Bullet to the Brain: Lecture explains neurobiology discoveries

Logan Rahlfs / Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 28, 2012

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, UAF associate professor of biology and neuroscience Michael Harris presented a lecture titled "Bullet to the Brain: Connecting Military History & Neurobiology" in the Schaible Auditorium. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star

“Research is not going to the library and looking something up in a book, research is creating new knowledge,” Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Integrative Physiology Michael Harris said.

Harris recently hosted a lecture on Feb. 22 entitled “Bullet to the Brain: Connecting Military History & Neurobiology.” The lecture explored the military discoveries of how the human brain works. The discussion began with some simple questions about what the five senses are, but quickly grew into more intricate discussions about the difference between sight and vision. The lecture discussed how researchers developed the complex science that is neurology.

Harris explained what wartime research discovered, including insights into how the brain and eyes work together. During the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, researchers connected head wounds with different types of visual problems, according to a poster by Harris. These case studies helped map out the vision centers of the brain.

As a neurobiologist, Harris’s favorite part about the study of the human brain is “understanding just how little we know even today,” he said.

Harris grew up in western Canada, attended the University of British Columbia, and achieved a master’s degree as well as a doctorate. After a fellowship at the University of Calgary School of Medicine and three years as a research associate at Dartmouth College, Harris received a faculty appointment with UAF.

URSA, the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity Program, holds free lectures at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evenings in the Bunnell Building.

URSA offers ways for students to get involved with academic and research projects on campus, as well as an opportunity for students to understand what their professors primarily do, Harris said.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be here, it just sort of happened. Doors opened because I took advantage of a research opportunity, enjoyed it, and ran with it. I’d love to be able to offer the same opportunities to students, and that’s really what the URSA program is all about,” Harris said.

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