“You can imagine...”
Over the past three years the Avielle Foundations has garnered an amazing group of innovative and forward thinking high school and college students. We are extremely fortunate to have their insight and help as our future depends on their imaginations. They have been helping us champion our mission to prevent violence through promoting neuroscience research, community engagement, and education. The Avielle Foundation is primarily science-based and these engaged youth have been lending insights to understanding the neural basis of violence and compassion as well as educating communities about brain health. However, they have also brought to the forefront a wide range of skills and interests including, education into how a non-profit functions, marketing, website design, merchandise, branding, fundraising management, program design, operations and obviously scientific research.
The internship program now offers opportunities in all of these areas and would like to use the student’s individual skills to benefit the foundation as well as providing the intern with life skills in future fields of study. College recommendations, work experience, publications, chances for junior/senior projects, lab work, mentoring opportunities, travel awards, and scholarships are some of the benefits of the internship program. For more information on the internship program or for volunteering opportunities, please write — Dawson.Stout@Aviellefoundation.org.
Meet some of The Avielle Foundation’s amazing interns
I am a senior at Newtown High School and have been working with the foundation since the beginning of my freshman year. I have been interested in the brain for almost as long as I can remember, and I am considering studying neuroscience in college. To me the brain is one of the last unexplored frontiers. Who you are, what you do, and reality itself is dependent on a healthy brain, and it therefore warrants serious research. Avielle Foundation provides support for the study of the brain, and aims to cure the root of the problem of violence in our society with the hope that future tragedies like Sandy Hook can be prevented.
This past summer of 2016 my internship took place in the lab of Dr. Marina Picciotto at Yale in the Psychiatry and Neuroscience departments under the tutelage of Dr. Alan Lewis. I was able to get hands on research experience studying the interplay of nicotine and aggression.
Sophie is a high school senior at Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is interested in psychology, history, and advocacy. She hopes to attend college either in the North West or North East. Sophie enjoys hiking, drawing, writing, and spending time with her friends, family, and dogs. Sophie’s father grew up in Newtown, so part of her time growing up was spent there. After the December 14, 2012 she wanted to understand how this could happen. She approached the Avielle Foundation because that is what they are trying to discover. Growing up in a conservative State she knew promoting gun control in her home would be unproductive; however, she knew approaching violence from a scientific research and community engagement perspective has the power to resonate with all people, liberal or conservative. She has been working with the Avielle Foundation since the summer of 2013 and plans to continue to well into the future. She hopes to help expand the Avielle Foundation across the country and bring their mission to life.
Some of Sophie’s Avielle Foundation contributions have been to the script and narration of our first Public Service Announcement Video (Making the Invisible Visible) and the blog post about emotional intelligence, Imagine the Possibilities, Not a Tough SELL.
Cary is a Newtown High School graduate and has been working with the Avielle Foundation for the past two and a half years. He has made invaluable contributions to the foundation and has written many insightful articles and blog posts. Cary has been fascinated with the behavioral implications of brain health and illness and what can be done to further understand this invisible world to make it healthier. If you haven’t already, check out some of his posts here: Honoring the Past, Paving the Way into the Future and What’s Your Story? Cary is headed out West to begin his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona – GO WILDCATS!
My name is Morgan Scarth and I am a senior at University of San Diego. I am majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience, and minoring in French and Religious Studies. My interest in the study of the brain began in a freshman psychology class, where we learned mostly about the behavioral aspects of psychology, and I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on beneath the surface. I was curious as to what exactly was going on in our heads on a biochemical level to cause us to act in a certain way. Towards the end of my first semester of college, the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred. Even though I was across the country, I remember being horrified that something so terrible could happen so close to my hometown of Redding, CT (one of Newtown’s neighbors). Eventually, I began to ask myself the same kinds of questions I had in Psychology 101. What could possibly be going on in someone’s brain to cause such violent and destructive behavior? So when I learned about the Avielle Foundation, an amazing organization that was asking a similar question, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved. Since starting with TAF, I have been able to connect my passion for neuroscience with several of my other interests.
