Hi there! My name is Ellen Brennan, and I am a neuroscientist, science communicator, mental health advocate, and improv performer. I am a first-generation graduate student finishing up my Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor as an NSF fellow. My research focuses on neural circuits that support spatial navigation, investigating their organization, activity, and flexibility at the single cell level.
As an advocate of open and transparent communication, I will admit here that I love research, but I hate doing it. My personal enjoyment and motivation lie in the shaping of research for dissemination. My strengths are in visualizing data in effective and beautiful ways, writing clear and engaging articles and manuscripts, and forming the larger story to make compelling releases, presentations, and grant applications. I believe that how well science is communicated determines how impactful that science will be, and I plan to dedicate my career to helping both myself and my fellow researchers become effective and inclusive communicators.
In addition to science communication, I am also a strong advocate for increasing accessibility and inclusivity in STEM and academia. I have helped establish and facilitate mentoring programs, hosted a breakout session at the 2020 ComSciCon-Michigan conference on inclusive communication practices, created and hosted multiple communication workshops for STEM researchers, work as a therapy dog team to support the well-being of students as well as incarcerated psychiatric patients, and work with PhD Balance to destigmatize and increase supports for mental health in academia.
Research & Presentations
- 2020 U-M Neuroscience Conference student speaker – “Diverse subtypes of principal neurons enable parallel encoding in the retrosplenial cortex”
- 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting – ePoster Competition Presentation titled “The Little Neuron That Could: Exploring the Microcircuitry of the Retrosplenial Cortex” – 1st place, Brain & Behavior category
- Publication: Brennan, E. K., Sudhakar, S. K., Jedrasiak-Cape, I., John, T. T., & Ahmed, O. J. (2020). Hyperexcitable Neurons Enable Precise and Persistent Information Encoding in the Superficial Retrosplenial Cortex. Cell Reports, 30(5), 1598-1612.
- Piece published by Michigan Science Writers, titled “Eavesdropping on Brain Cells: A History of the Patch-Clamp Technique”
- Invited presenter at 2020 ComSciCon-Michigan, developed and hosted an interactive workshop called “Inclusive Practices in SciComm”
Scientists have the innate opportunity to be storytellers. Each manuscript, grant, and presentation is a chance to have your story impact society.