13 March 2012
Forget left brain-right brain … a University of the Sunshine Coast academic is working on a much grander scale of northern hemisphere-southern hemisphere in a bid to better understand how people use their grey matter.
USC’s Associate Professor in Education Dr Michael Nagel will chair the first Australian Biennial Conference on the Brain and Learning, to be held in Brisbane in mid-July with the theme “Building Healthy Minds”.
The event will be the southern hemisphere’s answer to the prestigious Brain Development and Learning Conference held every two years by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, which attracts up to 1,300 delegates.
Dr Nagel said he hoped to see the Australian conference staged on alternate years to the northern hemisphere event, building stronger links between the two over time.
The conference will be held at Brisbane’s Sofitel Hotel on 13-15 July and is expected to attract up to 600 delegates from across Australia and abroad, particularly around the Pacific Rim.
“This conference will focus on improving the lives of young people by making cutting-edge research in neuroscience, psychology, education and health understandable and applicable to those who work with young people on a daily basis,” Dr Nagel said.
“The stimulating program is sure to provide value and guidance to people working in fields like psychology, counselling, social work, mental health, neuroscience, education and early childhood.”
Keynote speakers are Alzheimer’s disease specialist and best-selling American author Professor Gary Small, autism spectrum disorders expert Professor Tony Attwood of Australia, language development and playful learning specialist Dr Roberta Michnick Golinkoff of the United States, and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Iroise Dumontheil of the United Kingdom.
Other speakers will include top Australian researchers in child psychology, childhood development, mental health, criminology, diet, and drug prevention.
“This will be a world-class event,” Dr Nagel said. “It will mirror the conference organised by the University of British Columbia, which requires speakers to make their research relatable to lay people.
“It will give people exposure to some leading international researchers – who are also really dynamic speakers – and the opportunity to participate in a conference designed as a series of seminars with networking as well.”
Dr Nagel said the conference theme aligned nicely with the University of the Sunshine Coast’s teaching strengths.
“At USC, our biggest programs are in Psychology, Education and Nursing Science, and there’s so many ways that these disciplines can work together,” he said.
“This conference will certainly help build USC’s reputation as a growing university, with growing interests and initiatives.”
— Terry Walsh