Department Home | ORC Entry
Current Students: Allison Baker, Andrew Palmer, Christina Ackerman,
Danielle Murray, Sunny Zhang
Allison Baker ’09
Neuroscience Major, Chemistry Minor, Premed
F08-S09 D-plan: R-L(on-campus)-R
Favorite and least favorite thing about department: What I like most about the Neuroscience department is simultaneously what I like least. The flexibility of the major and the wide range of the field allow you to choose your own direction and make it your own. Additionally, the new major requirements line up nicely with pre-med requirements, which keeps you from getting bogged down in mandatory classes. Unfortunately, this same flexibility and breadth also prevents the major from being very focused or in-depth. Truly pursuing a field of interest has to come outside the classroom.
Important info for potential majors: I feel that one of the most important things to keep in mind with the Neuroscience major is that it represents a very limited portion of the broad field. Therefore, it is crucial to go beyond the classroom and get involved in research, shadowing, and whatever else will help to discover and to develop your specific interests. Few things are more gratifying than being able to integrate your knowledge outside of an academic setting.
Talk to me if: you're interested in the more “hard science” aspects of Neuroscience. As a Chemistry minor, my focus is on the biological, chemical, and physiological aspects of Neuroscience. I also recently made the decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience instead of an M.D., so I’d be happy to help people who are trying to work that out. Furthermore, I can help with organizing your D-plan to fit in all of the requirements that come with completing a major, minor, and pre-med.
Most valuable academic information learned: Over my two years at Dartmouth, I have found getting to know my professors outside of the classroom to be my most valuable learning tool. Every professor is such a resource, and only aspects of their expertise are shown in the classroom. Also, they can help you to focus your interests and to find extracurricular means of pursuing them.
Favorite class and professor: My favorite class was a Psyc 86 seminar with Professor Bucci. The course was based around attending the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference, which draws over 30,000 neuroscientists from around the world. Leading up to the conference, we read cutting edge research papers on central topics in the field. Then, we all got to go to San Diego, CA, where the conference was held in 2007. Overall, it was an exciting and enlightening experience.
Major classes taken: CHEM 5, 6; MATH 11; PSYC 6, 26, 28, 50 (x2), 53, 86; BIO 13, 15
Major journey: In high school, I had always been interested in the sciences but had never gotten the opportunity to pursue specific fields beyond general physics, biology, and chemistry. When I came to orientation as a freshman, I attended the Psychological and Brain Sciences Open House, where I spoke to some professors and learned more about the course offerings. Neuroscience immediately sparked my interest, and that winter, I took Psyc 6. It turned out to be one of my favorite courses, and since then, further classes in the major as well as outside involvement in auditory behavioral neuroscience research have continued to fuel my interest.
Major specific activities: Research Assistant in Yale Cohen's Lab (Center for Cognitive Neuroscience), Co-Sign Officer
Thesis Status: I intend to complete an Honors Thesis in ’08-’09 with Yale Cohen as my advisor. I will be conducting research in auditory behavioral neuroscience with rhesus macaque monkeys in order to investigate spatial and nonspatial representations of auditory stimuli.
Other activities: Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, WISP Mentor, Chemistry Peer Tutor, Private Violin Instructor, Co-Sign (“College Student Interest Group in Neurology/Neuroscience”)
Off Campus Program: Music FSP in London, 07S
Internship experience: The summer after my freshman year, I stayed on campus and worked as a research assistant in Yale Cohen's lab, which is in the basement of Moore. I worked full time (about 40-50 hours per week) running experiments with rhesus macaque monkeys. I loved being completely immersed in the research and working up close with the monkeys –each has a unique personality. I continued to work in the lab through the fall and winter and then completed a Presidential Scholarship with Hermes Yeh at DHMC. Now, I am back in Yale Cohen’s lab, where I will complete a thesis in ’08-’09.
