Introduction

This interdisciplinary field focuses on both the normal and abnormal structure and function of the nervous system. The Neuroscience major at Dickinson College will provide students with fundamental training in the scientific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology. In addition, the integrative aspect of the two introductory Neuroscience courses, placed within Psychology and Biology, demonstrates to the student the interconnectedness of these two sciences. The 200-level Neuroscience course, Perspectives in Neuroscience, exposes to different levels of neuroscientific analysis: molecular/cellular, behavioral and systems.  Upper division courses allow the student to bring research skills to bear in the laboratory and to integrate skills and knowledge gained in the introductory courses. The elective requirements allow the student to explore the many facets of Neuroscience, and the student can choose to focus on molecular or molar approaches to Neuroscience; can choose to emphasize Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology in the Neuroscience major; or can explore the ways other fields, such as Anthropology, Philosophy, or Sociology, intersect with Neuroscience. Finally, an Experience in Neuroscience allows the student to “engage the world” by bringing to bear her/his knowledge and skills as part of an independent study, research experience or internship.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

The appropriate sections of this handbook and the Academic Bulletin should be consulted for information regarding individual courses, advanced placement, courses that fulfill distribution requirements, and so on. It is strongly recommended that any student considering this major should seek advice from one of the contributing faculty as early as possible. Students with adequate preparation should begin by taking both the introductory biology and psychology sequences during the first year, in addition to starting the chemistry or physics sequence.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

The Neuroscience 200 course (Perspectives in Neuroscience) is required for the major and satisfies the Writing Intensive (WR) distribution requirement.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

A student who starts the major in the first year will have more options for advanced study during the senior year. As can be seen below, it is possible for a student, starting in the sciences, to take the majority of neuroscience courses during the sophomore and junior year (see Option A). It is also possible for a student to start the major in the sophomore year and still complete the major (see Option B).

First-Year students who plan to major in Neuroscience are strongly encouraged to concurrently take BIOL 124 and CHEM 131 the fall semester and PYSC 125 and CHEM 132 the spring semester. (Please note: CHEM 141 can substitute for the CHEM 131-132 sequence.) Alternatively, a student could take PHYS 131 (or 141) in the fall semester and PHYS 132 (or 142) in the spring semester of their first year in lieu of the chemistry sequence and complete the chemistry sequence after the first year.  Also, students not completing the Pre-Health curriculum are encouraged to complete the PHYS 131-132 sequence, especially students interested in pursuing graduate school in Neuroscience.  Please note: MATH 151 or 170 is a prerequisite/co-requisite for PHYS 131.  Students completing the Pre-Health curriculum should complete the PHYS 141-142 sequence.  Once a student successfully has completed either BIOL 124 or PSYC 125, then the student can declare the Neuroscience major and be eligible to take NRSC 200.  NRSC 200 is intended to be completed during a student’s sophomore or junior year.  Moreover, once a student has successfully completed BIOL 124, PSYC 125 AND NRSC 200, then the student is eligible for neuroscience-related upper-level Biology (BIOL 313, 327, 330 and 333) and Psychology (PSYC 310, 315, 325 and 330) courses that contribute to the major as elective courses.  Non-neuroscience related upper-level science courses (e.g., BIOL 314) that satisfy the Science Elective require only BIOL 124 AND PSYC 125.  Thus, students may complete the Science Elective as earlier as their sophomore year.  A student is strongly encouraged to complete the introductory BIOL 124/PSYC 125 sequence as early as possible.  Twelve courses are required to complete the major. Below is an example of when various courses can be taken to complete the major.

Option A
For Incoming Students Planning to Pursue Neuroscience as a Major

Year Fall Spring
First Year BIOL 124
CHEM 131 (or 141)
MATH 151 or 170
PSYC 125
CHEM 132
Sophomore NRSC 200
PHYS 131 (or 141)
Science Elective
PHYS 132 (or 142)
Junior 300-Level PSYC Eelctive 300-Level BIOL Eelctive
Non-Science Elective
Senior Experience in Neuroscience 400-Level Seminar

