Shinn-Cunningham to Receive Bernice Grafstein Award
By Caroline Sheedy
Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, director of the Neuroscience Institute and George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience is a 2020 co-recipient of the Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring from the Society for Neuroscience.
The award recognizes individuals who are dedicated to promoting women’s advancement in the field of neuroscience and who have made outstanding accomplishments in mentoring.
Shinn-Cunningham was nominated by her colleague Lori Holt, a professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Forty-four of her current and former trainees also submitted a letter of recommendation.
“Not a week goes by without me witnessing an example of Professor Shinn-Cunningham’s tireless efforts on behalf of women’s advancement in neuroscience,” Holt said. “She has an approach to mentoring that is inclusive, playful and individualized even as it is rigorous and scientifically top-notch.”
In their letter of recommendation, her mentees noted Shinn-Cunningham’s commitment to them.
“Barb’s mentorship has been particularly influential for the women who have worked with her. Whether it’s her commitment to putting women in roles of influence and prestige … her sheer enthusiasm for young scientists having children … her frank admission that sexism in science is real and affects all of us, or simply her unwavering belief that we are good scientists and our work is valuable, Barb’s mentorship has kept many of us in science at times when we wondered whether we belonged,” the letter reads.
Shinn-Cunningham was honored to be a co-recipient.
“Nurturing the next generation of scientists is the most rewarding, and honestly, the most important, part of my work,” Shinn-Cunningham said. “Talking openly and directly with each individual about their goals as well as the doubts they have and the challenges they face, all while championing their strengths, guides them to make intentional decisions about their path and empowers them to aim high rather than being held back by a fear of failure.”
In her research, Shinn-Cunningham combines behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational methods to understand how the brain processes sound. She will accept the award in a virtual event during the Society for Neuroscience’s Awards Announcement Week.