Director's Corner, Spring 2024

Mar 10, 2024
Lori Flanagan-Cato

Since our last newsletter, the Biological Basis of Behavior (BBB) program has been renamed as the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program.  Despite the name change, our core value remains the same: to provide the most exciting brain-behavior curriculum for our students.  Here, we showcase a few recent developments.

Several new courses have emerged as extremely popular.  Dr. Amber Alhadeff, Assistant Professor at Monell Chemical Sciences Institute, has created a first-year seminar called “Your Brain on Food.”  The course has been highly rated, and Dr. Alhadeff was given the BBB Society Teaching Award in 2022.  Our own Dr. Michael Kaplan has developed a new senior seminar called “Music and the Brain,” which already has a cult following.  We are also pleased to announce a new member of our teaching faculty, Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelly, providing regular offerings of senior seminars in Learning and Memory, as well as Neurodegenerative Diseases. 

We are deeply grateful to Dr. Jacqueline Crawley for endowing a wonderful opportunity for our students to discuss neuroscience research and develop connections with some of our illustrious alumni.  The “Jacqueline Crawley Invited Lecture” series allows us to invite a graduate from our program each year to present a seminar about their research to students in the Neuroscience Honors Seminar.  Dr. Crawley, BBB Class of 1971, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at UC Davis, was our inaugural speaker, in spring 2022.  In spring, 2023, we hosted Dr. Yasmine El-Shamayleh, Class of 2003, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University (more information below).  We are pleased and proud to have a deep bench for future presenters! 

Our program has remained one of the largest majors within the School of Arts and Sciences.  As in the past, our students are well-represented within the ranks of Phi Beta Kappa and Dean’s Scholars.  In 2021, two of our majors, Christina Miranda and Amanda Moreno were awarded the 2021 President’s Engagement Prize for their project to promote body positivity education in local schools.  Then, in 2023, another one of our majors, Seungwon (Lucy) Lee, was awarded this prize for her work on maternity and child health in Uganda.  These are just a few examples of the many ways our students have displayed incredible scholarship, leadership, and innovative engagement within our community.  We feel fortunate and energized to support this program. 

Thank you for your continued interest in the BBB/Neuroscience program at Penn! We love to hear from our alumni, so feel free to send a note and let us know where your BBB/Neuroscience major has taken you.