Series features scientists, advocates and leaders who have impacted lives of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities
After two years of virtual lectures, the UC Davis MIND Institute’s highly regarded Distinguished Lecturer Series returns this month with in-person presentations. This marks the 20th year of the series.
The seven speakers include a mother whose work advocating for individuals with Down syndrome has had a global impact, as well as scientists doing critical research on brain development, autistic youth, ADHD in girls and women and more.
“It is incredibly exciting to relaunch the full Distinguished Lecturer Series,” said MIND Institute Director Leonard Abbeduto. “Our speaker lineup includes people who have had a far-reaching and lasting impact on shaping the lives of people with neurodevelopmental challenges.”
The first lecture, which will take place Oct. 6, is a strong example of that impact. Michelle Sie Whitten, president & CEO and co-founder of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, will present, “A Renaissance for Down Syndrome Research and Medical Care.”
“Through her foundation, Michelle Sie Whitten has directly funded innovative research and clinical services programs and raised the profile of needs in the field that have helped to increase interest in and funding for Down syndrome,” Abbeduto explained.
Lectures will be held most months between October and May in the auditorium of the UC Davis MIND Institute. They’ll also be streamed on Facebook Live to continue the broad reach that virtual talks have achieved throughout the pandemic.
“The Distinguished Lecturer Series provides a unique opportunity for us to bring together researchers, health care providers and the public to hear from internationally recognized, innovative thinkers,” explained Professor Cynthia Schumann of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the organizer of the series. “Speakers include scientists and leaders in the community who are working to enrich the lives of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities through cutting-edge research and advocacy.”
The talks will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium at 2825 50th St., Sacramento. No registration is required, and seating will be first-come, first-served. Masks are highly encouraged indoors.
The presentations are intended for both professionals and members of the community. In addition to being streamed live on the MIND Institute’s Facebook page, the presentation will be available for later viewing on the MIND Institute’s YouTube channel.
New “Science MINDS” video podcast offers fuller picture of lecturers
Along with the new lecture lineup, the MIND Institute has launched a companion video podcast called Science MINDS. The goal is to present the speakers outside the lines of academia, explained Andrew Dakopolos, a psychologist and postdoctoral scholar at the MIND Institute who is hosting the videos. Each features a casual conversation between host and speaker.
“Everyone has a story about how they became the person they are and what led them to their career. Our goal is to present a more complete picture of our speakers. We hope this format will have broad appeal to scientists and graduate students who can learn about the trajectories of successful academics in the field. We also hope it will interest community members, who will benefit from a more intimate perspective of the people doing this work,” Dakopolos explained.
Dakopolos plans to produce a Science MINDS video podcast for each lecturer this season. He has already produced a couple of them with speakers from last year’s virtual series featuring MIND Institute faculty.
“We hope viewers take home a sense of accessibility after watching the podcast,” Dakopolos said. “We are bound by our common desire to help people with neurodevelopmental challenges and those goals can become obscured behind academia, research and bureaucracy. It is important to promote avenues that celebrate our shared humanity.”
The Distinguished Lecturer Series provides a unique opportunity for us to bring together researchers, health care providers and the public to hear from internationally recognized, innovative thinkers. Speakers include scientists and leaders in the community who are working to enrich the lives of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities through cutting-edge research and advocacy.”
The complete list of Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers includes:
- Oct. 6
Michelle Sie Whitten, president & CEO, co-founder, Global Down Syndrome Foundation
“A Renaissance for Down Syndrome Research and Medical Care”
- Nov. 9
Julie Lounds Taylor, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
“Transitions to Adulthood for Youth on the Autism Spectrum: Improving Outcomes by Supporting Families”
- Dec. 14
Susan Rivera, University of Maryland
“Understanding Atypical Brain Development: Insights from Eye Tracking and Neuroimaging”
- Feb. 8
Mirella Dapretto, University of California, Los Angeles
“Early Brain-Based Markers of Vulnerability and Resilience to Autism”
- Mar. 8
Brian Boyd, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Centering Equity in Autism: Moving Research and Practice Forward”
- Aprl 12
Stephen Hinshaw, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco
“ADHD in Girls and Women: Developmental Perspectives, Key Impairments, and Overcoming Stigma”
- May 10
Adriana Galvan, University of California, Los Angeles
“What Has Neuroscience Revealed About the Adolescent Brain?”