What are the career or graduate school options for neuroscience majors?
Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary major that gives students exposure to biology, psychology, chemistry, philosophy, computer science, and other disciplines as they work to understand the brain and the body’s nervous system. A degree in neuroscience is good preparation to work in medical research or to pursue medical or graduate school. Most graduates in neuroscience from The College of Wooster go to graduate or medical school, while others have entered the job market as researchers at hospitals or at a university.
Neuroscience at The College of Wooster
Students who major in neuroscience at The College of Wooster will find the courses are multidisciplinary and provide a strong foundation in the sciences. Students choose to concentrate in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience or cellular neurobiology, with each concentration allowing students to choose electives that help them further focus on their research interests. All students at The College of Wooster complete independent research on a topic of their choice under the guidance of a faculty mentor, culminating in a thesis delivered in spring of their senior year.
Neuroscience majors complete seven required foundational courses and are asked to focus on one of two tracks: psychology or biology.
The goals of the Neuroscience Program are to provide students with the essential foundational knowledge, skills, confidence and research experiences that will allow them to identify and meet their intellectual and professional goals. Core areas of understanding will include, but are not limited to, neuroanatomy, neuronal physiology, the influence of development, genetics and environment on the central nervous system, the behavioral and physiological effects of pharmacological agents, the impact of stress, disease and aging on behavior and the brain, and the underlying cellular processes of learning, memory and retrieval of information. In each track, students will master methodology and experimental techniques relevant to the areas of Neuroscience they find most engaging. Students will apply critical thinking and problem solving skills on both their specific research projects and also the larger challenges facing the field of Neuroscience. In addition, it will produce liberally educated scientists who are well-versed in scientific methodology and its application, who possess a thorough knowledge of fundamental neuroscientific concepts, and who are able to express themselves with clarity, both orally and in writing.
Like all Wooster students, Neuroscience majors complete three semesters of study that culminate in the completion of their Independent Study. In their junior year, students will have the opportunity to narrow their focus to a particular area of interest within the larger field of neuroscience. They will learn to demonstrate a mastery of the available literature and possible laboratory methods related to that topic, and will then work toward identifying a research question to pursue during their senior year. In the senior year, each student will work closely with a faculty member to fully develop, conduct and complete a yearlong research project assessing central nervous system functioning at the organismal, cellular or a combination of these levels.
Recent I.S. projects include:
An assessment of a particular cytokine (chemical messenger of the nervous system) and its involvement in the cellular connections within the hippocampus
An assessment of the impact of maternal care on offspring learning and memory capabilities
The influence of multiple cue types on learning in mice
The influence of hormone levels on fear learning and the related cellular processes in rats
A measurement of changes in the regulatory subunits of protein kinase during sleep deprivation in flies
Name: Emma Davidson Majors: Neurobiology Advisors: Erzsebet Regan, Seth Kelly The circadian system is an incredibly conserved physiological component of nearly all living organisms […]
Wooster graduates with degrees in Neuroscience have chosen careers in a broad range of fields, from medicine, biological research, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, environmental law, exercise physiology, and cytotechnology, to art illustration, teaching, wildlife and fisheries management, evolutionary biology, and public health. Over half our graduates go on to continue their education at professional schools such as medical, veterinary, dental, or nursing schools at schools like Case Western, The Ohio State University, or in graduate programs at universities such as Yale, Michigan, UC Davis, UCLA, Columbia, Harvard, George Washington University, and Duke.
Wooster’s health coach program provided introduction to palliative care
The Program in Neuroscience is housed in the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Sciences, providing modern, expansive space for classrooms, teaching laboratories, and research laboratories. The Program in Neuroscience shares numerous research labs, classrooms, and offices with the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology, and the Interdisciplinary Programs in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Environmental Studies.
Research facilities and equipment available to neuroscience majors include advanced microscopy, aquatics, EEG/ERP laboratory, environmental neuroendocrinology laboratory, eye-tracking, human cognitive research facilities, vertebrate animal facilities for birds and rodents, and vertebrate animal facility for fish.
