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Brain power: College dedicates Center for Neuroscience



Lucas First '12, Professor Stephen Romero and Board of Trustees Chair Mark Walsh
Lucas First '12, Professor Stephen Romero and Board of Trustees Chair Mark Walsh

In 2003, Union’s fledgling neuroscience program graduated a single student. Today, the program averages 16 graduates a year, a growth remarkable enough to turn heads.

On Saturday during ReUnion Weekend, the College officially dedicated the Center for Neuroscience on the third floor of Butterfield Hall. Open since January, the center includes five research laboratories, several support and research training areas, and a space for faculty.

“This marks the arrival of the neuroscience major at Union,” said Stephen Romero, associate professor of psychology and the project’s lead investigator. He was joined by President Stephen C. Ainlay, Mark Walsh, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, and a host of other trustees, faculty and students to celebrate the center.

The center, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Frank Bailey Fund, will help support research and training in areas of neuroplasticity; human cognitive abilities and behavioral dispositions; sex differences in spatial cognition; cognitive genetics; neural control of behavior; and basic molecular mechanisms underlying pediatric neurological disorders.

Before the center opened, the neuroscience program was spread among three buildings on campus. The center has brought together core faculty from biology, psychology and bioengineering to interact more freely and provide additional research opportunities for faculty and students. The first two floors of Butterfield were renovated to create the Center for Bioengineering and Computational Biology, which opened in winter 2007.

“Here, we have a place where we can collaborate and connect with others in the field,” said Lucas First ’12, a neuroscience major and president of Nu Rho Psi Honor Society. He plans to pursue a career in medicine. “A place that’s conducive to academic inquiry and experimentation, a place in which to pursue how and why the brain works, from the study of neuroethology to the intricacies of cognitive processing.”