I have been an athlete my entire life, and am a member of the swim team at USD. In addition to training for swimming, I have run several half marathons and a full marathon, and I firmly believe that our brains benefit from exercise as much as our bodies do. As a student-athlete I have always been interested in the connection between the body and mind. I am interested in several aspects of wellness, including diet and exercise, and have always felt that being active, eating well, and spending time outdoors contribute to overall health. As a result, I have become very interested in the biochemical effects that lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and sleep have on the brain. I hope to continue to build an understanding of how our daily choices and routines affect our brains, and use this knowledge to encourage lifestyles that foster compassion.
I have always been interested in the brain- how it works and causes us to do and think the things we do. The brain is involved in everything we do, and its capacity to grow and change and adapt is unlike that of any other organ or part of the body. While neuroscience is an ever expanding field, there is still a lot about the brain that is yet to be discovered and applied. In my opinion, the study of the brain is too often separated into either biological science or behavioral science. The biological and behavioral sides of neuroscience shouldn’t be separated, as the two are mutually dependent and should be observed and examined as one and the same. The behavioral side of the brain has been branded as a weak science, and I think that stigma should be broken as the link between brain and behavior cannot be ignored.
The Avielle Foundation is not only invested in recognizing the many facets of neuroscience, but also takes action in engaging the community on the importance of brain health and violence prevention. As a Newtown resident, I care deeply about addressing the issues in the community and working towards a future of resiliency and awareness. I believe that being involved with The Avielle Foundation can really facilitate that change, not only within the Newtown community, but on an even broader scale.
Liz is an incoming senior at Newtown High School, and she has been working with the Avielle Foundation for the past few months. She thinks that the brain is the coolest thing and is very excited to learn more and help educate other people on brain health. She has a strong interest in science and, as of now, would like to pursue neuroscience in college. With so many fields of science so explored and refined already, Liz thinks that living in a time when the brain and its health is becoming an important field in science lends itself to an opportunity to learn, research, and discover.
Check out Liz’s Junior Project! This is an amazing introduction to Brain Science that will be incorporated into the Avielle Foundation’s website (once we figure out how to do that).
My name is Shaylyn Fahey and I am a sophomore at Bucknell University majoring in Neuroscience. I grew up in Newtown, Ct and always had a love for science. After taking an introductory level psychology class in high school I was left wondering why all the behaviors and patterns I had learned about actually occurred; what in the brain causes us to act the way we do? This question is what inspired me to pursue neuroscience and study the brain on a deeper level. As a member of the Newtown community I am very passionate about doing what I can to prevent further tragedies like the one that occurred in my hometown. As well as removing the negative stigmas and stereotypes that surround brain health and disorders. The Avielle Foundation’s objectives of “Making the invisible visible” and bridging the gap between behavioral and biochemical sciences to promote compassion and prevent violence immediately interested me. Addressing this dire issue from a scientific standpoint, raising awareness, and incorporating that into communities is extremely important to me. I hope to help The Avielle Foundation promote brain health awareness in communities all over the country to promote compassionate lifestyles. I am currently working to build TAF’s social media presence.
I just finished my senior year at New Fairfield High School and am traveling out to the West Coast to attend UC Santa Barbara in the fall. I have always had an interest in the human brain and how it functions. But also with my mother being a psychologist, I found the reasoning to its actions just as interesting. Every senior at my school must complete an out of school internship – the Senior Enrichment Experience (S.E.E.) Project in the direction of their desired career. I was looking for a bridge between nature vs nurture, and the Avielle Foundation provides research for that bridge. I then traveled with my mom to Montreal, Canada to hear Dr. Richman give a speech on brain health at the International Counseling Association Conference on April 1st, 2016. As amazed as I was, I knew it would be the opportunity of a lifetime to work with the Avielle Foundation for my S.E.E. Project.
