Geneseo’s neuroscience major, which is in its second year, has been limited by the resources of the departments that it draws from, including chemistry, biology and psychology.
As a result, the major is restricted to nine students per class year for a total of 27 students in the program, according to professor of psychology Terence Bazzett.
Although limiting the major has led the program to turn away applicants, Bazzett emphasized the necessity of restricting the number of students who can join the major.
“There’s no seats left in psychology, there’s no seats in biology, in chemistry,” he said. “We simply don’t have the resources within those three departments to take any more students than those nine per year.”
Bazzett identified the number of instructors and availability of facilities as the primary problem that requires the major to remain restricted. While class sizes aren’t necessarily beyond their maximum capacity, there are only four professors who can teach neuroscience courses, according to Bazzett.
“Neither the chemistry nor the psychology department have additional labs that could house neuroscience classes,” Bazzett said.
Biology and neuroscience double major senior Wilson Mei believes that more funding would be a boon to the program.
“I think because neuroscience is a relatively new major we don’t get a lot of funding for a lot of things that we do,” Mei said. “By having more funding, I think that we, as a neuroscience major, would be able to do a lot more.”
Junior biology and psychology double major Elijah Boliver, who applied but was not selected for the neuroscience major, similarly considers funding to be an issue.
“It kind of sucks because you’re limiting other students from participating in the major, even though they should have an equal chance of getting in,” Boliver said. “But they don’t, because it’s not being funded appropriately.”
Due to the significant number of changes that the college would need to make to accommodate more neuroscience majors, Bazzett predicts the major will remain regulated for the near future.
“To create a neuroscience program that would have full capacity, we need a building with labs, with faculty members, and that turns into an expense that the college can’t handle,” Bazzett said. “It’s not up to me if it changes or not. I can’t see it changing any time quickly.”
The application processes judges prospective majors based on their overall GPA and their specific performance in chemistry, biology and psychology classes pertaining to the major, according to Bazzett. The neuroscience program’s website similarly recommends that interested first-year students take certain courses that correspond with the requirements before applying.
Boliver personally felt that the application process was not completely clear-cut.
Despite its small size and strictures on its growth, neuroscience majors seem pleased with the program as it stands.
“Everything that I’ve experienced has been really great,” Mei said. “Because the major is so new, I’m basically just piloting a bunch of the courses right now and providing feedback for the instructor, so I guess it’s fun being a guinea pig.”
Neuroscience major senior Sunita Singh similarly thinks that the flaws the program currently has will be worked out as the coordinators receive more feedback.
“Since it’s new, I think there’s definitely growing pains that come along with that,” Singh said. “With that, there’s also flexibility. Since we’re the first group of students to be in the program, we kind of get to have a little bit more of a say in how it’s going to be shaped.”
Mei hopes that the program will have the opportunity to admit more interested students in the future. Boliver also believes the program will improve with time.
“It’s kind of like in the process [of reaching the quality that a Geneseo major] should be,” Boliver said. “Other than that, I think it’s relatively new, so you’ve got to give it some leeway.”
News editor Malachy Dempsey contributed reporting to this article.