Education in neuroscience award for ANU researcher

14 November 2016

Professor John Bekkers from ANU has won a prestigious international neuroscience award for his commitment to education and training of young neuroscientists.

Professor Bekkers, Deputy Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, has been presented with the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience (SFN).

Professor Bekkers has played a crucial role in developing and delivering the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN), including 10 years as the course director.

"Dr Bekkers' thoughtful direction has immeasurably elevated an intensive training course that continues to change the careers of young neuroscientists," said SFN President Hollis Cline.

Professor Bekkers said he was delighted and surprised with the news.

"It's fantastic both for myself personally and also for Australian neuroscience," he said.

"The course would not have succeeded without the incredible efforts of the lab manager, Garry Rodda, in the Department of Neuroscience at The John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU.

"I hope the award will also help to put Australian and New Zealand neuroscience research in training on the world map."

The Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience, an intensive three-week course for 12 of the brightest neuroscience students each year.

Held on North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, the course offers guidance in advanced techniques used to study the electrical properties of cells and tissues, as well as the opportunity for students to interact with internationally-recognised lecturers from around the world.

"The award is recognition of a special course that a lot of people in Australia put a huge amount of effort into since its inception in 2005 and it has benefited a lot of very good neuroscientists," he said.

"Neuroscience is always advancing. It is a very techniques-driven area of research and there a lot of tremendous advances occurring right now. The course has changed over the years to keep pace with that.

"I see the course as not just a way of propagating technical information, but also a way of shaping how young researchers do their science and achieve success."

Professor Bekkers is also a member of the ACAN management committee and continues to join a number of ANU academics who give lectures and demonstrate during the three-week course.