Undergraduate Neuroscience Major

Research Opportunities and Awards

Research Opportunities

Neuroscience/Psychobiology majors who are doing well academically and who are interested in becoming involved in neuroscience research are encouraged to contact a faculty member listed under the category of Faculty Researchers to find out whether they might have an opening for you as volunteer research assistant for NRSC 197 or PSYC 197 units. The laboratories of each of these faculty researchers conducts neuroscience or neuroscience-related research, at levels ranging from the molecular to the behavioral/cognitive. The listing contains brief descriptions of the research interests of each laboratory, as well as lists of recent publications, that can be useful in identifying a laboratory that you might be interested in.

The criteria for admission to different laboratories vary widely; however, the positions are typically demanding and require a long-term commitment, and admission into research labs is usually quite competitive. It is common for students working in labs to spend 15 hours a week or more in this endeavor and be involved in projects that span several quarters or even years. However, the fruits of this labor can be highly rewarding. Quite a few of the published papers that are listed in the Faculty Researchers category are co-authored by undergraduates, or in rare instances even have UCR undergraduates as first authors.

More importantly, many students find that neuroscience research is a fascinating undertaking, and the experience of working in a lab has been a catalyst to many students undertaking careers in research. For those already interested in a career in research, extensive and in-depth research experience is a virtual prerequisite for admission into almost any high quality neuroscience graduate program. The experience and resulting letters of recommendation are also frequently critical for admission into other graduate and professional school.


The Austin and Helen Riesen Psychobiology Award

To recognize and reward the achievements in research of UCR's most outstanding Neuroscience/Psychobiology graduating seniors, the Austin and Helen Riesen Psychobiology Award was created in 1989. The award consists of a certificate and a check to the recipient of up to $500. To be eligible for this award, you must:

1. Be a graduating Neuroscience or Psychobiology Major
2. Have a very good to excellent academic record (usually a GPA of 3.2 or above)
3. Have conducted or participated in neuroscience-related research in the laboratory of a Faculty Researcher and have completed at least two quarters of NRSC 197 or PSYC 197 in that laboratory.
4. Have completed the applications forms by May 1st of the year in which you graduate. These forms should be obtained from the Student Advising Offices of the Departments of Neuroscience or Psychology.
5. Obtain a letter of recommendation from the head of the lab in which you are working (a key part of the application).

The applications are reviewed by the Neuroscience Major Committee, and the award is given to the student or students that are judged to have the most outstanding research achievements or contributions.

The past recipients of the Austin and Helen Riesen Psychobiology Award are listed below:

Year Award Recipients
1989 Erin Francis Courtney
1990 Erin Christine Jacobs
1991 Frank Thomas Surany
1992 Juan Carlos Jimenez
1993 (no candidates judged to be qualified)
1994 Anita Elzbeita Bandrowski
Launa Maria Lomeli
Volney Louis Willett
1995 Emily Elizabeth Guthrie
1996 Mumtaz F. Bashir
Linh Bich Du
Chau Susan Ton
1997 John K. Nikpur
1998 Lisa Louise Bozzetti
Stefany Dore Wolfsohn
Dotty Hage
Le Yen Tran
1999 Christina Michelle Chin
Roman Kaplan
2000 Joyce Mo-Ting Leo
2001 Michael Robert Gill
Cynthia Ann Stivers
2002 Stacy Behare
Eugene Snissarenko

This award was established by Austin and Helen Riesen, who also created a trust to fund this award in perpetuity. To emphasize the honor of being given this award, we would like you to know a little about Austin Riesen. Professor Riesen is one of UCR's and Psychobiology's most prominent faculty members. He studied the effects of early visual deprivation on brain development and discovered that the visual system requires patterned visual stimulation to develop normally. His work with monkeys and cats showed that the absence of light or patterned visual stimulation during infancy led to blindness in adults. He went on to describe much of the anatomy and physiology responsible for this blindness in pioneering studies that are internationally acclaimed.

Professor Riesen earned his Ph.D. from Yale. He then spent six years studying chimpanzees at Yerkes laboratory of Primate Biology in Florida, and from 1943 until 1946 he served as an aviation physiologist in the Army Air Corp. He spent 12 years on the faculty at the University of Chicago before coming to UCR. Professor Riesen joined the UCR faculty in 1962 and served as chair of the Department of Psychology from 1963 to 1968. He was named Outstanding Emeritus Faculty for 1992, and in 1995 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the highest national honor that can be bestowed upon a U.S. scientist. He passed away in September, 1996. His wife, Helen, passed away in January, 2003.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Program Information

Cell Biology and Neuroscience
1001 Batchelor Hall

Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience
Tel: (951) 827-4716
Toll Free (800) 735-0717
E-mail: neuro@mail.ucr.edu