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International Collaborations: R-MC’s Behavioral Neuroscience Program

Jul 11, 2017

7/11/17

Behavioral-neuroscience-1The Behavioral Neuroscience program at Randolph-Macon College is expanding its international connections thanks to ongoing collaborations with Kyoto University (Japan) and Oxford Brooks University (UK). The first paper from this collaboration was recently published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) One. The paper highlights a study that investigates the relationship between gastrointestinal parasite infections and self-medication in wild chimpanzees living in Uganda.

"This work is based on the idea that monitoring health in wild great apes is integral to their conservation and is especially important where they share habitats with humans, given the potential for zoonotic pathogen exchange," explains R-MC Psychology Professor Massimo Bardi, one of the co-authors of the study.

A second work assessing the behavioral and morphological characteristics of wild toque macaques living in Sri Lanka is in preparation. In this work, digital images of hundreds of wild monkeys were taken to assess the role of micro-habitats on the behavior and welfare of the animals. R-MC students will be involved in this phase of the collaboration.

STEM + Fieldwork
A major goal of the Behavioral Neuroscience program at Randolph-Macon is to enhance the competitiveness of students for graduate schools in behavioral neuroscience and related disciplines.

"Many R-MC students are interested in the STEM disciplines—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—and having the opportunity to experience fieldwork as an undergraduate is invaluable to them," explains Bardi, who also serves as chair of the Psychology Department.  "To achieve this goal, students need to develop skills in critical areas of research including experimental design, data collection, good laboratory practice, data analysis, and communication skills. Behavioral neuroscience is, by nature, a multi-disciplinary topic and requires the ability to collaborate with colleagues with diverse interests, backgrounds, and cultural heritages."

The Behavioral Neuroscience program at R-MC is based on the idea that including opportunities to develop these skills through the interaction with faculty and with peers from all over the world is essential.

"In order to make our undergraduates more marketable in academia and industry, it is necessary for them to have experience with problem-solving in an international setting," says Bardi.