The Grass Foundation assists in advancing knowledge in neuroscience. The Foundation promotes scientific excellence by enabling and catalyzing scientific discovery across, rather than within the confines of individual academic institutions. As part of this mission, the Foundation wants to make education in neuroscience and mechanistic scientific reasoning more broadly accessible, to communities where these approaches are not currently practiced.
Infrastructure and equipment costs have been a major limiting factor that has constrained access to neurophysiological teaching and research. Technological advances, especially those in consumer electronics, have made it possible to create inexpensive and robust instruments for neurophysiology and, as a result, the Foundation invested in the development of high-quality research amplifiers in conjunction with Backyard Brains that are sufficiently inexpensive for this education and outreach mission.
The next step of the Foundation’s outreach mission is to investigate and demonstrate feasibility of ways to empower individuals with an interest in neuroscience and neurophysiology education in particular. Towards this goal, the Foundation has funded workshops designed to provide equipment to train and disseminate neurophysiological approaches to teaching and research. A first workshop was held at the MBL in 2016 to test equipment and the idea of teaching teachers. A second workshop in the fall of 2019 in Tucson was targeted more towards small (community) colleges. Both of these workshops have provided a viable model for promoting the Foundation’s core goals of scientific education in neuroscience. Three more were cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Foundation has now appointed Dr. Ulises Ricoy (University of Arizona, Faculty Director of Undergraduate Neuroscience & Cognitive Sciences) as a Director of The Grass Foundation Outreach Initiatives in the hope that he will use his seemingly unlimited energy to help this initiative walk, then run and finally fly!
International Brain Initiative
In other outreach activities, the Foundation has joined the International Brain Initiative (IBI) Funders Collective, to catalyze and advance ethical neuroscience through international collaboration and knowledge sharing, uniting diverse ambitions and disseminating discoveries for the benefit of humanity.