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Assistant Professor of Psychology Michelle Tong, center, is pictured with Earlham student-researchers during the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago.

Michelle Tong Elected to Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience’s executive committee

October 25, 2019

Assistant Professor of Psychology Michelle TongEarlham College Assistant Professor of Psychology Michelle Tong has been elected as a councilor for the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience’s (FUN) executive committee. Her two-year term began on October 23.

FUN is an international organization for educators whose members are interested in enhancing undergraduate neuroscience teaching and research. Among many year-round events, the organization hosts an undergraduate poster session at the Society for Neuroscience conference each year and an annual workshop for undergraduate neuroscience educators. It also produces the Journal for Undergraduate Neuroscience, a peer-reviewed publication featuring undergraduate neuroscience education scholarship.

“Michelle brings significant leadership and innovation to our student-faculty collaborative research program and will be an asset to the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience’s executive committee,” says Becky Thomas, Earlham’s academic dean and vice president of academic affairs. “This position will not only open up new opportunities for Michelle to share the great work she is already doing with our students and hear from others doing significant research with undergraduate students, but will give her a platform to continue to advocate for the cutting-edge student-faculty scholarship that is possible at small liberal arts colleges like Earlham.”

Tong arrived at Earlham in 2016 after earning her Ph.D. in behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She teaches courses called “Brain and Behavior: Introduction to Neuroscience,” “Advanced Topics in Biopsychology,” “Robotic Animals,” “Science Communication,” and “Introduction to Psychological Perspectives.”

She leads a thriving undergraduate-driven research group that focuses on non-cellular mechanisms of long-term memory, although topics differ based on student interest. More than 20 Earlham students pursuing degrees in psychology, neuroscience and biochemistry have already benefitted from her research program, gaining critical lab experience while also publishing findings in journals and presenting at undergraduate research conferences. Tong also provided additional mentorship to students from across the Midwest as part of a three-year National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergrads in neuroscience. That REU was awarded to professors from Earlham and other liberal arts colleges in 2015.

Recent graduates that worked with Tong are currently pursuing Ph.Ds. and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from some of the nation’s top graduate schools. Other recent graduates are working as research assistants or lab technicians.

“My professional training and experience so far have taught me that students learn best when they are treated as investigators of their own minds,” Tong says. “This means that in my teaching I try to be as transparent as possible about our learning goals so that students can explore their own way to those goals. In research, I have loved letting students take the lead to pursue their own questions.”

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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Princeton Review ranks Earlham in the Top 15 nationally for Best Classroom Experience, and U.S. News & World Report recognizes the College as one of the nation’s “Most Innovative Schools,” and ranks EC 7th for the percentage of international students on campus, 25th for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” and 34th for “Best Value.”

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

 

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