N & B Prospective Students

The graduate program in Neuroscience & Behavior provides students with a broad background in the study of brain-behavior relationships. N&B faculty research interests and expertise include a diverse set of approaches and skills in molecular biology, neurochemistry, developmental neuroscience, neuroanatomy, behavioral neuroendocrinology, neuropharmacology, animal learning, and behavioral pharmacology. Our goal is to train neuroscientists for research careers both in the academic and private sectors. To meet this goal, students are required to take a set of content lecture courses during their first two years of study followed by a set of electives (typically in the form of graduate seminars) spread out over the remainder of their graduate training. Additionally, students are required to enroll each quarter in a weekly seminar series in which faculty, invited guests, and the students themselves give presentations on their most recent research findings. Student training is further enriched by the opportunity to attend neuroscience-related courses offered by colleagues in our biological science departments and speaker series available through our department’s Cognition, Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience (CPCN) program, the Sage Center for the Study of Mind and the Neuroscience Research Institute.

Admission to the doctoral program in N&B is highly competitive; only a small percentage of applicants are accepted into the program each year. We employ an apprenticeship model of graduate training in that students are typically admitted into the program to work with an identified prospective faculty mentor who would then serve as the student’s primary faculty advisor throughout their training. Therefore, in addition to a student’s academic record, GRE scores and letters of recommendation, we carefully assess each student’s preparation for graduate study (e.g., their basic science background), prior undergraduate research experiences, and his/her stated goals and interests to ensure that students admitted to the N&B program are well-matched with those of one or more of our N&B faculty (see the faculty list on the home page for specific details on each faculty member’s research program). Prospective students interested in our graduate program are therefore encouraged to email individual faculty members in whose laboratories that they might be interested in working.

Current areas of particular interest to faculty include the following:

  • The functional consequences of and mechanisms that govern neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain
  • The neurobiological systems involved in the control of sexual behavior and sexual motivation
  • The genetic determinants, molecular mechanisms and cellular interactions mediating the development of the retina and visual pathways
  • The origins and consequences of altered neurochemical processes associated with autism, depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia
  • The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying behavioral changes produced by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse, in particular psychomotor stimulants and alcohol
  • The nature of the brain mechanisms underlying the reinforcing and motivational effects of food, water, sex and psychoactive drugs