Students react positively to new neuroscience concentrationand Tammy Tseng | Dec 2, 2014
Student response to a newly approved neuroscience concentration has been mostlypositive since the University faculty voted unanimously to approve iton Monday.
“I think [the neuroscience concentration] is a really great idea,” Vivienne Tam ’15 said. “I really think that neuroscience is going to be the future in where research is going now.”
Tam is concentrating in chemical and biological engineering and pursuing a certificate in neuroscience. She also noted that she would have seriously considered neuroscience as a major had it been an option.
“Right now, the neuroscience certificate is not super intense,” Tam said. “I wish I could have really delved deeper into it because it’s really hard to delve deep when you have a whole other major going on as well.”
Co-directors of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Jonathan Cohen, a psychology professor, and David Tank, a molecular biology professor, did not respond to a request for comment. Dean of the College Valerie Smith also did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a leaked department proposal, the establishment of a full-fledged neuroscience concentration is intended to accommodate such concerns and provide interested students with a more in-depth study of neuroscience.
Margaret Wang ’17, who is currently pursuing a certificate in neuroscience, said she is excited to take the recently established neuroscience core lab next semester.
Wang is a former staff copy editor for The Daily Princetonian.
This 300-level laboratory course on modern methods in neuroscience, called NEU 350: Laboratory in Principles of Neuroscience, is listed as a required course for concentrators on the proposal.
“I actually am really glad [neuroscience] is becoming a major,” Wang said. “I’m currently in the MOL department, but I think that if it were possible, I’d want to switch into neuro as a concentration, especially as I’ve already taken the prerequisite courses.”
According to Dean of the Faculty Deborah Prentice, the University’s Board of Trustees will vote on the proposal in January. If the concentration is approved, the program will begin to admit new concentrators this spring.
“I am definitely very excited that neuroscience is taking its place among the other majors,” George Jian ’16 said. “I think that undergraduates will benefit a lot from having a more rigorous, systemized set of requirements to major in neuroscience. I have a lot of friends who are independent concentrators [in neuroscience], and it’s something that a lot of us have been clamoring for for years."
Jian noted that if neuroscience had been offered as a concentration earlier, he most likely would have declared it as his concentration. Instead, he is concentrating in philosophy and is pursuing a certificate in neuroscience. He also works as a research assistant in the Jonathan Cohen Lab at the Neuroscience Institute.
Jian also said that, while he is happy about the establishment of the concentration, he hopes that in the future, the neuroscience department will better clarify the background knowledge needed to take neuroscience courses.
“A lot of the classes are extremely interdisciplinary and draw on a ton of other disciplines like math, physics, statistics, bio and chem, and it’s actually been quite a struggle to have the requisite background to tackle some of the neuroscience concepts,” Jian said. “I think very few people have the academic background to really fully digest all of them, so I hope the background needed for neuroscience will be made more clear in the future as well.”
Introductory courses in physics, chemistry, calculus, statistics, computer science and neuroscience are listed as requirements for the concentration in the proposal.