When she's not supporting and networking with Black colleagues as co-founder of Black In Neuro, Brielle Ferguson advances neuroscience with her groundbreaking research to identify a fundamental cell in paying attention and understanding psychiatric disorders.
Finding unprecedented solutions to complex problems just comes with the territory for neuroscientist Brielle Ferguson. She studies the circuits in the brain responsible for cognition and paying attention. Her research has already made significant developments towards understanding and treating conditions like schizophrenia and autism by pinpointing a specific neuron in the brain. The Stanford postdoctoral fellow was thriving professionally but still seeking community in her field when she answered the call of Ph.D. candidate Angeline Dukes. Inspired by support networks springing up in response to viral racist incidents like with Chris Cooper, who was threatened with police for simply bird watching while Black, in July of 2020, Dukes asked Twitter when they're doing a #BlackInNeuro week. (It is officially July 27-Aug. 2.) That same month, she and Ferguson co-founded a movement of the same name with 22 other co-organizers. The social media project provides resources, networks, and a platform to recognize Black people in neuro-related fields worldwide. It has since become a non-profit with Ferguson in charge of programming. Diverse scientists make new discoveries at higher rates than their peers, but with Black students representing only 5 percent of Ph.D.s earned each year, they are more likely to struggle in isolation. The organization's educational events are open and available to the public, and its platform allows 300-plus members to connect and collaborate. Ferguson's work both inside and outside the lab is changing the future of her industry.