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Exploring Neuroscience

A new major and Life After Drake lecture will highlight opportunities in the field of neuroscience

After a short hiatus, Drake is once again offering a major that will specifically prepare students for the changing and exciting field of neuroscience. And an upcoming lecture from alumnus and local neurologist Todd Janus, AS’77, will also direct attention to increased opportunities in the field.

Christopher Kliethermes

“We’ve learned more about the brain in the past 10 years than we had ever before,” says Stephen Faux, associate professor of psychology. “Neuroscience is a 21st century approach to the science of behavior, and it’s important for Drake to be a part of it.”

At the beginning of the semester, 23 students were already enrolled in Drake’s revamped neuroscience major. Faux said the program, which is also offered as a minor, has gained more students since then, as well as many inquiries. Neuroscience is housed in the psychology department of the College of Arts and Sciences but is also largely interdisciplinary, with required courses in biology, chemistry, psychology, pharmacy and math.

The major reboot was made possible with the hiring of Chris Kliethermes as assistant professor of psychology. Faux said Kliethermes’ specialization — the nervous systems of flies — provides students with some valuable research opportunities.

“An important part of creating our new neuroscience program was hiring the right faculty,” Faux says. “We’re very excited about the way the curriculum is structured, and Dr. Kliethermes is an important part of that.”

Local neurologist Todd Janus will deliver Drake's annual "Life After Drake" lecture on November 15.

Students, faculty and community members are invited to a November 15 lecture that will highlight the work of a Drake alumnus in the field of neurology. Todd Janus, BS’77, will present this year’s Life After Drake lecture.

The Life After Drake series annually hosts a successful Drake alumnus in a math or science field to offer advice to future graduates. Janus’s lecture is free and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall in the Harmon Fine Arts Center, 25th St. and Carpenter

Janus is the director of clinical research for Iowa Health Systems and director of the Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Clinic and spent six years as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa. Last year, Janus also successfully sponsored a state legislative amendment to improve patient protection in Iowa.

Janus has performed research on multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, prostate cancer and central nervous system lymphoma. Looking back, he says that focusing on a wide range of studies is important for professionals in his field.

“At Drake, about two-thirds of my classes were science classes,” Janus says. “After graduation, and reading in other areas, I realized that these non-science subjects one would not think were relevant to an area of specialization did provide ideas and techniques to help move my research forward.”

— Jack Thumser, Class of 2012