Curious about how to use neuroscience in your work and everyday life?
Learning about the mind and brain doesn’t have to be hard or feel out of reach.
You might have noticed all too often neuroscience research is locked away in ivory towers, behind the pay-wall of academic journals, presented at scientific meetings for other scientists or delivered in a way that is irrelevant to our daily lives.
This is all ok if you're a scientist.
Sometimes, the opposite is true: people with little training in science or understanding of the complexities of research are jumping on the neuroscience bandwagon, marketing themselves as ‘brain gurus’ and peddling the latest product or magic-bullet solution based on inaccurate, outdated, or even mythical “neuro-nonsense”.
This is definitely not ok and makes legit scientists like me very cranky.
I created this space and my online program The Neuroscience Academy so you can easily access, understand and implement evidence-based neuroscience strategies into your everyday life and work.
Yes, I err on the side of science, but with a heaping dose of warmth, humour and humility.
About Dr Sarah McKay
I’m an Australian-based (Kiwi born and bred) neuroscientist, speaker, author, media personality and founder and director of The Neuroscience Academy.
I’m also a mum to two boys, sailor, botanical artist and ocean swimmer!
I explain the brain to helping professionals so they can coach brain-owners in a way that promotes real change and inspires positive action.
a. Here’s where it all started
Brain science and I first met and fell in love way back in 1993 after I read Oliver Sack’s book ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’. It impacted me profoundly and from that moment I knew little else would ever fascinate me more than the human brain.
After completing a degree in Neuroscience at Otago University in New Zealand I won a Wellcome Trust scholarship to complete my MSc and PhD at Oxford University (and thrillingly, where I got to follow in Oliver Sacks’ footsteps).
I spent my time at Oxford studying the fine art of electrophysiology and figuring out how to sum up my thesis in just a few simple words — I finally concluded I was delving into ‘Nature, Nurture or Neuroplasticity?’.
In 2002, my handsome Irish husband (who I met at Oxford University where we were partying like because it was 1999) and I headed to Sydney, Australia in search of sunshine, surf and a sailboat. I’m delighted to say we found them all!
b. My career
Following a short stint rewriting breast cancer clinical practice guidelines at a cancer council, I spent the next five years researching and teaching neuroscience. At NeuRA I focused on the immune system response to spinal cord injury. At Garvan Institute of Medical Research, I looked at neuroplasticity and deafness.
Passionate as I was about research, I found myself getting frustrated with failed experiments, the grant application merry-go-round, and the unbearable slowness of the academic publication process. Meanwhile, I found my happy place sharing science with public tour groups, teaching medical students, and writing for online science Q&A forums (back in the good old days before social media!). So after much soul-searching, I put down the pipette, hang up my lab coat, and follow my passion of writing and talking about science and medicine.
c. Since 2008
I’ve combined running Think Brain Pty Ltd with raising my two boys on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. And, yes, our lifestyle IS as good as it sounds. We go to the beach as often as we can, we even go surfing in the middle of winter!
Yes, I miss the lab. Especially the intellectual challenges and the dedicated and creative scientists I used to spend my days with. But I also like to connect the dots between ideas and disciplines and share my insights with the public. So in my business, I’ve found the best of both worlds.
When I’m not at the beach, I spend my days sharing the latest neuroscience research and its many practical applications in my book, at speaking gigs around the country and through my online professional development programs.
You can see where I have appeared on TV and other media below.
Watch Sarah's TEDx Talk
The ‘Official’ Bio
Dr Sarah McKay is a neuroscientist who translates brain research into strategies for professionals working in health, education and coaching. She received her PhD from Oxford, but after four years postdoc research, hung up her lab coat to set up a communications business bridging the gap between the lab and everyday life.
Sarah is the author of The Women's Brain Book—The neuroscience of health, hormones and happiness which explores the female lifespan through the lens of neurobiology. In 2019, Sarah hosted an episode of ABC Catalyst exploring brain health, bio-hacking and longevity.
Sarah is the director of The Neuroscience Academy, which offers professional development training in applied neuroscience and brain health. In 2020, Sarah will take part in Homeward Bound, a women-in-STEM leadership expedition to Antarctica.
Sarah has been published extensively for consumers and professional audiences. She’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Grazia, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Mamamia, and can be seen and heard on SBS Insight, ABC Catalyst, ABC Radio National, Radio New Zealand, and Channel 7.
Sarah lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her Irish husband and together they are raising two surfer dudes and one cocker spaniel.
Work with Dr Sarah
I am not a medical doctor. I'm a PhD trained scientist. Please read my DISCLAIMER about consulting a professional medical doctor for any advice or concerns you may have about your own or someone else’s health and wellbeing.
And to see my academic credentials click here and for my academic publications click here.
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Learn how to use neuroscience in your everyday life.