KINGSTON – Undergraduates at the University of Rhode Island will soon have the opportunity to delve into the mysteries of the brain when the university launches a new undergraduate degree program in neuroscience in the fall.
The new BS in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience will provide students with the option of three different areas of interest within their major in Neuroscience, setting it apart from other neuroscience programs in New England. The program spans the university’s interdisciplinary graduate neuroscience program, which began in 2011.
The new program brings together a range of disciplines, from basic research and clinical studies to the development of new drugs, enabling in-depth study of neurological processes and disorders. The three degrees are: a BS degree with a major in Clinical Neuroscience from the URI College of Health Sciences; a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in molecular neurosciences from the College of Environmental and Life Sciences; and a bachelor’s degree with a major in neuropharmacology from the College of Pharmacy.
âThe interdisciplinary nature of our neuroscience program is one of its truly distinctive features. We intentionally built the program knowing that there are many different career paths that will be of interest to our students, âsaid Leslie Mahler, associate professor of communication disorders at the College of Health Sciences and director of the new program. âOffering three different streams means that students will have the freedom to choose advanced courses that meet their future professional goals and provide them with a solid foundation to pursue their ambitions – whether it is a medical school, graduate school, research, teaching, work in a paramedical profession or whatever.
The URI program will provide students with access to training and faculty expertise from five URI colleges, as well as researchers at the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience. Ten new undergraduate classes have been developed as part of the core curriculum, allowing students to explore fundamental concepts of neuroscience and learn research methods that can be applied to on-campus and off-campus learning opportunities. Core courses include: Foundations of Neuroscience; Neuroethics and diversity; Neuroscience research methods; and professional development in neuroscience, among others.
Students will work closely with a neuroscience advisor upon enrollment and choose the major that best suits their future career goals in their second year.
âWe have a community of neuroscientists who are dedicated to providing support to our students,â said Alycia Mosley Austin, associate director of the new program. âWe want every student to have hands-on research experience and there is an incredible opportunity, both here on campus and through the experiential learning elements of the program, to gain it. They won’t just learn science. They will be scientists.
Planning for the major began in 2017, fueled by collaboration between URI faculty members, graduate students and researchers at the Ryan Institute, as well as the addition of new faculty supported by the Ryan Institute. The URI has also seen a growing interest among undergraduate brain science students.
Ryan Institute researcher Katharina Quinlan, who teaches a URI Grand Challenge course, “The Challenged Brain,” said Help me with my research.
Quinlan studies spinal cord neurodegeneration and dysfunction in motor control disorders such as cerebral palsy, ALS, and spinal muscular atrophy.
Students interested in the undergraduate major in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (INP) can apply for the fall semester. For more information, visit the university’s Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program page. Students with questions can contact the program directly at: [email protected]