A student may begin the Neuroscience major their sophomore year even if no neuroscience-related courses were taken their first year.  For students beginning the Neuroscience major their sophomore year, they will need to concurrently take BIOL 124 and CHEM 131 (CHEM 141 is not an option for sophomores) in the fall semester and PSYC 125 and CHEM 132 in the spring semester.  PHYS 131 (or 141) and 132 (or 142) can be taken in lieu of the chemistry sequence in the sophomore year and the chemistry sequence completed during either the junior or senior year.  Also, students not completing the Pre-Health curriculum are encouraged to complete the PHYS 131-132 sequence, especially students interested in pursuing graduate school in Neuroscience.  Please note: MATH 151 or 170 is a prerequisite/co-requisite for PHYS 131.  Students completing the Pre-Health curriculum should complete the PHYS 141-142 sequence.  Completion of either BIOL 124 OR PSYC 125 will permit students to declare the major by the end of their sophomore year and be eligible to take NRSC 200 the first semester of their junior year.  Moreover, a student beginning the major their sophomore year could complete the non-neuroscience related science elective and the neuroscience-related upper-level biology and psychology courses their junior and senior years, respectively, in addition to completing the other requirements of the major.  Importantly, students planning to begin the Neuroscience major their sophomore year should consult the Program Director about navigating the major.  Below is an example of when various courses can be taken to complete the major.

Option B
For Students Beginning the Neuroscience Major their Sophomore Year

Year Fall Spring
First Year --------------------------- ---------------------------
Sophomore BIOL 124
CHEM 131
MATH 151 or 170
PSYC 125
CHEM 132
Junior NRSC 200
PHYS 131 (or 141)
Science Elective
PHYS 132 (or 142)
Non-Science Elective
Senior 300-Level PSYC Elective
Experience in Neuroscience
300-Level BIOL Elective
400-Level Seminar

 

Honors

The Neuroscience Program will award Honors to a Neuroscience major based on the candidate’s entire undergraduate Neuroscience program.  This is to include all Neuroscience-related courses with their grades, the nature of the curriculum selected, and the successful completion of an Honors research project.  This project may be performed in two semesters of Independent Research (NRSC 550 or 560) on campus, or in a summer plus one semester of Independent Research, under the supervision of a Neuroscience program member.  Research projects of comparable scope performed off-campus under the supervision of a mentor who is not a Neuroscience program member may also be proposed for program Honors, subject to the procedures described below. For all Honors candidates a minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required in those courses that count toward the Neuroscience major, including Chemistry 131, 132, 141, or the equivalent thereof, Physics 131, 132 (or Physics 141 and 142) and transfer courses that receive Neuroscience credit.  The Honors research project should be distinguished by the originality and definition of the research problem, the sophistication of the experimental design and its execution, and the analysis, and presentation of the results.  Generally, Honors reports should be of publishable or near publishable quality.  The Honors Committee will consider all these factors in its recommendation to the faculty, and the faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting Honors. For the specific guidelines and procedures see the Neuroscience Program web site.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Neuroscience Club:  Students are encouraged to join the Neuroscience Club.  The mission of the Neuroscience Club at Dickinson College is to spread awareness of brain-related issues on campus, while providing a science community for Neuroscience, Psychology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Biology and Physics majors.

Additional Remarks

Experience in Neuroscience: Students are required to complete an Experience in Neuroscience. An Experience in Neuroscience can be on- or off-campus and can be done either for credit or no credit.  The experience requirement may be met by a variety of experiences such as an independent study, research project, or internship. Typically, students complete the Experience in Neuroscience during the third or fourth year. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their Neuroscience advisors and to develop a plan to complete the experience.

Careers: The Neuroscience major will provide our students with rigorous training in Neuroscience, advanced opportunities for research, and integrated mentoring and advising of students as preparation for graduate or professional study in Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, medicine and other related fields. Students graduating with a major in Neuroscience will be competitive for entry-level positions in corporate or academic laboratories.

Off-campus study additional information:  In addition to off-campus internships, it is possible for majors to spend a semester or year abroad. The most likely sites for this would be the Dickinson Science Program at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, the Dickinson Science Program in Brisbane, Australia at the University of Queensland or the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Again, very careful planning well in advance of the junior year is required.

Further information: Inquiries are welcomed from students or faculty who wish additional information about the neuroscience program. Please contact Professor Anthony Rauhut (rauhuta@dickinson.edu) or any of the contributing faculty.