Andrew Palmer ’09
Neuroscience Major, Biology Minor
F08-S09 D-plan: R-R-R
Favorite and least favorite thing about department: Favorite: There’s a lot of different ways to go with it, so you’re not constrained into one arbitrary path just because someone decided it made the most sense for you. Instead, you’re free to meander through the requirements a little, tailoring your major to perfectly fit your interests. On top of that, the professors are all incredibly friendly, down-to-earth and helpful, so they’ll guide you through the requirements if you just go to the trouble of asking for help. Least favorite: While Neuroscience isn’t an especially huge major, it overlaps a lot with Psychology, which is. Because of that, a lot of classes are way too big for a constructive dialog between the professor and the students.
Important info for potential majors: Get involved with at least one lab, if not more, if you think you’re interested in Neuroscience (you are, trust me.) Being immersed in the creation of the science that eventually goes into textbooks is a wonderful experience; it makes you appreciate the textbooks a lot more, and it really helps you figure out exactly where you want to go with the major.
Talk to me if: you’re interested in getting involved with Professors’ research in their labs – I spent some time in three labs before finding the right fit, so I know how to get involved.
Most valuable academic information learned:"Keep your eyes open, take risks, and, whenever possible, don't do things the way everyone else does."
-Jonathan Belden Daniels '86
Dartmouth’s a pretty cool place with a ton of interesting things to get involved with. Don’t be afraid to be bad at something. Figure things out on your own, screw up every now and again, find the people who have already screwed up and ask them for help, and then try again.
Favorite class and professor: I’d have to say Professor Maue’s Psych 46 was the best. Most classes, I feel, shy away from the details when touching difficult topics; Maue dove in headfirst. I had to put in a lot of work to keep up, but because of that I felt like I really accomplished something meaningful and learned a lot. Struggling so hard and coming out on the other side even more interested in neuroscience convinced me to keep studying it further. That being said, Maue also rocks; he’s an incredibly talented professor who made the topic very interesting.
Major classes taken: Psych 1, 21, 26, 46, 50; Bio 11, 12, 13; Math 3; Chem 5.
Major journey: I randomly took “Mind and Brain” during 06F and learned that I was interested in Psychology and the mystery of how the brain worked. The steady stream of cool, random facts from my roommate’s Psych 1 class didn’t hurt either. That winter he made me take Bio 11, even though I thought I hated science, along with Psych 1. Turns out I actually love science, and that with neuroscience you can enjoy Bio and Psych at the same time.
Major specific activities: Research assistant – Professor Whalen’s lab; Research assistant – Professor Taube’s lab; Research assistant – Professor Bucci’s lab;
Thesis Status: Although it’s not at all official, I plan on doing an honors thesis with Professor Bucci centered around learning and memory. I don’t have any details, but learning and memory really interest me so I’m psyched to get started.
Other activities: DOC – President; Dartmouth Mountaineering Club – leading trips, climbing rocks
Off Campus Program: Haven’t really left Dartmouth since I started…
Internship experience: The summer after my freshman year, I worked part-time in Professor Paul Whalen’s lab studying the human amygdala using the fMRI scanner and subject response time to various emotional faces. The experience was an extraordinary one for me; it was the first time I had seen science from that point of view, and it helped guide me towards confidence in the Neuroscience major. It also gave me a lot of contacts in the PBS department that I used to get myself further involved with Professors Taube and Bucci over the next two years.
Christina Ackerman ’09
Neuroscience Major, Chemistry Minor; Pre-med
F08-S09 D-plan: R-R-L
Favorite and least favorite thing about department: The interdisciplinary nature of Neuroscience is my favorite aspect of the major. As a freshmen, I was very undecided on a major and switched among Biophysical Chemistry, Human Biology, and Math. Neuroscience truly combines concepts from all the sciences in the most fascinating way possible. My least favorites aspect of the department is the class size. Many of the introductory and intermediate classes are more focused on lecture rather than on discussion. However, all the professors are always more than willing to go into further depth in office hours.
Important info for potential majors: The Neuroscience major has a lot of course requirements so get started on pre-requisites as early as possible. Also, make sure to get to know many professors and to attend office hours. The professors love talking to interested students. Lastly, don’t be shy about becoming involved in research. We all have a unique opportunity here at Dartmouth because our institution has professors that are focused on the undergraduates and conduct highly influential research.
