The Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) originated from a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site with support from the National Science Foundation. It is now jointly sponsored by the Department of Neurobiology, the Civitan International Research Center and the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center at UAB.
SPIN has two equally important goals. First is to provide motivated undergraduates who have demonstrated excellent scientific aptitude with the opportunity to experience full time academic research in neurobiology. Second, SPIN is designed to increase student competitiveness for entry into graduate education by involving students in an intensive professional development program. Special emphasis is given to students with limited research opportunities at their home institutions. Students entering their junior or senior year by the start of the program are particularly encouraged to apply. Without exception, applicants must be US citizens/nationals
Research: How do you know whether you want a career in biomedical science if all you have ever done are boring experiments designed to work during a 2 hour lab course? That’s like thinking you can solve a murder mystery like they do on TV, it is not real world science. Real world science is a mess of complexity, frustration, troubleshooting, hypothesis failure, and long, hard hours in the lab until that amazing moment when YOU get the data and see something no one saw before, for the very first time. SPIN students will engage in intensive research laboratory experiences designed to help them feel that rush from scientific discovery. Under the supervision of a faculty member and lab staff, students will have the opportunity to learn the basic skills necessary to contribute to a research program. Students will participate in all aspects of both the intellectual and practical aspects of daily laboratory work. Students will be trained in research methods, perform protocols and data analysis, attend lab meetings, create written and oral presentations of their results at a research forum presented to the entire UAB research community. Students will attend weekly seminars and/or journal clubs to increase the depth of their neuroscience knowledge.
Professional development: Graduate programs routinely accept no more than 10% of students applying to attend. Although extensive help is available to guide students through medical school admissions, graduate admissions remains a mystery. As more and more students apply to graduate school having published papers and engaged in multi-year research experiences, expectations for applicant competitiveness have risen sharply. SPIN students engage in a series of seminars and discussions designed to support student knowledge and critical thinking about graduate school selection, application and interview processes, navigation of the complex first year, and successful completion of a PhD. Students will complete assignments designed to allow them to personally make informed decisions, develop a quality application, and be prepared for the uncharted territory ahead of them as they begin the process of an advanced degree. At all steps along the way, students interact extensively with the SPIN director and graduate student mentors committed to their development.
Research in neuroscience at UAB uses a variety of tools to study the molecular, cellular and network bases of the structure and function of the nervous system, including molecular genetics, single cell patch- and voltage-clamp recording, high resolution imaging, confocal and electron microscopic and X-ray microanalysis, heterologous protein expression, high performance liquid chromatography neurochemistry, site-directed mutagenesis, in vivo electrophysiological analysis, biomedical engineering techniques, computer simulations and mathematical modeling. Research in the Department of Neurobiology also addresses major issues in neurological health and disease, including epilepsy, primary brain tumors (gliomas), addiction, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Alexander disease, brain/spinal cord injury, mental retardation/developmental disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, movement disorders, perceptual disorders, stroke, and learning and memory disorders.
PAST PARTICIPATING MENTORS
SPIN program mentors come from several UAB departments associated with the neurosciences. Please follow the links below to the web sites of the participating faculty to learn about their research interests.
Sweatt, Ph.D. J. David Professor and Chair