Opportunities for Neuroscience Research

Most neuroscience majors engage in one summer of research to gaining critical thinking, technical, communication, and collaborative skills that prepares them for diverse careersMost neuroscience majors engage in one summer of research to gaining critical thinking, technical, communication, and collaborative skills that prepares them for diverse careers

A distinguishing hallmark of the neuroscience major is that most students engage in undergraduate research early, on-campus and off-campus. Our majors complete in at least one significant research experience either during the academic year or during summers, and communicate their work professionally and confidently. Many complete a senior thesis.

Lake Forest students have won prizes for their research at neuroscience conferences thirteen years in a row (2003-2015)

Where to do Research

At the College:

Several neuroscience program faculty at the college engage in biology, psychology and philosophical research that contribute to our understanding of the relationships between brain, mind, and behavior and welcome motivated students to pursue research in their labs.  Interested students should read our individual research blurbs and contact individual faculty to discuss the potential to engage in a faculty-student collaborative research project.

In Chicago:

Chicago is exceptionally rich with undergraduate research opportunities in neuroscience because of it internationally renowned medical centers.  Past students have engaged in summer research in neuroscience at the medical schools linked to Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush Medical School, and Loyola University. 

At Rosalind Franklin (RFUMS):

Students may be particularly interested in neuroscience research opportunities at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (LFC-RFUMS). To learn more about our unique LFC-RFUMS Summer Fellows program, click here.

How to get a research opportunity

Contact Neuroscience Program faculty advisors to discuss your interest in on-campus or off-campus research opportunities for during the academic year and summer..

Several mechanisms exist to get on-campus research experiences as described here:

Richter Scholar Program

This college-wide program selects 45 first-year students to work with college faculty on independent research projects for ten-week period in the summer after their first year. Each year, some students complete Richter projects in neuroscience and these students sometimes continue to work with their faculty mentor throughout their undergraduate career.  

Research Assistant

The neuroscience faculty maintain active research laboratories and seek to involve students in their projects. Research Assistants can work with faculty during the academic year as volunteers, as paid research assistants, or for course credit. They can also work in faculty labs during the summer as paid research assistants. Students gain first-hand experience with research design, data collection, analysis, and dissemination of research.

Senior Thesis

We encourage all neuroscience majors to consider pursuing senior thesis research. This is highly recommended for those who wish to pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience or are planning for medical school. Although occasionally this research is part of a faculty member’s research program, it is typically a student-generated research project. Students interested in senior theses start formulating research ideas in the spring of the junior year, find a faculty member who is willing to advise them on their project, and conduct the thesis research itself throughout the senior year.

Recent senior theses by neuroscience students:

Agona Lutolli ’17
“Categorization and implicit racial bias”

Emily Ong ’17
“How familial PD mutants are toxic”

Lily Veldran ’17
“Maturation of female prefrontal cortex”

Sarah Chiren ’16

“Neural stem cells in disease”

Alexa Hemmer ’16

“Mechanisms underlying human memory”

Kayla Huber ’16

“Gender equity in science education”

Jyothis James ’16

“Neurophilosophy, social ethics, and racial equity”

Obaiy Fahmy ’16

“Mechanisms underlying memory”

Nylsa Mejia ’16

“Eye tracking and cognition”

Hannah Samberg ’16
“Anxiety, Stress, and the Brain”

Maiwase Tembo ’15
“New familial mutants of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Amanda Allred ’14

“Identifying the Function of the Telomerase RNA of Aspergillus nidulans: the Generation of a DNA Knockout Construct” (2012-present)

Katrina Campbell ’14
“Two studies on Parkinson’s Disease protein, Alpha-Synuclein: Amino acid determinants and truncations”

Anhar Mohamed ’14
“Functional neuroanatomy of the basolateral amygdala”

Kim Diah ’13
”Relationship of firing rates/patterns and the location of cells involved in midbrain dopaminergic transmission in adolescent vs. adult rats: relevance to (cocaine) addiction”

Natalie Kukulka ’13
“Decrypting Parkinson’s Disease: Are multiple mutants worse than one?”

Ashley Reich ’13
“Co-­regulation of miRNA biogenesis and pre-­‐mRNA alternative splicing”

Pascal Accoh ’12
“The Periadolescent Activation of the CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Prevents the Normative Developmental Facilitation of Parvalbumin-positive Interneurons in the Prefrontal Cortex”

Sydni Cole ’12
“The Effects of Part-Set Cuing in Object-Location and Order Memory”

Daniella Brutman ’12
“The Alternative Splicing of ApoER2 in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Madhavi Senagolage ’12
“Evaluation of Alpha-Synuclein Degradation Pathways in a Budding Yeast Model”

Anneliese Szutenbach ’12
“Genetic Mapping of the M77 and M138 Alleles in C. elegans”

Menzi Mhlanga ’11
“Investigating the Role of Testosterone on Risk-Taking Behavior in Male Sprague Dawley Rats”

Derek Atchley ’10
“Effects of Stress on Emotion-related Behavior in Rodents: Implications for Affective Disorders”

