January 15, 2014
by Kortny Rolston
Colorado State University will offer a four-year undergraduate degree in neuroscience beginning in Fall 2014, the first such degree offered at a public institution in Colorado.
“There are very few public research universities that offer undergraduate degrees in neuroscience,” said Michael Tamkun, a Biomedical Sciences professor heading CSU’s new degree program. “We think this program fills a real niche for Colorado and the region. It fits our mission of expanding educational opportunities for students.”
Of the 124 undergraduate neuroscience degree programs offered in the country, only 24 are located at public universities, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“Most major research centers for neuroscience are found at medical schools,” said James Bamburg, former director of CSU’s neuroscience research program. “Because of our strength in cell and molecular neuroscience within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and our strength in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience within the College of Natural Sciences, we can offer a very well balanced and strong program.”
Undergraduates in CSU’s degree program can choose to pursue one of two tracks, either behavior and cognitive neuroscience or cell and molecular neuroscience.
Students in both concentrations will take chemistry, mathematics, physics, cell biology and genetics and psychology. They will also produce a thesis based on either original research or a critical evaluation of the literature in particular area of neuroscience.
Undergraduate students have long participated in neuroscience research at CSU. Since 2010, more than 40 undergraduates have co-authored more than 35 papers with CSU neuroscience faculty.
Tamkun expects those numbers to increase with the new program.
“We want our undergraduates to experience working in a research lab,” he said. “It is an important component of the program and one we think will enhance their education.”
Offering an undergraduate degree in neuroscience fits with CSU’s history of research in the field, said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.
“CSU faculty members have conducted neuroscience research for more than 30 years,” she said. “We just haven’t offered a degree in this area until now. It’s a good fit for CSU. We have faculty members from a variety of departments working in this area so our students will be exposed to several facets of neuroscience.”