Dr. Michael Weisend, ’87, to give Convocation keynote

In the world of neuroscience, sometimes you have to be pushy.

“I go into my lab every day and ask the team, ‘What are you doing today, this week that’s never been done before in the history of mankind?’”

Dr. Michael Weisend, ’87, has taken this approach to an amazing career in neuroscience. He is nationally recognized for his expertise in the neurophysiology of learning, cognition and memory. As a senior scientist with Rio Grande Neurosciences, a company that develops therapies to treat neurological conditions, he and his team use some of the most sophisticated neoruimaging techniques to map how brain functions succeed and sometimes fail to solve problems effectively.

“We then design paradigms to intervene, delivering electricity back to the brain to influence human performance,” he explained. “I like to say we map ‘em and zap ‘em.”

Weisend’s work is not just cutting edge. It’s bleeding edge. New students will get to hear more about it when he delivers the keynote address during Opening Convocation on Thursday, Aug. 24, to officially kick off the 2017-18 school year.

He has a strong message about what students should do to become employable, starting now. In his view, there’s a conventional way and an unconventional way to succeed. Without giving away too much of his speech, Weisend said he’ll argue that the conventional way – simply absorbing teaching, reading texts, and getting good grades on the way to a degree – isn’t the best idea.

Today’s students, he said, have to look beyond the norm to find ways to set themselves apart from the hundreds of thousands of students who will graduate and enter the job market the same time they do.

“I will encourage them to think and rethink current norms,” Weisend said. “I hope it’s a little unnerving and I hope it motivates them."

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