OUR TEAM

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PAULA CROXSON

PRESIDENT

Paula is a neuroscientist, musician and open water swimmer. She received an M.A. from the University of Cambridge and a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford before moving to New York to run a neuroscience lab. She is now Senior Manager for Education Programs at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute. She is also the flautist in alternative rock band Marlowe Grey and nerdy rock band Pavlov’s Dogz. The swimming is apparently for “fun”. Find her at @paulacroxson and paulacroxson.com.

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HEATHER MCKELLAR

PAST PRESIDENT

Heather McKellar, PhD, is Senior Manager of Education and Outreach at the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone Health. She oversees the education and community engagement missions of the institute and is founder of NOGN, the Neuroscience Outreach Group at NYU. She began her outreach efforts in graduate school at Columbia University and was honored for her leadership of the Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach with the 2011 Next Generation Award from SfN. She served as the President of the Greater New York City Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and BraiNY from 2015-2019.

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ALI COHEN

BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK CO-CHAIR

Ali is a postdoctoral developmental cognitive neuroscientist at NYU. She is an avid science outreacher, particularly in NYC where she co-founded the Tri-Institutional Outreach Committee (TOrC) as a graduate student Weill Cornell. This will be Ali's 3rd year as a BAW co-chair, and she's sure that this will be the best braiNY BAW yet!

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HEIDI MEYER

BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK CO-CHAIR

Heidi is a postdoc at Weill Cornell Medicine focusing on developmental behavioral neuroscience. She is passionate about the brain and mental health both in and out of the lab, and aims to share this passion through science communication and community engagement. This will be Heidi’s 2nd year as a BAW co-chair and she’s ecstatic to work with the braiNY team for another outstanding BAW campaign!

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UROOJ ANSARI

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

Urooj is an undergraduate at Hunter College majoring in Biology with minors in Computer Science and Sociology. She's been involved with Be Brainy both as an outreach volunteer and as a Social Media Manager. She is also a Group Leader within the 1000 Girls 1000 Futures Program at The New York Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the Association of Women in Science Chapter @ Hunter College.

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HILLARY RAAB

VOLUNTEER MANAGER

Hillary received her B.S. in Neurobiology from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at New York University. Her work with Catherine Hartley focuses on how motivation and learning biases shape behavior over the course of development. Outside of the lab, Hillary volunteers with the Neuroscience Outreach Group at NYU (NOGN) to teach young scientists about the brain. She also enjoys hiking and rock climbing.

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SLOKA IYENGAR

VOLUNTEER MANAGER

Sloka S. Iyengar, PhD, PMP was trained as an epilepsy researcher, and her graduate and postdoctoral work involved investigating mechanisms underlying epilepsies. Sloka currently works as an Associate Medical Director at Phase Five Communications in New York City, where she develops educational and promotional content for pharmaceutical companies. Sloka is a science writer and educator, and contributes to many organizations to make neuroscience research more accessible to non-scientists. She is also a professional dancer and enjoys swimming! Find her at www.slokaiyengar.com.

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DENISE CROOTE

Denise is pursuing a PhD in the Schiller Laboratory of Affective Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research is focused on using functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the neural mechanisms underlying emotional memory. Denise currently co-leads Mentoring in Neuroscience Discovery at Sinai, an outreach group based out of the Friedman Brain Institute, and is particularly passionate about introducing neuroscience curriculum into NYC middle and high schools.

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CASEY LARDNER

Casey received her BS in Biology from the College of William and Mary and is currently a PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In lab, her research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying depression and addiction. Outside of lab, she co-directs Mentoring in Neuroscience Discovery at Sinai, an outreach organization that owns a giant, inflatable brain and aims to make neuroscience accessible and fun.