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Neuroscience Initiative

As part of a long-range strategic plan to make Lewis & Clark a leader in interdisciplinary science education in the region, we have initiated several projects focused on the development of a neuroscience program at the College. We have so far:

  1. Developed a first draft of what a two-track neuroscience program might look like at Lewis & Clark
  2. Hired a Distinguished Visiting Neuroscience Scholar for fall semester 2009 
  3. Organized our first Science Without Limits Symposium focused on the topic of neuroscience in September 2009 
  4. Organized our first faculty development workshop for L & C faculty who developed the core neuroscience courses at the center of the new concentration

Each of these is discussed in more detail below.

Neuroscience Concentration: Two-Track Model (DRAFT)

The first workshop to develop a plan for a Neuroscience concentration was held in the Fall of 2006 supported by a two-year Leadership Initiative grant from Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL). A group of faculty from across the college worked on this initiative together and developed a plan for a neuroscience program that would contain two tracks—a molecular/cellular track and a cognitive/behavioral track. The molecular/cellular track is focused on the natural sciences, giving students a strong foundation in biochemistry and genetics, cell and molecular biology, the tools necessary to pursue research or medicine in neuroscience. The cognitive/behavioral track includes training in the social sciences such as linguistics and psychology and humanities such as philosophy. All of the courses listed in the two-track plan are existing Lewis & Clark courses, illustrating the feasibility of mounting a Neuroscience program with current faculty expertise. The draft of the two-track program this team developed can be viewed online.

HHMI Distinguished Visiting Neuroscience Scholar

In fall semester of 2009, L & C brought to campus a visiting neuroscience scholar from Carleton College. Dr. Fernan Jaramillo is a Professor of Biology at Carleton, and a neurobiologist interested in the cellular mechanisms by which various sensory systems acquire, process, and relay information. He has substantial experience developing undergraduate interdisciplinary neuroscience programs, as he was the primary architect of Carleton’s very successful neuroscience concentration. Dr. Jaramillo taught an upper-division seminar course for biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, and psychology majors at Lewis & Clark, titled Topics in Neuroscience. He also participated in the fall 2009 Science Without Limits Symposium.

Science Without Limits Neuroscience Symposium 

In keeping with Lewis & Clark’s development of a neuroscience concentration and our ongoing desire to expand educational opportunities and information beyond the L & C campus, the 2009 Science Without Limits Symposium focused on the topic of neuroscience. Dr. V Ramachandran MD, PhD, a highly acclaimed neuroscientist from University of California at San Diego, presented the keynote lecture and participated in a panel discussion on innovations in neuroscience.

Neuroscience Faculty Development Workshop

In 2008, Lewis & Clark College obtained a significant grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the development of interdisciplinary innovative courses. This grant will allow us to develop new courses that will serve as the foundation curriculum for the molecular/cellular neuroscience track. For the past year, L & C faculty from the biology, chemistry and psychology departments have been meeting to discuss the scope and content of a neuroscience workshop to be held this fall. The committee has reviewed other institutions’ neuroscience programs, discussing their pros and cons.  In general, the faculty members agreed that the Lewis & Clark program should be problem or project-based and involve students in research projects of relevance of modern molecular neuroscience. The committee has identified and contracted a number of local neuroscientists, from Reed College, from Oregon Health & Science University, and from University of Chicago who will run weekly workshop sessions on select topics throughout the fall 2009 semester. The topics covered will include microscopy methods, immunological assays, histology and brain sectioning, animal behavior learning paradigms, and tests and techniques to detect long-term potentiation. Read more information regarding the workshop speakers and schedule online.


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