Ohio Wesleyan University is expanding its neuroscience program with a second major, computational neuroscience, and two new tracks within its existing neuroscience major, a behavioral/cognitive track and a molecular/cellular track.
The changes combine to make Ohio Wesleyan’s David O. Robbins Program in Neuroscience “one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience programs at a liberal arts college, integrating faculty and courses in biology, psychology, physics, and mathematics,” said Jennifer R. Yates, program director and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience.
“To our knowledge,” Yates said, “Ohio Wesleyan is the only liberal arts college with two faculty members in computational neuroscience. The creation of this major distinguishes Ohio Wesleyan as the place for students who are interested in studying computational neuroscience in a liberal arts setting.”
Neuroscience is defined broadly as the study of the biological basis of behavior, cognition (perception) and other brain functions. Computational neuroscience (sometimes referred to as theoretical neuroscience) investigates how neural systems process information and then uses advanced mathematics to create theoretical models of these processes. Previous breakthroughs in the field have included modeling how the brain stores memories and designing brain-machine interfaces that enable thought-controlled prosthetic limbs.
Ohio Wesleyan’s two computational neuroscientists – Pamela B. Pyzza, of the mathematics and computer science department, and Christian G. Fink, of the physics and astronomy department – focus their research, respectively, in modeling olfaction (sense of smell) and epilepsy.
The university also has redesigned its existing neuroscience major to create two tracks that align with common research structures discipline-wide as well as with OWU faculty expertise.
The OWU neuroscience was founded in 1994.
Information for this story was provided by Ohio Wesleyan University.