Neuroscientists study how the brain and nervous system work. The rapidly growing field seeks to answer questions such as how we perceive our surroundings, how we interact with these surroundings differently than animals, and what can go wrong in this process.

The neuroscience major at Wartburg is an interdisciplinary major that exposes students to the intersection of biology and psychology and then encourages them to make links to other areas of interest. Neuroscience is a broad field, and students have the opportunity to focus on their own areas of interest through advanced research courses and diverse electives.

Neuroscience majors can pursue careers in neuroscience research, medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychiatry, pharmacology, cognitive psychology, robotics, science writing, and many, many more fields.


Wartburg’s Science Center, completed in 2004, includes an animal facility that regularly houses mice, hamsters, fathead minnows, and zebrafish.  A surgery room allows for hormonal manipulation through removal of ovaries or testes, and behavioral testing rooms are outfitted with a number of learning apparatuses, including a Morris Water Maze, Barne’s Maze, and radial arm maze.  A fruit fly colony provides the opportunity to work with an invertebrate model with known genetics, while Lageschulte Prairie (managed by Wartburg), an indoor stream facility, a greenhouse, and city/state parks allow for examination of behavior in more natural settings.  Human populations for research have recently been drawn from students on campus, residents at a nearby retirement home, and a support group at the local hospital.

Wartburg has a cryostat for thinly slicing brain tissue, and a variety of microscopes (a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a confocal microscope, and fluorescent microscopes, in addition to standard compound and light microscopes) for looking at stains of that tissue and investigating other cellular questions. Hormones can be quantified by running the products of an ELIZA on Wartburg’s plate reader.   Real time PCR and electrophoresis allow for interpretation of genetic information.  Additional equipment allows quantification of human physiological data, including EMGs, EEGs, and electrodermal activity.


The Wartburg Science Center includes an animal facility, surgery room, and advanced equipment for research.

Learning with the latest equipment and guided by faculty. WORTH IT.



The Neuroscience major provides students ample opportunities for research.  In PSY 426 (Advanced Neuropsychology) students do an intensive literature review on a topic of their choosing.  In both PSY 321 (Research Methods and Data Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences) and NSC 455 (Methods of Neuroscience Research) students do additional literature reviews and then design a related research project to investigate a novel question. In NSC 456 (Student-Originated Research), students carry out one of the projects that they designed, culminating in a presentation on campus during Wartburg’s RICE Day and potentially off campus at regional or national conferences.  Students are also encouraged to work with faculty members as underclassmen, and all science courses include hands-on lab experiences. In addition, students are encouraged to do summer research, either on campus, supported by our undergraduate research program, or at other schools through nationally funded programs.Although the Neuroscience major at Wartburg Science is new (Fall 2013), students have been doing neuroscience related research projects for years.  Below are some recent on-campus examples to give you an idea of the breadth of neuroscience at Wartburg. 

Neuroscience at the Cellular Level

The effect of testosterone on spatial memory and hippocampal neurogenesis (2008-9)
                  Students:  K. Friedline, N. Palmolea, T. Schwartz
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Establishing a model system of neuronal differentiation using fluorescent protein (2009-10)
                  Students:  D. Henrich, E. Johnson, K. Lee, T. Kruger
                  Adviser:  S. Ellerbroek

An examination of SGEF in the stimulation of neurite outgrowth (2010-11)
                  Students:  K. Ebner, A. Greco, H. Stuhr
                  Adviser:  S. Ellerbroek

Response of male hamsters’ brains to sexual odors (2011-12)
                  Students:  H. Gaydos, H. Holm, I. Stock, M. Winters
                  Advisers:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Effects of fructose consumption on hypothalamic SOCS3 and POMC protein expression in mice (2011-12)
                  Students:  M. Thompson, M. O’Loughlin, K. Tjeerdsma
                  Advisers:  S. Larimer Bousquet, E. Westen

Do locomotion defects correlate with synaptic homeostasis defects in Drosophila? (2011-12)
                  Student:  I. Qadous
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

Developmental Neuroscience

Investigation of histological effects of 17-α ethinylestradiol in fathead minnows (2008-9)
                  Students:  Z. Barnes, T. Flatness, H. Patterson
                  Adviser:  J. Foster

