Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary study of how cells in the nervous system are specified, grow and connect to ultimately control all of the sensory input systems and behavior. Neuroscientists conduct research in a variety of systems from cultured neurons and tissues to intact organisms, including humans, to better understand the structure and function of neurons and the brain.
The Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neuroscience (MCIN) Program is a special academic unit at Colorado State University, jointly administered by the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences with over 30 faculty members in five colleges and ten different departments participating. Our students benefit from a truly interdisciplinary approach that that fosters a broad perspective of the many facets of neuroscience while ensuring a deep understanding of their chosen concentration.
Career Options for Neuroscience Majors
The depth and breadth of coursework, coupled with the capstone thesis required for the Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience, prepares our students for advanced graduate and professional study or a wide variety of exciting career options, including:
- Technical writing or sales in the life sciences industry.
- Research and Development in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, especially those developing biomarkers or therapeutics for identification and treatment of neurological disorders.
- Opportunities in academic or government institutes (e.g. Center for Disease Control) in laboratory or field-based studies in neuroscience, animal behavior and disease transmission.
- Health professions like veterinary or medical school.
- Graduate programs in psychology, neuroscience or cell and molecular bioscience fields.
- Many more career ideas can be found by investigating the career websites of professional organizations such as the Society for Neuroscience.
Within the Neuroscience major, students may select their preferred area of concentration.
- Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN)
- Cell and Molecular Neuroscience (CMN)
The concentrations share a core curriculum during the first two years that includes a Neuroscience seminar and courses in the arts, humanities, global and cultural awareness and writing, but also provides an excellent scientific foundation in chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology (cell biology and genetics), and psychology. By the end of the second year, students have gained enough experience with neuroscience content so that they can choose their area of concentration.
In the third and fourth year, upper level courses in physiology, biochemistry, statistics, functional neuroanatomy and cellular neurobiology, that all students take, are complemented by courses specific to each area of concentration.
Undergraduate Thesis Requirement
The Neuroscience Undergraduate Major requires a written capstone thesis, based upon either original research or a critical evaluation of the literature in a particular area of neuroscience. Each student will work directly with a faculty mentor to develop their thesis. This intensive training ensures that each thesis becomes tangible evidence of critical thinking and writing skills for those seeking immediate employment or for students wishing to pursue advanced degrees in the life sciences, medicine or human behavior.
Getting Started In Neuroscience Research
Students in our program are encouraged to conduct mentored research in one of the many active neuroscience laboratories across campus. Colorado State University investigators maintain world-class Neuroscience research programs that span the interdisciplinary spectrum, from work aimed at understanding how molecules intact, to studies that uncover the neural basis of normal and pathological behavior in humans. Opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research transcend college and departmental boundaries and often culminate in co-authorship of published articles. Since 2010, more than 40 undergraduates have co-authored more than 35 papers with CSU neuroscience faculty.
Award Winning Research by Our Undergraduate Students
The Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry acknowledges the achievements of CSU undergraduates through the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) program, held every spring. Undergraduates working in neuroscience have earned many of the highest awards available.
Keifer Walsh (pictured above), a Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology major in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was awarded highest honors two years in a row for his research on Alzheimer’s disease which was performed in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Natural Sciences. This type of interdepartmental and intercollege cooperation exemplifies the research environment at CSU.
Outstanding students may find laboratory openings as early as freshman year. There are several options to be considered for placement into a neuroscience research laboratory when applying to CSU:
- Complete and submit the Undergraduate Research Opportunity form online so we can contact you when we have new program openings and opportunities.
- If eligible, apply as an Honors Undergraduate Research Scholar (HURS), a program administered through the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry. Application for the HURS program is completed on-line and requires a high school transcript and two letters of recommendation.
- Through college or department key advisors, who will often help steer students to potential research openings in specific labs.
- And last, and often the most successful option, is the direct approach. Make an appointment with a faculty member whose research interests you and convince them that they need what you can offer.
In addition to the many opportunities to interact with Neuroscience faculty and students in classrooms, laboratories and seminars, there is a vibrant and growing Neuroscience Student Organization within our program that is aimed at fostering camaraderie and leadership through social events and providing service through outreach activities that educate and entertain the community. Students in the program may also connect nationally with other neuroscience students by applying to join the Colorado State University chapter of Nu Rho Psi, which is the national honor society for neuroscience students.
Located along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is frequently listed among the best places to live in the United States. With an excellent public transportation system and an expansive network of multi-use trails, transportation to and from classes and around town is a pleasure. After classes, the easy access to hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, mountain biking and a host of other outdoor activities, makes it easy to maintain a healthy and energetic lifestyle that enhances and balances a rigorous academic curriculum.
To learn more about the Neuroscience major contact:
Phillip Quirk (Phillip.Quirk@ColoState.edu)
Jim Bamburg (James.Bamburg@ColoState.edu)