BrainHealth Bulletin J u ly 2 0 1 3
P rod u ced b y V a lirie M org a n a n d K elsey S ch m itt
Staff Member Spotlight: Eric Bennett by Valirie Morgan
I sat down with Eric Bennett, who recently became Executive Director of the Brain Performance Institute, to talk about his new job, discuss our shared love of Mizzou, and to get to know a few fun things about him! What is your background? After college, I spent 25 years in the money management business. Managing money for wealthy people was my niche from day one. Fifteen years ago, one of my clients hired me to manage his money fulltime. Three years after that, we started a business managing money for other people. I joined the Board at BrainHealth in 2005. One of my clients made a significant contribution to this building, which is how I got to know the Center. When I heard about the Brain Performance Institute (BPI) and vision from Sandi, I decided to do something totally different with my career, so I sold out of my business and joined the BrainHealth team. Without a background in science, was it intimidating to try and get involved here? Not really, because I knew that what I brought was the business experience, not the science. My job is to build, run and grow the BPI, and the science is going to come from everyone that’s already here. To me, it’s a learning opportunity. Tell us about your family. I’ve been married to my wife, Robin, for 22 years. I have two kids: Samuel, 17, and Emily, 14. How are you adjusting to your new position? I had high expectations coming in, and everything has exceeded my expectations. This is a pretty big life event for me, so the only hard part is that it’s a big change.
In this issue:
What are you most excited about regarding the BPI? I really feel like the Brain Performance Institute has This summer, interns from around the world are working at the Center for BrainHealth. Learn more about some of them on page 2.
something unique, and we’ve got a vision and the ability to make it happen. The idea is so powerful that just the scale of what it could become is incredible. We’re at the infancy of brain health, and to be a part of something that’s so close to its beginning is exciting, and I think it’s going to be huge. What are your hobbies? I like to ride my bicycle, and I like music a lot. I play the guitar to relax. I used to be in a garage band in high school and college. We only played in front of people twice. We were called “Z Band,” because we were in ZBT (Zeta Beta Tau) fraternity. Describe yourself in three words. Ambitious, curious and impatient. What are your favorite TV shows or movies? For fun, I like any movie with a former Saturday Night Live cast member. I love stupid comedies. I like more intense stuff on television, like Dexter and Homeland. What’s the best advice you’ve received? The best advice I’ve ever been given in a business setting was how important communication is. I was advised that when you’re a leader, you have to be very proactive in communication. From a personal perspective, I’m highly influenced by my wife and daughter. They’re big on how everything goes back to love. If you use that as your foundation, you’ll be in good shape. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I’m not as calm on the inside as I appear on the outside. Also, I’ve ridden my bike from Austin to Dallas. I’m in a group that does it for charity. What is your favorite thing about working here? All the creative energy and excitement.
One staff member got Google Glass before its public release. See what it’s all about and how he’s using it on page 5.
Turn to page 4 to check out pictures from the summer picnic on June 19th.
Get to know some of the BrainHealth summer interns!
Q&A with the Chief Director by Valirie Morgan
What inspired you to write and publish your book, “Make Your Brain Smarter”? I have been inspired for a long time because so many of the discoveries that we make at the Center can benefit people. I thought a book would be the best way to quickly get the word out and reach as many people as possible. It helped me organize and determine exactly how to communicate the procedures and steps people need to know to make their brains healthier. If we’re going to start a brain movement, a good place to start is a book.
you think the segment is going to be about and the questions that you expect are rarely what it turns out to be! The key is figuring out the message that you want to deliver and finding a clever way to get it out. I have a lot of fun making appearances because every time I do one, I feel like a person we’ve helped at the Center is inside my heart. It’s not so much about me as it is the cause. Looking at it as another opportunity to spread the message of what we can do really helped me build the courage and confidence to say yes to media requests. As a scientist, I used to always focus on publications, and I didn’t really see the importance of media. But if you have a message that can change lives and allow people to realize their full potential, that’s the best way to get it out there. The media has helped me to realize that the more I can make my discoveries understandable and relatable to everyday people, the more important the findings are.
