YNA initially started as a small project in 2017 between two medical students -- Jade Pham and Onur Tanglay, the current co-directors -- to give reason behind an unmet desire to provide public neuroscience and medical education, particularly to those who were less privileged in receiving similar opportunities in mentorship, research, networking, and general neuroscience and clinical knowledge. Both founders have their histories grounded in neuroscience, having both represented Australia at the International Brain Bee Championship, and have since been heavily involved in research and medicine. The plan was simple: to build a small group of young people to support other young people, by addressing education inequalities in accessibility issues in Australia, and promoting critical thinking and transferable skills through a refreshing yet practical take on “the brain in STEM”.
Co-director Jade Pham
Co-director Onur Tanglay
The organisation, of course, grew. Throughout our establishing year (2018/2019), YNA trialled successful webinars, educational workshops, and seminars in neuroscience and clinical neurology, further expanding to work with the Department of Education in developing a long-term high school program to support student engagement in STEM, particularly for the under-resourced. As YNA became more involved with the people we were helping, we realised the potential we had in impacting youth education in a domain larger than neuroscience.
More notably, this did not mean we had to stray away from ‘neuro’ -- that has been too deeply entrenched in the roots of our organisation. YNA does continue to provide a growing, specialised support network for students interested in or currently studying neuroscience, neurology (medicine), neuropsychology, biomedical engineering, and other related fields specific to the brain, but we also go beyond that; we foster scientifically-minded leaders. We aim to support these pioneers because we understand the value of community and guidance. They are our future.
YNA has thus evolved into a vehicle for change in approaching STEM education, support, and transferable skills, and we do this through sharing our passions. Our team is enormous and is only getting bigger; we have individuals who are absolutely thrilled about surgical robots, neural coding, cancer research, cardiology, or even mental health and psychology, and we want YNA to be a creative, innovative platform to channel this passionate energy into supporting youth education in science, technology, and beyond.