Major: (Intended) Neuroscience with a minor in Global Health
When Chloe first arrived at the University of Washington, she knew that she wanted to be a neuroscientist. What she didn’t expect, was for her dreams to be realized in a student-run organization known as “Grey Matters.” After having a conversation with Chloe over the phone, not only did I get the chance to learn about the inspirational club, but also one of it’s most hard-working members.
Chloe’s interest in neuroscience started due to unfortunate circumstances. While she was in middle school, her grandmother had been diagnosed with progressive supra nuclear palsy, a particularly aggressive neurodegenerative disease. In her junior year of high school, she really started to consider a career in the field.
“Watching my loved one struggle through this really started my interest in how the brain behaves, and what medicine can do to mitigate the consequences when it begins to break down. It’s a really tragic thing to watch happen to someone…I wanted to learn how to lessen that pain.”
With that mindset, Chloe came to UW and began to look for an RSO that would help her on that journey. Looking for any clubs related to global health or neuroscience, she stumbled upon the Grey Matters’ table, an undergraduate neuroscience group that produces professional, visually appealing journals that are available online for free. They are committed to fostering public interest in neuroscience, promoting scientific literature, and developing skills in critical reading.
Although she did not believe she would get accepted, Chloe applied anyway, and was soon brought on as an editor for her first quarter. At first, she believed that the journal would just be another kind of resume builder that would be useful for applying to internships in the future, but after that first meeting, Chloe found something far more valuable then just another club to sign up for. She found community: a group of people just like her, who were not only excited about neuroscience, but also making it accessible to others.
When I was first accepted, I was terrified, I didn’t think I was qualified to write for a neuroscience journal! But after my first meeting, I was totally in love with everything about it. I’ve been working extensively with Grey Matters ever since then.”
Chloe’s serves as a core-editor for the publication, where she manages a couple of production groups that consist of authors, editors, and an artist. Her role is to make sure that people are on schedule, generally making sure everything is running smoothly. Clearly, there is a huge emphasis on collaboration in producing a publication each quarter.
“I think that makes it fundamentally different from a lot of publications. A lot of times, you submit your final work, they make a couple of edits, then it’s approved. But our editors work with our authors throughout the quarter and mentor them as they write their article.”
These articles, alongside their new website, are quite a source of pride for the whole team, but the crown jewel for Chloe is Grey Matters’ event of the year, “An Evening with Neuroscience.” Known as EWN, usually, the in-person event spans over one evening with 700 people packed into Kane Hall, where a panel of scientists, clinicians, and others in the field are brought in to discuss their positions and answer audience questions.
However, that annual event nearly didn’t happen last April. After the school basically shutting down due to COVID-19, everyone on the team thought the whole thing would have to be canceled. Yet after working nearly all year on the event, the club decided to push through with only a month to put the entire thing online.
“We started working on EWN in the fall, so the idea of throwing all of that work away was really tough. Although it was such a challenge to put that event online in such a quick turnaround, it was really satisfying when we did. We actually went overtime with the panel because there was so much audience participation.”
Despite the current circumstances of Zoom University, Chloe is excited for this upcoming year and is taking the online circumstances in stride. Similar to last year, the event will remain online, but instead of one night, it will now be a four-week livestream in April, with even more of a focus on accessibility.
The Main Takeaway
While Grey Matters is of course concerned about the accuracy of the research and producing well-written articles, the true focus is being able to communicate their findings to students, or anyone actually, who might not have a background in neuroscience, but is just interested in learning. That’s what Chloe loves in particular about the magazine.
“When you think about Grey Matters as an organization, it’s a lot about empowering students not only to read and understand scientific literature, but to be able to communicate their findings, build personal skills, and work with others to develop leadership qualities. But an essential component of this is always about our focus on accessibility. STEM is for everyone! It’s really important to us to dismantle this barrier of access in the STEM fields.
Especially for college students who are trying to develop various skills such as teamwork and leadership, clubs like this are critical to be a part of regardless of what you major in. Between collaboration and understanding science, Chloe believes this club has shaped who she is as a person today. Although she felt that she knew very minimal things about the field initially, Chloe still fit in right from the start because everyone just wanted to learn, and create something they could all be proud of.
“All you need to be successful in Grey Matters is to be interested in neuroscience. That is ultimately the biggest thing that Grey Matters has to offer. Anything you can offer, we can find a niche for you, but I think even more important than us finding a spot on the team for you, is a student finding a spot for themselves. Anyone is welcome anytime.”
Regardless of your major, Grey Matters is an organization that anyone can benefit from supporting through their publications, attending their events, or even joining the behind the scenes team. To learn more about Grey Matters publication or if you are interested in applying, please visit their website here for more information. Be sure to also follow their Instagram and Youtube channels.
If Chloe is any indication of what the rest of the team and organization is like, I can ensure you it is a wonderful community full of students ready to educate the masses one publication at a time.