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Undergraduate Research

Giving science students opportunities to do real research, guided by faculty, is a priority at Carthage. Carthage’s Neuroscience Department offers a variety of research opportunities, including opportunities for students to present their findings at local, regional and national conferences. Students can work with Professor Dan Miller in the rodent colony; Professor Denise Cook-Snyder on post-traumatic stress disorder; Professor Steve Henle on optic nerve regeneration; biology professors Paul Martino and Justin Miller on neurophysiology; or with biology professor Dan Choffnes in genetics and neurobiology research.

Carthage neuroscience students conduct research on rats and do brain surgery on rats during a Res...Carthage neuroscience students conduct research on rats and do brain surgery on rats during a Research Methods class.


Carthage offers many ways for students to prepare for medical school or graduate programs for the health professions. Carthage serves students who are interested in dentistry, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, veterinary, and physician’s assistant. Pre-health students are assigned a faculty advisor who will assist them in determining which courses they should take and which career best suits their interests and ultimate goals. 
Learn more about pre-health at Carthage.

SURE: Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

SURE offers Carthage students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor during the summer doing real research work. Students receive a stipend, room and board on campus, and a small research budget. Through the SURE program, neuroscience students have studied:

  • Studying the Hippo Pathway in Zebrafish Optics (2019)
  • Understanding the Role of the Hippo Pathway in the Optic Nerve Development and Regeneration (2019)
  • The contribution of endogenous glutamatergic input in the ventral respiratory column to respiratory rhythm (2018)
  • Elevated cortisol and alpha-amylase levels on behavior inhibited individuals exposed to physiological stress: Implications for enhanced associative plasticity with anxiety vulnerability (2018)
  • Confocal microscopy and structural plasticity in the hippocampus and amygdala in a rat model for anxiety and stress disorder (2016)
  • Characterization of Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycan NG2 Knockout in axon growth permissive and inhibitory astrocyte cell lines (2016)
  • Characterization of a neuron-astrocyte cell line co-culture system for investigating neurite growth (2016)
  • Avoidance learning and retention in behaviorally inhibited rodent modules
  • The effects of acute stress on recognition memory for neutral and social information
  • The role of the cerebellum in the acquisition and retention of avoidance learning in anxiety vulnerable rats
  • Cloning and expression of cellulase in E. coli
  • Characterization of the bacterial Small RNA Goldilocks
  • Neuroanatomy and physiology in an anxiety vulnerable rat strain

Prof. Denise Cook-Snyder talks with Kelsey Nilles '17 about their SURE research project studying ...Prof. Denise Cook-Snyder talks with Kelsey Nilles '17 about their SURE research project studying confocal microscopy and structural plasticity in the hippocampus and amygdala in rats.


January Term is a month-long period of study in January in which all academic departments at Carthage offer innovative courses on campus, as well as study tours around the world. The Neuroscience Department offers some of the College’s most popular J-Term study tours, including Biodiversity, Brains and Behavior in Honduras, in which students study the ecology of a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem while learning about the evolution of nervous systems and behavior.

Students scuba dive in Honduras as part of the neuroscience J-Term course Biodiversity, Brains an...Students scuba dive in Honduras as part of the neuroscience J-Term course Biodiversity, Brains and Behavior.

Double Major

The interdisciplinary nature of the neuroscience major allows students to double major or minor in other academic disciplines. In particular, a number or courses in the neuroscience major also satisfy requirements in the psychology, biology, and chemistry majors. Find out more about Biology at Carthage, Chemistry at Carthage, and Psychological Science at Carthage

Student Fellows

Like many academic departments and programs at Carthage, the Neuroscience Department offers students the opportunity to work for the department in return for a scholarship. The department appoints one student fellow each year. The fellow receives a reduction in tuition, assists faculty, and offers other students free tutoring.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage was granted Wisconsin’s first chapter in Nu Rho Psi, the national honor society for neuroscience. 

    • The Neuroscience Department offers one of Carthage’s most popular J-Term study tours: Biodiversity, Brains, and Behavior. In this course, students earn scuba certification, then spend January diving in Honduras to understand the evolution of nervous systems and behavior.

    • New in 2015, the Carthage Science Center features a neuroscience laboratory equipped with rat and mouse colonies, a behavioral data collection room, suites for rodent surgery and histology, and a confocal microscopy lab.

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $22,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …