Results of FUN Member Survey 2018
Thursday, February 6, 2020
by: Leah Chase, former FUN president

Section: Features

First, let me start this article with a huge THANK YOU to the entire FUN community!!! I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve as President-Elect/President/Past-President of this fantastic organization over the past three years. I gained so much from this experience, both professionally and personally. Thank you!

One of the last tasks I completed in my role as Past-President was to work with Amy Jo Stavnezer to conduct a FUN member survey with the following goal in mind:
  • To identify vendors/institutions/publishers that our members have relationships with in order to identify potential new sponsors for our travel award program.
  • To seek input from our members about the format of FUN-related activities at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.
  • To identify the barriers for participation in regional meetings such as MGluR, SYNPASE,NEURON, Midbrains.
  • To gain a better understanding of how FUN members use the website, what barriers they identify in using the site, and additional resources/activities our members are looking to FUN to potentially provide through the website.

The purpose of this article is to share the summarized results of the survey with you. The survey was open from the beginning of December, 2017 through January 31, 2018, and 115 members completed the survey. The unabridged survey results were shared with the Executive Committee at our meeting at the SFN this year, and will be used by the committee as they begin a strategic planning initiative that is being led by our new President, Ron Bayline.

Goal 1: Identification of Potential New FUN Travel Award Sponsors.
As a community, you identified 97 vendors and 24 publishers that you utilize regularly to support your scholarship and teaching. Most importantly, we learned that as a community, we regularly purchase from a few specific vendors who are not currently sponsoring travel awards (e.g. Fisher Scientific/Thermofisher, VWR, Carolina Biological, Sigma, BioRad, Olympus and Nikon). Similarly, we learned that our members purchase most of their texts from Academic Press, Oxford Press (Sinauer) and Pearson, and we plan to also contact these publishers regarding our travel award program.

Goal 2: Format of FUN-sponsored events as the Society for Neuroscience meeting.
In general, the membership was nearly equally divided on whether to change the format of our FUN social and business meeting, however, there appears to be strong interest in adding a half-day FUN workshop on the Saturday morning prior to the start of the SFN conference. Many of you volunteered to help with this conference. THANK YOU! The specific prompts and results are presented in Table 1.

Goal 3: Barriers to Attendance of Regional meetings such as mGluRs, MidBrains, SYNAPSE, or NEURON.
Of the 115 individuals that completed the survey, only 33 attend the regional meetings [mGluRs (7); MidBrains (8); SYNAPSE (13); and NEURON (5)]. Of those respondents that do not attend one of these meetings, they indicate time (19) and distance to the regional meetings (18) are the greatest barriers to attendance. Also, many indicated funding/cost of travel (15) and their teaching schedule (6) prevented them from attending. Interestingly, 6 individuals indicated that they were unaware of the existence of these meetings, so we should work to increase the advertising for these regional conferences. Others indicated that their attendance at other conferences prevented them from participating in the regional conferences (6).

Goal 4: Use of the FUN Website.
FUN is in the process of seeking a new platform for our website. We recognized that the current website is out of date and somewhat clumsy to use. Therefore, as we consider our options for transitioning to a new platform, we wanted to seek your input on how you currently use the website. When asked what features you use on the FUN website, most indicated they use the website to pay their dues (85). Many members also use the website to access the FUN member directory (42), information about Student Travel Awards (41), ERIN (35), Newsletters (32), “Latest news” (27) or job ads (14). When asked whether there is specific information specific information that you have had difficulty accessing on the website, 90 responded
“No”, while 25 responded “Yes”. Those that could not find specific information provided insight into the specific resources they were having difficulty finding. We also asked you what additional resources/programs you are looking for FUN to provide its members and received over 30 different responses!! These responses included ideas such as 1) a blog or message board for teaching and lab ideas, 2) increased networking opportunities and 3) a FUN mentoring program. All of these ideas will be extremely helpful as we begin to imagine the new face of FUN!