Neuroscience 411/2 Advanced Neuroscience Research

Project Location

An interdisciplinary course where students with different majors work together to complete a self designed, faculty mentored, research project.

Student Audience

Advanced, Major

Scientific Domain

  • Neuroscience

Nature of the Research

  • Wet lab/bench research
  • Basic research

Core Concepts

  • Systems: Living systems are interconnected and interacting.

Core Competencies

  • Applying the process of science
  • Tapping into the interdisciplinary nature of science
  • Communicating and collaborating

Guiding Questions

  • The impact of cafeteria diet on behavior in rats.
  • Is estrogen responsible for the increases sensitivity of female rats to early postnatal homocysteic acid exposure.
  • The Physiology of Positivity: Implications of Mindfulness, Hope, and Gratitude in Alleviating Worry
  • The impact of worry on college students.

Learning Objectives

  • Write a NSF-style research proposal and a formal research manuscript.
  • Appreciation/understanding of the multidisciplinary aspect of neuroscience.
  • Develop hypotheses, design experiments, carry out these experiments, and interpret data for a question related to a neuroscience problem.
  • Discuss ethical issues related to scientific research.
  • Access, read and gain insight from reading the primary neuroscience literature.


The neuroscience minor program at Hope College involves students with very different disciplinary expertise including biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics, English, philosophy, nursing and engineering. Minors are required to take three core courses in neuroscience in addition to three “flagged” courses that contain significant neuroscience content. The core courses include the sophomore-level Introduction to Neuroscience survey course and the two-semester capstone research course. The research capstone experience is the hallmark of the neuroscience program where 8-14 students work as a collaborative team to develop a novel research question, propose experiments to address this question in a formal NSF-style research proposal, complete the proposed experiments, analyze and interpret data, and write a journal-style manuscript summarizing the research project. This experience is a formalized research process, which unfolds step by step. Using two different instruments to assess student learning gains, we have determined that the capstone experience consistently leads to significant increases in students’ confidence in many facets of the research process including, but not limited to, their ability to pose questions from more than one disciplinary perspective, interpret data, deal with uncertainty in data, determine what is and is not valid scientific evidence, write grant proposals, and make scientific presentations. In addition students report gains in their understanding of what it means to be research neuroscientist and an interest in pursuing a career in research.


Biennial Conference on Chemical Education 2014, Putting an Emphasis on Research in the Curriculum: A Year - Long Capstone Research Course Serves as the Keystone for the Neuroscience Minor Program at Hope College, Leah Chase and Chris Barney, Hope College

Getting Started

Equipment for a teaching /research laboratory and equipment specific for the specific research project. Such equipment could include extracellular and intracellular electrophysiology stations which interface with computerized data acquisition systems, equipment for behavioral analyses, and equipment to support cellular and molecular neuroscienc research. More on the program can be found at


typically 60-90 minutes/lab

Member Contact

Class time

Full academic year