Overview of the Neuroscience Program
Amherst College's interest in neuroscience began back in 1973 when the college became the first institution to offer an undergraduate major in neuroscience.
Many fields of science, including biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics and computer science, and physics are important in studying the nervous system, and Amherst students who major in neuroscience take courses in all of these fields. Many of the courses include laboratory work emphasizing modern techniques, such as recording electrical activity from single nerve cells, measuring behavioral effects of drugs, and working with proteins and nucleic acids. The major consists of quite a few required courses. Neuroscience majors also take part in the Neuroscience Seminars & Comprehensives, where students and faculty discuss current research and guest neuroscientists lecture on their work.
Almost all Neuroscience majors enter graduate or professional programs, either right after graduation or after working or traveling for a year or two. Typical careers involve medicine, research, teaching, or a combination of these. Many of our graduates are making significant contributions to their professions. They can be found doing research in laboratories at the National Institutes of Health, teaching high school in Boston, practicing medicine in dozens of places around the country, or working in the business world in a biomedically related area. What they all have in common is a fascination with how the brain works, and the experience of taking the challenging program of Neuroscience courses at Amherst College.
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Federal and private foundation grants have contributed to the specialized equipment used in teaching and research which includes ultracentrifuges, scintillation counters, spectrophotometers, high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, fluorescence microscopes, video equipment, a cell sorter, tissue culture facilities, a greenhouse, and many networked computers.
Several natural areas nearby offer opportunities for field research. The Connecticut River Valley contains many lakes and streams as well as diverse terrestrial ecosystems, and the College owns a large wildlife sanctuary adjacent to the campus.