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Community Engagement

The Canine Brain Project is a public educational program aimed at educating the public on canid cognition, neuroanatomy, evolution and the use of canines in animal-assisted therapy. Through our ongoing collaboration with Des Moines Public Schools Central Campus, we offer qualifying high school students the opportunity to participate in ongoing research in canid neuroanatomy, collaboratively building 3D models and digital atlases of the canid brain to be used by students and researchers in comparative anatomy. Several of our high school participants have subsequently gone on to participate in the District and State Science fair as well as internships at other competitive research laboratories. As part of this initiative the EBL also hosts bimonthly meetings of the Canine Brain Interest Group (CBIG) which brings together community partners and other researchers interested in the canid brain and the human-animal bond. Below are a few examples of ongoing work completed by our high school research students. 

3D Reconstructions of the dog brain


This model shows the surface topography, white matter and the amygdala of the domestic dog. Video and modelling  was performed by mentored research student Brian Whyms with assistance from Central Campus student Naveen Nath. Subscribe to our Youtube channel for updates as new 3D models are posted >More video


Canid Brain ToolBox

Please visit our experimental collaborative tool put together with the help of MediaTech.


We envision using this tool to supplement our collaborative learning with students from across the greater Des Moines region.

*Select student posters

MRI Canid Atlas


A domestic dog brain atlas created with the help of high school students participating in our research. Currently this atlas is being updated. Please check back soon for complete atlases of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), fennec fox (Vulpes zerda), maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), coyote (Canis latrans) and Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus)


Bridging the Gap Between Science and Start-Up!

Drawing upon on existing partnerships (Des Moines Public Schools, Central Campus and Kemin Industries) students from the Neuro-SMART program have developed a business model aimed at enhancing anatomy instruction through the development and sale of 3D printed models of the canid brain. Students in the program receive training in the creation of 3D printed models, 3D printing and key business concepts to help them market their products to classrooms across the nation. Income generated will help fund the running costs of the project and initiate a service project aimed at educating other high school students about brain anatomy and brain health. Below we present some preliminary images of 3D printed models made during the pilot phase of this project as presented at the 2018 Des Moines University Research Symposium, where student researcher Aracely Miron-O'Campo won first place in the high school research category.

Read the DMU Dose Article!      Read the DMPS Article!


Stay tuned for our forthcoming student run Business website with images and pricing of 3D printed models available for purchase.


Canid Pial Surface (Lycaon pictus)

Canid White Matter Surface (Lycaon pictus)


(Original Size)

Limbic Structures & Brainstem

(Original Size)

Felid Pial Surface


Canid Hippocampus, Optic tract and Anterior Commissure

Canid Hippocampus

(3X Original Size)

The NeuroSMART Class receives recognition at Governor Reynolds' Condition of the State address (15th Jan, 2019). In her address Governor Reynolds said: " Iowa students are getting amazing real-world learning experiences. Like Central Campus in Des Moines, where this week, high-school students will start a semester-long program called NeuroSMART. Through a partnership with Kemin and Des Moines University, and with the support of a STEM Council award, these students will get hands-on experience in the fields of neuroscience and business. In the gallery today, we have students from Central Campus. Please stand to be recognized. We are excited to see what the future has in store for you."  Below are some pictures from our time at the State House.  Read More
 Kacia Cain (DMPS) & Brenda Foncesca (Kemin)

© 2011 by Evolving Brain Laboratory (EBL)

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