No-Brainer: Psychology and Neuroscience
The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to be a neuroscientist. Considering I’ve taken a grand total of one psychology (and no neuroscience) courses so far, you could say I’ve strayed somewhat from that trail. Dimensions, however, occurred before I entered the depths of the forest, and so the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences open house topped my list of events to see.
Despite this priority, I—foreshadowing my future student experience—got distracted in lunch conversation. (The current students were so friendly I couldn’t pull myself away!) Luckily, my dad, still a college student at heart, had wandered in on his own—so while I was still in the dining hall, he was chatting it up with every psych professor in sight.
“Where are you?” he texted me, fifty-seven minutes after I said I’d meet him. “I’ve met a professor you would love!”
He was right.
When I finally arrived in Moore Hall, I discovered the open house had nearly ended. Professor Wheatley, the one my dad had so liked, had already returned to her office.
Darn, I thought. My tardiness mangled things again.
“Don’t look so disappointed,” my dad said. “I bet she’d still love to talk to you!”
What? I thought. A top-tier professor, already divided between teaching and research, would open her door to a prospective student even after the official event had ended?
As it turned out, yes. Yes, she would—not just that day but many times, any time I came to call. And she is absolutely amazing. A social psychologist, she researches everything from free will and curiosity to friendship and “mind-reading.” In her Intro Psych course, she even offers to hypnotize the class. My conversations with her were among the highlights of my first year, and if I ever master the requisite time management, I would love nothing more than to work in her lab. In the meantime, I’ll just have to take Social Psychology this winter.
One thing’s sure: I cannot recommend a professor more.
Oh, yes—and in case Professor Wheatley isn’t enough reason to love the psych department, Dartmouth has an FMRI scanner used by undergraduates both in lab classes and for individual research projects. It’s not at every school that you can peek inside your classmates’ heads.