The newly opened Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFIN) welcomed over 3,000 guests and families to “Neuroscience Discovery Day” on December 8. The all-day celebration, sponsored by the Quantum Foundation, featured tours of the new 100,000-sq.-ft. research facility; scientific lectures; a panel discussion on careers in science; live music; and a gourmet food truck expo. Inside the main event tent, both kids and adults alike enjoyed interactive brain-related activities such as “Puzzle Your Brain,” “What’s That Smell?” and “Build a Neuron.”
One of the highlights of the day was the Battle of the Brains scientific poster competition sponsored by The Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund. Nearly 30 students from Palm Beach County high schools participated and presented their research to a panel of judges. Winners included: Best Overall: Ximena Hasbach, 10th grade student at Dreyfoos School of the Arts; Best Scientific Content: Mihael Cudic, 11th grade student at Atlantic Community High School; Best Use of Visuals: Marc Moise, 11th grade student at Lake Worth High School; Most Creative: Melanie Grande, 12th grade student at Suncoast Community High School; and Best Oral Summary: David Heaton, 12th grade student at West Boca Raton High School.
Across the tent was the Neuroscience Inspires Art Contest and Exhibition, sponsored by Donna W. Long. High school students submitted photography, drawings, mixed media and video work inspired by the brain and its function that were judged by Long, Sandra Coombs, CEO of the Armory Arts Center and MPFIN researcher, Dr. Bill Bosking. Winners were Best Overall: Isabella Pezzulo and Helen Lehrer from Dreyfoos School of the Arts; Best Interpretation of Theme: Keli Hodges from Dreyfoos School of the Arts; and Most Creative: Samantha Schneider from Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches.
Since its establishment in Florida in 2008, MPFIN has made community education a stronghold of their scientific mission. One of the most significant initiatives is the joint graduate program with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Integrative Biology and Neuroscience (IBAN).
For high school students, MPFIN hosts an annual Brain Bee challenge, and has plans to launch Neuroscience Saturdays for Title 1 high schools in Palm Beach County in conjunction with Scripps Florida.
MPFIN’s new biomedical research facility on FAU’s MacArthur Campus accommodates nearly 58,000 square feet of laboratory space with three research wings and guest labs for visiting scientists. Nine research groups are currently exploring the answers to the most fundamental questions about the mechanisms of the brain, which will ultimately provide the foundation for the development of new treatments for a broad range of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.