Programs of Study
Purpose and Objectives of the Graduate Program
The objective of the graduate program is to provide students with the tools to conduct original research in some aspect of physiology or pharmacology, including the interdisciplinary fields of neuroscience, or toxicology. These tools are provided with an intensive experience in the research laboratories, supplemented with academic instruction (course work, study of current literature, seminars).
Each student’s program is tailored to meet this objective and to attain a high level of competency in his/her field. Having completed the requirements for the advanced degree, each student should be prepared for a career in research and/or teaching.
A primary objective of a graduate program is to train the student to perform effective, independent research. The essence of research is problem solving and, therefore, you must learn to precisely define the problem, design meaningful experiments to test a proposed hypothesis, conduct experiments and collect data in a careful and precise manner, analyze and evaluate collected data, and finally, draw logical conclusions from the research data.
Research skills and problem-solving ability will be acquired only in the laboratory by dedicated work and long hours of effort. The student should anticipate spending the usual 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours of the work week in the laboratory (if not attending classes or fulfilling departmental teaching assignments); additional evening and weekend work in the laboratory is common. This effort will be rewarded by the acquisition of skills that are unattainable from course work or library studies.
For developing a scholarly attitude, there is no substitute for spending long hours reading and scanning literature found in scientific journals. The disciplines of physiology and pharmacology, as well as the interdisciplinary fields of neuroscience and toxicology, are based upon biological, biochemical and physical sciences. Therefore, advanced study in these areas requires a working knowledge of chemistry, mathematics, anatomy, physics, and biology. Training will be centered in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, but some courses will be taken in other departments.
In addition to the in-depth training offered by the research and course work experience, it is important to develop communication skills. The importance of being able to communicate cannot be overemphasized for without this ability, research findings could not be reported to the scientific community, and a career in teaching would be unsuccessful. Thus, participation in the departmental seminar series is required for all graduate students.