Society for Neuroscience recognizes Courtney Miller for advocacy efforts


The Louise Hanson Marshall Award honors individuals who have significantly promoted the professional development of women in neuroscience through teaching, organizational leadership or public advocacy


Credit: Scripps Research

JUPITER, FL–Courtney Miller, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience at Scripps Research, has been awarded the Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award from the Society for Neuroscience for her efforts promoting women in science.

Miller shares the award with her longtime colleague Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the neuroepigenetics laboratory at MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases. The Louise Hanson Marshall Award honors an individual or individuals who have significantly promoted the professional development of women in neuroscience through teaching, organizational leadership or public advocacy.

Mentoring women scientists has been a career-long practice for Miller and one that took flight when she first conversed with Sadri-Vakili at a conference. “We were both postdocs and both exploring epigenetics in neuroscience, something very new at the time,” Miller says. “Once we began talking, we realized we had each experienced challenges in our careers and that neither of us had scientific mentors who were women. That had to change. Even though we were young, we decided to take action.”

In 2007, Miller and Sadri-Vakili founded the Professional Women’s Nexus (PWN) to enable women in careers to benefit from each other’s experience, advice and connections. The group now has over 750 members–mostly neuroscientists, but also representatives from other professions–across the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Through its weekly blog and online collection of articles, employment opportunities and funding announcements, PWN helps up-and-coming women scientists advance their careers.

Miller has received numerous awards over the years, including the highly prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

Since joining Scripps Research in 2009, Miller has focused her research on drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder, developing unique treatments that target memory storage. She and her team have identified one drug that can permanently erase methamphetamine-related memories in a single treatment without affecting other types of recall and, with a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, are advancing this drug candidate toward clinical trials. In addition to her scientific achievements, Miller was named Outstanding Mentor at Scripps Research in 2015.

Karen Haggenmiller, vice president of Human Resources at Scripps Research and a member of the institute’s STEM Diversity and Inclusion leadership team, says Miller embodies the ideal of a scientist who helps others flourish while attaining her own goals.

“Courtney has always been an asset to Scripps Research, both as an inventive and productive scientist, and as an advocate for the next generation of women scientists,” Haggenmiller says. “We’re proud to have her on our faculty and congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition of her hard work.”

Miller will receive her award during Awards Announcement Week 2020, sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.


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