Posted on Sep 27, 2010

Union’s growing neuroscience program will soon have a new home, thanks to a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Butterfield Hall Center for Neuroscience

The grant, awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will help create the Center for Neuroscience on the third floor of Butterfield Hall. The center will include five research laboratories, several support and research training areas, and a space for faculty.

The center will help support research and training in areas of neuroplasticity; human cognitive abilities and behavioral dispositions; sex differences in spatial cognition; cognitive genetics; neural control of behavior; and basic molecular mechanisms underlying pediatric neurological disorders.

“This project will serve the growing cutting edge interdisciplinary neuroscience and bioengineering programs at Union, especially because these link science and engineering, which is a central strategic goal of the College,” said Stephen Romero, associate professor of psychology and the project’s lead investigator.

Other faculty members involved in the project include Robert Olberg, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of Life Sciences, Quynh Chu-LaGraff, associate professor of biology and Christopher Chabris, assistant professor of psychology.

The neuroscience program is currently spread among three buildings on campus. The renovations to Butterfield will bring together core faculty from biology, psychology and bioengineering to interact more freely and provide additional research opportunities for faculty and students. The first two floors of Butterfield were renovated to create the Center for Bioengineering and Computational Biology, which opened in winter 2007.

“Positioning research labs adjacent to teaching space offers the additional benefit of allowing the teaching lab to be used for student and faculty research during times when classes are not in session,” said Romero. “And including space for student interaction will help facilitate the kind of interdisciplinary discourse that characterizes intellectual life at Union and is important for training the next generation of researchers.”

Renovations are expected to begin early next year and be completed in the fall.

“This center will enrich interdisciplinary academic inquiry in engineering and the sciences and further strengthen Union’s liberal arts tradition,” Romero said.