The Summer Research Experience in Brain and Cognitive Sciences (SREBCS) REU at the University of South Carolina provides ten undergraduate students from across the country a nine week immersion into how research is conducted in the field. Students participate in 1) weekly group laboratories that provide hands-on learning of brain and cognitive science methods, 2) semi-weekly seminars that integrate topics within brain and cognitive sciences, and 3) daily individual research with internationally recognized scientific scholars in the subfields of behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science, and cognitive and developmental neuroscience.
The SREBCS fosters minority and non-minority student interest in basic research within brain and cognitive sciences. A weekly group laboratory engages students in hands-on experiences with diverse methodologies that include MRI, fMRI, EEG, ERP, eye-tracking, animal observation, neural tissue assays and basic cognitive experimentation. Semi-weekly research seminars stimulate student discussion of research presented by faculty as it relates to the broader field of brain and cognitive sciences. Daily research in faculty laboratories provides students with insights into all phases of the research process, including an opportunity to formulate and conduct research projects with individual guidance from energetic and supportive research faculty mentors. The combination of group seminars, group laboratories and individual laboratory experiences provides students with multiple perspectives on research gleaned from innovative and hands-on learning experiences. The group laboratory and seminar foster theoretical and practical understanding of relevant issues and methods in the field. Research projects derived from the mentors' ongoing research programs investigate critical topics within the discipline, often using highly sophisticated methodology and equipment. Thus, students receive the benefits of individual training within specific laboratories as well as integrative sampling of topics and methods across the diverse areas of brain and cognitive sciences.
The SREBCS provides an innovative and integrative forum for educating undergraduate students about the brain and cognitive sciences and encouraging them to pursue a career in the field. Although the U.S. is perceived as a leader in the brain and cognitive sciences, our universities must be able to motivate and train the best students for future careers in these vital areas of research. The SREBCS helps fill this role by providing experiences that excite and motivate students to apply to basic research graduate training programs in the brain and cognitive sciences and hence build the research and educational infrastructure in these vital areas. Students experience diverse methods and theoretical orientations, becoming more open to multidisciplinary approaches to understanding the field. The program provides enhanced and exciting research experiences to students who may have limited opportunities for research at their own institutions. The SREBCS makes a special effort to increase minority opportunities in these areas, adding to the diversity of the field. The program also impacts the training of graduate students associated with the institute, with the aim of broadening their academic experiences as researchers and educators.
This project is co-funded by the NSF EPSCoR Office.