Cerebrum Winter 2022

BRAIN POLICY CHAMPION Julianne McCall 2002 Third Place Ohio Julianne McCall, Ph.D., 37, considers the Brain Bee a fact that she did not win the national contest—she came in a “very proud third.” McCall says the event inspired her to start organizing her own Brain Bee events as a student at Denison University in Ohio. “Central Ohio didn’t have its own Brain Bee, so we pulled together their first one,” she says. “Then, when I graduated from college and went to graduate school at the University transformative event in her life. Despite the of California, San Diego, I started the San Diego Brain Bee. Then my professor moved us to Germany partway through my doctorate, so I started the German National Brain Bee. Once I got my Ph.D., I moved to Sacramento and started another one there. It’s in its third or fourth year now. It sort of took on a life of its own; but I saw where there were opportunities for growth and was happy to help make them happen.” McCall’s degrees are both in neuroscience—in fact, after graduating from Chagrin Falls High School, she lobbied for Denison University to create its first neuroscience major while studying there—but instead of taking a more traditional academic path, she now works in a public policy role. “After getting my doctorate, I was dead set on making an impact,” she explains. “With IBB, I was exposed to so many different cultural approaches to STEM education in different countries. I realized it wasn’t just a matter of promoting

as busy as she is, McCall is still an active volunteer with the IBB and heartily recommends any interested students that she meets to sign up. “I think it’s crazy how in high school we are learning the physics formulas for the trajectory of a ball through space, but we still don’t study how our brain works,” she points out. “The priorities of STEM education are a little out of step with where modern science has taken us. So, I remain very passionate about bringing students into this realm, whether they choose to pursue neuroscience or medicine as a career, or just learn more about the brain. There are so many different approaches to understanding science. But you have to start somewhere.” l After 16 years in neuroscience research labs, McCall pivoted to a career in science policy at the California Council on Science and Technology in 2016. McCall has also helped organize several World Championships.

education but also looking at the education policies so we could figure out how to fill in the right gaps. It’s hard to be a scientist and not see the discrepancies between where the public is going with science and where science is going with science.” After getting her Ph.D., McCall was selected to participate in a seven-year fellowship program with the California Council on Science and Technology and was assigned to the state senate office for research. There, she worked on projects to bridge the gaps between science and governance. Since then, she has taken on the role of co-director of the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine in the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Yet,



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