The Think Tank Gala & Benefit

The Think Tank Gala & Benefit

June 18, 2013, 6 - 9 p.m.

The Think Tank Gala & Benefit

CUNY's Macaulay Honors College

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With $32,000 Raised, College Senior to Build a Giant, Glowing Plastic Brain on Wheels Macaulay Honors College Student Raises Thousands to Teach Brain Science on the Road

NEW YORK, New York–May 25, 2013. This fall, a pink and green truck will cart a seven-foot, glowing plastic brain across American cities, turning heads, collecting publishable data and helping close the race and gender gap in science. That is, if one accomplished science student achieves his dream. On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m., graduating senior Tyler Alterman will host a gala to build upon the $32,000 he raised this past winter through crowdfunding and sponsorships. Open to the public, the benefit will raise the remainder of funds needed for Alterman’s unusual travelling laboratory called The Think Tank. The event will feature a rock band comprised of neuroscientists, brain-controlled games, and shorts from the Imagine Science Film Festival and Neurodome.

Joseph Ledoux, Director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety and author of such books as The Emotional Brain: the Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life, will play guitar as frontman for neuroscientist rockband, The Amygdaloids. The band was named after the part of the brain thought to register fear, on which LeDoux is a renowned authority. “With the popularity of neuroscience escalating along with misunderstandings of the discipline, The Think Tank comes at just the right time,” says LeDoux. “It's a unique and exciting endeavor.”

The gala is set to be held in a landmark brownstone between Central Park and Lincoln Center, home to Macaulay Honors College of CUNY, 35 West 67th Street. After a live auction of science-themed wares, attendees will have the chance to play games powered by actual brainwaves, provided by TED Global speaker Tan Le. With ticket sales, the auction, and a match gift from conference space provider, Convene, Alterman hopes to raise the final $20,000 needed to put the mobile lab on the streets. Tickets are available to the public from $108 with RSVP at

"Our students are graduating in a challenging economy, and STEM skills--in science, technology, engineering and math--are the key to good jobs,” says Ann Kirschner, the Dean of Macaulay Honors College. “Tyler's inventive project is a small truck with a big idea. Moving beyond standardized testing, The Think Tank's mobile classroom will bring hands-on learning to the kids that need it, opening up new avenues to science careers for the next generation."

“Most think tanks have Washington, D.C. addresses,” notes Alterman, already a cognitive science researcher at the New School for Social Research. “But the Think Tank, as a literal and metaphorical vehicle, will roam city streets without an address, teaching scientific thinking at schools and museums.” After the gala, Alterman’s lab-on-wheels will be built out of a renovated box with art direction from design firm Great Believer and Christine Alaimo, a researcher with a cupcake business in support of autism studies. Alterman’s “Braintrust” of scientists and artists plans to team with teachers to have classrooms design and conduct their own neuroscience and psychology experiments aboard the vehicle, similar to NYC’s own Biobus—a mobile biology lab.

Created as Alterman’s senior thesis project, The Think Tank is a collaboration between the Macaulay Honors College senior and the New School for Social Research’s distinguished neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Casasanto, who holds a doctorate from MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and contributes to Psychology Today.

About the Think Tank team:

Tyler Alterman, who will graduate from Macaulay Honors College this spring, is a researcher in the Department of Psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York. The recipient of such prestigious awards as the Goldsmith scholarship and the Watson fellowship, he is majoring in Cognitive Science, which combines neuroscience, linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, anthropology and philosophy.

Daniel Casasanto, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research. He studies how linguistic, cultural, and bodily experiences shape the brain and mind. He received his doctorate from MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and completed post-doctoral training at Stanford University on a National Research Service Award. Casasanto's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and by a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award. He has authored over 50 scientific publications which have been featured in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Scientific American. He is a founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Language and Cognition, an associate editor of Frontiers in Cognitive Science, and an editorial board member of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and of Psychological Science.

About Macaulay Honors College:Macaulay Honors College offers exceptional students a uniquely personalized education with access to the vast resources of the nation’s largest urban university and New York City itself. Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, every Macaulay student receives a full in-state tuition scholarship available to eligible New York State residents, a laptop and technology support, and a $7,500 Opportunities Fund to pursue global learning and service opportunities. For more information visit