Undergraduate Summer Research Program


The USC Neuroscience Experience Undergraduate Research And Learning Program (USC-NEURAL) is devoted to providing outstanding research experiences and professional development opportunities for underrepresented minority undergraduates who have a strong interest in pursuing an advanced degree in the neurosciences. The USC Neuroscience Graduate Program established the program in 2017, working with the Office of the Provost to organize and provide an enriching on-campus experience for the visiting NEURAL scholars, who work in a laboratory for 9-10 weeks during the summer in Los Angeles. The NGP and NEURAL programs are directed by Dr. Pat Levitt and Dr. Jason Zevin serves as associate director of NEURAL.

Neuroscience is naturally interdisciplinary. We welcome undergraduates who major in a variety of fields, including various fields of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, economics engineering, genetics, mathematics, neuroscience, psychology.

The program has a goal of partnering NGP training faculty members with a visiting NEURAL scholar, spending approximately 90% of their time in a laboratory research setting performing original research. A goal of the program is to provide a roadmap for the scholar to learn about a specific area of neuroscience, read original literature, perform experiments and learn analytical strategies. In addition to first-hand experience working in a lab, the program fosters interactions with current NGP graduate students and other faculty to learn about advanced training in the neurosciences more generally, and to discover outstanding opportunities for career development in academics, business, education and teaching, and public policy. Regular discussion groups tackle issues of ethical conduct in research, data replicability in the biomedical sciences, the art of producing a competitive graduate school application, personal interview and written statement strategies, and specific professional opportunities beyond the PhD. At the end of the summer program, scholars will be prepared to assemble and present a poster at their home institution.

Summer 2017 Program
The USC-NEURAL program partnered with Tennessee State University to host 4 undergraduates from the home institution NERVE program. This is co-directed by Drs. Lisa de la Mothe and Hugh Fentress. Grants awarded to the program at Tennessee State provide a stipend for each student, along with travel and some living expenses. The USC Provost’s Office provides funding for on-campus activities of the visiting scholars, and housing on the University Park campus.

USC NEURAL hosted the following students and their USC NGP mentors:

Jordan Spencer with Dr. Jason Zevin (linguistics; cognitive neuroscience; multicultural language)
Idris Kosoko with Dr. Kathleen Page (brain regulation of appetite and energy control)
Courtney Newman with Dr. Bradley Peterson (neuroimaging methods development; childhood neurodevelopmental disorders)
Zakia Lowery with Dr. Pat Levitt (genes that control cerebral cortical development)

For more information on our future summer research opportunities contact Dawn Burke, dawnburk@usc.edu