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A Unique Approach to Science Education


Posted October 8, 2015 by Natalie Geld

We are collaborating on an approach to neuroscience education that is absolutely unique: the integration of diverse research and creative communities in compelling, beneficial ways that advance frontier science, medicine, and public education.

Pilot participants include Stuart Firestein, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and author of the acclaimed book Ignorance: How It Drives Science, scientists Dr. Jay Giedd, Dr. Scott Russo, Dr. Marcel Kinsbourne, and Dr. Moran Cerf.

Guest moderators will include journalist and cultural correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Melik Kaylan; Internationally acclaimed best selling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, Family / Relationship Therapist and clinician, Esther Perel. Neuroscience student Alea Skwara provided a student’s inquiry perspective.

Distinguished Participants

Marcel Kinsbourne, PhD

"Marcel Kinsbourne Participates in mbSci Studio One Pilot"Marcel Kinsbourne, PhD – Neurologist & Cognitive Neuroscientist, Professor of Psychology, The New School for Social Research. Dr. Kinsbourne obtained his D.M. degree at Oxford University in 1963, where he served on the Psychology Faculty before relocating to the United States in 1967. He has held Professorships in both Neurology and Psychology at Duke University and the University of Toronto, and headed the Behavioral Neurology Research Division at the Shriver Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He also served as Presidents of the International Neuropsychology Society and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology. Dr. Kinsbourne’s considerable body of research involves multiple areas of cognitive neuroscience, including brain-behavior relations; consciousness; imitation; laterality among normal and abnormal populations; memory and amnestic disorders; unilateral neglect; attention and Attention Deficit Disorder; autism; learning disabilities; mental retardation, and dyslexia.

Recent Publications:

Imitation and Entrainment: Brain Mechanisms and Social Consequences (2004); The Corpus Callosum as a Component of a Circuit for Selection (2003); How the Senses Combine in the Brain (2003); The Brain and Body Awareness (2002); Adult ADHD: Controlled Medical Assessment (2001); Dynamic

Self-Organization of the Cerebral Network (2001); Disorders of Mental Development (2000); Unity and Diversity in the Human Brain: Evidence from Injury (1998); Time and the Observer: The Where and When of Consciousness in the Brain (1992).

Jay N. Giedd, MD

"Dr. Jay Giedd discusses Adolescent Brain Research in mbSci Studio One Pilot"Jay N. Giedd, MD – Chief, Brain Imaging Section, Child Psychiatry Branch, NIMH. For more than twenty years, Dr. Giedd has studied the development of the adolescent brain. Decades of imaging work have led to remarkable insight and more than a few surprises. Dr. Giedd’s research team at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health seeks to use cutting edge technologies to explore the relationship between genes, brain and behavior in healthy development and in neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood onset. They conduct longitudinal neuropsychological and brain imaging studies of healthy twins and singletons as well as clinical groups such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, childhood-onset schizophrenia, and others.

Over the past 10 years they have acquired over 3000 MRI scans making this the largest pediatric neuroimaging project of its kind. The lab also studies sexual dimorphism in the developing brain (especially important in child psychiatry where nearly all disorders have different ages of onsets, prevalence and symptomatology between boys and girls) by exploring clinical populations which have unusual levels of hormones (congenital adrenal hyperplasia, familial precocious puberty) or variations in the sex chromosomes (Klinefelter’s syndrome, XYY, XXYY). The lab also conducts studies of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, which are beginning to unravel the relative contributions of genes and environment on a variety of developmental trajectories in the pediatric brain. The group is also involved in the development and application of techniques to analyze brain images and is actively collaborating with other imaging centers throughout the world to advance the image analysis field.

Dr. Scott Russo

"Dr. Scott Russo Panelist in mbSci Studio One Pilot in NYC"Dr. Scott Russo – Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His research is focused on understanding how the brain adapts to stress and drugs to guide future behaviors that are relevant to addiction and depression.

The Russo Laboratory of Neuroplasticity and Behavior uses a wide variety of experimental approaches to understand how the brain adapts to stress and drugs leading to altered synaptic connectivity and behavioral changes relevant to depression and addiction. We do this by integrating well-established behavioral models, with molecular and biochemical techniques and traditional neuroanatomy.

Moran Cerf, PhD


"Dr. Moran Cerf is Panelist in mbSci Studio One Pilot in NYC"Moran Cerf, PhD – Neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology (‘Caltech’), at the UCLA department of neurosurgery and at New York University. His research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms of consciousness and free will using direct recording of single neurons from the brains of patients undergoing brain surgery. Dr. Cerf completed his Ph.D at Caltech in computational neuroscience, and holds an MA in Philosophy of Science and a B.Sc in Physics, both from the Tel-Aviv University. Prior to his career as a scientist, Dr Cerf worked as a hacker – breaking into banks and financial institutes, an air pilot and an inventor. Dr. Cerf currently holds a faculty position at the American Film Institute, teaching screen-writing, and is currently the winner of the U.S Moth story- telling competition.His research focuses on studying the ways by which visual inputs are processed in the brain to create a conscious perception.

