The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) held its 45th annual meeting in Chicago recently, attracting 30,000 neuroscientists from around the world to the windy city.
Bobby Heagerty, director of community education and outreach for the OHSU Brain Institute (OBI), was asked to participate as a keynote speaker for the workshop on Brain Awareness.
Introduced by Steve Hyman, president of SfN, and attended by several hundred participants, Bobby’s presentation made five key points to how to create a successful public engagement campaign: organization, promotion, constituency data, leverage and connections.
In her typically enthusiastic manner, Bobby joked that being organized and a promoter can also be equated to being a border collie and cheerleader. To get the group through the gate requires resourcefulness and attention; and standing up to brag about the latest in neuroscience can only lead to more connections.
Keeping the public engaged and informed about this latest neuroscience is vital, and every event should include a way to collect contact information for interested constituencies – clip boards are key! A strong support group standing behind your platform provides leverage to run with ideas.
And finally, in her own words, “All of these individuals, programs, initiatives, events and mechanisms should be seen as part of weaving a gorgeous tapestry.”
Bobby is the 2013 winner of SfN’s Educator of the Year Award, and started the Brain Awareness Season in Portland in 2000.
Over the years, she has grown the program from a small lecture at a local church, to a five-part series at the Newmark Theater featuring national speakers, a brain fair at OMSI, a SfN Oregon Chapter meeting, and a Teacher Workshop.
It’s no wonder she was asked to pass along her keys to success to this international crowd!
The Society for Neuroscience is a non-profit organization with nearly 40,000 members around the world, the largest group of scientists and physicians working to learn more about the brain and nervous system.
The Oregon Chapter, one of 130 chapters worldwide, is led by Dr. Larry Sherman, senior scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Center. The Chapter’s annual meeting will take place in May 2016.
Kate Stout is the Program Coordinator, Community Education and Outreach for the OHSU Brain Institute.