When she entered Butler University as a first-year voice major, Professor of Psychology Tara Lineweaver ’91 never would have imagined that she would graduate four years later with a Psychology degree as well. Nor would her first-year self believe she would head to graduate school in Georgia, finish an internship in Chicago, complete a doctoral program in California, and work at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, only to end up right back where she started—at Butler.
“It’s funny because when I was a student at Butler, I always said I wanted to work at a place like Butler when I grew up, but I never really imagined I’d work at Butler,” Lineweaver said. “I worked in Admission as a student, so I thought if I did come back I was going to be an admission counselor. I had no idea I would return as a professor.”
Since arriving back at Butler, Lineweaver has participated in numerous research projects with her students, and she also, along with a group of faculty, has played an integral role in helping create and teach Butler’s new Neuroscience minor.
“Provost Kate Morris, who was the chair of the Psychology Department at the time, initiated the effort. We were excited to get the Neuroscience minor approved,” Lineweaver said.
The new minor is interdisciplinary with coursework in Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy. Since its creation in 2013, 26 students have graduated with a Neuroscience minor and 62 students are currently pursuing it.
“One thing that’s really cool about the minor is that it encourages students to think about the mind and brain from both a scientific and liberal arts perspective,” Lineweaver said.
In addition to the coursework, students involved in the Neuroscience minor complete internships and research as well.
For instance, last year one of Lineweaver’s students, Colleen Frank ’16, completed a project that looked at the recognition of emotion through both facial expressions and tone of voice in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She found that people with Parkinson’s disease are not as good at recognizing emotion as their healthy age-matched peers.
Lineweaver’s passion for neuroscience and collaboration with students has allowed her to build up her own research portfolio and to keep pursuing the many areas of interest she developed prior to teaching at Butler, including Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Dementia, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder research. Many times her students have guided which direction her research takes.
“I’ve always been a dabbler. I tried many different types of research through my graduate training, and when I got to Butler I continued in all of those areas,” Lineweaver said. “That is one thing I really like about being at Butler, that I can do a lot of different things and not just focus on one question.”
Lineweaver continued by saying, “Not too many people get the opportunity to go back and work at their alma mater. I am really fortunate that I had that opportunity. I love working at Butler.”
Tara is also currently interested in researching healthy aging. If you are age 60 or over, live in or near Indianapolis, and want to participate in future studies, please email her at email@example.com