FUN President's Message

The days have started getting shorter and the fall semester is right around the corner. I hope you have all had a wonderfully productive summer –mastering new skills, making exciting discoveries, and mentoring the next generation of neuroscience superstars! I also hope you found some time to relax a bit and recharge for another engaging year on your campus. With the summer science students now gone from my campus and the incoming first year students yet to arrive, it is a good opportunity to take a moment and reflect on my past several months:


In April we put together our first issue of the quarterly FUN Newsletter. I hope you found it interesting, inspiring, and informative. We hope that this slightly more structured format will help us all share ideas. The success of this endeavor hinges on the involvement of our members. Special thanks to Amy Pearce for her current piece on neuroscience outreach and for the link to details on the Brain Awareness Day activities of Arkansas State University – Jonesboro. Thanks to Bob Calin-Jageman for another inspiring piece on teaching. Jared Young provides instructions on posting summer research opportunities and we have announcements about ERIN resources, FUN Workshops, and a call for booth volunteers for the upcoming meeting. I passionately encourage all our members to consider making your own contributions to future issues. We all have valuable experiences, perspectives, and questions to share and this is a great mechanism for doing so!


In May, I visited the sixth graders at my local elementary school. They had just completed a biology unit on the nervous system, so I brought in my SpikerBox to do some demonstrations on action potential conduction with them. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a SpikerBox is an inexpensive, portable electrophysiology rig that can be used to record electrical signaling in models such as earthworms, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. Of course, the biggest thrill for the students was seeing the leg dance to the beat of the music when I plugged the electrodes into my iPhone. There is little in science that I find more satisfying than seeing a young person’s eyes light up with wonder!


In June, I Chaired the Behavioral Neuroscience Fellowship Study Section for NIH. This is always a great experience that helps me stay current in areas of neuroscience that fall outside my own area of expertise. It also helps me to appreciate the efforts of my colleagues at research universities who are embracing their responsibilities as mentors to their graduate student and post-doctoral trainees. After reviewing and discussing these proposals, I’m confident that the field of neuroscience will be in good, well-trained hands for many years to come.


Though it feels like summer just began, fall is right around the corner and with it the November meetings of the Society for Neuroscience and Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. I encourage you all to join us for the FUN Business Meeting scheduled for 7 am on Monday, Nov. 11th at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. And make sure to add the social/poster session at the San Diego Marriott Marquis that Monday evening at 6:45 to your itinerary – it is sure to be inspiring!!!


I wish you all an excellent remainder of the summer – it’s disappearing fast. In a few short weeks, we will see an influx of new faces on our campuses as first year students arrive for orientation. With this annual indicator of the end of summer, part of me will undoubtedly groan. But another part of me will embrace it with excitement – a new population of young, enthusiastic, ambitious people who I may help to discover the excitement in the field of neuroscience. Best of luck in the coming semester and please don’t hesitate to call on your colleagues in FUN for support, ideas, and inspiration. I look forward to seeing all in sunny San Diego in November.