Talk to me if: you are struggling to decide if the Neuroscience major is right for you or if you need advice on how to become involved in research.
Most valuable academic information learned:Start reviewing material on the first day of class. In most science classes, material builds on itself and it is important to stay ahead. If you take time to re-read your notes for 10 minutes after every class, you will understand the upcoming material much better and it will be much easier when it comes time to study for the final.
Favorite class and professor:I have truly appreciated all of my Neuroscience classes so far for different reasons. My first Neuroscience class, Psychology 21: Perception with Prof. Tse was an amazing class that introduced me to the details of how we see, hear, and experience the world around us. In addition, Psychology 6, Introduction to Neuroscience with Prof. Bucci was also one of the most enjoyable classes for me at Dartmouth. Prof. Bucci always knows exactly how to interest you in the material and is extremely willing to discuss concepts further after class. He often does various dynamic class demonstrations to help you understand important concepts.
Major classes taken: Math 8, Chem 6, Physics 3, Bio 11, 13 Psyc 6, 21, 26
Major journey: When I matriculated, I was confident that I was destined to be a Mathematics Major so I began researching as a Women in Science Project Intern with Prof. Robert Norman. We studied dichotic hearing and tested several subjects. Through this initial limited experience with Neuroscience, I realized that I was completely fascinated with the human brain. Thus, I enrolled in Psychology 1 and realized that the hard science aspects of Neuroscience fascinated me the most. After taking Perception and Introduction to Neuroscience, I became confident that Neuroscience was definitely the right major for me because it combined all the hard sciences I loved with the more practical aspects of the human brain. I feel very blessed to be in a major where I get to learn about such fascinating topics ranging from Multiple Sclerosis to why we see color.
Major specific activities: Visual research on the speed illusion using the fMRI and eyetracker with Professor Tse as a Howard Hughes Fellow. Presidential Scholarship research with Prof. Bucci.
Thesis Status: I would definitely love to devote a large amount of time where I can immerse myself in research and write a thesis. But it is a bit too early to know in what specific area.
Other activities: Women in Science Project-Peer Mentor; Alpha Phi Sorority-Chaplain; Aquinas House-Communion Minister; Nathan Smith Society; Link-Up; Howard Hughes Fellow; Presidential Scholar; Library Assistant at Baker Berry; Hanover After School Program-Reading Tutor
Off Campus Program: Haven’t really left Dartmouth since I started…
Internship experience: Professor Robert Norman; Women In Science Project Research Intern, 07W-07S, Dartmouth Mathematics Department; Professor Peter Tse; Howard Hughes Research Fellow; 08W-08S, Dartmouth Psychological and Brain Science Department; Next year: Professor David Bucci; Presidential Scholar
Danielle Murray ’09
Neuroscience major, French minor
F08-S09 D-plan: R-R-R
Favorite and least favorite thing about department: My favorite thing about neuroscience is the range of departments to choose electives. The neuroscience major is young and is continually improving in terms of scheduling, classes and professors. I was initially drawn to the flexibility and opportunity to explore several academic interests under one major. Dartmouth owns world-class neuroscience equipment that is available for undergraduate research. Professors are at the top of their fields and encourage undergraduates to work with them. Professors are also very responsive to students who wish to initiate their own projects. My least favorite part about the major is the number of prerequisites.
Important info for potential majors: Plan ahead. Since several of the prerequisites require a lab, it is necessary to develop a clear plan as early as possible. Be sure to speak with professors if you feel you do not have an adequate science background because you have not yet completed the introductory classes. I have found the professors extremely responsive and willing to make sure everyone has the preparation they need to succeed.
Talk to me if: you’re contemplating being pre-med, choosing between Psych, Neuroscience and Biology or are unsure how to balance pre-med classes and a busy schedule.
