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Undergraduate Program

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Introduction

The biology major at Cornell guides students through foundation courses in math, physical sciences, and a core curriculum for breadth in biology. Students also select a Program of Study for depth in an area of interest. Neurobiology and Behavior (NBB), one of the 14 Programs of Study, is flexible, integrative, and at the frontier of modern biological science.

For more detailed information on the biology major, click here to visit the Office of Undergraduate Biology (OUB) website.

Requirements for the NBB Program of Study

1. The two introductory Neurobiology and Behavior courses, each taken with discussion section: BIONB 2210, Introduction to Behavior, 4 credits, Fall; and BIONB 2220, Introduction to Neurobiology, 4 credits, Spring.

2. Seven additional credits of NBB courses, including:

  • At least one advanced NBB course at the 3000+ level for 3 or more credits (Note: BIONB 3215 is not counted as an advanced offering)
  • One or more NBB courses to make up 7 credits total (Note: Special Topics, Independent Research credit BIONB 3215, PSYCH 4230, PSYCH 4260, PSYCH 6260 may be used toward these credits)

Students who declare their program of study after having taken BIONB 2210 or 2220 for only 3 credits will need to take the 1-credit discussions separately.

Although not required, the faculty of NBB encourages students to get laboratory or field experience through coursework or independent research. Students are also encouraged to take one of the Special Topics courses (BIONB 4200), which may be taken as a capstone experience. 

Advanced NBB Courses

Click here to browse course offerings for the current and upcoming semester.

* = offered in alternate years

Fall:

  • 3220 Hormones & Behavior
  • 3240 Biopsychology Laboratory
  • 3300 Intro to Computational Neuroscience*
  • 3920 Drugs and the Brain *
  • 3950 Molecular & Genetic Approaches to Neuroscience*
  • 4140 Principles of Pharmacology
  • 4220 Modeling Behavioral Evolution*
  • 4240 Neuroethology*
  • 4320 Neural Circuits for Motor Control in Health and Disease*
  • 4360 Neural Views on Mental Illness
  • 4700 Biophysical Methods
  • 4970 The Brain–Its Evolution & Development*

Spring:

  • 3230 Methods in Animal Behavior *
  • 3250 Insect Behavior*
  • 3280 Biopsychology of Learning & Memory
  • 3690 Chemical Ecology
  • 3960 Introduction to Sensory Systems*
  • 4260 Animal Communication*
  • 4300 Experimental Molecular Neurobiology
  • 4310 Genes & Behavior*
  • 4330 Consciousness & Free Will
  • 4350 Mechanisms of Animal Behavior *
  • 4370 Neural Circuits of Motivated Behavior*
  • 4460 Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions, Lecture
  • 4461 Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions, Laboratory
  • 4530 Speciaton: Genetics, Ecology, and Behavior*
  • 4550 Molecular and Neural Basis of Decision Making*
  • 4910 Principles of Neurophysiology
  • 7000 Introduction to Programming for Research in NBB*

Scheduling Courses in the NBB Program of Study

Students majoring in Biology are encouraged to take two of the Core Biology Courses and the Investigative Biology Laboratory during their freshman year (see chart below). For those deciding to pursue the NBB Program of Study, the core courses in Evolution, Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology are appropriate. If scheduling permits, majors should also complete a year of introductory chemistry during the freshman year because it is a prerequisite for several NBB courses including BIONB 2220. BIONB 2210 and 2220 can be taken in any order. The NBB faculty recommends taking BIONB 2210 and 2220 in the sophomore year because a number of advanced courses, which require them as prerequisites, are offered only in alternate years.

Students should consult with their faculty advisor or the NBB website when planning courses. 

Sample Undergraduate Schedule:

Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
Evolution NBB 2210 NBB advanced NBB advanced
Physiology NBB 2220 Genetics  
Bio Lab Organic Chem. Biochemistry  
Chemistry Bio (core) Physics  
Chemistry Math Physics  
  Math    

 

Undergraduate Research

Many of the laboratories in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior offer opportunities for undergraduate students to do original research.  Spaces may be limited and the criteria for being accepted into a lab may vary considerably between research groups, but students with curiosity, ability to ask good questions, and motivation to explore the unknown beyond the classroom will find research richly rewarding.  It is an important first step for students wishing to go toward graduate school or for an M.D./Ph.D degree. 

How to get started:

The NBB website offers information about research projects and publications, and the Office of Undergraduate Biology offers information to guide students seeking research opportunities. Ultimately, the decision about what to work on and where depends on the interests of the student and the individual mentor, so it is a good idea to inquire about the possibility for research directly with individual researcher in the area of interest.  Try to narrow your search by departments, and by faculty research statements, but be aware of the possibility of working with a graduate student or post-doc on a project within a research group.

Research takes time, so it is good to start early.  Many students get started in a research lab during their sophomore year.  Many students will spend one summer or more in a lab.  If the project is productive and successful, it may result in an honors thesis or a publication.

Clubs and Resources