The WSU Neuroscience Program was created in 2010 and is dedicated to fostering brain-related education, research, and outreach in Utah.
Neuroscience is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the central and peripheral nervous systems in an effort to understand the biological basis of behavior, thinking, emotion, memory, and perception. The field of neuroscience has grown exponentially over the last twenty years, holds wide public appeal, and offers job opportunities in many sectors (e.g. teaching, research, medicine, and industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology).
The Weber State University interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program was created in January 2010 and draws expertise from multiple departments including Health Sciences, Psychology, and Zoology. As of March, 2013 fifty eight students have declared Neuroscience as their minor and hundreds have taken newly developed neuroscience coursework. Sixteen students have graduated with Neuroscience minors since the program’s establishment. Many of them have continued their education at graduate schools including Harvard University, University of Michigan, and University of Utah.
Since the Program's foundation, we have created new courses including Introduction to Neuroscience, Neuroscience Laboratory, Clinical Neuroscience, and Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Our students also regularly work with faculty to do novel research on, for example, brain hormones, stress, depression, circadian rhythms, and traumatic brain injury.
Our program takes part in a global campaign called “Brain Awareness Week” initiated by The Dana Foundation, an organization which supports brain research through grants and educates the public about the successes and potential of brain research. Partners are responsible for organizing brain-related events such as open days at neuroscience labs, exhibitions about the brain, displays at public libraries and community centers, etc.
We have chosen to focus our public outreach on K-12 school-aged students. We believe that hands-on learning in the community stimulates critical thinking and allows individuals to make more informed decisions concerning health, wellness, and safety.
During Brain Awareness Week 2012, Weber State Neuroscience Program volunteers were able to reach over 1,300 children and adolescents ages 3 to 18. Activities were held at 9 different locations along the Wasatch front and included an open to the public science program (Science Saturday), as well as presentations at elementary, junior high and high schools. Topics included sensation/perception, brain structure and function, helmet safety, and the effects of drugs and alcohol. They engaged in activities organized by Neuroscience minors that included sheep brain dissections, in-class brain wave recordings (EEG), and helmet safety exercises.
The Weber State University Neuroscience Program has grown significantly since its introduction in 2010. We have had great success with our graduates pursuing higher education and furthering research in vital areas of Neuroscience. Our program has maintained high-achieving, well-rounded students that will continue to highlight the accomplishments of our work.
We are very proud of what we have established and are excited with our growth and the impact we will continue to have on a broader population.