This snapshot describes the MSU Neuroscience program and its work with the CID. We are using a goals-based approach internally to improve our training program. Simultaneously, we are looking for ways to apply the principles we have identified externally, in particular in targeting our graduate recruitment efforts.

Michigan State University Home
Click here to access the MSU website. You can find more information on the university here.

MSU Neuroscience Program Homepage
Click here to access the NSP's website. It contains information on Program structure, training environment, member bios, and current activities.

Who Are We?

The Neuroscience Program (NSP) is a multidisciplinary, interdepartmental graduate training program. Our objectives are:

  • Preparation for a research career in academia, the private sector, or government
  • To facilitate the crossing of barriers that separate academic units and, in doing so, to facilitate the pursuit of truly interdisciplinary neuroscience research
  • Our training program incorporates coursework, independent research, professional development training, student involvement in NSP administration, and frequent interactions with Program and visiting faculty speakers.

    NSP degree requirements
    Click to see detailed degree requirements from the NSP webpage.

    NSP faculty research
    Takes you to the NSP faculty listing, including biosketches.

    NSP Exemplary Element Snapshot: GSC
    Click to see our Snapshot describing the Graduate Student Council (GSC), a student-organized group that facilitates interactions between faculty and students within the NSP.

    How Are We Accomplishing Our Goals?

    We emerged from our first year of program-wide discussions with a number of ideas on interdisciplinary research, stewardship of the discipline, and the interaction between training goals and the training curriculum. We are now applying these ideas internally to our training program using a three-step deliberative process (see below).

    These ideas have helped reformulate our understanding of the NSP, and consequently we are also looking for ways to frame our program externally to potential trainees and colleagues.

    1: Identification of Core Priniciples

    Our first year's work revolved around identifying the 'core' principles of our training program, distilled as two questions:

  • What is our mission as a graduate training program in neuroscience?
  • What are the fundamental values, skills and experiences that optimize graduate training in a manner consistent with this mission?
  • Through a series of Program-wide discussions, we distilled a mission statement.

    What do we want to accomplish in the CID?

    Our initial CID goals were:

  • Conduct an internal review of the training program: how are we doing now with respect to our mission/goals as set in 1999?
  • Increase communication within the program; find ways to build bridges across segments of NSP that don't necessarily communicate as readily, i.e. can we create a discussion forum where all voices can be heard?

  • Structure of the Neuroscience Program

    The Neuroscience program at MSU has a long tradition of multidisciplinary/multi-departmental interactions and collaboration that foster a collegial, cooperative, and symbiotic environment. The above diagram depicts the six major research interests of our faculty.

    Commonalities PowerPoint

    Key Ideas PowerPoint

    Exemplary Element Snapshot 1
    This is a link to a snapshot you can create with the Exemplary Element Template describing an exemplary or innovative element of the doctoral program that was instituted prior to the CID. You can share features of the program you are proud of with others. (Delete or edit this text.)

    Percentage of all respondents identifying each core competency as being a part of dissertation research.
    Percentage of all respondents identifying each core competency as being a part of dissertation research.

    2: Creation of a Diagnostic

    Using the principles in the mission statement as a guide, we created a diagnostic survey based on six 'core competencies' . These competencies emerged from our Program-wide discussions as the essential skill set that all trainees should possess when they graduate. We then administered the survey to NSP members, asking them which training elements provided training in each competency.

    We are using the survey results to focus revision efforts towards those elements that are not meeting student/faculty training expectations.

    Description of NSP core competencies

    NSP CID diagnostic survey

    MSU CID Leadership Team


    Mark Breedlove Ph.D.

    Jim Galligan Ph.D

    Cindy Jordan Ph.D

    David Kruelen Ph.D

    Joseph Lonstein Ph.D

    Keith Lookingland Ph.D

    Cheryl Sisk Ph.D, NSP program director


    Nakia Gordon Ph.D

    Julia Zehr Ph.D

    Graduate Students

    Robert Drolet

    Jianhua Ren

    Michael Schwartz

    Other CID Work

    In addition to our original CID goals, we are looking for ways to increase awareness of the CID and of the work we are doing within the neuroscience community:

  • The Graduate School at MSU has supported 3 CID student Fellowship awards for this year (To Rob Drolet, Jim Ren and Mike Schwartz); these awards help to support students doing CID work for the NSP.
  • We are meeting with other CID-participating departments at MSU to discuss the CID and how our work is changing our respective programs.
  • In conjunction with several other participating programs, we have submitted a teaching of neuroscience abstract to the 2005 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

  • 3: Revision of Training Elements

  • The first CID Innovation was the revision of our comprehensive exam format. The new format will be administered for the first time in spring 2005, and will be evaluated over the next several years as more student cohorts take the exam.
  • We are currently involved in program-wide discussions on the teaching requirement; for more information on the details follow the link below.
  • Translational neuroscience, while considered important by students and faculty, is underrepresented in the training elements. We hope to address this in the coming year.

  • This electronic portfolio was created using the KML Snapshot Tool™, a part of the KEEP Toolkit™,
    developed at the Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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