The Importance of Teaching Neuroscience Research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

By Cohen, Jeremy D. | Journal of College Science Teaching, September-October 2016 | Go to article overview

The Importance of Teaching Neuroscience Research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities


Cohen, Jeremy D., Journal of College Science Teaching


African Americans make up about 12.5% of the U.S. population, yet they earn just 2.5% of science and engineering doctorate degrees (National Science Foundation, 2015). Minorities make up less than 5% of science and engineering faculty at the top 50 tier-one research universities (Nelson & Brammer, 2010), and this underrepresentation does not appear to be improving. First-time graduate school enrollment of African Americans from 2012 to 2013 showed the least amount of growth of all ethnic groups (Thompson, 2014).

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have tended to focus on academic experiences for students in the classroom, but there is a growing need to offer more research opportunities (Gasman, 2013). A bachelor's degree is not always sufficient to build a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields (Bergen, 2013; Thompson, 2014), and competition for limited graduate/professional school enrollment slots is fierce. I would argue that a powerful way to prepare students at HBCUs for future work in STEM fields is to promote undergraduate neuroscience research.

Neuroscience is a growing interdisciplinary STEM research field. It encompasses behavior, genetics, molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, computer science, mathematics, medicine, and pharmacology. Drawing knowledge and techniques from across these disciplines, student experience in neuroscience can support graduate study in any of the component domains. Like many STEM fields, African Americans are underrepresented in neuroscience (Sved, 2013): Of the current 30 most influential neuroscientists, only two are African Americans (Fox, 2014).

Creating new neuroscience courses across and within disciplines may not be practical given limited faculty and existing curricular demands. A pragmatic and cost-effective solution is to offer research opportunities outside the classroom. There is growing support for this idea (Hall et al., 2014). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have created numerous funding mechanisms (NIH: BUILD, R15, NRMN, MARC U-STAR, R25; NSF: HBCU-UP, REU, RUI, HBCU RISE, CREST) to help encourage greater participation of underrepresented populations in research. Two postsecondary institutions are actively trying to address this through a Howard Hughes Medical Institute 5-year program to prepare underrepresented students for STEM careers (Keeley & Gutnikoff, 2014).

Research gives students unique opportunities to improve communication skills through the collaboration with their mentor and participating in the process of publication and presentation. Research cultivates the critical thinking skills required to assess the reliability and validity of research methodology and statistical results, using previous data to drive new research hypotheses. Pragmatically, bringing a project from concept though development, execution, and publication provides a real-world perspective of a career in science that is not apparent in textbook passages laden with references (Crowe & Brakke, 2008; Lopatto, 2010).

One of the specific advantages of undergraduate research experience in neuroscience is an expansion of technical skills, as familiarity with neuroscience terminology and techniques requires that students practice cutting-edge technologies. Particularly within human neuroimaging research, students learn valuable techniques such as Freesurfer, Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) via Matlab, and FSL to perform data collection and analyses. Students must become familiar with standard command line coding, as well as script coding in Matlab, Python, and Java. These skills prepare students for research assistant jobs in national laboratories, graduate program success, and placement in IT positions.

Beyond technical and communication skills and improved future prospects, neuroscience research offers a big-picture intellectual benefit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Importance of Teaching Neuroscience Research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.