Founder and Executive Director
International Arts + Mind Lab
Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics
Johns Hopkins University
Co-Director, NeuroArts Blueprint
Susan Magsamen is the founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics (IAM Lab) which is part of the Pedersen Brain Science Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she is a faculty member in the Department of Neurology. At the intersection of science and the arts, for more than 40 years, her work incorporates academic research and other ways of knowing to inform the design and implementation of arts-based programs and products to improve health, well-being, and learning. She is also co-director of the Neuroarts Blueprint: Advancing the Science of Arts, Health and Well-Being, a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins International Arts + Mind Lab and the Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society Program.
Susan has worked in both the public and private sectors on initiatives addressing early childhood development, physical and mental health, playful learning, workforce innovation, family engagement, aging, creativity, social justice, and under-resourced communities through the lens of the arts. She is the creator of the Impact Thinking translational framework, developed to advance effective interdisciplinary practices and approaches using the arts and aesthetics. She serves on the advisory boards of Creating Healthy Communities: Arts and Public Health, an initiative working to support public health applications of arts-based programs; the EpiLab at the University of Florida; the American Neuroscientists for Architecture (ANFA); Brain Future; Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s education council. Additional advisory roles include the Science of Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins, First Book, Brookings Institution, the Clinton Global Initiative, and Sylvan Learning. Susan is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, American Psychological Association, the National Organization for Arts and Health, and the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities. She is also a Royal Society of the Arts Fellow.
Susan served as guest editor of Child Art, the journal of the International Child Art Foundation, for a special edition called Your Brain on Art. She is also the co-host of The Arts + Mind Village Webinar Series, and a co-author of Creating Health Community Through Cross-Sector Collaborations. Additionally, she has published a range of peer-reviewed articles on the role of the arts in health and wellbeing including The Aesthetic Brain: A Growing Case for the Arts, in Cerebrum, a Dana Foundation journal.
In 2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) acquired Curiosityville, an online personalized learning world Susan founded. She was named senior vice president of Global Learning Sciences at HMH, where she developed a global learning strategy for children, families, and childcare providers. She is also the creator of Curiosity Kits, a hands-on, multisensory learning company acquired by Torstar in 1995. Under Susan’s leadership, Curiosity Kits expanded from children’s educational arts programs into the health and wellness sector. She created more than 600 arts-learning programs and products in the arts, sciences, and world cultures for children and adults at home and in institutional settings.
Author of a number of books for children and families, Susan’s body of work includes The Classic Treasury of Childhood Wonder and Family Stories (Random House, 2010) and The 10 Best of Everything Families (National Geographic, 2009). She was also the author of Family Stories, a five-part series that included Nighty Night, Tooth Fairy Times, My Two Homes, Family Night, and Making Spirits Bright (Barnes & Noble, 2007).
Susan is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences.