Adelphi’s innovative neuroscience major, launched in January 2016, is a prime example of how the University is meeting the dynamic and changing needs of today’s students.
The program, as a joint offering between the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and the Department of Biology (in the College of Arts and Sciences), has the unusual distinction of having been forged across two schools of the University.
The interdisciplinary major, leading to a Bachelor of Science has the potential to attract a wide range of students who are interested in the burgeoning career potential of a neuroscience degree.
“The interdisciplinary nature of Adelphi’s neuroscience major is what sets it apart from other programs. The program was designed jointly by the Derner Institute and the Department of Biology, and contains courses from both,” said Alan Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Department of Biology chair.
Adelphi’s B.S. in Neuroscience offers students two areas of concentration: Molecular Neuroscience, focusing on molecular and cellular aspects, and Cognitive Neuroscience, focusing on psychological and behavioral aspects.
One impetus for establishing the program is the fact that new technologies and techniques, and greater knowledge of the brain, have led to cutting-edge opportunities.
“With the advent of new brain imaging techniques, we are able to study the human brain in action in noninvasive ways—an exciting reality that was not a possibility years ago,” said Dominic Fareri, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Derner Institute.
“I think neuroscience has garnered so much attention in recent years because we have realized how integral it is to increasing our understanding of how the brain functions, in hopes of bettering mental health and society as a whole,” Dr. Fareri said. “The decision to offer neuroscience as a program of study places Adelphi in a unique and attractive position.”
Neuroscience student Rheba Sam, whose goal is to become a pediatric neurologist, agrees. She said the new neuroscience major benefits the University, students and the field as a whole.
Having a neuroscience program is important because of recent advancements in the field, she said. “To have that as part of our University is valuable, and will make the University grow in its research. It advances the research aspect of the school and makes Adelphi a better science school.”
She added, “One of the best things about the neuroscience program is that the classes and the major are intimate and small. You really get to know your professors and they get to know you. At Adelphi, your professors become your mentors.”
The B.S. in Neuroscience opens numerous career paths in academia, research and clinical practice, including medicine and medical-related fields, psychology, biology, special education, linguistics, biomedical engineering and even chemistry, computer science and data science.
In fact, one reason for establishing the major is that the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) now requires extensive knowledge in psychology and neurosciences, said Jacques Barber, Ph.D., dean of the Derner Institute.
The pioneering neuroscience program continues to be developed. “We are starting to collaborate with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, where there is also a great interest in brain science,” Dr. Barber said.
“In the future, cognitive neuroscience, biology, computer science, philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, engineering and speech and hearing sciences will be even more intertwined, and graduates who can speak and understand those ‘different languages’ will be needed,” he added.
Dr. Schoenfeld is proud of the students in the neuroscience program. “The students I have advised have impressed me with their focus, energy, preparation and the very high goals they have set for themselves. They are ready and eager to immerse themselves in the program.”
Sam is similarly impressed with the caliber of the professors in the program. “The professors are passionate about what they do, and it makes the classes even better,” she said.