Friends of SfN Fund: Investing in the Future of Neuroscience
Every year, SfN launches innovative programs to better serve the evolving needs of the domestic and international membership and to cultivate opportunities that promote the field of neuroscience. In recent years, the Friends of SfN Fund was established to provide travel awards to trainees so that they can attend the annual meeting, and to support public education and outreach initiatives such as BrainFacts.org, which provides teachers with classroom materials and engages young people, igniting what may have been just a spark of interest in science.
“SfN’s young members are a great asset to SfN,” says fund contributor Nancy Ip, Dean of Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and SfN Councilor. “They are usually on the forefront of cutting-edge technology, and knowledgeable about advances occurring in science and technology in general. They are more flexible and can help bridge the gaps between different disciplines. They are dynamic, resourceful, and eager to learn. They can bring in fresh perspectives and new energy, which is critical at a time when there are so many new developments in the field.”
Advancing the Neuroscience Field
Ip says she contributed to the fund because she values investments in the education of the next generation of neuroscientists, and understands how SfN can assist a young members embarking on a career in neuroscience. She says attending the annual meeting is very important. “For a young researcher residing in a country where science and technology may not be as well-developed as in the U.S., and who may not have funds to travel to conferences, SfN membership is a goldmine of resources — from finding mentors, peers, and collaborators, to staying up-to-date on the latest advances in the field,” she says. “I believe that the global reach of SfN is essential for development of quality neuroscience around the world.”
Neuroscientist-turned-educator Katie Croft says she relies on the teaching resources available on BrainFacts.org, including hundreds of articles, videos, and blogs on neuroscience, to teach her students about the brain, and to introduce them to basic science and research. By creatively engaging students on how their memories work, how their eyes focus, or why they get sleepy, features on the site help teach and inspire the next generation of neuroscientists.
SfN Fund Travel Awardees
Trainees who received a travel award from the Friends of SfN Fund have an opportunity to present their research at the annual meeting during the Travel Award Recipients Poster Session. Trainees who received a travel award from the Friends of SfN Fund have an opportunity to present their research and network with colleagues at the annual meeting during the Travel Award Recipients Poster Session.
Lu Jin, a fifth-year graduate student at the Yale University School of Medicine, received a travel award to attend Neuroscience 2013. A native of China, Jin graduated from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and was selected in recognition of her research accomplishments in working memory, her work as an assistant to neurobiology professor Amy Arnsten, and her extracurricular activities as a mentor to a student with Asperger’s syndrome.
“This is very important and an honor for me,” Jin says. “I learned really exciting science in San Diego. When I went to the travel award reception, I got to know the others who won travel awards…It was exciting to meet them,” said Jin. “I had good discussions and feedback with other researchers and now I will go back and look through my data again with our discussions in mind. They were very insightful.” Jin noted that other grants haven’t provided an option to travel to valuable scientific conferences such as Neuroscience 2013.
Over the last several years, hundreds of students and early career-stage researchers have benefitted from SfN’s Travel Award program. All travel awards are supported through SfN’s corporate, foundation, and individual donor contributions because membership dues cover only a portion of costs for these and other SfN programs such as professional development, international outreach and collaboration, public education, and advocacy. A $1,000 contribution offsets costs for one trainee from the United States to attend the annual meeting; a $2,000 contribution offsets costs for a non-US trainee’s travel costs to the meeting. Within the last year, more than 700 SfN members have supported travel awards.
More information about how to support the next generation of neuroscientists with a contribution to the Friends of SfN Fund, or another travel award, is available on the website at SfN.org/support/support-sfn.