Honors Day spotlights student achievements

May 12, 2016

During North Central College’s Cornerstone Week, May 16-20, Honors Day represents a rite of passage for upperclass students who earn awards, join honor societies and present their research at the Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

Kicking off this year’s Honors Day on Tuesday, May 17, is the 19th annual Rall Symposium with a keynote address at 8:30 a.m. by Julio Ramirez, Ph.D. The R. Stuart Dickson Professor of Psychology at Davidson College in North Carolina, Ramirez will address the question “Are Broken Brains Doomed to Dysfunction?”

His neuroscience research explores a question that has long challenged scientists: How does brain function recover after central nervous system injuries? Ramirez has shown that accelerating a process known as hippocampal “sprouting” can help cortical injury patients recover their memory function—a finding that raises interesting possibilities for therapeutic interventions in cases of degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

A powerful advocate for undergraduate research, Ramirez has involved more than 130 students in his work. He has been instrumental in creating a national infrastructure that supports education and training in behavioral neuroscience and biological psychology, establishing an undergraduate neuroscience education journal, and building a nationally recognized mentoring program for junior faculty and undergraduate students in the neurosciences (particularly for those from traditionally underrepresented groups). In recognition of this work, the American Psychological Association presented Ramirez with the Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology Award in 2014.

Ramirez has earned numerous honors throughout his career. He received his doctorate in psychology from Clark University and has conducted postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Following his keynote address are poster presentations by some 76 students starting at 9:30 a.m. and oral presentations by more than 60 students at 10:45 a.m.

The afternoon features the 40th annual Honors Convocation at 1:30 p.m. in Wentz Concert Hall where academic and service awards are announced, followed by a reception and honor society events.