Funds Support Collaborative, Undergraduate Neuroscience Research at Four Schools
DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University is sharing in a three-year, $450,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support undergraduate students collaborating in neuroscience research at four private liberal arts institutions in Ohio and Indiana.
The grant creates a multi-institution Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at Ohio Wesleyan, The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio); Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio); and Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana).
“This REU unites the successful neuroscience undergraduate research programs (of the four colleges)”, the NSF stated in announcing the grant. “Participants will work on challenging, authentic research questions and learn methods, skills and content to succeed in their research endeavors.”
Jennifer R. Yates, Ph.D., director of Ohio Wesleyan’s David O. Robbins Program in Neuroscience, said the federal grant will support nine-week summer research experiences for 48 students annually between 2016 and 2018. Each school will host four student-researchers overseen by two faculty mentors. The teams will work on separate projects tied to a faculty mentor’s expertise.
“This grant allows us not only to train students at our own institutions for later independent research, it allows us to engage students in these high-impact practices early in their academic careers and from institutions that traditionally have fewer research opportunities,” said Yates, co-principal investigator on the grant with Wooster’s Amy Jo Stavnezer, Ph.D. “Ongoing mentoring of student-participants will allow for continuation of projects and presentation of research findings at regional and national neuroscience conferences.”
Students selected to conduct research at one of the REU sites will receive a stipend of $4,725, as well as housing, meal, and travel allowances. Eight of each year’s students will come from the four collaborating sites and eight from other schools around the nation.
Yates said the program evolved from a smaller, two-year program, funded by the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s Expanding Collaborations Initiative, with the four institutions guiding more than 30 students through a similar experience. Those students reported “significant gains in confidence using a variety of neuroscience methods.”
The student-participants and their mentors will start their summer experience with a three-day workshop at Ohio Wesleyan that focuses on project and professional development activities. The students will continue to meet throughout the summer via in-person and virtual meetings, and they will present their findings at a concluding research symposium in Wooster, Yates said.
The NSF-funded grant, “Collaborative Research: REU Site: A Distributed Network of Neuroscience Scholars,” is co-sponsored by the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). Learn more at www.nsf.gov.
Ohio Wesleyan’s neuroscience program, founded in 1994, offers a major in neuroscience, with either a behavioral/cognitive track or a molecular/cellular track, and a major in computational neuroscience. The highly interdisciplinary majors prepare students for a wide range of research, clinical, and other careers. Learn more about OWU’s neuroscience program and related faculty research at www.owu.edu/neuroscience.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.