroscience Society and the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) to plan events in coordination with the 2015 IBRO World Congress. The three highly active chapters in Australia coordinate with the Australian Neuroscience Society on the annual International Brain Bee competitions. Members of the Buenos Aires, Argentina, chapter use SfN support to help strengthen and expand activities of the Argentinian Society for Neuroscience.
Chapters are playing an increasingly vital role as partners in new and ongoing programs that support SfN's mission and members. A complete list of SfN chapters and chapter benefits can be found at in the Chapters area of Member Center on SfN.org.