Neuroscience Research Opportunities
Neuroscience students at Wofford have opportunities to become very active in research. Students can earn course credit when conducting research with faculty during the academic year and there are also paid opportunities to work with faculty conducting research during the summer. These research opportunities provide important opportunities for students to work one-on-one with their professors and to gain fascinating knowledge in their field of study. Conducting research as an undergraduate is one of the best ways to prepare for a successful application to a graduate program in neuroscience.
There are opportunities for our students present their findings at a local upstate research conference, and many students also present at national conferences and / or publish in peer-reviewed journals.
Contact the below faculty members directly if you are interested in working with one of them.
Dr. Kara Bopp’s research focus is on normal age-related changes in memory. The primary area of research examines working memory, a process that allows for simultaneous storage and processing of information. Working memory is considered a basic cognitive function necessary for many everyday tasks, such as reading, calculating a tip or driving a car. Dr. Bopp is interested in measuring the capacity and flexibility of working memory in younger and older adults. Her other line of research examines programs intended to improve social, emotional and cognitive well-being in older adults. This applied research examines her intergenerational “Living Words Program”.
Dr. Dave Pittman’s laboratory examines how taste neural signals are sent from the mouth to the brain and how the sense of taste then affects feeding behavior in both humans and rat animal models. Three different research questions are being explored in the laboratory. Dr. Pittman is interested in understanding how dietary fats produce taste sensations and motivate the consumption of high-fat foods. Additionally, research is also exploring how anti-anxiety drugs, such as Valium, may alter taste sensations to increase the palatability of food and thus increase our food consumption. Most recently, research is exploring a new glucose sensing mechanism in the taste buds of the tongue using neural recordings from taste nuclei in the mouse hindbrain.
Dr. Katherine Steinmetz connects affective and cognitive neuroscience through the study of emotion and memory primarily using electroencephalogy (EEG) recordings. Dr. Steinmetz is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms that make our memory for emotional items vivid. Specifically, how does the brain support memories for different types of emotions? How does stress and changes in stress hormones influence what is remembered? And, what information is lost when an emotional stimulus is encountered? Dr. Steinmetz's lab employs a student mentorship model in which students who become leaders in the lab have opportunities to attend and present at research conferences, publish, and mentor and train junior lab members.
Other research opportunities exist beyond Wofford’s campus for our neuroscience students. Students interested in summer research opportunities outside of Wofford can explore Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) by searching for the keyword “neuroscience” on this NSF website.
Most of the REUs pay for travel to and from the university where students would be studying, provide a 10-week stipend and allow interaction with other REU students and research faculty in social and academic settings.