I am passionate about an array of different things ranging from music to politics. I love attending concerts just as much as watching MSNBC. I love to read and play soccer, as well as surf and draw. When I grow up, I hope to be an adolescent psychiatrist bringing the purpose of this foundation into my practice everyday. I am eager to travel all the way from my home in Connecticut, across the country to California for school along with study abroad programs that allow me to explore and discover the world. Wherever life takes me, I am beyond thrilled and there is no better place to begin my journey into understanding brain health than with the Avielle Foundation.
Emily is a junior at Middlebury College in Vermont. Originally from New Jersey, the move to such a beautiful rural area has made her increasingly appreciative of the environment and people around her. She has always had a passion for science, and is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology. Coincidentally, Vermont has helped her recognize the science in nature and apply her knowledge in every day life. With this newfound appreciation for the environment, Emily was inspired by the idea of informing communities to make the world a better place, and she was drawn like a moth to a flame to the Avielle Foundation’s mission. After numerous psychology, chemistry, and biology classes, Emily continued to wonder about the complexity of the link between the brain and behavior. Hearing about tragedies on the news—like Sandy Hook and many others—made her question not only how such violent behaviors could occur, but also the brain’s involvement in the violence. TAF’s research into the relationship between the brain and behavior seemed to be grounded in exploring her questions and she couldn’t be more excited to learn!
Emily is also a member of the Middlebury College volleyball team. While she loves to play volleyball, she has a more general passion for sports and fitness. When she isn’t in the lab, you can find her exercising, playing a sport, or exploring the outdoors with friends. She is a strong believer in the link between healthy body and healthy mind, and appreciates how TAF incorporates fitness into their understanding of brain health. Emily is interested in investigating and learning more about how healthier lifestyles can influence the brain.
My name is Ananya Krishnan and I am a rising senior at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, California. My interest in studying the criminal brain started in 8th grade during a time when India, where I lived at the time, was significantly impacted by the nationally broadcast-ed news of rape and later murder of a college medical student. As an 8th grade student, I couldn’t understand why people could inflict such immense pain on others. Later on, in my sophomore year in high school, I participated in Teen Court with Say San Diego, where I worked to bring restorative justice to teenagers who have committed petty infractions. I started to consider if the use of violence, by any age group, was a mere act of “hate” or the result of chemical processes in the brain that force individuals to act violently. This inspired me to pursue brain studies.
My fascination for law and sciences made me fondly interested in the mission and goals of the Avielle Foundation. The Foundation not only studies the brain but also connects with leading scientists around the world to understand the social and scientific reasons for violence. It gives me the opportunity to combine law and science, two distinct fields that when studied together, can be the impetus for change. I believe that by combining law and science through organizations like the Avielle Foundation, we will not only be able to understand and clarify the mysteries and unknowns of the human/criminal brain but also influence policies and regulations to, potentially, reduce and prevent violence in the nation.
Farhan is a senior at Boston University and was born and raised in Sweden. He is majoring in Neuroscience and is an aspiring medical student. Always curious about the relationship between behavior and physiology, he naturally gravitated towards the study of the brain as he progressed in his studies. Farhan passionately believes that it is necessary to combine the study of the physical world – the world of atoms and cells – with the insights from our human world – the world of art and beliefs – so that we can fully appreciate that our experience of reality is really a series of amazing connections. This vision is what attracted him to the Avielle Foundation.
Farhan believes that when we lose sight of the importance of these connections, when what makes us human is divorced from what makes us humane, is when individuals succumb to their fears and desires and carry out acts of senseless violence. To end violence is not just a matter of policy; a dedicated and concerted effort to understand and explain the role of the brain is vital to moving forward towards a more peaceful future. It is in dedication to this vision that Farhan now helps the Avielle Foundation achieve its goals.
When he’s not studying or researching, Farhan likes to spend time with his family and friends, exercise, and play the piano. In his view, a healthy combination of socializing, physical activity, and quiet meditation all contribute to a healthier and happier brain.