Recent research projects by neuroscience students:

(These students conducted projects as research assistants at the college, Richter Scholars, LFC-RFUMS summer fellows, or as Groner Grant Foundation recipients): 

Trevor Buhr ’18
“Gene therapy in Alzheimer’s disease”

Viktoriya Georgieva ’18
“New familial mutants of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Michael Janecek ’18
“Science and religion”

Paul Jones ’18
“Smaller variants of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Emma Levine ’18
“Diet and organ size in flies”

Krista Mueli ’18
“Eye tracking and Cognition”

Pegah Nabili ’18
“Diet and organ size in flies”

Alexandra Skozcek ’18
“Neural plasticity of stress-coping behavior”

Parth Tank ’18
“Diet and organ size in flies”

Rosemary Thomas ’18
“Chemical modifications of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Brittany Avonts ’17
“Anxiety, stress, and the brain

Joseph Bortolotti ’17
“Neuropeptide Y1 is a key element in stress response to food deprivation”

Mallory Burney ’17
“MicroRNA in human disease”

Jeremy Berg ’17
“Motor memory in invertebrates”

Alexandra Dunn ’17
“Immune system and Cancer”

Logan Graham ’17
“Creation of familial mutants for Splice variants of Parkinson’s Disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Malia Hansen ’17
“What do eye movements tell us about the mind”

Agona Lutolli ’17
“Translational neuroscience studies with fMRI”(Chicago Brain Initiative)

Ana McCracken ’17
“Characterization of splice variants of Parkinson’s Disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Emily Ong ’17
“Community partners ending violence against women” (2014-2015)
“Familial Mutants of Parkinson’s disease protein in yeast models” (2015-2016)

Peyton Schrag ’17
“ Creation of familial mutants for Splice variants of Parkinson’s Disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Lily Veldran ’17
“Adolesence, Addiction, and the Brain”

Saul Bello Rojas ’16
“Taste research with human patients” (Smell and Taste Research)
“Splice and C-terminal variants of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Heather Heitkotter ’16
“The effects of immune system activation on emotion and behavior”

Maribel Munoz ’16
“Creation of alpha-synuclein truncation mutants with GFP tagged at the C-terminus”

Charles Alvarado ’16
“Creation of alpha-synuclein truncation mutants with GFP tagged at the N-terminus”

Khadijah Hamid ’16
“Consequences of sumoylation of alpha-synuclein”

Alexa Hemmer ’16
“Demographic predictors of barriers and treatment outcomes in children with inflammatory bowel disease

Kayla Huber ’16
“Regulation of cell volume by alligator red blood cells”

Alexandra Roman ’16
“Sumoylation of Parkinson’s disease protein alpha-synuclein”

Jennifer Salgado-Benz ’16
“The influence of cuing on spatial memory for chess positions”

Chaya Tabas ’16
“Nitric oxide signalling in Neurodegenerative disease”

Jackie Meyer ’15
“Adolescence, addiction, and the brain”

Eddi Moravac ’15
“Memory systems in the hippocampus”

Cecilia Reyes ’15
“MicroRNAs and disease”

Maiwase Tembo ’15
“Will co-inhibiting multiple degradation pathways for Parkinson’s protein alpha-synuclein in yeasts increase toxicity?” (2012)
“H50Q and G51D familial mutant analysis of alpha-synuclein” (2013-)

Johnathan Vinkavich ’15
“Chronic downregulation of the sGC-cGMP signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in Parkinson’s Disease (2013)

Natalie Zemela ’15
”Investigation of Spartin in Troyer Syndrome using a worm model”

Jessica Dudley ’14
“Music, Memory and Brain Waves” (2012)
“Neurophilosophy of the Mind” (2013)

Megan Joy Escanilla ’14
“The motivation to explore: Insights from children’s eye movements” (2012)

Lani Leong ’14
“Will sea slugs recover after surgical injury?” (2011)

Anhar Mohamed ’14
“Frontal theta wave activity between consonant and dissonant musical stimuli” (2011)

Crystal Ramirez ’14
“The Effects of Self-Control on Risk Taking and Brainwaves” (2012)

Kayla Sarkis ’14
“Social Fear Learning: The importance of prior interactions”

Rida Khan ’14
“Alpha-synuclein degradation analysis in yeasts” (2011)
“Manipulation of RNA splicing of APER2 with antisense oligonucleotides to rescue spatial memory in Alzheimer’s Disease Mice”

Jody Buck ’13
“Will sea slugs recover after surgical injury?” (2011)

Kim Diah ’13
“A comparative study of working spatial memory in humans  and rats” (2011)

Alexus Edmonds ’13
“Stress response and dating violence in African-American Communities” (2012)

Kristina Johnson ’12
“Retrieval of Context-Drug Memories Increases the Proportion of Recently Activated Neurons of the Hippocampus and Amygdala in Rats” (2011)

Kayla Ahlstrand ’12
“Self-Cannibalizing for a Parkinson’s Disease Cure” (2009)

Daniel Sanchez ’11
“Insight Into Parkinson’s: Autophagy to the Rescue?” (2009)