About Backyard Brains
The brain is our soul... our consciousness... it contains all of our hopes, dreams, and desires. It is our most important organ, yet how it works is still a mystery for most people--even though they use it every day! Sure, your brain helps you decide what pants to wear or which muscle to move when walking down a street, but how does it do that? Neuroscientists actually know quite a bit about how the brain functions, but the tools to understand the brain have been relegated to only large university laboratories, inaccessible to the layperson. Backyard Brains is the effort to democratize neuroscience.
As neuroscience Ph.D. students at the University of Michigan, co-founders Tim and Greg experimented with discussing neuroscience with middle school children. They quickly realized that there was no way to demonstrate compelling experiments like the ones from their research lab to the kids they were working with. The equipment was too big and too expensive. So they endeavored to fix that. Founding Backyard Brains (BYB) in 2009, Tim and Greg used off-the-shelf electronics and readily-available products to create kits that would let kids learn about neuroscience at an earlier age. The first Spikerbox was born, a hand-held device able to provide insight into the inner workings of the nervous system and record living "spikes" ... the messages of neurons in the brain.
Our products all have a focus on neuroscience, but have expanded into multiple STEM research fields. Our Neuron SpikerBox kits record directly from neurons in invertebrates. Our Human Physiology kits enable you to record from the brain's electrical activity from motor units an muscular contractions (EMG), from the heart (EKG), and even from the whole brain (EEG). Our neuroengineering devices let you use your nervous system to control computers and robotics. We even have kits that reveal the secrets of plant signalling and behavior, proving that the action potential isn't unique to nervous systems! All of our products are accompanied with Lesson Plans and Experiments to make learning (and teaching) neuroscience a breeze.
Since then, our commmunity has grown enormously. We now have a jaw-dropping 9 TED Talks, including a new series called "DIY Neuroscience which follows our student research team using our gear to expose the wonders of the brain. We have been awarded 4 grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop our tools and to research their effectiveness. And our work has not gone unnoticed: we were awarded the "Champion of Change for Citizen Science" award by President Barack Obama at the White House, we won the Next Generation Award from the Society of Neuroscience, the Director's award from the NIMH, we received nominations at the Imagine Science Film and the Viten Film Festival, and most importantly, we've been recognized with the prestigious "Unit Of The Year" by the 7th grade class at Seitz Middle School! We have worked hard for over a decade to bring neuroscience to you directly, and we're not slowing down any time soon!
Thank you for your interest in Backyard Brains. We hope our products will help you bring neuroscience to life! What will you discover?
Our Development Team
Above: Backyard Brains at its fourth SfN Booth! (October 2015).
- Greg Gage, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Engineer. firstname.lastname@example.org. Working on teams: Software, Electrical Engineering, Sales, Marketing
- Tim Marzullo, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Engineer. email@example.com. Working on teams: Invertebrate Physiology, Mechanical Engineering, Sales, Education
- Marcio "Max"Amorim, Engineer. firstname.lastname@example.org. Working on R&D, Senior development Engineer, skipped winter, living the high life in Brazil.
- Will Wharton. Poet. email@example.com Working on teams: Sales, Biz-Dev, and Education.
- Stanislav Mircic. Computer scientist. firstname.lastname@example.org Working on team: Software, Firmware, Hardware.
- Zorica Reic, Production Manager. email@example.com Working on team: Production. Ensures we have enough 10k resistors in inventory and that all orders get out in timely fashion all over the world.
- Caitlin Clayton, Office and Communications, Roller Derby Master. firstname.lastname@example.org Working on teams: Communications and Marketing, Social Media Development.
- Katie Wiykovics, Computer Scientist. Works on team: Production, Wrangles Cockroaches.
- John "Tinker" Nagle. Turner of wrenches, maker of motorcycle parts. email@example.com Working on team: Production.
- Sanja Jankovic, Psychologist. firstname.lastname@example.org Working on teams: Accounting and Education. Handles our finances and helps us make up our surveys.
- Cristina Mezuk, Artist. email@example.com Working on team: Jealous Illustration.
- Brian Tracy, Ph.D., Professor. firstname.lastname@example.org Working on teams: Education, Engineering. Advising us on our new human muscle experiments and hardware.
- Edward Rantze, Financial Analyst and Engineer. Working on teams: Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Education. Evil genius. No product goes out without Ed's approval.
- Charlie Taylor, Ph.D., Neuroscientist. email@example.com Working on teams: Education, Science.
Our Santiago, Chile Team
- Florencia Edwards, Writer, Literatura de Latinomerica Maestra. Helps manage day to day biz and educational development.
- Franco Iovi, Business Developer, Scuba Diver. Our ringer for grant deadlines and production runs.
- Pablo Guerra, Circuit Bender, Actor. The BYB official model, appears in most of our human interface videos.
- Italo Ahumada Morasky, Comic Book Artist, Sculptor. Illustrates experiments we develop in Chile.
- Zachary Reining, Race Car Driver. Worked on R&D, Engineering.
- Roberto Herrera Pellizzari, Designer, Builder of Bicycles. Designed new microscopes and interfaces for all the world.
- Nick Ristow. Engineer and RC Pilot. Worked on team: Engineering.
- Ivan "Vanya" Procopovich. Traceur, Artist. Worked on production and drew a lot of our artwork.
- Gabriela Perez Itura, Media Artist. Worked on team: Production, Education.
- Daniel Silva, Biochemist, Linguist. Worked on team: Education.
- Bill Reith, Engineer, Maker. Worked on team: Product Engineering.
- Dana Nelson, Education Hacker. Worked on team: Production.
- Lorena Solar Rosales, Tutor. Helped us design our lectures in Spanish
- Alex Hatch, Designer. Worked on team: Prototyping, Product Design.
- Kyle Shannon, Recent UCSD neuroscience graduate. Worked on teams: Cognitive Science, Education, Sales, Marketing.
- Josh Williams. Operations manager of Digital Ops and AHA. Education leader for Bright Futures. Worked on team: Production.
- Brian Martin. MSU spartan and microscope expert. Worked on team: Production.
- Greg Maynard, Paintball expert. Worked on team: Production.
- Eric Hampton, Gamer, College Student. Worked on team: Production.
- Teddy Morrow, Musician. Worked on team: Production.
- Alex Wiltschko, Software Engineer and Harvard Grad Student. Developed our first iPhone application. Makes scientists everywhere jealous of his neuroscience and coding skills.
- Ashton Powell, Ph.D., Neuroscientist and High School Educator. Worked on teams: Education, Invertebrate Physiology.
- Zachary King, UCSD Graduate Student and Software Engineer, Worked on team: Brilliant Code.
- Nathan Dotz, Software Developer. Worked on teams: Software, Production, General Hacking. Developed our first Android app.
- Andre Snellings, Ph.D., Neural Engineer. Worked on teams: Education, Signal Analysis.
Above: Backyard Brains at its first SfN Booth! (October 2012). Photo by Michael Mitchell
ContactPhone: +1 (855) 438-7745 [GET-SPIKES]
Fax: +1 (734) 527-5965
Address: 308 1/2 S. State, Suite 35, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Our CustomersWhere, oh where, have our little SpikerBoxes gone? Our map at http://map.backyardbrains.com has the answers. We've coded each customer: University professors are orange, grad students are brown, amateur scientists are yellow, and our high school teachers are in green. Unknown is red.