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.  Students have presented their work at regional and national conferences.

Although the Neuroscience major at Wartburg Science is relatively new (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

Prospero function:  Possible defects in Drosophila musculature (2016/17)

                  Students:  J. Fangman, M. Slattery, G. Sloan
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

The role of amyloid-beta in regulating nuclear actin following traumatic brain injury (2016/17)

                  Students:  K. Bergquist, H. Hart, M. Mix
                  Adviser:  D. Brusich

Effects of sex hormones on neurite development in PC12 cells (2016/17)

                  Students:  A. Moktary, J. Olague, Z. Strawser
                  Adviser:  K. McClung

The effect of male and female pheromones on the neuronal activity of castrated and intact male golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) (2013/14)

                  Students:  D. Norton, J. Raecker
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

An examination of SGEF in the stimulation of neurite outgrowth (2010/11)

                  Students:  K. Ebner, A. Greco, H. Stuhr
                  Adviser:  S. Ellerbroek

Neuroscience at the Computational Level 
(None recently, but many possibilities)

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

Loser effect:  Does a losing crayfish lose more often? (2016/17)

                  Students:  A. Buscher, M. Croes, L. Scott
                  Adviser:  D. McCullough

Ability of female hamsters to differentiate between estrous and non-estrous pheromones (2014/15)

                  Students:  P. Blom, C. Hyland, A. Wiltgen
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

Olfactory learning’s effects on sexual preferences and behaviors of golden hamsters (2013/14)

                  Students:  J. Ahles, J. Finich, E. Vaage
                  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

Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Visual sensory memory changes throughout the menstrual cycle of young women taking a combination birth control pill (2016/17)

                  Students:  E. Laudner, A. Upadhyay
                  Adviser:  E. Westen

Anxiety levels across the estrous cycle (hamsters) (2015/16)

                  Students: R. Ackerman, J. Bidwell, A. Lahti, R. Schroeder
                  Adviser: S. Larimer Bousquet

Seminal fluid peptide effects on female post-mating behavior in Drosophila melanogaster (2015/16)

                  Students:  R. Bauer, K. Boyd, H. Turner
                  Adviser: S. Toering Peters

High human male testosterone levels have a negative correlation with female olfactory responses (2015/16)

                  Students:  B. Sharff, K. Shindelar
                  Adviser:  D. McCullough

The effects on gonadectomy on pheromone recognition in the male golden hamster (2013/14)

                  Students:  D. Beaumeier, S. Bruett, T. McAllister, D. Nesvik
                  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

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

Developmental Neuroscience

The effects of microbiome alterations on Alzheimer disease progression (2015/16)

                  Students:  G. Keller, B. Kreitlow, C. Thoreson
                  Adviser:  D. Brusich

The effects of social enrichment on anxiety in C57BL/6 mice (2016/17)

                  Students:  M. Burma, T. Smola, C. Sowle
                  Adviser:  S. Larimer Bousquet

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

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

Pramipexole disrupts zebrafish development (2010-11)

                  Students:  C. Holmes, A. Houser, E. Lawrence, M. Okraku
                  Adviser:  S. Toering Peters

Neuroscience with Direct Therapeutic Applications

The effects of moderate and vigorous exercise on cognition (2015/16)

                  Students:  N. Bonthius
                  Adviser:  E. Westen

Introduction and recovery of the marine clownfish, A. percula, anesthetized using Aqui-S 20E, a novel anesthetic derived from clove oil (2016/17)

                  Students:  L. Evans, B. Meyer
                  Adviser:  J. Reyes-Tomassini

The effects of ankle strengthening on balance in non-athlete college students (2014/15)

                  Students:  C. Crotty, B. Culmore, T. Hagy
                  Adviser:  A. Henninger

 Effects of stress on male and female athletes’ cognitive and physical performance (2013/14)

                  Students:  O. Olson, E. Scott, R. Torry
                  Adviser:  A. Henninger

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 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


Samantha Larimer Bousquet

Associate Professor of Biology