Department Profile: Neuroscience Program - An interdisciplinary approach

By Jessica McGaw

The Neuroscience Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry takes pride in its ability to make campus-wide connections through an interdisciplinary learning environment. The undergraduate and graduate programs bring faculty, staff and students together from many faculties and departments on the Western University campus.

“The program fosters collaborative thinking and brings people together from various disciplines and backgrounds,” Susan Simpson, Neuroscience Program Coordinator, said. “It provides so many possibilities for both students and faculty members.”

Simpson helps facilitate and encourage these opportunities and connections on a daily basis. As the only staff member, the nature of her work is interdisciplinary in itself. She is responsible for all of the administrative duties that continue to foster interdisciplinary learning in the program.

“I wear a lot of different hats in one day. Depending on the time of year I could be working on recruitment, liasing with faculty, staff and students, coordinating our speaker series, updating our website, or working on finance and budget related materials,” Simpson said.

Fortunately, Simpson is not entirely alone in the Program. Dr. Susanne Schmid, director, Graduate Program, and Dr. Walter Rushlow, director, Undergraduate Program, oversee the two streams of the Neuroscience Program. Simpson also collaborates with Joan Estabrooks, manager, and Kathy Boon, coordinator, of the Basic Medical Sciences Undergraduate Education Program.

Currently, the graduate program is focused on continued growth and attracting excellent students. It will proudly celebrate its 25th anniversary with a celebratory Research Day on May 27, 2016.

Meanwhile, the newer addition of the undergraduate program continues to attract a variety of first-year students because of its exciting opportunity to choose from a variety of different research options when it comes to their fourth-year projects.

Simpson is a long-standing employee at Western University. As of may 2016, she has spent 20 years working at the University. Prior to her program coordinator role at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, she worked at the Office of the Registrar for nearly 19 years.

She credits the students for her love of working at Western. “I enjoy the environment of learning and the students' enthusiasm for it,” Simpson explained. “I love being able to assist with their learning, and help them reach their goals and their potential.”

Simpson has enjoyed her transition into working at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, and commends the School for its ability to provide a great balance of work and well being, and bringing faculty, staff and students together.

“I feel that the School sees the importance of balance,” Simpson said. “From the wellness activities like the Walking Challenges and Mandala Mondays, to bringing everyone together at Town Hall meetings and other events, I am really enjoying all the aspects of working here.”