Outreach activities support our goal of increasing diversity among neuroscientists by exposing students from diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds to neuroscience at a young age, demystifying brain science, and providing role models for young people. Such activities will also provide faculty, students, and trainees opportunities to learn how to effectively communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, a skill that is increasingly recognized as important for success in the field of neuroscience.

DIBS creates venues for communication and relationship-building, such as awareness events, public seminars, lectures in K-12 settings, and facilitating faculty and student participation in op-eds, blogs, and other social and regular media outlets. Our outreach also involves partnering with relevant science-focused organizations to maximize our ability to reach people in a variety of venues.


DIBS faculty and students reached have out through many different venues:

Geri Dawson
  • At the United Nations. Geraldine Dawson, PhD, Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, participated in the 2018 United Nations observance of World Autism Awareness Day. One of the biggest changes in the annual event over the past decade, Dr. Dawson observed, is that, “now the event is led by persons with autism, that is, autism self-advocates,” pointing to the keynote address by Julia Bascom, Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and a person on the autism spectrum.
  • In Washington, D.C. Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Ph.D., DIBS Associate Director, traveled to the nation’s capital to join others in providing policymakers with the latest science around opioid addiction. She also participated in a video produced by Duke: “The Opioid Epidemic: Will the Federal Response Get It Right?” At the local level, DIBS partnered with Duke Policy Bridge, part of the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM).
First grade outreach
  • In a Durham first-grade class. Rosa Li, PhD, a DIBS postdoctoral associate, and Charlie Giattino, PhD, collaborated on a K-12 neuroscience curriculum. They got to test their materials and teaching strategies when a Durham first-grade teacher requested a visit to her classroom. There, they engaged a dozen youngsters through hands-on activities such as making neurons out of pipe cleaners and touching an animal brain.
  • In the Durham Public Schools, through the School of Medicine’s “Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology (BOOST) program. DIBS faculty, with medical students, neuroscience majors, and neurology residents, led several hands-on workshops with children and their science teachers from several under-resourced schools. BOOST provides regular science enrichment activities and mentoring.
  • In Raleigh, through Science Cafes at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. DIBS Faculty Network Members and postdoctoral fellows have given presentations on current neuroscience topics during the museum’s community-focused Science Café, a free evening program held several times a month.
Triangle SFN logo
  • Through the Triangle Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. DIBS faculty participate in this group’s events, including the annual meeting, which DIBS also helps publicize.