The studies are conducted with human patients undergoing brain surgery to enable the research of the neural coding underlying our attention. In addition, he conducts eye-tracking studies with subjects with neurological disorders (autism, face blindness, amygdala lesion, agenessis of the corpus calosum, etc) to study mechanisms underlying emotions.

Pilot Episodes will feature:

Tutorials in Specialized Fields

20-minute presentations by each participant’s current research or teaching points.

Roundtable Discussion

A passionate, in depth, high level scientific dialogue across disciplines, focused on the emotion sciences.

Neuroscience In the News

Discussions by scientists and experts in various fields, both skeptics and advocates, on the latest headline stories, this being our first pioneering effort. Thoughtful interdisciplinary dialogue to provide insights that are often missing in the media, and even in the journals.



mbSci Moderators

"Stuart Firestein Professor and Author Moderates mbSci Studio One Pilot"Stuart Firestein, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University. Professor Firestein teaches biology and the popular “Ignorance,” a course that invites professors to speak to students about what they don’t know and what they question in their field.

He was recently recognized for his “pioneering work” on the mammalian olfactory system and elected as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Firestein’s lab focuses on understanding how mammals, equipped with what he describes as “possibly the best chemical detector on the planet,” are able to sense and discriminate a vast number of molecules known to us as odors. Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Firestein also serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science.

Recently he was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. His recent and acclaimed book on the workings of science for a general audience is called Ignorance: How It Drives Science, published by Oxford University Press. His areas of research include Stem Cell Biology, Biophysics/Ion Channels; specialization — Molecular physiology of olfactory transduction.

"Esther Perel is mbSci Studio One Pilot Moderator"Psychologist Esther Perel is recognized as one of the world’s most original and insightful voices on couples and sexuality across cultures. Fluent in nine languages, the Belgian native is a celebrated speaker sought around the globe for her expertise in emotional and erotic intelligence, work-life balance, cross-cultural relations, conflict resolution and identity of modern marriage and family. Her best-selling and award-winning book, Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic, has been translated into 24 languages.

Ms. Perel’s innovative models for couple relations and leadership have won her an international clientele, from the boardroom to the bedroom and from academia to television. Clients include Janssen Pharmaceutica, AT&T, Johnson and Johnson, Anthony Robbins Productions, The Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute, The Wexner Foundation, The Bronfman Foundation and New York University Medical Center. For more than a quarter of a century, she has implemented effective transitions with international families, boards and executive teams.

In addition to Ms. Perel’s psychotherapy practice in New York City, she also serves on the faculties of The Family Studies Unit, Department of Psychiatry, New York University Medical Center and of The International Trauma Studies Program. She is an AASECT certified sex therapist, a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research. Trained and supervised by the legendary teacher, Salvador Minuchin, she has trained therapists and crisis counselors throughout the world lending her expertise in wartime, post-war and refugee families.

A regular media commentator, Ms Perel has been widely featured in the international press. She has been a guest on numerous television shows including the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” “CBS This Morning,” TV Globo’s “Fantastico” in Brazil and Andrew Denton’s “Enough Rope” in Australia. Her interviews have appeared in leading publications such as The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vogue, Le Monde, Ha’aretz,Stern, La Republica, The Guardian, The Observer and The Sydney Morning Herald; and she writes a popular column for the magazine Oh La La, published by the Argentine newspaper La Nación.

"Melik Kaylan Portrait"Melik Kaylan has worked as a journalist based mostly in New York for twenty-five years. Among other places, he has been an editor at the Village Voice, contributing editor at Spy magazine, associate editor at Connoisseur magazine, Arts editor at Forbes.com, editor-at-large at ReganBooks. His work has been published widely in the US and UK in the above publications and the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, New York Times, the Times of London, the Spectator, and other places. He has won Cultural Awards in Italy and Turkey for print and television work on antiquities smuggling.

He has been to the Middle East numerous times, to Iraq five times, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, the Caucasus. His Travel and Leisure article on Tbilisi, Georgia, is included in the 2008 Best American Travel Writing collection. He has scuba dived for bodies with the NYPD scuba unit (New York Magazine), dived with the Cousteau ship in the Red Sea (Forbes.com), searched for Inca treasure in Ecuadoran mountains (Outside magazine), investigated the murder of a fellow journalist in Peshawar, Pakistan (the Spectator). Currently, he writes for the Wall Street Journal about culture.

"Alea Skwara Guest Moderator for mbSci Studio One Pilot"Alea Skwara – NYU Social Psychology MA Student. Alea received her BA in Theatre from Davidson College in 2009 and began her MA in Psychology at NYU in 2011.

Her research interests focus on traumatic emotional experience and the resolution of these experiences, and on interpersonal bonding. More specifically, what are the neural correlates of emotional trauma, and how do they shift over time and with treatment?

What individual and social differences affect this process? Alea is now Lab Manager for Leah Sommerville’s Affective Neuroscience Lab at Harvard.

Natalie Geld

Co-founder + Creative Director of mbSci, Natalie Geld is a writer, communications specialist, producer, and educator, and has spent much of her life fostering educational opportunities for activating vivid human potential. She researches the integral nature of energy and the relationship of science, consciousness, and our health.