Utica College has recently added several new majors this year might interest students. This fall, neuroscience was added to the list of many programs available at UC.
Students who are interested in pursuing careers that look into how the brain operates or conducting research specifically, no longer have to start off majoring in biology or psychology. They can now jump straight into a major that will teach them all they need to know – neuroscience.
According to UC, the neuroscience curriculum will help students understand the nervous system as it relates to the brain and behavior, and understand the nervous system at the cellular level and organismal level.
Biology professor Dr. Adam Pack said the neuroscience program is something the department has been working on for a long time.
“It’s been in the works for almost 10 years,” Pack said. “We all sat around one day and realized that in different departments like psychology, biology, psychical therapy there are a lot of people who have neuroscience as a major focus of their teaching or research but from different angles.”
As a result of the diversity within these departments, Pack said that UC professors eventually realized that there are a lot of people who are experts on the nervous system and they could have a really cool neuroscience major.
The process of bringing a neuroscience major to UC took a little longer than expected because the department went through a time when there was some faculty overturn according to Pack.
In order to get into the neuroscience program and be able to stay in, students will need to meet some basic requirements.
“You will need to be able to maintain at least a B to stay in,” Pack said.
According to Pack, there will also be some requirements to get into the program but they have not figured them out yet because they are still in the early stages of it all.
“The idea of the [neuro] major is that it will be a selective major…this is going to be for motivated people who really know this is where they want to go,” Pack said.
The reason faculty in the department decided to make the program more selective is because with neuroscience, one has to be good at a lot of different things.
“For example, you can’t say that you want to be a neuroscience major and be bad at math,” Pack said. “You can’t dislike psychology and be a neuroscientist.”
To get into the program, students need to have a good foundation in the sciences. They need to be able to pull psychology, biology, and chemistry together to be a good neuroscientist, according to Pack.
So far, there are only a few students in the neuroscience major Pack believes there are fewer than 10 at the moment.
Sophomore Emily Rembetski is one of the students here at UC who now majors in neuroscience.
Before the neuroscience program was available to students, Rembetski was majoring in biology. Rembetski said she applied to UC with anticipation for the program and soon as she heard the news, she quickly changed her major.
“The benefits of majoring in neuroscience is that it caters closely to my interest,” Rembetski said. “I aspire to be a pediatric neurologist, so getting this knowledge is going to be a great start.”
During her time as a neuroscience major, Rembetski hopes to conduct research of the brain that explains mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
This new program might also open doors for some students to do things they might not have been able to do as biology or chemistry majors. Rembetski thinks she might have a plan.
“A couple of students and I are planning to do research on autistic mice,” Rembetski said. “The details aren’t concrete yet, but I’d like to see the difference of behavior between normal mice and autistic mice, and what changes there are in the brain.”