Mary Holder Elected President of Atlanta Chapter of the Society For Neuroscience
Mary K. Holder, a senior academic professional in the School of Psychology and associate director of Georgia Tech’s Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, is adding a new title to her CV: President of the Atlanta chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (ACSFN).
Holder will serve a three-year term for the organization, founded in 1976 to bring together neuroscientists working in the Atlanta area. The chapter promotes research and public understanding of the brain and nervous system by recognizing promising students and sponsoring lectures. The Society also organizes events such as Brain Awareness Month and the Atlanta Brain Bee, an annual competition for middle school and high school students who are tested on their knowledge of the brain and nervous system.
“I was surprised and honored to be asked to serve as the President for the ACSFN,” Holder says. “It’s an exciting opportunity to serve the greater Atlanta neuroscience community. I’m also a bit nervous as well, as I’ve never had this type of leadership position. I know that I’ll be relying a lot upon the council members of the ACSFN to help things run smoothly.”
One of Holder’s goals involves boosting the Society’s outreach to local and area K-12 schools, which were impacted by Covid-19 shutdowns — a time that the Georgia Tech neuroscience community also began talking more about the impact of historic exclusion, marginalization, and structural inequities in society and science, Holder says.
“One of the things I hope to accomplish as the new president of the Atlanta chapter is to foster meaningful engagements and partnerships so that outreach becomes something more authentic and collaborative,” she says. “I would love to be able to further support the winners of the Atlanta Brain Bee to go to the national competition without experiencing a financial burden.” Holder added that helping with competition fees would require increases in donations to the chapter.
About Mary Holder and Georgia Tech Neuroscience
Holder, a Georgia Tech alumna (B.S. PSYC ‘04 with High Honors), received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2011 from the University of Maryland. Her research interests include neuroendocrinology, psychopharmacology, and behavioral neuroscience.
Since Georgia Tech began offering a neuroscience undergraduate degree in 2017, Holder notes that the Institute has experienced tremendous growth within the discipline. There are now approximately 500 neuroscience majors, and nearly 300 have graduated.
“In the past few years, we have made remarkable progress in our curriculum and course offerings to give a true Georgia Tech flavor to the neuroscience education for students,” she says. “Beyond the major itself, which is housed within the College of Sciences, there are neuroscientists all over campus.”
GTNeuro, a grassroots effort over many years, led to the hiring of faculty researching the brain, as well as the creation of the undergraduate neuroscience program. It also led to the September announcement of the Neuro Next Initiative, a foundational, interdisciplinary program to lead in research related to neuroscience, neurotechnology, and society.
“The Neuro Next Initiative should foster some fascinating opportunities for supporting collaborative research, educational missions, and public engagement,” Holder says. “I’m excited to see how the neuroscience programs and research will continue to grow and expand here. I think these new initiatives represent amazing opportunities for our students.”
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