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Program Overview


Study at the forefront of an emerging science.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi

Explore the Brain, from Neurons to Consciousness

Why do we act the way we do? How does aging affect memory? What is the neurobiological basis of addiction? How is sensory information translated into meaningful perceptions? At Oberlin, our Neuroscience faculty pursue these questions and more using state of the art methods and technologies. Our students gain hands on experience preparing them for a range of careers in science, industry, and medicine as well as law, policy, and public health.

Publish Your Research With a Faculty Mentor

The Oberlin Neuroscience program offers a variety and depth of research experiences. We especially pride ourselves in welcoming students from underrepresented backgrounds into the STEM fields. Students use an array of methods including computational modelling, cell culture, behavioral analysis, chemogenetics, optogenetics and human EEG in laboratory classes and during collaborative research with faculty.  Frequently collaborative research experiences culminate in travel to professional conferences and publication in scientific journals.

More than 50 students have joined Nu Rho Psi (the national honor society for neuroscience) over the last five years.

STEM in Color

Oberlin’s STRONG program (Science and Technology Research Opportunities for a New Generation) represents the college’s ongoing commitment to increasing the diversity of the STEM workforce.

Five people in a lab engaged in discussion. All are people of color.
100% of tenured faculty have co-authored peer-reviewed articles with students

Student-Faculty Collaboration

Mentorship and research are cornerstones of the Neuroscience program. At Oberlin, students work with faculty to achieve new scientific discoveries.

Professor Paine and a student in the lab.

Undergraduate Research

Sara McDonald

Sara’s work focuses on the use of natural, plant-derived compounds as potential therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases.

Featured Courses

NSCI 103

Environmental Toxicology and Global Health

This StudiOC course explores public health’s historical contributions to individual and community health outcomes. Students explore the ethics and organization of the global health system, as well as the social, behavioral, environmental, and biological factors that play a role in its function. The course employs inclusive learning practices to understand and address public health challenges in the 21st century.

Taught by
Gunnar Kwakye
NSCI 211

Introductory Neuroscience Lab

Our team-taught introductory laboratory course exposes students to a wide variety of research techniques employed by neuroscientists: neuroanatomical procedures for staining and examining brain tissue; physiological procedures for recording the electrical activity of nerve cells; computational modeling approaches; and techniques to explore how the brain controls behavior. A cornerstone of the major, it introduces students to the faculty and methods of the department.

Taught by
Leslie Kwakye ’06, Christopher Howard
NSCI 325


This advanced lecture course explores the neurotransmitter systems that regulate behavior and the contribution of these systems to neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions. Additionally, students examine the effects of both prescribed and recreational drugs on brain function and behavior.  An optional lab accompanies the course and introduces students to a variety of techniques used in neuropsychopharmacology research.

Taught by
Tracie Paine
NSCI 360

Cognitive Neuroscience

This advanced lecture course explores the neural basis of cognition, comprising functions such as perception, decision making, problem solving and language. It extends cognitive psychology to encompass physical examination of brain structure and activity, using  methods such as electrophysiology, functional magnetic resonance imaging and computational modeling.

Taught by
Patrick Simen

Student Profiles

A Lesson in Computational Modeling

Rochelle van der Merwe ’21, a neuroscience major, participated in a special  workshop held at the Carney Center for Computational Brain Science geared toward using computational modeling to study neural processes and behavior.


Oberlin College Research Fellow

Charlotte Babarinsa ’20, a double major in psychology and neuroscience, conducted research on sensory attention in Professor Leslie Kwakye's lab as an Oberlin College Research Fellow (OCRF).


From Oberlin to a PhD at Princeton

When Alexander Riordan ’15 arrived in Oberlin, he thought he was going to be a singer. After a formative undergraduate experience in a neuroscience lab he is now studying for a doctorate in neuroscience at Princeton.

Alexander next to shelves of equipment.

What does Neuroscience at Oberlin look like?

Two students in lab coats work at a whiteboard.

Students in Professor Gunnar Kwakye’s lab investigate how environmental toxicants affect cell health and survival in various models of neurodegenerative disease.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi
A professor explains a chart to students.

Professor Chris Howard discussing current research articles with students in his Neurophysiology class.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi
A student works in a lab.

Samantha Westelman (an Honor’s research student) using molecular biological techniques to determine whether the neuroimmune system affects the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi
A student and professor look at a research poster together.

Professor Leslie Kwakye talking to Honor’s student Gifty Dominah about her research during Oberlin’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research poster session.

Photo credit: Yvette Chen

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

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