Summer Council Roundup
From July 22 to 23, SfN Council met in Santa Monica, CA to review a multi-year financial plan for the Society, assess progress on activities associated with the 50th Anniversary in 2020, hear updates on advocacy activities, and approve new additions to its leadership.
Building Upon Strong Foundations
Council approved a series of increasing investments in training programs and member benefits over the last several years to ensure that members of all career stages and backgrounds find continuous value in their affiliation with the Society. The summer meeting included thorough planning of the next several fiscal years to ensure these investments are of the highest priority in the creation of the annual budget. These investments have funded a robust offering of digital programming that members can access wherever they are in the world to partake in career enrichment activities, opportunities to advocate for national support of scientific research, attend virtual conferences covering popular topics in neuroscience, network with peers, and more. These investments have also made possible a complete redesign and upgrade of SfN’s member website, Neuronline, to improve user experience and ensure visitors can easily locate both the content they seek and related information.
Interest in SfN’s Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) program has grown substantially year after year, and 2019 was no exception with over 1,700 applicants from all over the world. This significant interest prompted Council to explore additional opportunities to offer continuous professional development and training activities to the trainee and student communities. The 2019 TPDA cycle will be the kickoff year for its expanded curriculum, the new Leadership Development Program. This program will engage the highest tier of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who earned a TPDA in a yearlong series of trainings focused on preparing the cohort to be effective leaders, culminating in an in-person conference in Washington, D.C., in early 2020. The Leadership Development Program is jointly supported by SfN and the Dana Foundation.
At this meeting, Council learned that the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) accepted SfN’s proposal to renew funding for the Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP). NSP began 35 years ago and engages historically underrepresented communities in professional development and training opportunities that culminate in a poster presentation at the SfN annual meeting. The grant totals $1.2 million over the next five years and positions SfN to continue facilitating a representative scientific environment.
Commemorating 50 Years of SfN
SfN’s 50th Anniversary celebration will kick off at Neuroscience 2019 this October in Chicago and carry through the 2020 meeting in Washington, D.C. The 50th Anniversary Working Group has curated a thorough set of activities to commemorate this momentous occasion and position the Society for further advancement in the future. One activity that will debut in Chicago is the 50th Anniversary podcast series, which will feature a series of interviews with luminaries in the field and trainees alike describing their interaction with SfN and what breakthroughs in neuroscience have kept them inspired.
Work continues in building a digital art experience in partnership with ARTECHOUSE, entitled The Life of a Neuron. The idea for this project came about after the launch of the 3D Brain model on BrainFacts.org as an innovative avenue for engaging the public in the wonder of neuroscience by sharing the life cycle of an actual human neuron. The Life of a Neuron will feature elements of augmented reality to allow viewers to totally immerse themselves and fully appreciate the processes that create our unique life experiences. A preview of the experience will premiere at Neuroscience 2019 in the Grand Concourse Lobby of McCormick Place and feature some of the scientific concepts and artistic elements that will appear in the full installation that launches in 2020.
Advocating for Federal Support of Science
Congress recently reached a budget deal that included funding increases of $2 billion for NIH and $308 million for NSF, the latter of which was the largest single-year raise for the agency. SfN continues working closely with its coalition partners to coordinate action alerts to the scientific community that share instructions for advocating for sustained, robust funding for research. Council has invested significant funds to grow SfN’s scope of advocacy activities and has discussed ideas for building on this momentum through campaigns emphasizing the import of global connections to advance science and outreach activities to educate public officials.
Nominating Committee Leaders
Council approved selections for incoming Chairs for the Global Membership Committee and the Scientific Publications Committee as proposed by the Committee on Committees (CoC). During its fall meeting, CoC will generate a new slate of candidates for SfN’s Award Selection Committees that will go before Council for review. During all deliberations, CoC is intentional about creating a slate that incorporates all levels of diversity.