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The new Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate program will help
aspiring researchers and scientists study the brain and nervous system.
With the rapid
expansion and growth of the field of neuroscience leading to incredible
new career opportunities among innovating businesses, the University of
Delaware introduced an Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate (ING) program for the fall semester of 2021.
UD’s College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering
contribute to the graduate program through a dozen departments to
provide a broad and thoroughly engaging curriculum for the study of
The graduate program’s driving mission is to cultivate a
cohesive atmosphere to expose students to the study of brain function,
provide interdisciplinary training across a variety of fields such as
psychology and engineering, and to prepare students for a successful
research-oriented career in the rising field of neuroscience.
Mark Stanton, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and graduate director of the ING program, said the program will have an impact on UD and society at large.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for UD to enhance its programs and
visibility,” Stanton said. “Both the research and the teaching in this
rapidly expanding field are very timely for science and public policy.
The ING program plays a critical role to strengthen interdisciplinary
capabilities at the University. It’s been a rewarding experience to work
with the committee and departments to bring this program to life.”
John Jeka, professor and chairperson for the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, said the career opportunities will be plentiful for students completing the program.
“These are amazing jobs with excellent salaries,” Jeka said. “Since
this graduate program is exceedingly broad, it creates a larger variety
of career opportunities for neuroscience students such as medical
scientists, biomedical researchers, physicians, professors, and medical
directors. There are tremendous advantages to joining the neuroscience
program for students.”
The creation and growth of the interdisciplinary neuroscience
graduate program further creates opportunities within UD’s Graduate
College, which was established, in part, to foster innovation in
graduate education, especially in creating and supporting
interdisciplinary programs. By bringing together the collaborative
efforts of different disciplines as part of a shared goal, there will be
new, unique ways to approach research as students have access to
faculty and resources throughout a dozen different departments.
“Exciting programs like the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate
(ING) program are perfect examples of the innovative offerings that the
Graduate College is here to facilitate and support,” said Louis Rossi,
dean of the Graduate College. “Students who hope to be leaders in the
field of neuroscience need preparation in multiple disciplines and
approaches to understand cognition in living systems.”
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
The new program makes it easier for graduate students to learn of
expertise across disciplines while still retaining the support of the
department from which they started their academic journey.
Anshuman Razdan, associate vice president for research development in
the Research Office, said information passes in multiple ways.
“Vertical depth of knowledge in fields of study is important — but
new, modern discoveries happen because of horizontal bridges built
between these fields,” said Razdan. “This program will allow students
from different departments like physiology, psychology and brain
sciences or biomedical engineering the opportunity to reach beyond
departmental boundaries — utilizing other people, tools, and resources
for their research. There are so many implications for the impact of how
we develop tools and solutions that originate from the combined effort
of different fields. Even the rapid creation of the COVID-19 vaccine was
built on the shoulders of people who created complex models and worked
across disciplinary boundaries.
“When all of these first neuroscience Ph.D. students are out in the
field in 3 to 5 years — how does this help our mission? The indirect and
direct impacts are that the best students in this program will be
funded by different grants which will produce new science, ultimately
leading to further funding and research growth at UD. We are looking at
the long arc of success in establishing UD’s unique neuroscience program
and the credit goes to faculty for their creativity and hard work in
envisioning this new program.”
The ING program will function through an executive committee that
considers transfer applications from graduate students who are mentored
by UD faculty participants and are enrolled and supported by their UD
home departments. Transfer applicants will not change their faculty
mentor, home department, or source of financial support through
transferring degree programs under this interim policy.
“The key is that students will still exist in the department they are
already in,” Jeka said. “Students will have opportunities to work with
faculty, departments, and resources beyond their original field of study
while having all of the benefits and resources of their adviser and
home department through the neuroscience program. For example, a
graduate student in Psychological and Brain Sciences can benefit from
the broader spectrum of the neuroscience program and still utilize the
resources they have available through their department.”
Kathleen Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said
neuroscience includes individuals that come from a broad set of
“This diversity in neuroscience brings a richness to the program and
creates an opportunity to train students in interdisciplinary and
translational work,” Matt said. “This work is important because future
innovations in medicine are discovered in areas that cross disciplinary
lines. For example, there is an opportunity to link the findings of a
scientist studying neurons at the molecular level with a biomedical
engineer monitoring electrical activity of neurons, and linking that to a
researcher studying neurological disorders, and connecting that to a
physical therapist and an engineering team that is designing a
brain/machine for a patient with a neurological disability. It’s about
connecting these data sets to lead to better comprehensive understanding
of the neurological systems that can result in better treatment of
patients. In neuroscience there are continually new enabling
technologies being developed that allow you to ask and analyze questions
at different levels and bring different disciplines together to find
“I really believe this program is a natural fit for our University
and I applaud the faculty for putting this together. We are bringing the
breadth, strength, and diversity of UD together to solve the complex
healthcare challenges of now and the future.”
The ING program is supported by the Unidel Foundation.
Article by Colin Heffinger; photos by Ashley Barnas
Published Oct. 19, 2021