Major: Neuroscience
Related Majors & Minors:
 Biology and Psychology
Program Director: 
James D. Rowan, Professor of Psychology
Academic Catalogue

The neuroscience program allows students to explore the nervous system and its contributions to human and animal behavior. Students in this program are encouraged to attain a solid understanding of the underlying concepts, to develop skills in experimental design and data analysis, to approach problems and tasks logically, creatively, and critically, to become knowledgeable of theory used in the current literature, and to become proficient in using methodology commonly employed in research in neuroscience.

This program takes an interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience and integrates information from both biology and psychology. The neuroscience major or minor coupled with a major in biology or psychology provides an excellent background to pursue varied career opportunities. For information about specific courses offered, please see our Academic Catalogue.

Over the last fifteen years, the Biology and Psychology Departments have acquired more than $800,000 in new instrumentation through federal grants and college expenditures. Of this amount, approximately $250,000 has been used to acquire specialized instrumentation for neuroscience education and student research. This modern instrumentation includes five multi-channel and eight single-channel computer controlled electrophysiological recording stations for intracellular and extracellular neural recording as well as multimodal physiological recording, micromanipulation and microinjection systems, two glass microelectrode pullers, a multichannel system for computerized spike-train extraction and analysis, ten rodent behavioral conditioning and monitoring stations interfaced to central stimulus presentation/data collection computers, and two stereotaxic stations for rodent surgery and electrode positioning.

Additional equipment applicable to neuroscience includes complete facilities for sterile tissue culture, phase-contrast and UV-fluorescence microscopy, digital video image analysis, protein and nucleic acid analysis, gas chromatograpy, UV/visible light and IR spectrophotometry, and a multi-species vivarium.

The Wesleyan College Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary includes a biologically diverse one hundred-acre wooded tract and five-acre lake bordering the campus. It provides potential field study sites for neuroethological research projects as well as more than 2.5 miles of recreational trails.

The Munroe Science Center, a dynamic campus centerpiece, opened in August 2007. This state-of-the-art science facility serves an increasing number of Wesleyan students enrolled and majoring in one or more fields of science while also addressing the great need throughout our state and nation for women who are skilled in medicine, scientific research, computer technology, and mathematics. Through its ten teaching laboratories and eight research laboratories, the new facility encourages faculty/student collaboration on research projects, contains interactive laboratories for specific experimentation, and offers individualized instruction in an environmentally efficient and safe setting.

State-of-the-art teaching laboratories include behavioral neuroscience, cell biology, ecology, physiology, developmental biology, and instrumental analysis, as well as general biology, physics, general chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. Among its many specialty science spaces, the 42,000-square-foot facility also includes an astronomy observation deck, a greenhouse, a multi-species vivarium with five biobehavioral recording spaces, and a community learning center.

Special Opportunities
Special opportunities for research and instruction off-campus are available through both the Biology and Psychology Departments.


James RowanJames D. Rowan Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Program Director. B.A. (Biology and Psychology) Malone College, 1988; M.A. (Experimental Psychology) Kent State University 1990: Ph.D. (Experimental Psychology with Biopsychology Concentration) Kent State University 1993. My area of interest is comparative cognition, more specifically, how humans and animals learn lists of information. I am also interested in the effects of early exposure to drugs on list learning in adulthood. MSC 108.

HollyHolly L. Boettger-Tong Professor of Biology and Center for Women in Science and Technology Director. B.S. (Biology) St. Louis University 1986; M.S. (Biology) University of Alabama at Birmingham 1988; Ph.D. (Biology) University of Alabama at Birmingham 1992. My lab uses both in vitro and in vivo model systems to analyze the molecular mechanisms which control female reproductive tract cellular proliferation. In addition, I am interested in the role of the retinoic acid signaling pathway as it influences early vertebrate embryo development. MSC 110.

Barry RhoadesBarry K. Rhoades Professor of Biology. B.A. (Psychology) Colorado College 1976; A.M. (Biopsychology) University of Chicago 1981; Ph.D. (Physiology) University of California at Berkeley 1990. My research interests include the functional neurophysiology of the vertebrate olfactory system, the physiology and reproductive biology of parasitoid wasps, graphical and statistical methods for neuronal spike-train analysis, and hardware and software stimulations in neurophysiology, behavioral ecology, and evolution. MSC 106.