FAU and Max Planck Unveil First-of-its-kind Honors Program

(Photo by Alex Dolce)

By gisele galoustian | 12/11/2017

Florida Atlantic University President John Kelly, Max Planck Society President Martin Stratmann, and David Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), announced a new partnership between FAU and MPFI to establish an undergraduate honors program in neuroscience that will be the first of its kind across the globe. The FAU Max Planck Honors Program is a joint initiative between FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, FAU’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and MPFI. Commencing in fall 2018, the honors program will support several opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and will attract high-performing and talented students such as national merit scholars like those who are dual-enrolled at FAU High School and FAU. 

Designed to recruit and serve the “best of the best,” this latest honors program with the only Max Planck Institute in North America will focus specifically on neuroscience and be offered on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Jupiter campus. It will include majors from the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Psychology and concentrations from the Wilkes Honors College.

“Neuroscience is a strategic focus area for our University and we are delighted to once again join forces with our partners from Max Planck to provide a truly unique honors program for undergraduate students, providing a level of unsurpassed excellence on our John D. MacArthur campus in Jupiter,” said Kelly. “This program is like no other in the world for undergraduate research quality, and will propel our national and international visibility as well as enhance partnership opportunities for joint hires, faculty appointments and research grants with our outstanding colleagues at the Max Planck Florida Institute.”

The FAU Max Planck Honors Program will serve a select number of elite students that will require a high GPA, where national merit scholars will have preferred admission into the program. The program will offer exclusive electives, specifically unique to the MPFI’s faculty and research infrastructure. The honors in the major program will be offered across three degrees in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science: B.S. in biological sciences; B.S. in psychology; and B.S. in neuroscience and behavior; as well as a B.S. degree in liberal arts and science at the Wilkes Honors College.

 “Both the Max Planck Florida Institute and the Florida Atlantic University will benefit greatly from this endeavor: Young talented students will be able to earn highly recognized degrees at this ‘one-of-a-kind’ Honors College, which will also enable them to apply for International Max Planck Research Schools in Germany, and provide international visibility to the Honors Programs at FAU. Most importantly, it will attract exceptional students from all over the world and proudly carries the banners of both FAU and the Max Planck Society.” said Stratmann.

Prior partnerships between FAU and Max Planck have led to the creation of two successful graduate degree programs: the Ph.D. in integrative biology offering a concentration in neuroscience – integrative biology and neuroscience (IBNS), and an international Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain and Behavior.  

The FAU Max Planck Honors Program will empower students to work with world-class faculty researchers through a summer research program, and will include the possibility of directed independent research and an honors thesis with program faculty. Cutting-edge neuroscience training courses will include technologies such as super resolution microscopy, electron microscopy, electrophysiology and opto-genetic technology.

The program also will provide a comprehensive introductory “topics in neuroscience” course; career development workshops for scientists; participation in ongoing Max Planck seminar series and a journal club run by postdoctoral fellows and faculty; access to international symposia with opportunities for students to present their research to Nobel laureates; and special cutting-edge research and techniques in neuroscience taught by teams of renowned local and international scientists and introducing students to a broad range of scientific and technical expertise.

Coordination of the FAU Max Planck Honors Program across both institutes will be administered through the FAU Jupiter Life Science Initiative (JLSI). The state-funded strategic initiative has been extremely successful with providing the framework and administration with the joint graduate FAU Max Planck IBNS and IMPRS Ph.D. programs for the past six years and will continue to serve in this role with the undergraduate FAU Max Planck Honors Program. 

For more information, please contact Glenn Malone, FAU/Max Planck Honors Program advisor, at gmalone@fau.edu