Jenny Taylor is an academic specialist in the Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University. Prior to coming to MSU, she attended Adrian College and then earned her PhD at Wayne State University. She went on to complete postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, where her research focused on Parkinson’s Disease. She began her teaching career by overseeing undergraduate researchers in the laboratory and by teaching classes in research and writing.
Jenny has been teaching NEU311L, the required laboratory course and upper level writing course for neuroscience majors, since 2012. Students attempt to replicate published findings reported in the primary literature for several topics. They examine the effects of lavender oil on brain waves in fellow students, of a drug on movement in a fruit fly model of Parkinson’s disease, and of potassium on the electrical properties of crayfish tissue. Students practice collecting, analyzing, and reporting data, as well as explaining these exercises to a non-scientist. This prepares them to actively participate in a student led-project in which they work with a team to devise and test a hypothesis using the results reported in a different manuscript in a related subject area. As part of their project, students prepare a formal scientific manuscript as well as a short, informative video directed towards a lay audience. Throughout the course, Jenny stresses the importance of scientific integrity, professionalism, attention to detail, and clear communication to her students.
Jenny also devotes considerable effort to share her enthusiasm for the brain with children. She leads a gifted and talented camp session about the nervous system and organizes the annual Neuroscience Fair, which is a free event filled with hands-on activities that draws nearly 1000 people each year.