Brain Awareness Week Logo from the Dana Foundation

Brain Awareness at SUNY Empire

Brain Awareness Week is an international campaign to foster enthusiasm and support for brain science. Hosted annually in March, it brings institutions, scholars, and individuals together as they host activities that celebrate the wonders of the mind and the impact that brain science has on our lives.

SUNY Empire State University has joined this global campaign and will host a virtual academic symposium between March 13-19, 2023 in addition to webinars throughout the academic year and a special art exhibit. Details about this programming is forthcoming.

The Brain Awareness Week team at SUNY Empire cordially invites you to Art and the Brain: A Wonder of Form and Function. March 9 - April 19, 2023 at the SUNY Empire Livingston Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.

The centerpiece for the gallery exhibition will be a fiber art mobile comprised of hand-made neurons displayed from the ceiling of the gallery. The neurons were created by the SUNY Empire community and beyond. In addition, two-dimensional works of art dealing with brain form and function created by Empire students will complement the centerpiece model of the brain. 

Opening Night

Date and Time: Thursday, March 9th, 2023, 5:00pm - 8:00pm

Location: SUNY Empire's Livingston Gallery, 177 Livingston Street, 6th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Description: The university community and the public are invited to join the opening reception to view the exhibit, enjoy of music and light refreshments. 

SUNY Empire hosted a virtual academic symposium between March 13-19, 2023. Details and recordings of those webinars can be found below.

March 13: Neurodevelopment: Genetic and Environmental Factors

The vertebrate brain is a marvel in its ability to allow for adaptations to a variety of different environments. The ability to dynamically adapt is a result of the interplay of genetics, developmental age, and environmental input. Understanding how these factors interact with one another is a growing area of research in the field of neuroscience particularly because there is growing evidence that these events in early life contribute to neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Ryan Dosumu-Johnson will provide an overview of advancements in the field as well as recent progress made in the role of early life stressors on the cytoskeleton. 

Watch the Recording

March 14: Adolescence as a Critical Period for Neurodevelopment

Synapses, the connections between neurons, underlie cognition and neurological function. Dr. Julie Parato will review the changes that occur in the brain in during adolescence, focusing on the importance of synaptic pruning and streamlining the connections in the brain. These changes are driven by the emergence of the α4βδ GABAA receptor, an inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor that increases at puberty.

Watch the Recording

March 15: Intergenerational Trauma: Vulnerabilities and Strength

From a psychological perspective, research has found that trauma-related effects can be present in descendants of survivors across many contexts. Dr. Alexandra Rush will present a qualitative phenomenological study that was conducted to explore the transmission of traumatic effects, features of posttraumatic growth and resilience in the context of Poles who survived the Nazi and Soviet atrocities and their descendants across three generations.

 Watch the Recording

March 16: The Brain Chemistry of Education: The power of Changing Thoughts

Since the 1990’s with the advancement of science, there has been a call to integrate science into learning and instructional practice. Much has been written about a handful of human biochemical systems that are necessary for learning and behavior. This information has been integrated into human development, psychology, and trauma-related courses. The question remains whether this knowledge of these basic biochemical systems can be assimilated by students and faculty to maximize the educational experience. his talk will be presented by Dr. Joan Buzick.

Imaging Neurons in Living Brain Slices

The human brain is a masterpiece with 86 billion brain cells, but its true complexity comes from synapses or the connections between these brain cells, which are believed to number 100 trillion. These connections encode our memories, innate responses, and reactions, as well as determining how we perceive and interpret the world around us. Disruptions in these connections have been the presumed mechanism for multiple psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and ADHD as well as disorders of aging such as Alzheimer’s disease. This complex network of connections is created through the interplay of experiences, development, and genetic factors. An understudied area that plays an important role are motile elements of the cytoskeleton known as dynamic microtubules. In this talk, Dr. Ryan Dosumu-Johnson will present technological advancements using two photon microscopy and novel viral strategies to allow the subcellular discrimination of microtubule dynamics at these synapses. Additionally, he will discuss new theories about how early life stressors could be a marker of our lives and potentially help predict risk of a future psychiatric disorder.

Dr. Ryan Dosumu-Johnson completed his undergraduate degree at University of California Los Angeles in neuroscience, before earning his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences which was funded by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship. Dr. Dosumu-Johnson completed his internship and started his general psychiatry residency at New York Presbyterian - Columbia University. He is currently a Leon Levy Research Fellow and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow at the combined Weill Cornell/Columbia New York Presbyterian program. His research interests are in the role modification in cytoskeletal architecture play in the altered synaptic plasticity observed after early life stressors and developmental disorders. He has authored peer-reviewed journal articles and held national leadership positions at the Student National Medical Association.

For questions about the Brain Awareness Week at SUNY Empire, email