May 12, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
La Sierra University’s psychology department is rolling out a new degree that replaces a 40-year-old psychobiology program, a move that ultimately offers students opportunities to pursue cutting-edge research, neuropsychology, medical and health careers.
The newly approved Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience is scheduled to begin classes this fall. The department expects to enroll approximately 50 new students in the program during its first year, including those currently studying psychobiology. Within two years, the department anticipates a stable of 60 to 80 neuroscience majors.
The neuroscience degree is unique among Seventh-day Adventist institutions and is on par with major research institutions. Southern Adventist University offers a degree similar to La Sierra’s current psychobiology major and Andrews University provides a neuroscience concentration in psychology and biology. “Our program compares well with other institutions like the University of California, Riverside,” said Dr. Adeny Schmidt, psychology professor and department chair.
The neuroscience degree “gives the university opportunity to offer students a multidisciplinary major in a fast-moving field,” the department states in its program proposal. “Since the 1970’s when our department introduced the Bachelor of Science in psychobiology, the field has changed a great deal,” Schmidt said. “There has been an explosion of knowledge about the relationship between brain and behavior and it is currently one of the fastest growing fields in psychology.”
The study of neuroscience prepares students for graduate work and careers in medicine, pharmacy and neuropsychology. The major’s courses include introduction to neuroscience, neuroanatomy, cognitive psychology, executive functions and neuroplasticity. Advanced coursework includes a variety of high-tech scientific subjects including neuropharmacology, which examines how drugs interact with and modify the neural function underlying emotion and behavior, and forensic neuroscience, which focuses on the role of neuropsychology in legal matters. Other courses include clinical neuropsychology and the study of neurodegenerative disorders.
Additional existing degree courses include genetics, developmental biology, immunology, medicinal chemistry, abnormal psychology, calculus and biochemistry.
The new major is comprised of 71 units of study, while the existing psychobiology major calls for 75 units. The degree in neuroscience, like its predecessor program, is offered jointly by psychology and biology faculty. Psychology associate and assistant professors, Suzanne Mallery and Sean Evans, respectively, serve as lead faculty for the neuroscience major. Both are licensed clinical psychologists who have specialized in neuropsychology. Their team includes Dr. In-Kyeong Kim, a cognitive psychologist who specializes in sensation and perception, and Dr. Eugene Joseph, an anatomist from the biology department who will teach neuroanatomy.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University