The ALBA-IBRO Podcast Miniseries is a collection of three episodes designed to provide a broader audience with exclusive insights into the topics covered at ALBA-IBRO diversity and inclusion events held during three international conferences in 2023:
- The 16th International Conference of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa (SONA 2023), 11-14 July in Johannesburg, South Africa
- The IBRO World Congress 2023, 9-13 September in Granada, Spain
- Neuroscience 2023 (SfN - Society for Neuroscience), 11-15 November in Washington D.C., USA
The miniseries delves deeper into the knowledge and expertise shared at the ALBA-IBRO events to make these valuable insights accessible to all. Through exclusive interviews and engaging discussions, each episode unravels the layers of complexity surrounding these topics, while bringing an intersectional approach to different aspects of equity, diversity and inclusion in neuroscience.
Episode 1: Towards inclusive mentoring in African neuroscience
For the first episode, we are at the 16th International Conference of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa (SONA) held in Johannesburg, South Africa (11-14 July 2023), where ALBA and IBRO organised a Mentoring circle workshop on Leadership at every career stage, in collaboration with World Women in Neuroscience and SANS (Southern African Neuroscience Society)
Dr Bashir is speaking with three researchers located on the African continent about the role of mentoring in career advancement and capacity development in Africa: Dr Sara Elfarrash (EG), Dr Royhaan Folarin (NG) and Dr Lihle Qulu (SA).
For the closing remarks, Dr Bashir is discussing with the ALBA Network Office: Mathilde Maughan (Project and Network Manager) and Dr Keerthana Iyer (Partnerships and Development Manager), on their views and experience with mentoring in the field of equity, diversity and inclusion in neuroscience.
Dr Sara Elfarrash is an Assistant Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine in Mansoura University, Egypt. Her research focuses on studying protein aggregation and the role of inflammation in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disease mainly Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, using organotypic brain slices and animal models. She earned a double Ph.D. degree with recognition from both Mansoura and Aarhus University, Denmark in 2020 and was recently granted the 2021 IBRO Early Career Award. Dr Royhaan Folarin is a neuroscientist and fellow of the African science literacy network (FASLN). He is based at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (Nigeria) where he lectures anatomical sciences to postgraduate and undergraduate students of various health sciences including Anatomy, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. He is the lead for the Group for Biopsychiatry Research and Innovative Neuroscience (G-BRaIN), where his team investigates the pathogenetic mechanisms of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders using mice and drosophila models, with a view to understanding how some natural potential alternatives to synthetic antipsychotics achieve their neuroprotective effects. His team also makes use of 3D printing and other open labware techniques as self-help strategies in the fabrication of their research tools and equipment.
Dr Lihle Qulu is a Neuroscientist and a Senior lecturer in the Discipline of Human Physiology, under the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch. Her research focuses on sexual violence and understanding the behavioural and neuronal changes of both victim and sexual offender as well as understanding other social factors that influence sexual offence in convicted rapists. Her research is translational with the animal model of sexual defeat originating from Professor Inga Neumann’s lab in Regensburg University (Germany). Her prior research focused on understanding the effects of early life stress and the impact it may have on the later life of the offspring. Dr Qulu has supervised and graduated six masters’ students and is currently supervising 3 PhD and 3 master’s students.
Episode 2: Neuroscience for all: building global research capacity
For the second episode, we are at the IBRO World Congress 2023 on 9-13 September in Granada, Spain. The ALBA Network and the IBRO Early Career Committee partnered to facilitate a wide-ranging discussion of what neuroscientists can do as a community to build research capacity in the Global South, and how this increase in local capacities for research and innovation can, in the broader picture, bring benefits to us all.
Dr Asma Bashir is speaking with the chairs and panelists of this event: Dr Miguel Maravall (University of Sussex, UK), Dr Isabel del Pino (Instituto de Neurociencias CSIC-UMH, Spain), Dr Mahmoud Bukar Maina (University of Sussex, UK / Yobe State University, Nigeria), Dr Pike-See Cheah (Universiti Putri Malaysia, Malaysia), Dr Jo Havemann (CEO of Access 2 Perspectives, Germany) and Dr Francisco Parada (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile). They share initiatives and success stories that allowed for capacity building in scientific research in diverse settings across the globe.
Mahmoud Bukar Maina (University of Sussex, UK / Yobe State University, Nigeria - ALBA Ambassador)
Dr. Mahmoud Bukar Maina is a Senior Research Fellow at Sussex Neuroscience funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and a Team Leader at the Biomedical Science Research & Training Centre (BioRTC) in Yobe State University, Nigeria. With academic foundations at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria and further advanced studies in Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, UK, Dr. Maina's research focuses on Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms and the unique genetic influences from the African ancestry using specialized stem cell models. Beyond research, he is deeply committed to boosting African scientific capacity, due to which he founded many organizations including TReND Outreach Programme, Science Communication Hub Nigeria and BioRTC. In recognition of this, he has been awarded by the Royal Society of Biology, New England Biolabs, and ALBA-FKNE among others, and in 2020, he secured a special Global Talent UK Immigration endorsement from the Royal Society.
