Emile Bruneau


Spreading Light               

“The best way to activate a communal force is to be a community.”

            -Emile Bruneau

Emile Bruneau, a former NGP Ph.D. student (graduated 2008), passed away on September 30 after a fierce battle with cancer. Emile and his wife, Stephanie, began a CaringBridge site shortly after Emile was diagnosed with glioblastoma, providing a selfless opportunity for us to stay connected during their nearly two-year journey.

Emile received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, taught science for several years at Menlo and Peninsula schools in California, and joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program in 2002. He performed his NGP Ph.D. thesis studies with Dr. Mohammed Akaaboune. Emile received many awards during his time in the program including the NGP Outstanding Student Publication Award and PIBS Excellence in Research and Service Award. He served as NGSO president and was a key player in the first edition of Neurons, a handbook created by students for students, with everything one would need to know about living in Ann Arbor and navigating the PhD.


After receiving his PhD, Emile completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Rebecca Saxe at MIT using fMRI to study the brains of people on opposite sides of conflict. He moved on from his postdoc in 2015 and joined the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania as a visiting scholar and eventually became the Lead Scientist for the Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab.

For those of us who were fortunate to know Emile, we know that this is not just a loss for his loved ones, but for the world. We encourage each of you to take the time to read the memoriam and watch the short film shared by the Annenberg School for Communication at the following link:  https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/memoriam-emile-bruneau-peace-and-conflict-neuroscientist  This will give you a glimpse of the person who truly exemplified the idea of spreading light and empathy as he engaged in this world.

Since sharing this spotlight, there was a beautiful tribute posted in the New York Times on Monday, November 3.