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BYU Neuroscience Center has new director, location

In August, the directorship of the neuroscience program at Brigham Young University rotated from the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences back to the College of Life Sciences. Michael D. Brown of the physiology and developmental biology faculty and Scott C. Steffensen of the Psychology Department assumed responsibilities as director and associate director of the Neuroscience Center, respectively.

Brown replaces Dawson W. Hedges, who has served as director since 2006. Steffensen replaces Dixon J. Woodbury, who has been associate director since 2005.

Established in 1999, the Neuroscience Center provides an interdisciplinary environment for students and faculty to study the workings of the human nervous system. It includes 21 BYU faculty members from departments across campus, including physiology and developmental biology, psychology, the School of Family Life and communications disorders. The center has approximately 350 undergraduate majors and also offers master and doctoral degrees programs.

The Neuroscience Center Office is now housed in S-192 Eyring Science Center.

Brown received his bachelor of science degree in microbiology from BYU and his master's and doctoral degrees in anatomy and neurobiology from Colorado State University. Prior to coming to BYU in 2003, he taught at Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima, Wash. As a professional-track faculty member in BYU’s College of Life Sciences, his primary assignment is teaching neuroscience and physiology courses.

Steffensen received a bachelor of science degree in medical technology and a doctorate in pharmacology, both from the University of Utah. Prior to coming to BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences in 2000, he completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego and worked as an assistant professor of neuropharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. His research focus is on the neurophysiological substrates of addiction.

During his tenure as director, Hedges developed and instituted the center’s internship program, organized seminars with extramural scholars, and developed learning outcomes and assessments of learning outcomes. He also instituted the advanced writing course in neuroscience, increasing writing and quantitative skills in the curriculum.

Woodbury helped get BYU involved in Utah’s “Brain Awareness Week”, which is now run through BYU’s Neuroscience Club, and he will continue to serve as the neuroscience graduate coordinator.

For more information, contact Michael D. Brown at (801) 422-5859 or the Neuroscience Center at (801) 422-1218.

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