2015-2016 M.R. Bauer Foundation Summary

2016 brochure cover page

Colloquium Series, Distinguished Lecturer Series, Annual Scientific Retreat, and Summer Science Research Fellowship

A scientist’s career is often sparked by serendipity. Inspired by a chance meeting, a seemingly fleeting moment, or a happenstance encounter with the world, a young person decides to leap into the universe of scientific knowledge.

It is at this critical moment that we must seize them, to ensure that this inspiration is nourished and sustained.

The magic of science alone cannot hold hearts and minds. Stories of brilliance and genius can be intimidating to unseasoned scientists. Left to question their talents or compare accomplishments, students can become self-doubting. They do not hear about the frustrations that mar every investigation. They are not privy to those conversations when a researcher asks a colleague for help. In other words, they lack the rounded perspective that comes from maturity and experience.

It is our obligation to serve this generation of neuroscientists with wisdom, patience, and understanding. Once students arrive on campus and in the lab, our responsibility is to assist them in navigating the practice and the profession — and to constantly reinforce their (and our) reasons for joining the neuroscience community. Doing so will make intentional what is inspirational, and will continually renew their commitment to the field.

If the research we talk about here is to grow, then we need these aspirants to carry the torch. Our mentees, research assistants, postdocs — the future of neuroscience, many of whom join us in these conversations — crave guidance and perspective, even when they do not actively seek it out. Neuroscientists work hard, overcome extraordinary challenges, and take succor in fresh ideas and methods. Discovery, they will learn, is a destination that often takes decades to reach.

All of this is remarkable because the M.R. Bauer Foundation, the longstanding benefactor of the Colloquium, Lecture Series, and Annual Retreat, has raised the stakes in how Brandeis trains emerging scientists. A generous, multiyear gift for summer undergraduate research fellowships will ensure that 50 more students participate in intensive research under the tutelage of our esteemed faculty. The M.R. Bauer Foundation recognizes that educating young scientists is of equal measure to the professional development offered to us through these events.

Neuroscience is revelatory. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, aspiring students, my Brandeis colleagues, and everyone in the field will continue to find the inspiration that drives discovery.

Leslie Griffith, MD, PhD
Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Neuroscience
Director, Volen National Center for Complex Systems