Monday, March 23, 2009
When I think of Suzanne Stensaas, I picture her with a brain bucket.
Every Friday around lunchtime during the years I worked at the University of Utah, the staff, residents and medical students in the Neurology Department of which I was a part would gather up their lunches and head to brain cutting--literally--where various interesting brains from (yes) dead patients would be sliced for viewing and scientific research.
Suzanne was the neuroanatomist in the department. Brains were her thing. Neurologists thought nothing of doing this over lunch.
Parkinsons brains. Alzheimers brains. Brains with bleeds. Normal brains. Abby Normal brains.
Suzanne was well known as an enthusiastic, larger than life character, extremely proficient in her field.
In 1986, a few years after I knew her, Suzanne gave up scientific research for teaching, and in 1990, she left the University of Utah, where she had been since 1969, and headed to New York City to teach at Cornell. She served on the medical college faculty at Cornell University until 1999, when she returned to the University of Utah to direct the neuroscience block in what was then the new curriculum of the medical school. She has remained in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah Medical Center since.
Suzanne was instrumental in the creation of the Slice-of-Life project, a multimedia medical education and information sharing project spearheaded at the University of Utah, and for over twenty years travelled the globe giving Slice-of-Life workshops to multimedia developers and medical science educators. She is also on the board of directors of the Health Assets Education Library (HEAL).
Over the years she has published numerous articles in medical journals on neuroanatomy, neuropathology, medical education and multimedia, and is well known and respected internationally as an authority, educator and speaker on the same. She has made an enormous contribution to the University of Utah health care system and neurological education, as well as the use of multimedia in the health care sciences.
Me, I always think of her at lunch. On Fridays.