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Georgetown University Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). First year: Introduction to discipline and department. Critical thinking and questioning Coursework, including Neuroscience Survey Lab rotations Coursework should require analysis/thinking rather the regurgitation

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first year introduction to discipline and department
First year: Introduction to discipline and department
  • Critical thinking and questioning
    • Coursework, including Neuroscience Survey
    • Lab rotations
  • Coursework should require analysis/thinking rather the regurgitation
  • 1st year IPN Core course: modules that cover breadth of neuroscience, team taught by experts in each discipline
  • Seminars, summer Neurofest, social events, and rotations help to incorporate students into the community
introduction to the research enterprise
Introduction to the research enterprise
  • Students complete 3 laboratory rotations in the first year (starts July 1).
  • Students present a short seminar on each rotation project to the IPN community.
  • Students write a mini-grant proposal and conduct a mock NIH study section with full reviews, including assigning priority scores.
significant transition
Significant Transition
  • Annual “Neurolunch” seminar presentation
    • Once per year, each student, starting in the 2nd year, presents to the entire membership.
    • May include data from pilot studies, failed experiments, recently submitted/published papers, ideas for new directions.
  • Serves multiple purposes
    • Developing/sharpening presentation skills
    • Explaining/ defending research to broad audience
    • Receiving feedback and constructive criticism
    • Self-assessment of progress
significant transition cont d
Significant Transition (cont’d)
  • Comprehensive Exam: 2 components
    • 1) Written exam: cumulative final for the “core course”
      • Taken at the end of the first year (NEW).
      • Choice of 4/6 questions on didactic material.
      • Choice of 2/4 questions requiring analysis of papers from the literature.
      • Closed book/in-class format
    • 2) Oral Exam: preparation for dissertation research
      • Taken in the second year
      • Student examined for 1-2 hours by 3 faculty and the proposed mentor
      • Exam focuses on topic identified by student, typically in the area of the proposed thesis
  • Certifies that student has knowledge base and analytical skills to initiate independent research
dissertation and defense
Dissertation and defense
  • Student and mentor confer on dissertation topic.
  • Mentor and committee provide guidance in selecting focused, hypothesis-driven research questions.
  • Student typically writes pre-doctoral fellowship proposal.
  • Student and mentor work closely; consultation with committee varies.
  • When are you finished? When your advisor and committee say so . . .
  • Oral defense: public presentation (1 hour) followed by closed examination by committee.
other features commonalities
Other features(Commonalities ?)
  • Teaching opportunities (optional)
    • Howard Hughes Summer Institute
      • For “gifted” rising sophmores in the biology department.
      • IPN students teach one or two lectures each in a minicourse (can get course credit for teaching).
      • Focus is on creating interactive, experimental learning.
    • Disorders and Diseases of the Brain
      • Team taught course for undergraduates
      • Completely organized and taught by doctoral students from the IPN (can get course credit for teaching).
      • Students typically teach one or two lectures in their area of interest.
innovation
Innovation
  • IPN students escort and run tour station activities for an annual Brain Awareness Week visit :
    • for a group of 50 7th grade students from a DC public school.
  • Interactions with visiting seminar series speakers:
    • join the first and second year for a ‘journal club’ discussion of one of the speakers recent papers
    • have lunch with thesis students in their area of research.
novel idea
Novel Idea
  • Alternative formats (in place of traditional comprehensive exam) to mark the completion of coursework and transition to thesis research
    • Teaching a course
    • Oral exam only
    • Presentation
    • Grant proposal