Examining the effects of atrazine on Pimephales promelas (2009-10)
                  Students:  D. Deery, J. Hanson, K. MacDonald, A. Ott
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Pramipexole disrupts zebrafish development (2010-11)
                  Students:  C. Holmes, A. Houser, E. Lawrence, M. Okraku 
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

Prior experiences may influence how one reacts to stress hormones (2011-12)
                  Students:  S. LaRue, J. Gaskill, R. Tallman, J. Horrigan
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The effects of glyphosate-based herbicides on sexual characteristics of the male fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) (2011-12)
                  Students:  R. Halverson, J. Froehner, G. Reiter, B. Scott 
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

Investigation of morphological and pathological abnormalities of metribuzin on Danio rerio (2012-13)
                  Students:  C. Goetz, C. Jensen, S. Simpson
                  Adviser:  E. Merten

The effects of toy enrichment vs. exercise enrichment on non-spatial working memory in female Mus musculus (2012-13)
                  Students:  K. Baldrige, M. Kelchen, A. Lauterbach
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Neuroscience at the Behavioral Level 
(and not already listed elsewhere on the page)

The ability of Syrian golden hamsters to learn gender specific odors (2008-9)
                  Students:  S. King, M. Rod, K. Turnis
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Investigation of volatile pheromone droplet from female Drosophila melanogaster (2008-9)
                  Students:  K. Moravetz, R. Struthers, B. Weisinger 
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

Effect of male virginity on female mate choice in Drosophila melanogaster (2008-9)
                  Students:  N. Kileo, N. Nwana 
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

The effects of testosterone on spatial learning and memory in a water maze (2009-10)
                  Students:  A. Duffy, K. Heinemann, A. Smith, D. Sveom
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Male golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) preference between ovariectomized and ovary-intact female golden hamsters (2009-10)
                  Students:  H. Gerten, J. Hall, J. Koehler, A. Makar
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Male golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) preference between hormone-induced ovariectomized and ovary-intact female golden hamsters (2010-11)
                  Students:  A. Knapp, S. O’Conner, M. Wernli, K. Zittergruen
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The effects of a high fructose diet on spatial memory and anxiety in mice (2012-13)
                  Students:  L. Boyke, K. Krohn
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The influence of female hormonal state on male preference in Mesocricetus auratus (2012-13)
                  Students:  C. Behrends, S. McCusker
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Neuroscience with Direct Therapeutic Applications

The influence of weight training program on motor unit activation in the biceps brachii muscles comparing dominant and non-dominant upper extremities (2008-9)
                  Students:  A. Hartwig, L. Schneider, E. Stretzel
                  Advisers:  S. Larimer Bousquet, E. Westen

The effects of exercise on balance in the elderly (2009-10)
                  Students:  B. Boheman, A. Kuiken, A. Paige
                  Advisers:  S. Larimer Bousquet, C. Bane, A. Kimball

The effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress and antioxidant supplementation on murine cognition (2009-10)
                  Students:  J. Kordick, D. Reinhardt, J. Schroeder
                  Advisers:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The effect of meaning threats on implicit learning and stress as a potential explanation (2009-10)
                  Students:  P. Ostiguy, A. Stone
                  Advisers:  M. McDermott (no longer at Wartburg), S. Larimer Bousquet

Ankle range of motion exercises may improve gait balance in the elderly (2010-11)
                  Students:  J. DeChalus, A. Fangman, N. Grimoskas, C. Horstmann 
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The effects of temperature on the velocity of muscle contraction in patellar knee reflexes (2011-12)
                  Student:  B. Moore
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

The effects of REM sleep deprivation on spatial memory in Mus musculus ICR (2011-12)
                  Students:  P. Lake, M. McMurray, S. Berndt
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Effects of physical therapy versus DVD-guided exercise programs on mobility, balance and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease (2012-13)
                  Students:  S. Hauck, E. Rowan, S. Wilkin
                  Advisers:  J. Wolff (Taylor Physical and Occupational Therapy), J. Foster

The effects of various surfaces on balance training (2012-13)
                  Students:  C. Kramer, G. McGrane
                  Adviser:  A. Henninger


Samantha Larimer Bousquet

Associate Professor of Biology