Colorado State Professor Honored with Next Generation Award from the Society of Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience recognized the work of a Colorado State University professor from the Department of Biomedical Sciences with its 2009 Next Generation Award.

Cynthia Smeraski, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, was nominated for the award by the local Society for Neuroscience chapter for her work in helping create the neuroscience outreach program, Brain Awareness Week, in collaboration with local junior high school science teachers.

“It is a great honor for me to be recognized by the Society for Neuroscience, especially because our program is only part of the international Brain Awareness celebration, with numerous events occurring around the world. It is a pleasure to be part of an organization that promotes science education in the community,” Smeraski said.

Smeraski directs and trains postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students to speak with secondary school audiences about neuroscience principles.

Brain Awareness Week is a program sponsored by the Society of Neuroscience. The program is aimed at a young teenage audience with the goal of helping teens recognize the importance of science principles in their everyday lives. CSU students volunteer to work with the teenagers.

“I enjoy seeing the smiles and sparkle in the teens’ eyes when they begin to realize just how complex the nervous system and their behaviors and perceptions are. When they say, ‘Oh wow,’ we hope we have gotten them to think about the intricacy of the nervous system and its involvement in their daily activities, and I hope this keeps them questioning and interested in science,” Smeraski said.

The Next Generation Award recognizes Society for Neuroscience members who have made outstanding contributions to public communication, outreach and education of neuroscience. Winners receive a grant of $2,000 to help continue educational outreach efforts.