First-Years - Spring 2013

Note: The information on this page is the same as that provided in the email sent students on January 23rd. If you did not receive that email but are a first-year exploring an MBB track or the MBB secondary field, please contact Shawn Harriman immediately to get added to our email list. 

Welcome to the spring 2013 semester! This letter will provide you with information about upcoming aspects of the MBB program particularly relevant to first-year students. 

The Mind/Brain/Behavior (MBB) interfaculty initiative offers a number of opportunities for undergraduates:
• activities open to all students interested in mind, brain, and behavior
• a secondary field program of study open to all undergraduates
• tracks of study in several concentrations 


MBB Tracks (MBB Study Integrated with Concentration): Students in computer science, history and science, human evolutionary biology, linguistics, neurobiology, philosophy, and psychology may focus their concentration studies in topics in mind/brain/behavior by enrolling in an MBB track. Students in tracks complete the foundational courses (SLS 20, MCB 80, interdisciplinary seminar, as previously noted), and also complete additional concentration-specific course requirements as detailed in concentration and MBB websites. Some tracks may allow substitutions or modifications of the foundational requirements. MBB track students must also submit a senior honors thesis and must participate in the junior symposium and senior workshops. Students who complete a track are eligible to be considered for departmental honors and receive a Certificate in Mind/Brain/Behavior awarded at the MBB senior ceremony during Commencement Week. 
MBB Secondary Field (MBB Study that can be Independent of Concentration): Students in any concentration may pursue an MBB secondary field. Five half-courses are required: the three foundational courses previously noted (SLS 20, MCB 80, interdisciplinary seminar) plus two mind/brain/behavior electives (options noted on MBB website). MBB secondary field students are also welcome to participate in the junior symposium. Students who complete a secondary field will have this program noted on their transcript and participate in the MBB senior ceremony during Commencement Week. 


Students in MBB benefit from a variety of opportunities. 
All students interested in MBB: • are part of a vibrant, interdisciplinary community of scholars (faculty, postdoctoral and other researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students), brought together with a variety of community-wide lectures and panels each year; and • may participate in the Harvard Society for Mind/Brain/Behavior, a very active and diverse student organization. 
Students in MBB tracks or the MBB secondary field: • get enrollment priority in MBB interdisciplinary seminars; • may take part in the annual junior symposium, a day of talks and discussions with leading scholars from Harvard and beyond; • are eligible for research fellowships to conduct thesis research the summer before the senior year; • take part in interdisciplinary senior workshops groups where MBB track students can explore the broader implications of their (thesis) research; and • receive occasional invitations to conferences, colloquia, and speaker receptions. 

Courses and Research 

All MBB programs include a set of three foundational courses. 
• first year: Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science (offered both terms)
• this term offered by Professor Steven Pinker, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-4 p.m. plus weekly section, Science Center C 
• sophomore year: Molecular and Cellular Biology 80, Neurobiology of Behavior (offered fall term) 
• junior year: Interdisciplinary Seminars (offered both terms)
• options from a set of both MBB-specific and departmental courses (listings on website) 
As above, most first-years interested in MBB should take Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science, this year. 
If you are considering an MBB track, the related concentration may have additional courses it recommends you take this year (e.g., Life Science 1a for most Neurobiology students). Consult with the relevant concentration for details. 
Beyond MBB and concentration exploration, most of your other course work is likely to be dedicated to fulfilling college first-year requirements and for some of you pre-medical requirements. If you have additional space in your schedule, you are welcome to look through the short MBB chapter in the course catalog
Although more likely to be taken by upperclass students, MBB 90r (Supervised Research) is a course you might consider if you are highly motivated to gain research experience early on. In most situations, students considering MBB tracks should conduct such research through a tutorial course (e.g., 91r, 910r) in their intended home concentration, but occasionally MBB 90r will be appropriate. In most cases, it will be appropriate for students considering a secondary field in MBB. Click here for more information on MBB 90r
To help you identify a research opportunity, for course credit or otherwise, the MBB website includes a section listing available research positions.This page is constantly updated, and currently includes opportunities in such diverse and exciting areas as adolescent trauma, avian cognition, pediatric pain, the social psychology of shared experience, power and status, cognitive development, memory, affective neuroscience and development, programming, inequality and ideology, social cognitive development, identity, memory consolidation and sleep, and intergroup prejudice and racism. We anticipate getting many additional listings for spring and summer 2013 in the coming weeks, and we hope you check them out! 

MBB Summer Program in Trento, Italy – Informational Meeting TOMORROW January 24th, Application Deadline January 31st 

This final informational meeting for the 2013 Harvard Summer School / Mind/Brain/Behavior program in Trento, Italy will take place tomorrow, Thursday, January 24th, at 4 p.m. in William James Hall room 105. The meeting will review the program offerings (coursework and cultural excursions) and provide an opportunity to ask questions about the program. If you did not attend our earlier information session, this will provide a useful overview of the program offerings that you can use in completing your application. If you attended our earlier session but have any questions about your application material, this is a good opportunity to speak with program staff about that. Trento program information and information on the major source of summer funding is available. (note that the funding application is due the same day as the Trento application, Thursday, January 31st). 


General MBB questions can be answered by Education Program Coordinator Shawn Harriman, who can also answer general and specific questions about the MBB secondary field. Questions about MBB tracks are best answered by advisors in the relevant concentrations. In addition, members of the MBB Board of Faculty Advisors are available to discuss questions about the intellectual content of and research opportunities in mind, brain, and behavior. Click here for details about advising opportunities.

Special MBB Events – April 24th and 25th 

The MBB community gathers several times each year for a variety of events, and we are especially pleased to invite you to attend our annual distinguished lectures. This year, we have a pair of lecturers from the University College London (UCL): Ute Frith of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Chris Frith of the UCL Wellcome Centre Trust for Neuroimaging. They will speak in the early evenings of April 24th and 25th. We will email details closer to the talks, but save the dates! 

HSMBB (Harvard Society for Mind/Brain/Behavior) Events and Activities 

HSMBB is an integral part of the MBB undergraduate program, and is dedicated to building a community among MBB students. HSMBB activities include regular seminars led by faculty and other researchers, communi-teas providing opportunities for students and faculty from across MBB to meet and chat, and the publication The Harvard Brain. To be informed about these and other HSMBB activities, check out its website, like it on Facebook, and join its mailing list

Other Events 

Beyond events the MBB initiative and HSMBB sponsor, the Boston area has many talks of interest to students and researchers in mind/brain/behavior. The MBB website has a community calendar, which includes a selection of these events, some of which are of particular interest to undergraduates. Current such events listed include a book reading by former MBB seminar instructor Lawrence Friedman on his new biography of psychologist Erich Fromm (February 12th) and a special film presentation of Rushmore paired with a talk by Harvard Medical School professor Steven Schlozman (January 28th). This webpage is regularly updated as we receive event notices. 

Additional Information

If you have any questions about any of this or about any other MBB activities, feel free to check our website for details or to e-mail me. The website provides details or links to track and secondary field requirements, MBB courses, research opportunities faculty and other Harvard researchers have asked us to post for undergraduates, and MBB in general. In addition, MBB sends out an e-newsletter with information updates several times during the academic year. If you are receiving this letter, you are on the mailing list for these newsletters. 

We at MBB wish you a productive semester, and look forward to meeting you and helping you explore your interests in mind, brain, and behavior! 
Shawn C. Harriman
Education Program Coordinator