Celebrating the Advancement of Women in Neuroscience
March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the triumphs of women throughout history and in contemporary society. The Society for Neuroscience works to advance women in neuroscience and celebrate leading women who make a difference in the field.
At its 2016 annual meeting, SfN honored three female neuroscientists for their efforts to support and mentor fellow women in the field: Li-Huei Tsai, a professor of neuroscience and director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT; Eva Feldman, a professor of neurology at the University of Michigan; and Karen Gale, a professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University.
Each of these inspirational women has made a significant impact in the field of neuroscience through their own work while also paving the way for other female primary investigators.
Tsai received the 2016 Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding work in neuroscience as well as her efforts to promote the advancement of women in the field. She is known for her expansive work on the neurobiological underpinnings of learning, memory, and devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. As a guide to young female investigators, she has shown how women can balance a fruitful scientific career and a thriving family life.
Feldman received the 2016 Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring, which bears the name of SfN’s first female president, who served nearly three decades ago from 1985-1986. Throughout her career, Feldman, one of the nation’s top amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) researchers, has also strongly supported young female investigators. For example, she helped to establish of the Women of the American Neurological Association, a platform for female clinician-scientists to discuss work-life balance as well as the challenges women face at different career stages.
Finally, the 2016 Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor, a posthumous award for a neuroscientist who pursued career excellence and exhibited dedication to the advancement of women in the field, was awarded to Gale, a trailblazer-neuroscientist who passed away in 2014. Her work furthered our understanding of epilepsy and how seizures disseminate in the brain. But she is also remembered as an activist for the fair treatment of women in science, teaching her students that their potential can be realized through the arts of negotiation and self-advocacy.
SfN has a longstanding commitment to diversity, with a goal of increasing and retaining the number of women and other underrepresented groups in neuroscience and in leadership positions in the field. Diversity makes science stronger, and the inclusion of underrepresented groups increases the promise of scientific discovery for all.
SfN is accepting nominations for this year’s awards: The deadline for the Salpeter, Grafstein and Goldman-Rakic award nominations is June 9. For a list of other awards and due dates, please visit SfN.org.