What is your Berkeley Effect?

Thank you for your donations to Berkeley Neuroscience yesterday! UC Berkeley’s Big Give is a one-day campus-wide fundraising blitz that provides a tremendous boost to Berkeley students and faculty.

Unlocking the inner workings of the human brain and how it gives rise to the mind is one of the greatest grand challenges of this era. That is why we have launched the Berkeley Brain Initiative, a university-wide effort to galvanize our exceptional faculty and students from across the campus to take on this challenge. In the next five years we aim to pioneer innovative neurotechnologies, crack the neural code, and bridge the gaps between the brain, mind and computing.
We sincerely appreciate your support to help us take on this vital task.

My Berkeley Effect

by Georgeann Sack

I have been part of the Berkeley Neuroscience community since 2011, first as a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience and now as communications specialist for the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. When thinking about what effect Berkeley has had on me or in the world, two connected ideas came to mind.

Be the change

Nowhere have I better seen the embodiment of the paraphrased wisdom of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ than in the people of UC Berkeley. The Berkeley community does not hide away in its campanile, oblivious to the outside world. The students, faculty, and administration of UC Berkeley care deeply and take action to make things better. It is an inspiring group to be a part of. I have been especially impressed by the students of the Berkeley Neuroscience PhD Program. They are dedicated to their research, certainly, and their scientific discoveries and computational and technological innovations are building a foundation of knowledge that will change lives. But every student I have met is also putting in the work to improve the practice, communication, or inclusivity of science. This is a motivated group who are unafraid to take the initiative and make their voices heard.

Fire together

“Cells that fire together, wire together,” is the famous phrase often used to describe the Hebbian theory of synaptic plasticity that is the basis of learning. I think it also describes a key component of societal change and the pursuit of knowledge. To create meaningful change in the world or advances in our knowledge of how the brain works, we must work together. Berkeley Neuroscience researchers at every stage of their careers push to build connections between disciplines and institutions, share their research and data, and engage in open discussions about the future of neuroscience. Their refusal to be insular is one of their greatest strengths.

Each of these Berkeley effects have had enormous influence on me and been a source of growth. Now it is time to pay it forward. I will definitely be donating to the Big Give on November 17th. I am donating to support the research efforts of the Berkeley Brain Initiative, but more than that I am donating to support the people behind the research. They are some of the best people I have ever known.

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