Professional and Biographical Information
Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, Biophysics (1970)
B.Sc., University of British Columbia, Canada; Physics (1964)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (1984)
I love introducing Amherst students to the study of the nervous system through our course called Introduction to Neuroscience. I teach this course with Neuroscience colleagues in the Psychology Department. Students aiming for medical or graduate school, which includes most Amherst Biology and Neuroscience majors, need to take chemistry and physics as requirements for admission to those post-graduate programs. My upper-level Neurobiology course shows them how physical science is useful in the life sciences, since knowledge of the physics of electricity is vital to understanding electrical signaling in nervous systems. I've also enjoyed teaching a course in Biostatistics because I see a great need for science majors, and indeed all students, to be statistically literate. From time to time, I teach other science courses such as Physiology and Neurobiology of Disease.
One of my favorite courses to teach is a first-year seminar, Mind and Brain. More than a dozen Amherst faculty from nine different departments have taught in this course since it was first offered as an Introduction to Liberal Studies course. Naturally, the course includes a discussion of how mind and brain might be related, as the title advertises. However its real goal is to help students organize their puzzlement about distinctions that will be important in their education, such as knowledge and belief, rationality and emotion, and reasons and causes as the basis for thinking and action.
Association of Amherst Students Distinguished Teaching Award (2006)
Grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Chaikin-Wile Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
SOMAS (Support of Mentors and Students in Neuroscience) Review Committee (2004-present)
Committee on Grants in Aid of Research, Sigma Xi (2003-2006)
Visiting Scientist, National Institute of Medical Reseach (UK), University College London (UK), Institute of Biophysics, Beijing (China)
Co-founder, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
Adjunct Professor, Neurosciences and Behavior Program, University of Massachusetts at Amherst