Alumnus Draws Attention to Neuroscience
By Jo Lynn Orr
UAB alumnus Dwayne Godwin and an artist collaborator explore the inner workings of the brain in a regular comic series in Scientific American Mind. Click on the image above to see their award-winning strip on brain development.
Scientists find science exhilarating. Nonscientists, on the other hand, often fail to appreciate the beauty of new discoveries because they are hidden behind a thicket of jargon.
Dwayne W. Godwin, Ph.D., an Alabama native who earned his doctorate in behavioral neuroscience at UAB in 1992, wanted to change that. So he teamed with illustrator Jorge Cham, Ph.D., to create a brainy comic strip about neuroscience that is now a regular feature in the magazine Scientific American Mind.
The duo have examined everything from the effects of coffee on the brain to artificial intelligence and headaches. “I pick the topic, provide a script, and sometimes sketch out ideas for panels,” Godwin says, “but the finished artwork is done by Jorge.” The results are both entertaining and educational: A strip explaining brain development won an international competition sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Science magazine that challenged entrants to dream up more effective ways of communicating scientific principles to students and the public.
Dwayne W. Godwin
Godwin, who is the associate dean of the Graduate School at Wake Forest University and a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Wake Forest’s School of Medicine, says the comic concept stemmed from his background and overall appreciation of art, and through interacting with students at local schools. Godwin’s own investigations focus on epilepsy and sensory neuroscience. He says he feels a responsibility to spread the word about research, especially as a recipient of federal grant funds. “I think it’s important for scientists to engage the public and communicate the importance of what we do.”