The major was established with the goal of preparing honors-caliber students to be competitive for admission to graduate schools (i.e., both MA and PhD programs) and other professional schools (e.g., Medical, Dental) in Neuroscience and related fields. Conducting laboratory research is a central component of this preparation and thus all majors must perform research in an approved research laboratory on the Queens College campus for a minimum of one academic year. This rigorous training in neuroscience research is intended to provide majors with the ability to read, comprehend, integrate and critically evaluate the neuroscience-related scientific literature. Using this knowledge, students will be able to design, conduct, analyze, interpret, and report neuroscience-related experiments. To demonstrate their mastery of these skills, as well as their ability to communicate their research findings in writing and orally, all majors are required to submit a written honors thesis and make a public oral presentation based on their research. These requirements are completed in their final semester and majors register for three academic research credits for this experience.
To acknowledge the extraordinary quality of their research accomplishments, each year two graduating seniors are selected by the Neuroscience major Awards Committee to receive the Excellence in Neuroscience Research Award at graduation.
Selecting a Research Laboratory
One of the most important decisions that a Neuroscience major can make is which laboratory to join. The Neuroscience major allows students to conduct research in almost any Queens College laboratory that either asks Neuroscience-related questions or uses techniques commonly used in Neuroscience research. Most of the laboratories in the Biology Department, all of the behavioral neuroscience laboratories in the Psychology Department, and many other laboratories, especially in Chemistry and Biochemistry, qualify. Information on the research interests of the Neuroscience faculty can be obtained from their departmental web sites (accessible from the Neuroscience Faculty page). Students are advised to seek advice and final approval from the Neuroscience major Director or Deputy Director before deciding which laboratory to join.
Getting Credit for Research
Different faculty members have different rules and different criteria for allowing students to get credit for working in their labs so the first thing to do is discuss this with your research mentor. Although Neuroscience majors MUST receive three (3) credits of research to graduate, they may receive additional research credits, which would be elective credits toward graduation with a Queens College degree (120 credit total). Note that no more than the required 3 hours of research will count toward the 55 credits required by the major.
When figuring out the number of research credits to take (1, 2, or 3), keep in mind that students are generally expected to spend at least 3 hours in their laboratories per week for each credit received. For example, a student taking 3 credit hours should be in their laboratory at least 9 hours per week.
There are two mechanisms by which a Neuroscience student may receive research credit:
Departmental independent study: Most departments at Queens College offer course credit for independent study and allow research to qualify in this category (e.g., Psych 391, Bio 390). To receive this credit, you must first get the permission of your mentor and fill out the required independent-study forms for the home department of your research mentor. Ask your mentor or their department office about the forms.
Honors in Mathematics & Natural Science: If you are part of the HMNS program, you will be expected to receive credit for research participation starting with your second semester in the program. For details about the HMNS program, click here.
Students are encouraged to present their research and our majors routinely do so both at the local and national levels. Locally, there is the Annual Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Research Fair (fall semester) and the Annual Sigma Xi Research Day (spring semester). Research presentations can also be made at external conferences, such as the regional NEURON conference (spring semester at Hunter College) or the annual international Society for Neuroscience conference (fall semester). All Neuroscience majors are encouraged to discuss these various opportunities and how best to participate with their research mentors and the Neuroscience Director.