The Herting Neurodevelopment Lab at USC

With travel and in-person engagements cancelled last minute, USC’s Herting Lab needed a way to evangelize their research and utilize 2020 funding before it was lost.

Graphic of ImageThink Method - Excite phase

It’s Not Brain Science… Oh Wait, It Is!

For over a decade, ImageThink has been banging the drum about the power of visuals to add narrative structure and communicative oomph to your data and insights. It’s not rocket science: humans are evolved to be visual creatures, so we work, learn, and understand concepts better when they’re presented visually.

But what if your story is rocket science…or in this case, brain science? The Herting Neurodevelopment Lab at USC does incredibly important, and advanced, work. The Lab’s research sheds light on the multitude of factors at play in the developing minds of adolescents. These insights and discoveries can have real impact of how structural and institutional policies can be crafted to help improve the lives of young people.

Their challenge? How to boil down years of complex research, hundreds of studies, and thousands of data points into a succinct story that describes not only what the Lab has discovered, but why people should care. Because let’s be honest—not all potential donors, policy makers, and members of the general public have a PhD in neuroscience.

Painting A Clearer Picture

Dr. Megan Herting turned to ImageThink to help her create a visual elevator pitch that would tell her lab’s story at a glance to the many audiences she serves.

Our creative team worked closely with Dr. Herting’s team to understand the various goals of the lab, and what each meant to them on a human level. By collectively iterating over a series of remote meetings, ImageThink and the Herting Lab team co-created the narrative of their data, from rough sketch to full color infographic.

An additional benefit, the process clarified the way each team member’s individual workflow contributed towards shared goals. As is often one of the best positive externalities, the creation of a useful external document itself helped to align and galvanize the team internally.

From White Paper to Full Color Illustration

With a clear visual narrative, the Herting Lab is now armed with an evergreen asset to accompany white papers, encourage donor support, and truly illustrate their impact during speaker presentations. As Dr. Herting put it:

One of the most exciting opportunities in the life of a scientist is the ability to start their own research laboratory. In some ways it is like starting a business, in that you have to not only have the idea, but also find investors (i.e. funding) and recruit bright and talented individuals that share in your vision.

I started my research laboratory at USC in 2016 with the goal of helping uncover risk and resilience factors in brain development using neuroimaging techniques. In just four years we have been successful and have grown in many ways with various funded projects. But as we started this year, I wanted a way for our team to align in our big ideas and really solidify our mission.

In addition, I wanted us to improve our ability to communicate what we study and why we study brain risk and resilience in children and adolescents to a larger audience. Through a series of thoughtful meetings, ImageThink allowed for us to not only verbalize and visualize our united efforts, but also enhance our creativity and we had fun in the process!

Dr. Megan Herting, PhD
Behavioral Neuroscientist, lab director

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