Program Handbook

The Curriculum

The Neuroscience Program includes many of the courses taught in both biology and psychology.  Introductory courses in both departments provide a solid grounding in the principles and concepts that form the core of knowledge upon which the field of neuroscience has developed, as well as in the nature of experimentation in these fields.  Majors then take one of two introductory-level neuroscience courses to provide an introduction to the field of neuroscience itself.  A series of mid-level laboratory courses, including Neurophysiology, Molecular Neurobiology, Laboratory in Cognitive Neuroscience, and Laboratory in Behavioral Neuroscience provide students with more in-depth experience and laboratory work in areas of neuroscience ranging from molecular to cognitive.  More specialized courses, including upper-level seminars, allow students to pursue areas of interest to them.  These courses cover such diverse topics as developmental neuroscience, hormones and behavior, and animal cognition.

Requirements for Honors in Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Program grants honors to senior majors to reward distinguished work in neuroscience. Honors is achieved through a student's performance in neuroscience coursework as well as completion of a research project and thesis. Students interested in pursuing Honors in Neuroscience are encouraged to speak with potential faculty mentors early in their junior year, and to apply for fellowships to begin their research during the summer before the senior year.

Honors in neuroscience will be awarded by the Neuroscience Committee upon consideration of a written thesis and oral presentation, and based on the student's success in the following:

  • Experimental effort
  • Knowledge and understanding of the literature relevant to the project
  • The ability to place the project into the scientific context, and to connect the experimental design, the literature and the data obtained
  • Data analysis/ project presentation, including an understanding of the field as demonstrated when answering questions during the presentations
  • Attendance at neuroscience seminars, including discussions (usually two each semester) with "honors seminar" speakers

In addition, students must meet the following specific requirements for Honors:

1. Candidates must have a grade point average equal to a B in all courses submitted for the major through the fall semester of the senior year. This includes all courses that are eligible for credit towards the major.

2. Candidates must complete at least two semesters of Independent Study (Neuroscience 4000-4004) devoted to research on a single topic.

3. A tentative research project title must be given to the coordinator and to the Chair of the Neuroscience Program by November 1, 2017. At the same time, a brief description (about 1 page) of the project should be submitted to the research advisor. This description may be posted on the Neuroscience web site.

4. Each student will be assigned a committee consisting of the research advisor, secondary reviewer and tertiary reviewer (generally from the Neuroscience Program, although other faculty with appropriate expertise may occasionally be suggested.)

5. A fall semester honors paper must be submitted to each member of the committee no later than Friday, December 8, 2017. This paper will include (1) an Introduction containing complete background information (with citations) and the question(s) being addressed, (2) the methodology and experimental design being used (Methods), and (3) a short description of results to date and/or a project proposal. It is expected that the Introduction and Methods will serve, after revision, as those components for the final thesis (except in cases where substantial and unexpected changes in direction occur during the spring semester.) A student's continuation in the honors program will be determined by the Neuroscience faculty at the end of the fall semester. It is the student's responsibility to consult with the research advisor regarding continuation during the first week of the second semester.

*The advisor should see a draft well before Thanksgiving (11/23/17), and your thesis should go through several rounds of revisions before it is given to the secondary reviewer on Friday, December 1, 2017.

6. During the Fall Reading Period (Monday, Dec. 11 & Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017), at the end of the fall semester, each candidate will orally present a 15 minute (with 5 minutes for questions) description of the project to a Neuroscience Faculty and Student seminar.  The student will describe the background of the project in broad terms and then focus on the specific area being investigated in the independent study. Honors students are expected to have established protocols for their studies, to have begun experimentation, and to have at least some preliminary data at the time of the fall presentations.

7. During the first half of the spring semester, Neuroscience honors students and faculty will meet as a group to discuss informally each student’s research project. Other interested faculty will also be invited to attend.

By Friday, April 20, 2018 (3 weeks prior to Honors Presentations) the advisor should see a final draft and the secondary reviewer should see the revised final draft by Friday, May 4, 2018  (1 week prior to Honors Presentations).

8. During the Spring Reading Period (Thursday, May 10th & Friday, May 11th, 2018), at the end of the spring semester, honors candidates will give a twenty minute oral presentation describing the project and the results obtained, followed by ten minutes of discussion.

9. Candidates for honors will attend both the fall and spring honors talks presented by other neuroscience honors students, as well as neuroscience seminars and honors seminar discussions during the academic year.

10. A final or very-very-close-to-final draft of the thesis will be given to the advisor, secondary and tertiary reviewers no later than Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Note that this must be a near-final draft of the thesis; it should have been revised in accordance with suggestions from your research advisor and at least one of your reviewers. It must include all figures and citations as well as the complete text. Students who fail to turn in an acceptable draft by this deadline will not be considered for honors.

This version will be used in making decisions on honors. However, the faculty may still require additional revisions before the final thesis is turned in to the library.

11. Students are awarded honors in Neuroscience upon favorable consideration by the Neuroscience committee of the honors thesis and oral presentation. Requirements for preparation of the thesis, as well as the date of the final copy of the thesis is due at the Library, are established by the Faculty and can be obtained form the College Librarian. The approval of the Neuroscience Committee is required before the thesis is submitted to the College Librarian.

 Summary of Thesis Deadlines

1. November 1, 2017: Title and one-page project description to Neuroscience Chair (Hadley Horch) and Academic Department Coordinator (Mary Keenan)

2. Before Thanksgiving Break: First Draft to research advisor.

3. Friday, December 1, 2017: Revised Draft to Secondary Reviewer

4. Friday, December 8, 2017: Honors paper to be submitted to each member of the committee

5. (TBD) Monday, December 11th or Tuesday, December 12th, 2017: Fall semester oral presentations

6. Early Spring Semester meeting to discuss continuation in the honors program

7. April 19, 2018:  The advisor should see a final draft

8. May 3, 2018:  The secondary reviewer should see the revised final draft

9. May 10, 2018: Final draft of thesis due to advisor, secondary and tertiary reviewers.

10. (TBD) Thursday, May 10 or Friday, May 11, 2018: Final oral presentation of thesis

11. Friday, May 18, 2018: Final revised and approved thesis due to library (5 pm)

12. Prior to Commencement: Electronic copy {pdf} and 2 paper copies of final revised thesis due to Academic Department Coordinator, Mary Keenan.