Some St. Thomas students are joining the campaign to increase public support for brain research with Brain Awareness Week March 14 to March 20.
“It is a tradition started by the Society for Neuroscience and the Dana Foundation, which is an organization that promotes brain health and research in brain disease, to get the public more aware of the need for research funding for brain diseases,” said psychology professor Roxanne Prichard.
Some neuroscience students are participating in outreach activities around the community.
“We’re taking part in the college awareness program ‘Get Ready’ and having our students present to a whole bunch of fifth graders about brain health,” Prichard said. ”We’re also presenting to preschool students about brain health.”
Prichard said she offered her students the opportunity to create a brain model in the snow to get them involved. Senior Alex Frank, junior Jazmine Olson and senior Alex Martynec decided to create the model.
“I don’t think she thought anyone would do it, but it was for 5 percent of our credit, and there are a bunch of different options for interactive experiences we could do,” Olson said. “So we just decided to do it because it sounded fun.”
Students built a large brain out of snow on Summit Avenue to promote the event, and it has attracted students’ attention.
“I’ve heard a lot of comments about it, and a lot of people have seen it,” Olson said. “I just watch people and they laugh and smile and point.”
Senior Alisha McDonald said the snow sculpture was a good way to create attention.
“I don’t think it says much about what they’re trying to do, but I think it kind of makes people stop,” McDonald said.
Olson said the attention will help people realize how important the brain is and how it can be damaged.
“There are a lot of things you can do that can affect your brain that people don’t realize, like drinking and doing drugs, that a lot of college students take part in,” Olson said.
McDonald agreed that more emphasis could be put to brain research.
“I think more attention could be paid to awareness of disorders and how they occur in the brain,” McDonald said.
Prichard said she and neuroscience students are planning additional activities for the St. Thomas community in April.
Tarkor Zehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.