Meredith Braskie, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has been named director of education for the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) effective Aug. 1. Braskie, who studies genetic and environmental risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, will oversee the INI’s Master of Science in Neuroimaging and Informatics (NIIN) program and other training and outreach initiatives at the institute.

“We’re excited to welcome Dr. Braskie into her new role and look forward to the continued evolution of the INI’s training and outreach efforts under her leadership,” said Arthur W. Toga, PhD, Provost Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Engineering; and director of the institute.

The NIIN master’s program, now entering its fifth year, trains students in the fundamentals of neuroimaging and data science required to study the structure, function and connectivity of the human brain. Since its launch in 2015, the program has remained at the forefront of scientific and technological trends, for instance by adding a hands-on training component with the institute’s 3Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner.

Looking forward, Braskie plans to incorporate additional informatics coursework appropriate for big data management and analysis, including advanced statistics and machine learning.

“An increasing emphasis on informatics and data analytics will help prepare our students for emerging opportunities in the field of data science,” she said.

The NIIN program’s newest cohort of 24 students — one of whom graduated from INI’s Big Data Discover & Diversity through Research Education Advancement and Partnership (BD3REAP) partnership with California State University, Fullerton — began the school year with a daylong orientation on Aug. 16. This year, the expanded orientation provided a preview of faculty research initiatives to help students prepare for the semester ahead.

Braskie also will oversee INI’s numerous training and outreach programs, including the work of research assistants at the institute and efforts to engage high school, college, graduate students and professionals in activities related to the neurosciences, such as the BD3REAP program and the annual Los Angeles Brain Bee.

“I’ve always enjoyed mentoring students in the NIIN program,” Braskie said, “and I look forward to further helping them succeed in their scientific careers.”

— Zara Greenbaum