In Dec 2019, Professor Mei Shen received an NSF CAREER Award from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry of National Science Foundation.
With the support of this award, Shen and her research group aim to create new electrochemical methods and microscopes to detect, measure, and visualize the presence of chemicals that are used as neurotransmitters (neurochemicals) that currently cannot be investigated by other methods. These novel measurement tools enable new discoveries in chemical communications between nerve cells, which result from electrical and chemical signals. The tools and techniques her group is developing promise to provide an increased understanding of brain function.
Shen's program also promotes early-childhood education, and teaching and learning of both college and graduate students. Her research team is developing Nanoelectrochemistry And Neuroscience Outreach (NANO) education projects to teach nanoscience and brain chemistry to children from preschool age to grade 12 in public schools.
The long-term education goals include helping children develop positive attitudes toward science through science learning experiences in early childhood and addressing the science achievement gaps that are initially present during preschool and continue to occur as children age.