Beyond the Bench: For the Love of Brains


Teachers learn about neuroscience at a workshop run by the NU Brain Awareness Outreach group. Shoai Hattori/NUBAO

BENCH (noun): A long, sturdy work table used by a carpenter, mechanic, scientist, or other worker.

Imagine a scientist. What do you see? A person in a white lab coat wearing goggles and wielding a beaker? Or, perhaps a frazzled, spectacled fellow huddled in a windowless lab? Think again. Scientists are much more than the stereotypes we’ve become so accustomed to seeing. “Beyond the Bench” aims to shed light on the many talents, interests and activities of Northwestern scientists, and the way in which their scientific training influences how they live their lives. From community outreach to sports to culinary endeavors, these scientists are not afraid to venture beyond the bench!

In this episode, we spoke with Jessica Wilson and Shoai Hattori, two graduate students who are passionate about bringing neuroscience into the community.  

Wilson and Hattori, both students in the NU Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) PhD program, co-founded the Northwestern University Brain Awareness Outreach (NUBAO) group in 2010 with the aim of teaching the general public about the brain. Through school events, workshops for teachers and participation in conferences, NUBAO volunteers use fun activities to inspire a younger generation of neuroscientists.

The group has grown considerably since its inception, and now has 85 participating volunteers from a range of disciplines. NUBAO recently won the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Next Generation Award, which recognizes SfN chapter members who have made outstanding contributions to public communication, outreach and education about neuroscience.

Wilson and Hattori have also both served as mentors in Science in Society's Science Club program, and plan to continue to participate in outreach after they finish their degrees.

View their story here:



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