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New Neuroscience Major Immerses Students in Research

A student participates in a biology lab.

One of the best ways to describe Bethel’s new B.S. in Neuroscience degree is this: research focused. The breadth of research available to students sets Bethel’s program apart and ensures students are well prepared for medical and graduate school and their future careers.

Students need to leave their undergraduate experience with published papers and extensive research experience, says Melissa Cordes, assistant professor of biological sciences and a neuroscience faculty member. “Getting into graduate school isn’t just about grades any more,” she explains. That’s why Bethel’s neuroscience major includes an independent research project. Additionally, neuroscience professors will work actively to make sure that each student has access to hands-on research opportunities both on and off Bethel’s campus.

Offered by the biology and psychology departments, the neuroscience major is a response to growth in the field and the interests of new and current students. In a proposal submitted as part of the approval process for the major, Bethel estimated that 30 to 40 students would participate in the program in its first four years.

Adam Johnson, professor of psychology, holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and already works with students interested in the field. He recently told Bethel Magazine about one unique research opportunity. With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Johnson and a group of four Bethel students worked on research during the past academic year, then went to Boston University to continue. They were able to collaborate with post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, and Howard Eichenbaum, director of Boston University’s Center for Memory and Brain. “While the NIH does not have a history of funding undergraduate training programs, our program provides a truly innovative model for launching undergraduate students into the neurosciences,” Johnson writes about the grant. 

Students who major in neuroscience will gain extensive laboratory experience. For instance, one course immerses students in lab twice a week for four hours each—eight hours of lab a week. Neuroscience’s blending of biology and psychology means students will learn animal and human research techniques. Furthermore, they’ll gain a solid scientific foundation, taking courses in microbiology and abnormal psychology, as well as organic chemistry and physics.

In addition to Cordes and Johnson, the neuroscience faculty will include William McVaugh, associate professor of biological sciences, and new psychology faculty member Sherryse Corrow. The neuroscience major continues Bethel’s tradition of academic excellence. To learn more about the program or to apply, visit the B.S. in Neuroscience webpage through the biology or psychology departments.

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