Georgia State University’s strategic plan highlights efforts to increase the strength of its research activities while increasing the number and quality of its graduate and undergraduate programs. GSU’s neuroscience community continues to be an important factor in reaching those goals. As we enter this academic year the Neuroscience Institute continues to grow and more forward with cutting edge research and innovative educational programs.
Faculty from across the university came together just a few years ago to implement, first a new Neuroscience doctoral program, and more recently a new undergraduate BS major in Neuroscience. Both continue their upward trajectory in size and quality. This year we welcome seven new students into the Neuroscience doctoral program which brings us to 42 graduate students studying with core and associate neuroscience faculty. This represents an increase of over 76% since the program started in 2010. Eight students have already graduated with Ph.D.’s in Neuroscience and all have moved on to postdoctoral positions at major universities around the country. Last year the graduate program also added a new concentration in Neuroethics in partnership with our associate faculty in the Philosophy Department, and we continue to explore innovative new interdisciplinary programs to add to our graduate offerings. The third year of a new Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience gets underway this year. The undergraduate major has shown an even more dramatic growth. In September 2011 at the start of the degree program we had 15 majors; at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester, the number has surpassed 200. Our first 8 students graduated last year.
Neuroscience faculty across GSU departments have grown along with the expansion of our student members. Many have come through the University’s Second Century Initiative, which focuses bringing outstanding scholars to Georgia State University. Three new distinguished faculty members joining the Institute’s core faculty last year through the 2CI programs in Neurogenomics, in Obesity Reversal, and in Primate Social Primate Social Cognition, Evolution and Behavior. Additional faculty in Philosophy, Psychology, and Physics will come to GSU this year through a variety of 2CI initiatives. All bring nationally recognized programs of research and scholarship with them. We hope to continue to grow this year. GSU’s growing research strength in neuroscience is evidenced by the rapidly expanding grant funding that neuroscience has attracted. The annual grant funding of our existing core faculty has increased from $1.53M as of July 2011, to $3.31M as of July, 2012, to $4.83M as of July 2013; our neuroscience-oriented associate faculty in other departments add significantly to this total. An exciting development for both our research and education activities is that the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, an internationally recognized, multi-institutional neuroscience center headquartered at GSU and led by Neuroscience Institute faculty, has been awarded the status of a University Research Center. This prestigious designation will provide the CBN with access to additional resources that will facilitate the growth of neuroscience across campus and help make GSU a national center for neuroscience research and education.
These accomplishments would not be possible without the extraordinary efforts and strong support of faculty, students, staff, and administrators across the University. This includes not only the core faculty, staff and students of the Institute, but also the cooperative interactions among the many GSU departments that form the The Brains & Behavior Area of Focus which the NI administers. These departments – Biology, Psychology, Math & Statistics, Physics & Astronomy, Philosophy, and Computer Science – and their respective graduate programs form a campus-wide neuroscience community. Because of the strength of this community and its commitment to excellence in research and education, I am sure that neuroscience will continue to grow and strengthen at GSU, and remain an important component of the University’s strategic goals to move to an even higher level.
Walter Wilczynski, PhD
Professor and Director
Georgia State University