Carney postdocs launch BrainExPo seminar series

As we enter the final stretch of the year, we — members of the BrainExPo Selection Committee — are truly excited to announce the launch of BrainExPo, a seminar series organized by postdocs for postdocs. The program will kick off in January 2021, and it will bring advanced postdoctoral researchers from around the world to present their innovative research at the Carney Institute for Brain Science and Brown University.

We have designed and created BrainExPo with inclusion in mind. We are a group of five interdisciplinary postdoctoral scientists gathering force behind BrainExPo, and our mission is synergistic with that of the Carney Institute’s — “to promote discovery and innovation in brain sciences.” Carney has been instrumental in propelling our ideas and providing resources to significantly broaden the scope of our initiative. Together, we have created a platform to highlight external outstanding scientists who reflect our diverse society, promote cross-disciplinary collaborations, and foster risk-taking, innovation and quality.

The idea for BrainExPo was conceptualized during a Carney Institute Postdoc Town Hall Meeting last year. BrainExPo is the result of our coordinated effort in alliance with Carney leadership to push forward training, networking and career development for Brown’s brain science postdoc community. While most academic institutions offer limited opportunities for postdocs to be involved in their academic training programs, the Carney Institute actively invites us to participate in shaping decisions about our own professional development and institutional support. During Carney’s Postdoc Town Hall Meetings, postdocs find a safe place to informally share their struggles and successes navigating their career paths. BrainExpo was sketched as a way to foster a sense of community among postdocs and to provide an opportunity to hear about new innovative research.

BrainExPo is not just another seminar series. BrainExPo is a community-building program. Postdocs are essential in labs, and our contribution to research is unquestioned. However, the transitional nature of our position limits the opportunities available to us to share our research and makes it difficult to find common ground to build interactions. This is where BrainExPo is crucial. It not only brings the community together, but it also celebrates and embraces the broad interests that make our community unique. Scientific and professional development is key for us, as we navigate the job market with increased uncertainties with health and economic crises. Our goal with BrainExPo is to open a gate to a wealth of opportunities for postdocs, including:

  • Creating formal spaces for postdocs across the globe to showcase their work at the Carney Institute and Brown University

  • Showcasing innovative and cutting-edge research from investigators who perform the experiments

  • Providing the Carney community with an opportunity to network with the next generation of faculty members

  • Offering meaningful time for vibrant scientific exchange and inquiry among early-career scientists and our community as a whole

  • Providing Carney postdoctoral scientists with career and leadership training that will benefit their professional development.

The value of meeting colleagues who are performing cutting-edge research in different parts of the world is unquestionable. Through a thoughtful planning and speaker selection process that represents the breath of our brain science community interest, we are sure BrainExPo will foster new perspectives in our day-to-day work in the lab and opportunities to fuel exciting collaborations. The pandemic has turned what would have been six in-person sessions into six virtual seminars with follow-up online meetings. As we finalize the selection process to announce the first BrainExPo cohort, we are proud to report that we have received 46 applications, in less than a month, from multidisciplinary postdocs in brain science from around the world. Proposed seminar topics include, but are not limited to, human-computer interface, computational modelling of brain networks and neural correlates of behavior — to name a few. We are working closely with Professors Kate O'Connor-Giles, Jessica Plavicki and Alexander Fleischmann, who generously provided advice during the selection process to define an outstanding and diverse group of early-career scientists. We will announce the line-up of speakers in December on the BrainExPo web page.  

We hope BrainExPo becomes a new platform for early-career scientists to build a stronger community, reinforcing the idea that interdisciplinary interactions are necessary for innovative brain science research.

Members of the BrainExPo Selection Committee include postdoctoral researchers Chen Ming, E. Javier López Soto, Rajan Thakur, Adrian Thompson, and Meet Zandawala.