Society for Neuroscience Honors Scientists Dedicated to Advancing Women in the Field
WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of women in neuroscience during Neuroscience 2017, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
“We are so pleased to recognize this inspirational group of neuroscientists, not only for contributing meaningful findings themselves but also for encouraging many others to do the same,” SfN President Eric Nestler said. “As we look to the future of neuroscience, the dedication they have shown to supporting this next generation of women neuroscientists will have important effects on the field.”
Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring: Pamela L. Mellon
The Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring recognizes an individual who has shown dedication to mentoring female neuroscientists and to facilitating their entry into or retention in the field. Established in 2009, this award is supported by Bernice Grafstein, PhD, who was the first female president of SfN, and comes with a $2,500 prize in addition to complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting
The 2017 Grafstein Award winner, Pamela L. Mellon, PhD, is vice chair for research in the Department of Reproductive Medicine; distinguished professor in the Departments of Reproductive Medicine and Neurosciences; and director of the Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine at the University of California, San Diego’s School of Medicine. She has successfully trained and mentored more than 200 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students.
World-renowned in the field of molecular endocrinology, specifically in neuroendocrine control of reproduction, Mellon has welcomed to her lab students and early-career neuroscientists from a cross-section of disciplines. Her long-standing commitment to mentoring women has been previously recognized with the Mentor Award for Excellence in Research Training from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, and the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award.
Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award: Anne Churchland
The Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award honors an individual who has significantly promoted the professional development of women in neuroscience through teaching, organizational leadership, public advocacy, or other efforts not necessarily research-related and includes complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.
Anne Churchland, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University, will receive this year’s award. At Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Churchland investigates the neural circuits underlying decision-making, with a focus on the parietal cortex and how neural responses drive behavior. Among her many accomplishments, Churchland created anneslist, a directory of female scientists in systems and computational neuroscience, and co-founded a National Science Foundation undergraduate travel program that pairs promising undergraduates with mentors at the annual Computational and Systems Neuroscience conference.
“My goal is to develop and support programs that level the playing field in science. My vision for the future of neuroscience is that all qualified, talented scientists will be welcomed and nurtured so that they can contribute to our growing understanding of brain function,” Churchland said.
Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award: Carol Ann Mason
The Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding career achievements in neuroscience and who has significantly promoted the professional advancement of women in neuroscience. The award includes a $5,000 prize as well as complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.
The 2017 award winner, Carol Ann Mason, PhD, is professor of pathology and cell biology, neuroscience, and ophthalmic science at Columbia University, where she has served on the faculty for 30 years. Mason is an SfN past president and an internationally recognized developmental neuroscientist who has published more than 100 papers in leading academic journals.
Considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the development of the mammalian visual system and cerebellum, Mason is investigating the role of transcriptional regulators and guidance mechanisms that determine how these connections are formed. Mason has trained and mentored more than 30 graduate and postdoctoral neuroscientists, many of whom are women who have gone on to lead their own labs in the U.S. and internationally. At Columbia, she has served as a co-director of the graduate program in Neurobiology and Behavior, and the Vision Sciences Training Program. Mason is currently chair of Interschool Planning, in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. She has also served on SfN’s Women in Neuroscience Subcommittee and Council.
Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor: Nancy Rutledge Zahniser
The Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor posthumously recognizes a neuroscientist who pursued career excellence and exhibited dedication to the advancement of women in neuroscience. The family of the honoree receives complimentary registration and transportation to the SfN annual meeting and an engraved Tiffany & Co. crystal bowl.
The late Nancy Rutledge Zahniser, PhD, was an accomplished neuroscientist in the fields of neuropharmacology and neurophysiology who was highly regarded for her important research, effective mentoring, and service to the scientific community. She served as both vice chair and acting chair of the Department of Pharmacology, associate dean for the Department of Research and Education, and professor of pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her research contributed to the understanding of dopamine function in the brain, which plays a role in diseases including Parkinson’s and schizophrenia and in addiction to drugs including amphetamine and cocaine.
Exceptionally active in her support of the development of her mentees’ research interests and the cultivation of women in neuroscience, Zahniser mentored more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who looked to her for her positivity, collaborative skills, and ability to bring out the best in her mentees. Zahniser directed a postdoctoral training grant funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a graduate student pharmacology training grant funded by the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences, and a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program for underrepresented students supported by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. In addition, she served on National Institutes of Health Study Sections,on review panels for both NIH and the National Science Foundation, and on the editorial boards of Pharmacological Communications, CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, and SfN’s JNeurosci.
Zahniser passed away in 2016 from neurogliobastoma. In honor of her scientific contributions and dedication to the future of the field, a memorial fund has been endowed in her name to fund the Nancy Rutledge Zahniser Trainee Professional Development Awards, which will help up to five trainees each year to attend SfN’s annual meeting.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 37,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.