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Class of '43 creates award for best neuroscience thesis

In the spirit of its ongoing "Excellence in Neuroscience at Princeton" initiative, the Class of 1943 has established an award to be given to a senior demonstrating exceptional work in that field.

The Class of 1943 Senior Thesis Prize in Neuroscience will go to the senior whose thesis is judged by the Department of Psychology to be the best in that area of study, according to Barry Jacobs, psychology professor and director of the interdepartmental program in neuroscience.


Fifty-fifth Reunion co-chair Ted Rockwell '43 said that his class is interested in helping Princeton's neuroscience program grow, noting that the University has no separate department devoted to the subject.

"Ending the 'Decade of the Brain,' Princeton ought to be leading the field," Rockwell said.

The award will be given at commencement ceremonies each year. The class will present it for the first time at this June's graduation, coinciding with the class's 55th reunion. Additionally, the recipient's name will appear in the graduation program, and the honor will appear on the recipient's academic record.

The prize money will come from a fund Rockwell expects will produce approximately $1,000 a year, with $500 awarded as the prize and the rest set aside for "student expenses associated with professional activities."

'Brains and effort'

Much of the capital to set up the fund was contributed by 55th Reunion co-chair John Brinster '43, whom Rockwell called the "brains and effort" behind the award, adding that "it wouldn't have flown without him."

According to a press release, the class of '43 set up the award "in recognition of the seminal efforts" of Tracey Shors, assistant professor of psychology. Class members met Shors when she presented a seminar on aging and the brain that "packed McCosh 50" at the class's 50th reunion in 1993, Rockwell explained.


"We made her an honorary class member at that seminar," Rockwell said.

Jacobs called the award "a wonderful thing that's part of a broader initiative in neuroscience." He noted that his program has recently hired a new professor to study human brain imaging – Jonathan Cohen, who is currently working at Carnegie Mellon University and will start at Princeton next year. "We're also recruiting for two additional positions," Jacobs added.

Jacobs noted that the University's lack of a medical school makes it harder to compete with neuroscience programs at other institutions, but that growth in the program is "bringing neuroscience at Princeton up to the level it ought to be at."

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