RWU Psychology Professor Wins National Neuroscience Award

Victoria Heimer-McGinn receives award for outstanding contributions to public communication, outreach and education about neuroscience

By Jill Rodrigues '05
Victoria Heimer-McGinn receives award
Victoria Heimer-McGinn (right) receives the Next Generation Award from Diane Lipscombe, president of the Society for Neuroscience.

CHICAGO – For her innovative work to educate the public about the human brain, Roger Williams University professor Victoria Heimer-McGinn has received the Next Generation Award from the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

The Next Generation Award honors a neuroscientist who has made outstanding contributions to public communication, outreach and education about neuroscience. Heimer-McGinn accepted the award at Neuroscience 2019, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“This year’s winners all have a passion for educating people about neuroscience, from kindergartners to adults, and strive to make science accessible to everyone by focusing on underserved populations,” SfN president Diane Lipscombe said. “They have each found creative ways to foster interest in science, from blogging, to linking neuroscience to art, to going into schools and allowing students to experience holding a human brain in their hands.”

Heimer-McGinn, an assistant professor of psychology at RWU, co-founded the annual Brain Week RI, which attracted more than 2,000 attendees this year and also connects with local K-12 schools to get young students excited about careers in brain science through its BRAINY program. An established researcher with expertise in cognitive, behavioral and molecular neuroscience, she has authored several publications in scholarly journals, serves as an in-demand lecturer, and has been a Fulbright Scholar, National Hispanic Scholar and SfN Neuroscience Scholar. At RWU, she established a popular Introduction to Neuroscience course and collaborates with undergraduate students on research into the roles of memory and social functioning in the brain.

“To me, this award reflects a growing neuroscience community in Rhode Island. Together, we are spreading our love for brain research and having fun in the process,” Heimer-McGinn said. “I’m thrilled that our efforts have been recognized on a global scale!”

“As a founding member and chair of the executive committee for Brain Week RI, Professor Heimer-McGinn shares her expertise and passion for neuroscience through myriad education and outreach programs in the state,” said Benjamin Greenstein, dean of RWU’s School of Social and Natural Sciences. In her second year in the Department of Psychology at RWU, Professor Heimer-McGinn has begun to involve our students in her outreach activities, as well as establish important connections between biology and psychology in her popular classes. Professor Heimer-McGinn, thus, embodies the core purpose of the university ‘to strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning.’”