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 junior in an MBB track, please contact Shawn Harriman immediately to be added to our email list.
Welcome to the spring 2013 semester! This letter will provide you with information about upcoming aspects of your MBB program.
MBB Tracks require students to complete two foundational courses, Science of Living Systems 20 (Psychological Science) and Molecular and Cellular Biology 80 (Neurobiology of Behavior), and an interdisciplinary seminar. The foundation courses are usually taken in the first and/or sophomore years, and the seminar is usually taken this year.
If you have not yet taken the first foundation course, SLS 20 is being offered this spring by Professor Steven Pinker and will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Science Center C. If you have not yet taken the second foundation course, MCB 80 will be offered this coming fall.
If you have not yet taken an interdisciplinary seminar, three will be offered this spring:
*MBB 91z, Music, Mind, and Brain, Peter Cariani, Mondays 3-5 p.m., William James Hall 6
*MBB 94z, The Self: What Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience Tell Us, Marie-Christine Nizzi, Wednesdays 1-3 p.m., William James Hall 474
*MBB 97a, Avian Cognition: Why Being Called a Bird Brain is a Compliment, Irene Pepperberg, Tuesdays 3-5 p.m.,, William James Hall 4
Additional information, including listings of departmental courses that also meet the seminar requirement.
Some tracks approve alternative arrangements for these common MBB requirements, and you should consult your concentration advisor or your concentration's MBB track faculty head about such a possibility. You should also check with your concentration about your progress in meeting additional track and concentration requirements (including your senior thesis tutorial).
MBB Summer Program in Trento, Italy – Informational Meeting 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. Click here to learn more about the Trento program. Information on the major source of summer funding is also available. (note that the funding application is due the same day as the Trento application, Thursday, January 31st).
Research Opportunities, Thesis Planning, and Summer Thesis Research Grants – Grant Application Deadline March 27th
The MBB certificate requires you to complete an honors thesis, and much of the planning for your thesis will take place this year. Thesis planning will occur within your concentration, although we expect that your thesis topic and content will have an MBB 'flavor.'
If you plan to spend next summer doing research for your thesis, you are very welcome to apply for a Mary Gordon Roberts Summer MBB Fellowship. These fellowships help finance research and/or living expenses. Applications will be due Wednesday, March 27th, 2013. Additional information is available on the fellowship webpage.
It is usually essential to have some research experience before embarking on your senior thesis work, and if you are not already affiliated with a laboratory or research program, you will probably want to this semester.
The MBB website includes a large section on research opportunities. The page now provides an overview to research opportunities, information on MBB thesis research, links to webpages of other Harvard research programs, and a large number of available research positions. We constantly update the position listings, and the page currently includes 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 also list full-time post-graduation positions, including currently a fellowship in developmental and computational social neuroscience.) We also anticipate getting many additional listings for spring and summer 2013 in the coming weeks, and we hope you check them out!
Many of these research listings are eligible for course credit through MBB 90r (Supervised Research: Topics in Mind/Brain/Behavior). Details are available on the MBB 90r webpage.
As you make research plans, you should be sure consult with relevant concentration advisors about research course credit (your track may have a research course you should take instead of MBB 90r) and about whether specific research projects listed on the MBB website would be appropriate for students in the particular track your are considering.
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 at.
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.
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 working with you as you continue your MBB course work and begin your thesis planning!
Shawn C. Harriman
Education Program Coordinator