The psychology and biology departments are teaming up to start the process of adding a possible neuroscience minor program for students at California Lutheran University.
Neuroscience is the study of the brain and has been briefly mentioned in the current psychology and biology courses at the university.
“There are significant overlaps between biology and psychology,” professor David Marcey of the biology department said. “We have learned more about the brain and human behavior in the past 10 years, and it would be nice to have a concentration for students at CLU to further their education in this field of study.”
Students that are currently enrolled in psychology courses were sent a survey to gather information to see if students were interested in the possible neuroscience program. Over 50 students said that they were either currently interested in this minor for their future, or that graduating students wished that this program was already an option at this university.
Senior Mikaela Polster said she is a psychology major and wants to go into clinical neuroscience.
“I find neuroscience very interesting. The physio psych class taught by Dr. Sell is an amazing class and really sparked my interest for clinical neuroscience,” Polster said.
Professor Julie Kuehnel of psychology said that the idea of creating a neuroscience minor has been going on for a few years and is one of those things that needs to be an option at Cal Lutheran since the subject of neurology is popular in this day and age.
“Neurology is a huge part of psychology and we feel like our students need to have that option,” Kuehnel said. “With all the new technology and the discoveries about the brain and how that interacts with human cognition, it would be a minor I would strongly encourage.”
“As a psych major the options are pretty limited when it comes to the subject of neuroscience but the bio department has an intro to neuroscience class which I am currently enrolled in,” Polster said. “This class goes so much more in depth than the psych department but even then the class is broad and generalized.”
Marcey teaches genetics and when it comes to neuropathology he covers the genetic basis of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“I have students analyze their DNA and if they want to send in their DNA for health results they can get predispositions to neurological diseases,” Marcey said.
When it comes to implementing this possible minor, Kuehnel said that once it is approved, the faculty of Cal Lutheran will plan on hiring staff to teach the new classes.
“Primarily we are planning on using some existing classes that have pieces of neurology in them and will be built on to satisfy the needs of the minor requirements,” Kuehnel said. “Each of the classes would most likely be a little different and there are some foundational classes needed.
Some classes will cover the different functions of neurons and the parts of the brain as well as include experimental exercises that would go beyond the basics.
“I always said that psychology applies to everything,” Kuehnel said. “There are so many things in psychology that can be used in other areas of study even if the individual is not going into the practice of psychology.”
The specifics of the possible classes that are going through the process of getting approved are not yet detailed, since it is still in the earlier steps of this neuroscience program.
Published October 28th, 2015