Message from the Director of Graduate Studies

The study of Neuroscience is fundamentally the quest to understand who we are and why we behave the way we do.  Our research has significant translational potential for a wide array of nervous system disorders - mental illness, addiction, neurodegenerative diseases, autism, and the like. This increased potential for translation in part stems from rapidly expanding advancements in the ways we can study the brain. Optogenetics allows us to control neuronal function in response to light. Multiple electrode arrays allow us to study assemblies of neuronal networks in awake behaving animals. Brain connectome studies allow the 3-dimensional visualization of the brain and how it interconnects during specific types of behaviors. Single cell RNAseq allows us to look at how individual neurons and glial cells respond at the molecular level to changes in development or disease. We can to tag single neuronal precursor cells fluorescently and follow lineages of these neurons during early development - the list goes on. Our research faculty employ all of these approaches and many more.

Our five required courses expose our trainees the full breadth of neuroscience - from molecular neuroscience through computational neuroscience. This includes a Quantitative Neuroscience course that focuses on statistical methods used in Neuroscience and coding. The first year ends with the students taking a written preliminary examination based on the first year course work.

We are a large and growing interdisciplinary program that provides our PhD students with world-class training in modern Neuroscience. In the past few years, we have added dozens of new faculty to our university and our program, and they bring a significant diversity in research focus. This growth helps us maintain an active and vibrant Neuroscience community. We are highly collaborative – just look at the publications listed on the opening page of our web site – and productive. We take training PhD students very seriously, not only working to ensure they do great Neuroscience research, but building leadership capacity by involving students in all parts of program governance, increasing our Career Facilitation efforts [all our alumni outcomes are on our web page], and building an interactive community of scholars. We would love to have you join us!

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to email me, Linda McLoon, at mcloo001@umn.edu  or our Associate Director, Bob Meisel – meisel@umn.edu