Ruth W. Williams Hall currently houses a suite of microscopes for both teaching and research. Four imaging stations are available for teaching purposes. Each station is outfitted with an IX73 Olympus epifluorescent inverted microscope, a digital camera, and laptop computer. A cryostat and vibratome are also available for making thin sections of tissue. Williams Hall also houses a research-grade Olympus Fluoview 3000 scanning laser confocal microscope in a dedicated microscopy room. The confocal is outfitted with multiple excitation lasers and software for deconvolution and image analysis. Additional resources are available (TEM, SEM, laser dissection, and additional confocal imaging) at the nearby Ohio State Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), which is also located in Wooster, Ohio.
Ruth W. Williams Hall has an Aquaneering Zebrafish Housing system which consists of a seven-shelf double-sided rack that allows for a flexible arrangement of tanks from 1.4 to 9.5 liters in size. All tanks are maintained on a self-contained water filtration system that controls water pH, conductivity, and temperature. Water parameters in the aquatic facility can be controlled remotely through mobile monitoring. The aquatic facility can support research in a variety of disciplines, including genomics, developmental biology, animal behavior, and organismal physiology, among others.
Ruth W. Williams Hall houses the EEG/ERP laboratory which is equipped with two actiCHamp EEG systems from Brain Vision. Separate sound-attenuated, lighting-controlled experiment chambers house each system allowing parallel data collection on each. One EEG system is setup for 32-channel recordings, the other for 64-channel recordings. The laboratory uses both actiCHamp active electrodes and actiCAP slim electrodes enabling the recording of brain waves from participants of all demographics. EEG recordings are pre-processed and analyzed by Brain Vison Analyzer 2.2.1. Experiment software is E-prime 3.0.
The EEG/ERP laboratory in Ruth W. Williams Hall is also equipped with a Tobii Nano Pro eye tracker which captures eye gaze data at 60 Hz and is designed for fixation-based studies. The Tobii Nano Pro is a mobile eye tracker which can be flexibly mounted on laptops and desktop screens. Experiment software is E-prime 3.0 with extension for Tobii Nano Pro.
Environmental neuroendocrinology laboratory
Ruth W. Williams Hall also houses a neurondocrinology laboratory that allows measurement of both circulating and tissue-specific hormones. This laboratory is optimized to run ELISAS to detect steroid hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, and corticosterone, as well as some protein hormones in a variety of mammalian and avian species. Equipment for measurement of circulating levels of steroid binding proteins is also available, as well as a cryostat for creating thin slices of tissue in which hormones may also be detected through techniques such as immunohistochemistry. This laboratory is also equipped for the study of interactions of hormones and behavior in free-living songbirds.
Human Cognitive Research Facilities
Ruth W. Williams Hall and Morgan Hall have multiple rooms available for human cognitive research. These rooms provide a quiet environment for testing human participants with a wide variety of cognitive tasks. The rooms are equipped to support various methods like computerized testing (with LiveCode, Qualtrics, Testable, DirectRT, or E-Prime), paper-and-pencil testing, interviews, group testing, dyad testing, or physiological testing (including among others heat rate, pulse, skin conductance).
Vertebrate Animal Facility for Birds and Rodents
Ruth W. Williams Hall has a vertebrate animal facility for birds and rodents with a total of 16 separate holding, testing and storage rooms. These include two free flight rooms and one colony room for zebra finches, multiple large flight cages, two rodent colony rooms, three testing rooms with video capture technology and associated computers and software, four additional flexible testing/holding spaces, a separate surgical suite with an Isoflurane anesthesia system, and a cage washroom with an automated Lynx cage washer. The Neuroscience program and Biology department share a full-time animal care technician. For behavioral assays, we have several large tubs that can accommodate Morris water maze and water radial arm maze, in addition to a Barnes maze, open field, elevated plus maze, three Med Associates rodent nose poke chambers, and a pair of Columbus Instruments PACS boxes. The Neuroscience program has a license for Noldus EthoVision 14 to digitize all videos for maze analysis.