Pike-See Cheah (Universiti Putri Malaysia, Malaysia - ALBA Ambassador & IBRO APRC Chair)
Dr. Pixie currently the Chair, IBRO-APRC (Asia Pacific Regional Committee). IBRO-APRC empowers young investigators by providing substantial funding opportunities for their career development. They strong believe that young neuroscientists are invaluable assets to research community, as they bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. Empowering these young investigators through comprehensive support is crucial. By providing adequate funding and resources, IBRO-APRC nurtures their career development and foster groundbreaking research. Embracing their potential enriches the field, propelling advancements in neuroscience and ultimately benefiting the broader community.
Isabel del Pino (Instituto de Neurociencias CSIC-UMH, Spain - Member of the IBRO ECC)
Jo Havemann (CEO of Access 2 Perspectives, Germany)
With a background in Evolution and Developmental Biology, Dr. Jo Havemann is a trainer and consultant in Open Scholarly Communication and Research Project Management. She is also the co-founder and lead coordinator at AfricArXiv – the publishing platform to increase the discoverability of African research accomplishments. With a focus on digital tools for science and her label Access 2 Perspectives, she aims at strengthening globally inclusive science communication and research management through the adoption of Open Science practices.
Miguel Maravall (University of Sussex, UK - ALBA Board of Directors)
Miguel Maravall was originally a physicist and switched to becoming an experimental neuroscientist as a postdoc with Karel Svoboda at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He then learned in vivo neurophysiology with Mathew Diamond at SISSA in Trieste. He set up his lab as a Ramon y Cajal fellow at the Instituto de Neurociencias in Alicante in 2004, where he remained until moving to the University of Sussex in 2015. He co-directs the Sussex Neuroscience centre of excellence and has held several posts where he worked to improve equity for staff and students from under-represented groups.
Francisco Parada (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile)
Dr. Francisco Parada studied Psychology and Neuroscience in Chile and moved to the USA to obtain his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Neural Sciences at the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University-Bloomington, IN. During this period he focused his research on neural signal processing, brain networks, and embodiment within the context of social cognition. After his Ph.D., he continued his career as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. In 2016, returned to Chile as a professor of Psychology at Universidad Diego Portales and established the Center for Human Neuroscience & Neuropsychology (CENHN), a multi-PI neuroscience of cognition research center and day clinic for brain lesion survivors dedicated to the development of the transdisciplinary 4E cognition research program.
Episode 3: Deconstructing colonial and historical biases in neuroscience
For our third and final episode, we're coming to you from the 2023 Society for Neuroscience Meeting held in Washington, D.C., where ALBA and IBRO hosted an evening social about deconstructing colonial and historical biases in neuroscience. Dr Bashir is speaking with two researchers today about their insights on how historical biases have influenced our understanding of the brain and affect diversity and inclusion in research and academia today. The researchers are Dr Tiffany Younger from Columbia University, and Dr Melissa Perreault from the University of Guelph.
For the closing remarks and some thoughts on the 3 episodes of this miniseries, Dr Bashir is discussing with the ALBA Network Office: Mathilde Maughan (Project and Network Manager) and Dr Keerthana Iyer (Partnerships and Development Manager).
Melissa L. Perreault, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Guelph, ON, Canada
Dr. Melissa Perreault is an Associate Professor and neuroscientist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph and a member of the Royal Society of Canada. Her translational research is focused on the understanding of sex differences in the mechanisms that underly neuropsychiatric disorders, and on the identification of brain wave patterns that can be used as biomarkers to identify brain and mental health disorders. Dr. Perreault is Indigenous, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, Canada. She has developed numerous Indigenous and equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at institutional, national, and international levels. As a member of the Indigenous Knowledge Holders Group for the Canadian Brain Research Strategy and Lead of the Cross-cultural Working group for the International Brain Initiative, she continues to strive towards inclusivity in neuroscience and Indigenous community research.
Tiffany N. Younger - Columbia University School of Social Work, NY, US
Tiffany Younger is a scientist, professor and activist. Her work examines how the US economy shaped by whiteness, patriarchy, and coloniality materially impact the psychological and physiological heath of Black women. She works alongside scientists, physicians and public health experts to address health disparities through human centered research with a focus on design justice. Currently, she serves as a Lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work and the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tiffany worked as a policy fellow for United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand where she focused on issues of criminal justice, gender, and race equity. Most recently, she completed her T32 clinical research science fellowship with the National Institute of Health (NIH) where her research interests focused on health disparities and the implications of structural racism.
Podcast host: Dr Asma Bashir
Our fantastic host is Dr Asma Bashir, founder and host of the podcast Her Royal Science. Launched in 2019, Her Royal Science is a podcast featuring individuals from minoritised groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We encourage you to go listen to all episodes.
Before becoming a full-time podcaster, Dr Bashir was a post-doctoral fellow at the UK Dementia Research Institute (The University of Edinburgh, UK).
Under the supervision of Dr Cheryl Wellington, Dr Bashir completed her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, after having completed her BA Hons in Psychology at Boston University, USA. For her PhD, Dr Bashir used preclinical and clinical approaches to investigate mechanisms of traumatic brain injury that lead to cerebrovascular compromise and axonal damage, including preclinical evaluation of a potential therapeutic approach.