Highlighting innovation in neural engineering research, outreach, and education programs
Feature writing at the Center for Neurotechnology, an NSF-funded research center.
The Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) is a research center funded by the National Science Foundation, and its researchers work on technology and devices to help people heal, feel, and move again. I discovered this research center during a seminar in Bioengineering research seminar at UW, and I was immediately drawn to the center’s focus on interacting with end users and actively considering the ethical implications of their work. I reached out to Wayne Gillam, the director of communications and marketing at the CNT, about my interest in writing about the center’s work. Now, I get to highlight their education programs, innovative research, and outreach efforts.
Type of Project: Journalistic writing, social media updates, advancement stories
Duration: January 2019 - present[ June 2016 - June 2017
• Write articles on the Engage and Enable Blog that aligns with the National Science Foundation’s goals for this engineering research center.
• Interview engineers and students involved in cutting-edge neural engineering research and made their work accessible through writing.
writing news stories on neural engineering research:
In this role, I wrote stories for the Engage and Enable Blog on cutting-edge research on brain-computer interface technology and the way that the Center is a leader in this field. In the process, I worked with researchers, engineers, and ethicists and celebrate the work of people in the lab that was often behind-the scenes.
With each of the stories, I have a few goals:
Write about neural engineering in a way that describes its impact: For example when describing research about brain-computer interfaces or deep brain stimulators, I also focus on how this research will inform the development of therapeutic devices and long-term treatments.
Break content down into manageable parts: In most of my stories, I include sub-headers to break up the content into manageable parts. That way, the reader can identify the key themes in the story and follow-up on the parts that interest them most.
Include a call to action: I end my stories with opportunities for follow-up with other stories and research papers.
Ultimately, I am so glad that I contributed to the CSNE’s mission of making their work accessible to the public. Here are a few of the stories that I’ve written.
Former CNT summer program participant, Hannah Werbel, and CNT undergraduate research assistant, Hannah Martens, both received the UW College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal at the University of Washington in 2019. In this article, learn more about Werbel, her educational background and how her experience at the CNT sparked her interest in computer science. I wrote the article in a Q&A format so readers could learn more about Werbel in a conversational way.
Investigating how learning to use a brain-computer interface impacts connectivity in the whole brain
This research focused on recent research about changes in the brain associated with learning how to use a brain-computer interface (BCI), a device that interacts with the body’s nervous system and can potentially be used to restore function in people with severe motor disorders. This project explored how proficient use of BCIs can lead to changes in brain activity, and if changes due to learning how to use the BCI persist after the person is no longer actively engaged with the device.
Turning student neural engineering projects into viable industry products
To allow students to apply engineering principles from their coursework to independent projects, and explore the potential translation of these projects to industry, the Center facilitates a yearly course at the UW, titled Neural Engineering Tech Studio, where students are sorted into teams and tasked with creating a product that addresses a current neural engineering problem.
The Center is committed to supporting diverse populations, including women, in their pursuit of STEM fields both inside and outside the classroom. The Center supports this goal by connecting current students with female professionals in the field through the Women's Career-Mentoring Lunch series. This event creates a space for women to chat, build community and make connections with mentors or role models in STEM fields.
When our communications director was out of town, I also updated the account's Twitter account to engage follows in content about the CSNE's mission, goals, and recent research developments: