2007 Teaching Neuroscience Workshop at SFN - Innovative Laboratories


Innovative Laboratories


Sunday, November 4, 2007    2:00 - 5:00 pm    |    San Diego Convention Center, Room 16A

This year's Teaching Workshop focuses on laboratory courses. Panelists will discuss different ways of organizing lab courses to meet pedagogical goals, and will describe innovative exercises spanning the range from molecular to cognitive neuroscience. Following the panel, breakout groups will allow people to discuss the courses they teach with their colleagues. The workshop will conclude with a video in which students reveal what they expect from laboratory instructors.

The workshop is open to all without preregistration or fee.






CURRICULUM: What are our goals for laboratory courses?

"A lab-only course for sophomore neuroscience majors"

Mary Harrington, Smith College

"Pros and cons of a lab component in a capstone course for seniors"

Elaine Reynolds, Lafayette College


EXPERIMENTS: Some innovative laboratory exercises.

"Cloning a semaphorin gene in crickets"

Hadley Horch, Bowdoin College

"Measuring and counting sexually dimorphic neurons using NIH Image"

William Grisham, UCLA

"Analyzing extracellular spike trains with a software package"

Raddy Ramos, Queens College, CUNY

"Recording from hippocampal slices"

Dennison Smith, Oberlin College

"Acquiring and analyzing fMRI scans in an undergraduate course"

Mark Hurd, College of Charleston


BREAKOUT GROUPS: Discussions with your colleagues.

Introductory and Non-Majors Courses, Molecular/Developmental, Physiology, Neuroanatomy, Biopsychology and Cognitive, Medical/Graduate Core Courses


VIDEO: "Teaching Labs"

View this video online                Preview additional videos about teaching.




Mary Harrington

Tippit Professor in the Life Sciences, Smith College. Dr. Harrington is the author of The Design of Experiments in Neuroscience (Wadsworth Publishing, 2005), an Associate Editor of the Journal of Neuroscience, the author of numerous articles on neural pathways controlling the circadian clock, and currently the President of Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. An article about her laboratory-only course for sophomore neuroscience majors appeared in the fall 2003 issue of the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE); the course syllabus is also available online as a PDF file. In 2007, Dr. Harrington received Smith College's Sherrerd Award for exceptional teaching. Email: [email protected].

Elaine Reynolds

Associate Professor of Biology and chair of the of Neuroscience Program at Lafayette College. Dr. Reynolds has taught Lafayette's capstone neuroscience course in years when it had a laboratory component and in other years when it did not. She also developed and taught the introductory neuroscience course, as well as neurobiology and developmental neurobiology. She received Lafayette's Delta Upsilon Distinguished Mentoring and Teaching Award, and she has involved more than 50 undergraduates in her research on the development of the nervous system in Drosophila. Email: [email protected].

Hadley Horch

Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Bowdoin College. Dr. Horch designed and teaches lecture and laboratory courses in Neurobiology and Molecular Biology, and teaches an upper-level seminar on Neuronal Regeneration. Her research uses the cricket model system to examine the molecular neurobiological basis of a number of areas including regeneration, behavior, and development. A protocol of her cloning exercise (PDF) is available online. Email: [email protected].

William Grisham

Lecturer and Academic Coordinator, Department of Psychology and Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles. His innovative neuroanatomical exercises were the subject of a 2003 article in the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE). Dr. Grisham is an Associate Editor of JUNE and a Councillor for Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. In 2005, he received UCLA's Copenhaver Award for Innovation in Teaching and its Academic Senate Distinguished Lecturer Award. Email: [email protected]. Additional links:   spinal cord neuron image library;   mouse brain library;   NIH Image (Mac);   NIH Image (Windows).

Raddy Ramos

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Queens College, CUNY. He is the senior author (with colleagues from the University of Connecticut) of an article in the spring 2007 issue of the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE) that discusses spike analysis tools that students can use with extracellular recordings from insects. With colleagues from Queens College, he has written an article on using the digital Allen Brain Atlas to teach cytoarchitecture and create gene expression profiles for the mouse brain. Email: [email protected]. Additional links:   William Heitler's DataView software;   Gus Lott's G-PRIME software

Dennison Smith

N.D. Henderson Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, Oberlin College. Dr. Smith was a founding member of Oberlin's neuroscience program, one of the first undergraduate neuroscience programs in the United States (1972). He teaches courses covering Introductory Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Brain, Consciousness and Cognition as well as a senior seminar for majors. His primary research interests include the neuropharmacology of synaptic plasticity and Parkinson's disease. He is a past president of Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN), a recipient of their lifetime achievement award, and the recipient of a distinguished teacher award from Oberlin College. Email: [email protected].

Mark Hurd

Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Neuroscience Program, College of Charleston. Dr. Hurd teaches courses in Neuroscience, Behavioral Genetics, Psychopharmacology and Physiological Psychology. His research interests are in behavioral rhythms in zebrafish, and in functional neuroimaging and bioinformatics. He is the coauthor of "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI): A Brief Exercise for an Undergraduate Laboratory Course," Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE), fall 2006. He also maintains a website with further information about fMRI, which includes the links mentioned in his talk. Email: [email protected].

Richard Olivo (organizer)

Associate Director, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, and Professor of Biological Sciences and member of the Program in Neuroscience, Smith College. Dr. Olivo developed "MacRetina," a simulated experiment to record from retinal ganglion cells, and he is the author of a deep website with procedures and videos for an undergraduate neurophysiology laboratory course. He was named "Educator of the Year" in 2005 by Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. Email: [email protected].



Helpful suggestions for planning this workshop came from Mary Harrington (Smith College), Steve George (Amherst College), Andrew Moiseff (University of Connecticut), and Alan Gelperin (University of Pennsylvania).