Neuroscience at Carleton

Closeup image of neurons
Neuroscience is a growing area at Carleton that involves faculty in two departments (Biology and Psychology), a concentration, multiple courses, and collaborations with other local institutions.

Projects listed below were last updated in September, 2008. More recent activities are detailed above.

Neuroscience Faculty at Carleton

Fernán Jaramillo
Larry Wichlinski
Julie Neiworth
Matt Rand
Amy Moore
Jennifer Wolff
Below are brief profiles of the six science faculty whose work relates to the interdisciplinary area of neuroscience: Fernán Jaramillo, Matt Rand, Jennifer Wolff, Amy Moore (Biology), and Julie Neiworth and Larry Wichlinski (Psychology).

Fernán Jaramillo (Biology) is a neurobiologist interested in how the nervous system acquires, processes, and relays information. His current research interests include the study of mechanoelectrical transduction, molecular motors in the hair cell, the role of noise in sensory processing, and the physiology of synaptic transmission. He teaches Neurobiology, Cell Biology, and part of Introductory Biology. Fernán is also the CISMI Co-Director for 2006-2007 and the CISMI Director starting in 2008.

Matt Rand (Biology) is a neuroendocrinologist with an interest in the action of sex steriods on developmentally labile neural systems and the environmental factors that influence the onset and regression of reproductive behavior. He teaches introductory biology, animal physiology, animal behavior, and seminars in reproductive biology, behavioral endocrinology, and behavioral genetics.

Larry Wichlinski (Psychology) teaches courses in behavioral neuroscience, psychopharmacology and clinical psychobiology. His research interests include the pharmacology of memory and anxiety, the behavioral and neurochemical effects of drug abuse, and neurochemical regulation of sleep.

Julie Neiworth (Psychology) has a research goal of understanding the minds of all animals, including humans, monkeys, and avians. Her teaching focus is animal cognition, the evolution of the mind, cognitive neuroscience, and animal and human learning. She helped organize the MidBrain neuroscience summer institute for students in 2005.

Jennifer Wolff (Biology) started at Carleton in the fall of 2006 in a tenure-track position. Jennifer does work in animal development and neurobiology. She teaches courses in developmental neurobiology, animal development biology, introductory biology, and biotechnology health and society.

Amy Moore (Biology) started at Carleton in fall 2006 as a Research Assistant Professor and Visiting Assistant Professor. She does work on chronic neuroinflammation. She teaches the Biology of Music at Carleton. At Santa Clara University, where Amy taught for several years as Assistant Professor, she also taught Physiology and Neurobiology.

The Carleton Neuroscience Concentration

Information on this concentration can be found on the Neuroscience Homepage. Please contact the concentration director, Julie Neiworth (Psychology) with questions.

The MidBrains Undergraduate Neuroscience Conference

Christine Linnerud, '05
Prof. Apostolos Georgopoulos
The MidBrain planning group also started a new undergraduate neuroscience conference for the midwestern region of the US, called MidBrains 2007.

The inaugural MidBrains Undergraduate Neuroscience Conference was held at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Saturday, April 28th, 2007. The conference provided a forum for undergraduate students in the Midwest to present research findings, to attend research lectures and special panels, and to meet other undergraduate students interested in the neurosciences. The keynote speaker was Apostolos Georgopoulos, a renowned neuroscientist from the UMN. Representatives from University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Iowa were also present to discuss graduate school opportunities. There was a panel session on "Neuroscience and Ethics" which focuses on the use of fMRI data in court cases. Students were encouraged to attend, and to submit abstracts in all fields of the neurosciences and related disciplines in order to present. The first conference was dedicated to the memory of Christine Linnerud, a Carleton alumnus who was one of the first to participate in our MidBrain Summer Institute in 2005.

The MidBrain Summer 2005 Institute in Neuroscience

Summer 2005 MidBrain students
MidBrain Summer 2005 Institute in Neuroscience web site

Carleton Press Release on the MidBrain Program

This Neuroscience Summer Institute was organized with the help of Julie Neiworth (Psychology). The program involved the collaboration of several local colleges (Carleton, St. Olaf, Macalester, Gustavus Adoplus) and the University of Minnesota to give students unique experiences in sampling a variety of methods in neuroscience. Carleton's HHMI grant supported a workshop for participating faculty who were planning for the 2005 summer program. A total of 12 faculty, the 9 photographed at left, plus Larry Wichlinski (Psychology, Carleton), Kevin Crisp (Biology, St. Olaf) and Patricia Costello (Psychology, Gustavus Adolphus) recently applied for an NSF REU grant to continue the summer institute in neuroscience (SIN). The grant PI's are Eric Wiertelak (Macalester) and Julie Neiworth (Carleton).

A First-Year Linked Seminar on Paradigm Shifts & the Mind-Brain Relationship

Larry Wichlinski
Trish Ferrett
Larry Wichlinski was funded by HHMI in summer of 2005 to develop the first-year seminar "Paradigm Shifts: New Views on the Mind-Brain Relationship" (IDSC 100-02). Larry collaborated with Trish Ferrett (Chemistry) who taught a related seminar called "Paradigm Shifts: New Views on Abrupt Climate Change." In Larry's seminar, offered in fall 2005, students read Jeffrey Schwartz's book The Mind and the Brain: Neural Plasticity and the Power of Mental Force as one of the key texts. The seminar learning goals were: 1) to get students to think carefully about the relationship between the brain and the mind, 2) to highlight some new discoveries and new thinking on the ways in which the mind influences brain events, and 3) to relate this new emphasis to the larger question of how paradigms shift in science. Larry's students examined neural plasticity and consciousness as two major subtopics.

The linked seminars jointly explored in some detail issues concerning science as a social enterprise, the relationship between knowledge and belief, what constitutes knowledge and truth as far as scientists are concerned, psychological impediments to truth-finding, how people come to change their minds, and in particular, how scientists come to change their views. We used specific cases such as ecological collapse and quantum theory as part of our inquiry. Students also read Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, excerpts from Howard Gardner's book Changing Minds, and excerpts from Jared Diamond's book Collapse. In designing the linked seminars, Larry and Trish hoped that explicitly addressing issues such as the relationship between knowledge and belief might give our students a solid foundation for future courses here at Carleton and beyond. They also hoped that the linked seminars would give students some practice in thinking along interdisciplinary lines through question-focused inquiry that seeks answers among a number of disciplines and their related convergences.