Integrative neuroscience PhD candidate Brianna Gonzalez spent 3 weeks in Ghana demystifying the brain for college youngsters and members of the public, and bringing with each other scientists and classic healers.
Gonzalez’s operate is component of a bigger project funded by a Dana Foundation Organizing Grant for a Dana Center for Neuroscience and Society for Worldwide Brain Well being and led by Turhan Canli, a professor of integrative neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences Division of Psychology and Gonzalez’s doctoral advisor.
The funds gave Gonzalez the likelihood to operate with researchers at the University of Ghana in Accra, contribute to her field and see a diverse component of the globe. It also became her capstone project for her sophisticated graduate certificate in science communication, a system obtainable only to Stony Brook graduate students.
“Having the chance to combine my interests in neuroscience and science communication as nicely as pave the way for future students to have equivalent experiences was so thrilling,” mentioned Gonzalez. “We’ve now established connections in Ghana exactly where Stony Brook students can hone their neuroscience-teaching and science communication abilities, and be a component of a two-way culturally sensitive interaction among the common population and neuroscientists exactly where every group can teach and inform the other.”
In Ghana, neuroscience is taught as component of other applications like pharmacy, biology and physiology. When locals seek remedy for neurological issues like epilepsy and schizophrenia, they typically turn to classic healers who use herbs and plants as medicine. Their techniques typically operate, although they haven’t undergone formal clinical trials and are not FDA authorized.
1 of Gonzalez’s projects was to construct on prior operate to bring with each other some of these classic healers and academic researchers at the University of Ghana. The project’s objective is to improve trust and probably expand collaborations among the two groups, whose exchanges have sometimes been fraught due to the fact of lack of mutual understanding. Gonzalez helped lead a conversation with the healers to fully grasp the lack of trust on their side and what may possibly aid heal the relationships.
“My objective was to assess the level of trust among the healers and the scientists, and the communication among the two,” Gonzalez mentioned. “It was essential for me to attempt to figure out these stories behind what occurred in the previous to burn the bridges, but then also ask them what can be completed to aid mend this trust and enhance it for the future. We hope to be capable to assistance far more of these engagements among academic scientists and classic healers.”
Beyond bringing with each other specialists, Gonzalez worked to share some of her information and, far more importantly, to get other individuals interested in the brain and neuroscience.
“I seriously enjoyed placing my analysis and science communication coaching to the test — halfway across the globe,” she mentioned. “In addition to my operate there, I had time to discover the nation, attempt the neighborhood dishes and meet an amazing group of men and women who produced my expertise the finest it could have been.”
She led a handful of experiential games with schoolchildren throughout the Ghana Brain Bee — a competitors a great deal like a spelling bee exactly where neighborhood winners advance to additional rounds of competitors. Gonzalez led a “truth or myth” game about the brain and an experiment to aid students discover their blind spots. Each activities have been deliberately very simple and immersive so the students could share their information, and the experiment, with other individuals.
She also was a guest on a 30-minute science show on a neighborhood radio station, exactly where she answered queries reside and discussed the field of neuroscience in terms the radio’s common audience could fully grasp and engage with.
“To me, science communication is bringing science to any and each audience, although delivering the message in a way that is understandable, relatable and accessible to all,” Gonzalez mentioned. “As a scientist and lifelong learner, I have located myself listening to hour-lengthy talks complete of jargon that I can not comply with. I leave feeling discouraged and wishing far more academics have been educated in science communication. Science positive aspects everybody, and everybody really should have a correct to the information scientists have constructed and continue to construct upon.”