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Welcome from the Director

Jeffrey D. Blaustein

Neuroscience is arguably the most challenging and exciting of all scientific frontiers.  All voluntary and involuntary actions, perceptions, feelings, and thoughts are controlled by the brain and nervous system, yet the most fundamental questions about how these events are accomplished remain the most complex puzzle imaginable for us to solve. 

Neuroscientists study questions of how the nervous system works, how it interacts with the other systems of the body, and how the outside world influences the nervous system. Neuroscience and Behavior continues to attract researchers from virtually every other scientific field, ranging from physics, chemistry, engineering, and molecular biology to cognitive and social psychology and psychiatry. The ongoing development of innovative techniques at the molecular and organismic levels continues to drive an explosive growth in knowledge and interdisciplinary collaborations that provide myriad opportunities for unraveling the complexities of behavior and mental processes.

The Graduate Program in Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reflects both the diversity and interdisciplinary focus of research in this exciting field. A broad range of departments and academic colleges are represented by participating faculty members, postdoctoral research fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates. Faculty members from four nearby colleges (Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and Hampshire College) are also affiliated with the Program, thereby enhancing our expertise and our scholarly resources. We also have strong ties to the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program, and the Center for Neuroendocrine Studies.

The NSB Program comprises five broadly defined areas of research and training (1) Neuroendocrinology, (2) Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, (3) Animal Behavior and Learning (4) Neural and Behavioral Development, and (5) Sensorimotor, Cognitive, and Computational Neuroscience.

State-of-the-art facilities are available for neural and behavioral studies at all levels of investigation from molecules to whole organisms. Indeed, many researchers within the NSB Program are carrying out multidisciplinary studies that cut across multiple levels of analysis. Perhaps one of our most distinctive features is the number of faculty members and students who work on behavior as a focus for their cellular and molecular studies.

We recognize that students have a broad range of background interests and career goals, so flexibility in individual training is a hallmark of our program. Core courses are intended to provide a common base of knowledge in contemporary Neuroscience and Behavior. These are supplemented with elective courses, which enable students to delve into more specialized topics. In order to gain immediate experience in the design and conduct of research students (except for those who enter with a Master's thesis already) carry out a Major Research Project during the first two years of graduate training.  We have a vibrant colloquium series and a variety of journal clubs to supplement course work.

The Program offers a comprehensive, integrated, and flexible graduate training program in a stimulating educational environment located in a lovely setting in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. We welcome the opportunity to provide you with further information about our program.