The Biological Basis of Behavior (BBB) major is one of the most popular majors at Penn, especially among pre-med students. Here are a few reasons why:
First, on a more practical level, BBB already fulfills a lot of the pre-med requirements that med schools look for. Through this major’s requirements, you get the intro bio classes, chem classes, and a stat class. Almost all of the remaining pre-med requirements can fit under the elective section in the major. And, as long as you take biochemistry in the chemistry department (as opposed to the biology department), you also will have fulfilled all the requirements for a chemistry minor.
Second, BBB is an endlessly fascinating examination of why we behave like we do (albeit I admit: I am biased). Most BBB classes focus on a certain behavior and will use evidence from a microscopic, cellular level to explain the macroscopic, organismal behavior. There are so many different areas you can study in the department from sleep and feeding behaviors to psychiatric disorders. The classes are always very engaging. Last fall, I took a class called Drugs, Brain, and the Mind and it ended up being my favorite class I’ve taken at Penn. This class examined how recreational and therapeutic drugs operate in the nervous system and their short-term and long-term effects on the human body. I’m currently taking a seminar on the Biological Basis of Psychiatric Disorders. In this class, we examine scientific articles of current research being done to improve treatments and find cures for a variety of psychiatric disorders.
Third, research can be a big part of the BBB major. There are so many opportunities to get involved in research on campus that are directly related to the neuroscientific fields of study within the BBB department. Research is so prominent in the major that, depending on your lab, you can even get class credit for being involved with it. There are different ways in which you can get involved in neuroscientific research at Penn. A lot of professors have undergraduate positions open in their labs and are happy to have passionate, driven undergrads help out. Also, as a BBB major, I get so many emails about labs seeking undergrad BBB majors – these opportunities don’t just come from professors but also PI’s at HUP and CHOP as well.
I would highly recommend this major to anyone interested in neuroscience. As one of Penn’s interdisciplinary majors, it allows students the opportunity to have exposure to numerous departments and faculty members. It is definitely one of my favorite parts of Penn!
-Grace M, C’20