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MindCORE, a newly developed program housed under "Mapping the Mind," joins the slew of interdisciplinary initiatives within the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Center for Outreach, Research, and Education — the newest of Penn's neurological, behavioral, and intelligence-based research initiatives — is launching this January. One of its primary goals is to connect intelligence and behavior-based research both within the College and between other schools at Penn. 

The University offers a plethora of neuroscience-based majors and programs. However, many of the College majors that pertain to the study of the brain, such as cognitive science, visual studies, biological basis of behavior, and psychology, are often kept separate from one another, psychology professor and MindCORE Executive Committee member David Brainard said.

“MindCORE, among other things, will provide support to those majors to make sure that they are getting attention beyond what the departments do on their own,” Brainard said. “The time is right so that a little bit of injection of support could allow faculty and their students in these fields to accomplish more together than they would as individuals.”

According to a press release, the center’s objectives are threefold — outreach, education, and research. Each objective is supported by the implementation of concrete initiatives, such as a regular interdisciplinary Mind and Brain Seminar Series, endowed graduate fellowships, and coding bootcamps.

One of the center’s major principles is to focus on the undergraduate population specifically. 

MindCORE Executive Director Heather Calvert explained that one of the many opportunities the program offers is the Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program in Interdisciplinary Mind and Brain Studies. The ten-week-long, full-time fellowship will grant selected students $3,500 as a stipend as well as a position on a research project with MindCORE faculty. 

“MindCORE promotes cutting-edge research, increases the broader societal impact of new knowledge about human behavior and decision making gained from current research, and influences public policy and education through coordinated outreach programs,” the press release read. 

College senior Chiara Bettale said that as a student majoring in the biological basis of behavior and minoring in psychology, interdisciplinary study has been vital to her learning experience at Penn and that she would have been interested in the program had it been created earlier.

Bettale explained that the two subjects complemented one another and each helped to contextualize what she was learning in the other.

“Psych classes gave me some perspective on what I was studying in BBB,” said Bettale. “It was the combination — it was translating science into understanding actually who we are, it was that connection that made me think that BBB and psych were the best fit.”

MindCORE is a new sector of the “Mapping the Mind” efforts within the College's recently announced Foundations and Frontiers strategic plan. One of the plan's primary goals is to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching. 

MindCORE is still in its early stages of establishment and its specific programs remain in development.