Directorship of the Neuroscience program returns to the College of Life Sciences at BYU.
Bottom row (l-r) Joel Green, Melanie Gardner, Chris Doxey, Nozomi Ogawa, TA (standing) Top row (l-r) Malia Anderson, Todd Haskin
For the Neuroscience program
at BYU, home is where you
hang your hat. The program’s
directorship recently returned to
the College of Life Sciences from
Family, Home and Social Sciences.
Established in 1999 under the
former College of Biology and Agriculture,
the Neuroscience Center
provides an excellent interdisciplinary
environment for students and
faculty to study the workings of the
human nervous system. These days,
the program has more than one
“home.” It is administered equally
through the College
of Life Sciences and
the College of Family,
Home and Social
Sciences, rotating the
every five years. It
includes 21 BYU faculty
members from departments
and Developmental Biology,
School of Family Life,
and Communications Disorders.
Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and
doctoral degree programs, the Neuroscience
program has grown from
55 undergraduate majors in 1999
to the present-day number of 350.
Newly named Neuroscience Program Director, Dr. Michael D. Brown
Dr. Michael D. Brown, Professor
of Physiology and Developmental
Biology and Neuroscience, was
named as the new director. Brown
replaces Dawson Hedges, Psychology
Department, who served as
director since August 2006. Scott
C. Steffensen, Psychology Department,
replaces Dixon J. Woodbury,
Physiology and Developmental
Biology, as associate director.
As an undergraduate student at
BYU, Brown took an anatomy course
and fell in love with the subject. Especially
intrigued by how the brain
controls the rest of the body, Brown
applied to neuroscience-based graduate
programs. He entered
Colorado State University
where he earned his master’s
and doctoral degrees in
anatomy and neurobiology.
According to Dr. Brown, this
sharing of program administration
“ensures a well-balanced curriculum
for students and encourages crossdisciplinary
faculty and students.” An interdisciplinary
approach is especially exciting
for students. As neuroscience
majors, students look at nervous
system functions from many interesting
angles: chemistry, physics,
molecular biology, cellular biology,
anatomy, development, psychology,
perception, behavior, and cognition.
“It is our intention to build a curriculum on par with the best neuroscience programs in the country.”
The Neuroscience program at
BYU provides excellent training in
the classroom and experience in the
research lab. Students are mentored
one-on-one in their projects by
neuroscience professors. Many also
participate in off-campus internships.
Students share their findings
at local, national, and international
scientific meetings and publish
their results in reputable scientific
journals. These experiences open
a wide variety of doors for students
as they prepare for their future.
As with many good things, the
program still has room for growth.
Brown has aspirations for the program.
“Improving the curriculum
and providing opportunities for
quality-mentored experiences for
students is always a top priority. The
center has a strong physiology and
psychology representation among
faculty members,” Brown explained.
The new directorship would like to
see more faculty participating in
the program from across campus.
Brown continued, “We hope to reach
out more to faculty members in related
disciplines across campus. It is
our intention to build a curriculum
on par with the best neuroscience
programs in the country. Students
in BYU’s neuroscience major tend to
be noticed on applications for graduate
school and professional schools.”
For BYU neuroscience majors,
having more than one place to call
“home” definitely has advantages.
by Lonnie Riggs