Graduate Student Council

Michigan State University Neuroscience Program

This snapshot describes the Neuroscience Program's Graduate Student Council (GSC), a student-organized representative body. Through involvement with the GSC, graduate students are learning how interdepartmental programs are structured and administered, and multiple lines of communication between faculty and students have been established and/or deepened. Below you can find some background information on the GSC, how it is structured, brief descriptions of some of its responsibilities, and reflections on the impact the GSC has had on some of the students and faculty who have been involved with it.

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.

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

Purpose of the GSC

The Neuroscience Program Graduate Student Council (NSP GSC) was first organized in the summer of 2002, in part as a response to calls for increased communication between NSP students, faculty and administration. The purpose of the NSP GSC is to:

  • Increase the role of graduate students in the organization and running of the NSP;
  • Facilitate camaraderie among NSP graduate students;
  • Facilitate communication between NSP graduate students and faculty.

  • Structure of the GSC

    The GSC is by design informal, the goal being to ensure that

  • all voices are equal
  • all students who wish to contribute can do so easily.
  • To this end, it is organized around a council composed of student volunteers, headed by an elected chair. For details on the structure and organization of the GSC, please refer to the GSC Constitution.

    GSC activities can be loosely categorized into 3 components shown above. These are described in more detail to your right.

    Dr. David Kreulen is the faculty Liasion for the NeuroBuddy program.
    Dr. David Kreulen is the faculty Liasion for the NeuroBuddy program.

    The GSC Launches the NeuroBuddy Program in 2004

    To assist in integrating first-year students into the NSP community, the GSC in conjunction with Program faculty started a peer-mentoring program. Each incoming student is paired with a senior graduate student, who serves as an all-purpose advisor during the first year. NeuroBuddies are a resource for information, help with coursework, provide advice on surviving graduate school, and serve as a social contact.

    Steering Committee 2004-2005

    Kaliris Salas-Ramirez (Chair)

    Melissa Holmes (CID Leadership Team)

    John Morris

    Michael Schwartz (CID Leadership Team)

    Christina Herden (Teaching Exp. Sub-Com.)

    Jayme Mancini (Council of Graduate Students)

    James Otero (Comprehensive Exam Sub-Com.)

    Jim Ren (Faculty Advisory Com.)

    Yanny Lau

    Robert Drolet (Graduate Affairs Com.)

    Andrew Shin

    Jennifer Neal

    Xian Cao (Dean's Student Advisory Com.)

    Deborah Soellner (First-year Rep.)

    Michigan State University campus
    Michigan State University campus

    1. Administration

    The GSC sends representatives to all of the standing NSP administrative and ad-hoc committees, as well as several university-wide groups. Most recently, through the CID we have started to interact with other neuroscience programs. GSC involvement:

  • facilitates a two-way flow of information between grad students and administrative/academic groups
  • makes students a part of the administrative process

  • 2. Community

    From its inception, the GSC has worked to foster the sense of community that is essential for scientific research and training. Events such as the annual retreat and presentation of the faculty award allow us to 'keep in touch' with each other and to recognize the accomplishments of our colleagues.

    NSP students, postdocs and faculty at the 2004 retreat
    NSP students, postdocs and faculty at the 2004 retreat

    The Annual Retreat

    The Neuroscience Program gathers for a retreat at the beginning of the academic year to welcome incoming students and to share ideas generated over the course of the summer. The format is a mix of research presentations by students, postdocs and faculty, administrative/policy discussions, brainstorming and social time. This provides an opportunity to appreciate the breadth of the program and to solicit ideas from people that may not get to interact on a daily basis. We aim for an open and relaxed atmosphere where complements are sincere and any criticism is constructive. And of course there's a free lunch!

    Student Reflections on...

    The GSC as an essential part of the NSP

    Interacting with larger, university-wide groups

    Increasing collegiality at all levels of the program

    Fostering intellectual community

    Faculty reflections on...

    Mentoring future leaders

    3. Training

    Most recently, the GSC has initiated several programs that give grad students more direct responsibility for their own training. These include:

  • A yearly student-organized mini-symposium series
  • A peer-mentoring program for first-year students (NeuroBuddies)
  • Student-moderated workshops in the career development course (Neuroscience Forum)

  • John Morris presents Dr. Peter Cobbett (right) with the first NSP Faculty Award in 2003.
    John Morris presents Dr. Peter Cobbett (right) with the first NSP Faculty Award in 2003.

    Faculty Awards

    Started in 2002-2003, the NSP students have recognized the achievements of the NSP faculty with an annual Faculty Award. The Award recognizes excellence in teaching, mentoring and/or service to the program. Candidates are nominated and selected by the students each spring semester, and the Award is presented at the annual Program retreat.

    Dr. Peter Cobbett (Fac. Award 2003)

    Dr. Antonio Nunez (Fac. Award 2004)

    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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