“The brain is the most important organ in the entire body and we haven’t even scratched the surface about what we know about it,” Carrie Curtis, president of the University of Maine’s new Neuroscience Club, said.
At UMaine, there are various students and faculty interested in neuroscience. However, they’re spread out across a variety of disciplines, such as biology and psychology.
Kristy Townsend, assistant professor of neurobiology, formed the club with three goals in mind: to unite people across disciplines interested in neuroscience, to help students develop professionally and to become involved in outreach events.
“We’re all interested in how the brain works,” Theresa Wood, vice president of the club, said. “For myself, I want to learn more about how I can pursue a career in neuroscience.”
UMaine currently has a neuroscience minor, which a few of the club members have declared. However, some said they would prefer to make it their major if it was available.
“I’m a biology major because there isn’t a neuroscience major,” Chris Carey, the group’s treasurer, said. Carey hopes to advocate for more neuroscience programming.
In terms of outreach, the club is already planning to attend the Maine Science Festival March 18-20 in Bangor. The group plans to set up a table where they will explain how optical illusions work.
“People think optical illusions are fun,” Townsend said. “It’s a good segue into neuroscience.”
In addition to their involvement in the Maine Science Festival, the group has plans to discuss various topics in neuroscience and to assist one another in career planning. However, because the group is so new, what it will become is entirely up to its members.
The prospect of learning about a topic they’re passionate about outside of a classroom setting is exciting for club members.
“It’s so much easier to learn from peers than to learn in class,” Wood said.
At one point, the meeting’s conversation drifted towards wondering where the group could obtain a brain for dissection.
“I’d like to see this become what people want it to become,” Curtis, who urged members to email her with any topics of interest, said.
Curtis has been working in the Townsend Lab as a work-study employee for over a year, which is how she landed the opportunity to become the club’s president. She’s currently in a four plus program that is new to the biology department, in which she’ll begin working on her masters during her senior year.
“If anyone’s even slightly interested in neuroscience or how the brain works, I want this to be a place where they can discuss and learn about what they want about the brain,” Curtis said. “There are so many things that people are just like, ‘I don’t know how this works,’ and I want us to be able to find out about that.”