A Mindful Major

New undergraduate neuroscience program draws strong interest

A design graphic of three graduating students and showing their brains Image: Tori Sheese

Prateek Dullur came to Case Western Reserve in 2019, knowing he wanted to study neuroscience, which he calls “the final frontier for research.”

It wasn’t an official major then. But it is now.

Spurred by keen student interest, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine launched the neuroscience major last fall in an innovative collaboration that Joy K. Ward, PhD, dean of the college, said is “rare” on a U.S. campus.

The major already is so popular that 2,492 prospective students who applied for admission for this school year said neuroscience was their first- or second-choice major. And 148 of them are now first-year students on campus.

“It is very gratifying that the major we are offering is so hugely popular,” said David Friel, PhD, an associate professor of neurosciences. He co-led the major’s development with Jessica Fox, PhD, an associate professor of biology.

Dullur’s interdisciplinary path helps explain the interest. The junior is majoring in neuroscience and music and minoring in computer science and artificial intelligence. “I have been able to create a path that allows me to study all of these fields and reflect on the ways they can overlap and create new understandings,” he said.

In addition to offering students a wide range of cross-disciplinary courses, the major includes opportunities to participate in research at University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and other institutions.

Students could develop interests in “the societal impact of neurosciences and their economic, medical, legal and biotechnology consequences,” said Stan Gerson, MD, dean of the medical school.

Imagine what they might achieve when they take those interests into the world.

Major Interest

A Major Interest: 2,492

Prospective students who applied for admission for this school year identified neuroscience as their first- or second-choice major.

Learning About the Mind and Brain

The new neuroscience major offers undergraduates a broad understanding of the cross-disciplinary nature of the neurosciences and the complexities of the mind. Students can delve into subjects from the mechanisms of brain function to genetic abnormalities to artificial intelligence. “Neuroscience is one of the most exciting topics of our time because it is so interdisciplinary,” said Jessica Fox, PhD, an associate professor of biology who co-led the major’s development.

— Sophia Ciancone