You recently gave a TED talk. What was that experience like, and what did you learn in the process? Giving my TED talk was the first time in my life I’d ever written out a speech word for word, and I realized that I couldn’t be an What are you looking forward to about actress because I had so much trouble BrainHealth’s future? memorizing it! One thing I learned was how to The Brain Performance Institute! The Dr. Sandi Chapman spend time preparing for the talk. I used to discoveries of what can be done to strengthen spend so much time thinking about my the brain in health, injury and disease is a message but not the presentation and delivery, which is just cause that touches everybody. People everywhere will be able as important. If you don’t deliver the message in a way that to have access to it, can make people understand or be inspired by it, the message whether they’re in Dallas is meaningless. That was a very important lesson for me to or across Texas in the learn. most rural area, even South Dakota or As Chief Director, you make many media Timbuktu or Africa. appearances on the Center’s behalf. Have you gotten People need brain health used to the spotlight? What’s the best part of making wherever they are; it’s our greatest asset and a precious those appearances? resource. BrainHealth is going to be global. That’s my vision! Media appearances require a lot of flexibility, because what
Congratulations to the following BrainHealth staff members on their new degrees and titles! Amanda Coleman – Ph.D. in Leadership for Higher Education Joseph Dunlop – Ph.D. in Cognition and Neuroscience Francesca Filbey, Ph.D. – Now an Associate Professor Luis Gutierrez – MS in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Penelope Jones – MS in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Brittany Kuhn – MS in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Leilah Meek – MS in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders
Celebrating summer at the Staff Picnic
Dr. Francesca Filbey and Brittany Kuhn share a laugh.
Nellie Evenson gets into th e luau spirit by hula hooping outs ide.
his Bruce Jones performs with band, Limbic Recoil.
Veronica Scruggs sh ows off her skills with a hula ho op.
BrainHealth staff members go through the barbeque lunch line.
Members of the Community Relations team & their interns take a picture.
Gil Ramos cools off with a frozen drink.
to join a Al Abundo prepares game of soccer.
Specks with specs: Google Glass makes its digital debut at the Center for BrainHealth by Valirie Morgan that are going on around the Center, which he then posts online, helping drive traffic to the website and One sentence was all it took for Carl Lutz to gain educating people in the process. exclusive first access to one of the most highly Just as he anticipated tech tools in recent years. suggested in his Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical winning post to head-mounted display, was unveiled last year and Google, Lutz’s created quite a buzz in the tech world. In February, “dream app” for Google opened a contest called #IfIHadGlass, which Glass would challenged individuals to come up with a short provide feedback to statement of their intended use for the product. Winners people with autism could purchase the developer edition of Glass. during social Lutz, who works as the Center’s creative director and interactions by is involved with the social cognition/virtual reality analyzing the other research team, used Twitter to post his entry, writing person’s body that he would use Glass to help individuals with autism language, facial connect with others by providing feedback during social expressions and interactions. About a month later, Google sent him a vocal inflection. response. “Those are the “It was just, ‘Hey, we’d like to invite you to join the kinds of contextual Glass Explorers program, we’ll be sending you a message clues that they in the future,’” Lutz said. “I didn’t hear anything from Carl Lutz demonstrates the them until late May, so I still had to wait another two device’s camera function, which really struggle with, but all the months to find out what was going to happen.” he used to take this picture. technology now On June 17, Lutz traveled to Google’s California (Courtesy photo) exists to give them headquarters to pick up his device, which cost $1,500. that feedback. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces During the visit he was added to the Google Mirror API together into a solid user experience,” he said. (an app-building interface for developers) and given The app could also serve to reinforce an assistance individual’s ideas about a social encounter. with setup. “If you think someone’s getting impatient but “[Glass] you’re not sure, Glass could confirm that for you,” is pretty Lutz said. “It would help you learn to trust your awesome,” instincts more, if that’s a weakness you have.” Lutz said. Lutz believes his dream app could become a “All the This is Lutz’s winning tweet. reality sometime in the near future. information “In order to make it happen, I think we need a few of Google is right there, strapped to your head at all more resources, some more bandwidth,” he said. “I times.” With this new technology come new opportunities for think it’s something we’ll see somewhat soon, it’s just a matter of whether we’re the ones who build it first or if its use at the Center for BrainHealth. Glass is not being someone else does.” used in a research capacity as of yet, but the device is helping to promote the work being done at Microphone the Center. Speaker Prism (Visual) “Everybody’s watching to see what the Battery first adopters of this new technology do,” Lutz said. “I’ve only got a few months with this audience before the headset is available to everyone, so there’s a limited amount of time to capitalize on this sort of temporary celebrity status in the geek Computer Camera world.” Lutz has been using Glass to make This diagram shows the location of the components on the videos, take photos and document things Google Glass headset. (Graphic: Valirie Morgan. Source: Google)
Announcements & Updates The Center for Brain Health
Ice Cream Social Friday, July 26th 3:30 to 5:00 PM Reception Hall
Mark your calendars!