Neuroscience’s first graduating class all receive First Class Honours
It’s one of the toughest programs to get into and considered to be the best program of its kind in the world. Now the new undergraduate neurosciences program also acclaims 100% of its first graduating class to have achieved First Class Honours.
The University of Calgary awards First Class Honours to students with a GPA of 3.60 or better over the last 15 full-course equivalents of their degree. This is an honour earned by all 12 of the graduating students of the University of Calgary’s neuroscience program.
“An accomplishment such as this really speaks to the caliber of students the University of Calgary is producing,” say Cam Teskey, PhD, the incumbent Education Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. “This is a terrific bunch of students. Everybody should be very proud.”
The undergraduate neuroscience degree program is a collaboration of the faculties of science, arts and medicine, and is designed to offer students an interdisciplinary experience. Developed in response to the rapid growth in neuroscience research, the program was launched September 2008 to offer students the opportunity to learn from a broad background of neuroscience-related disciplines.
“I had never heard of neuroscience before,” says Laura Ansell, one of the program’s 12 graduating students. “When Dr. Roth and Dr. Antle told me that the new neuroscience program was a) very small b) very competitive and c) had a strong focus on research, I was hooked immediately.”
The undergraduate neuroscience curriculum draws on the vast neuroscience expertise that exists at the University of Calgary with students benefiting from the wisdom of over 100 scientists in more than 10 different disciplines. The program draws upon the long established clinical and research expertise of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and is unique in its broad coverage spanning basic biology to the neuroscience clinic. It offers a large number of experiential hands-on elements with the attention on neuroscience from beginning to end.
“Receiving first class honours by my fourth year was a lot of hard work,” says Ansell. “I can tell you that all of us put thousands of hours into studying, reading papers, discussing research, and writing in our four years.”
The development of the program was championed by six faculty members from a variety of disciplines at the University with the HBI as a significant catalyst to its development. According to Teskey, it was ranked the number one program at UCalgary in 2008 in regards to its priority for provincial EPE funding. “The government was so supportive they wanted us to start a year early.”
Students from this year’s graduating class students plan to continue on to professional programs including medicine as well as a number of graduate programs and career paths related to neuroscience.
“Since I enjoyed research so much in my undergraduate program, I started asking around to do a PhD in neuroscience,” says Ansell. “I still wanted to go to medical school (which I applied in my fourth year), but I found it really hard to decide between research and medicine. As a result, I decided to do both!”
The first round of graduating students of the neuroscience program has seen tremendous success. “I have developed wonderful relationships with every one of my professors and all of my classmates,” continues Ansell. “It was a wonderful experience, and I am grateful to those who developed and ran this program.”
Posted June 20, 2012
Photo courtesy Stephanie Reynolds