Most valuable academic information learned:It seems simple but, definitely join study groups or create discussion groups on your own. I have had my best academic success when I have studied on my own in advance enough to allow myself time to collaborate with others. The ability to reciprocate ideas and concepts with someone else increases overall understanding, confidence, and can give valuable new perspectives.
Favorite class and professor: My favorite class in my major was Psych 53: Emotion. Professor Whalen was an engaging and animated professor. I had the opportunity to explore and criticize new neuroscience theories and issues on my own. I gained a great sense of a life as a neuroscientist, as well as how to understand and impact a fast-developing field.
Major classes taken: CHEM 5, 6, 51, 52; MATH 3; BIO 11, 12, 13; PSYC 1, 6, 25, 26, 28, 53, 65; EDUC 52
Major journey: I chose my major based on my interest in Psych and my plan to be Pre-med. Many of the Neuroscience prerequisites overlap with Pre-med requirements. I really enjoyed the introductory classes and I believe the professors in this department are outstanding.
Thesis Status: I plan to complete an independent study in Neuroscience.
Other activities: Varsity Tennis Team; Big Green Readers – Director; Special Olympics – Manager; Volunteer Pediatric Research Assistant at the DHMC; Green Key Society; Link Up; Tri Delt; Panhellenic Council - Representative; DOC - Trip Leader; Jump rope - Community Jump Rope for Heart Volunteer Demonstrator
Off Campus Program: French FSP in Paris, 07F
Internship experience: During my sophomore summer I worked under Dr. Bernstein as a Pediatric Research Assistant at the DHMC.
Sunny Zhang ’10
F08-S09 D-plan: R-L-R
Favorite and least favorite thing about department: My favorite thing about the department would have to be all the awesome and enthusiastic professors in the department. Many of them are some of the most helpful people you’ll meet, and really keen on seeing their students do well. They’re not just there to talk about class material with you but welcome any discussion of ideas or questions you might have about the many different aspects of the neuroscience world. Least favorite thing would have to be the lack of study abroad programs in the department. Coordinating your own, especially centered around science classes, is really tough to do.
Important info for potential majors: It’s really important to plan ahead, especially in the science majors. It’s good to make sure that you’ve taken all the prerequisites before taking a class you really need or really want to take. One of the worst things is realizing half a term in advance during course selection that you can’t take a course you’ve been planning for awhile to take the next term because you didn’t make sure what the prerequisites were.
Talk to me if: You’re struggling to find the right major for yourself, stressing yourself out about taking the right classes, and having trouble finding that right balance between school work and life. I’ve been there and can definitely offer some insight.
Most valuable academic information learned: I learned that even though the classes you choose to take are extremely important, it’s not worth taking a class just because it might look good on the transcript. If you know you won’t really enjoy the subject matter or even do so well in the class without spending every free minute on it and struggling the whole way, it’s probably much more worth your time taking a class you’ll actually enjoy because you’ll get way more out of it.
Favorite class and professor: Psych 26 Physiological Psychology with Megan Steven was one of my favorite classes. She is extremely enthusiastic about the material she teaches and is also an expert in the field of her research. Her lectures were always very well organized, interesting, and all of it was relevant to the course. She also always makes time to help her students when they need it.
Major classes taken: Psych 10, 26, 28, 46
Major journey: I came into college planning to be a biology major. The subject interested me but some of the intro bio classes turned out to be a little disappointing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with it or not. But during the summer after freshmen year, I happened to read a couple of very fascinating and inspiring books about what was happening in the world of neuroscience and about all these great researchers and their work. More reading ensued and I was hooked and totally blown away by how cool it all was. I couldn’t stop sharing what I had read with my friends and family. That’s when I realized I wanted to be a part of all the stuff I had been reading about and decided to become a neuroscience major.
Major specific activities: Neuroscience Research, WISP mentor
Thesis status: Still thinking about it.
Other activities: Research Assistant for Brain Imaging Lab and also for a Behavioral Neuroscience Lab; Varsity Golf; Tabard
Off Campus Program: Have not been on one yet.
Internship experience: Have yet to take an off term. This would be my 7th term taking classes.