John Bekkers and Bruce Johnson Receive Award for Education in Neuroscience
WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present the Award for Education in Neuroscience to Bruce Johnson, PhD, of Cornell University, and John Bekkers, PhD, of the Australian National University. The prize recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to neuroscience education and training. The award will be jointly presented at Neuroscience 2016, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“The Society recognizes both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Bekkers for their dedication to instruction in their fields," SfN President Hollis Cline said. "Dr. Johnson's commitment to teaching has benefited countless researchers, from those at the undergraduate level to graduate and beyond. Dr. Bekkers’ thoughtful direction has immeasurably elevated an intensive training course that continues to change the careers of young neuroscientists."
Johnson is an enthusiastic and creative instructor. For three decades, he has led Cornell’s highly-praised Principles of Neurophysiology course, in which students receive hands-on instruction in principles and methods in neurophysiology, such as those that allow scientists to listen in on the electrical chatter between nerve cells. In 1996, with his colleagues, Ron Hoy and Bob Wyttenbach, Johnson developed a workshop that attracts international neuroscience educators to learn teaching methods in neurobiology using the invertebrate crayfish as a research model. "Project Crawdad," a manual based on the course, now influences university courses around the country and abroad. The 21st century workshops continue as “CrawFly”, and now include optogenetic approaches to teaching laboratory Neuroscience.
Johnson has advised hundreds of undergraduate students during his 30 years of teaching in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell. He has twice been named the Most Influential Faculty Member by the graduating senior class at Cornell and awarded the Cornell John M. and Emily B. Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has also been awarded the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) National Educator of the Year Award and the FUN Career Service Award, served as FUN President, and he is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the FUN Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education. His current research focuses on how networks of neurons generate movement.
Bekkers has demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting early-career neuroscientists in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Bekkers played a critical role in the inception and development of the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN), including serving as course director for 10 years. From logistics to budgeting, his stewardship ensured that the course grew into the world-class, sustainable source of instruction that it is today. The course offers guidance in advanced techniques used to study the electrical properties of cells and tissues, as well as the opportunity for students to interact with internationally-recognized lecturers from around the globe.
Bekkers is now deputy director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. His commitment to ACAN remains strong in his continued role as a member of the Course Management Committee. In his lab, he investigates the biophysics of neuron signaling and how odors are processed by the brain.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.