Associate Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., Dartmouth College; M.S., Purdue University; B.A., University of Michigan
Office hours: By appointment
Office: Wilkens Science Center, Room 309-H
Phone: (617) 735-9832
My teaching style was influenced by strategies that my parents (an ex-marine and a parochial school teacher) used with me and my siblings while we were growing up. First, there was an emphasis on discipline. You kept doing something until you got it right. If you failed, you kept trying. There was no other option. This included everything from doing schoolwork to roasting marshmallows. Second, you learned to work together to do something better. For instance, when we harvested beans from the garden, one of us washed the beans, another snipped the bean ends, and a third cut the beans. Knives were used. We had to get along. Third, if you knew how to do something, teach it to someone else. Older siblings simplified complicated information to younger sibs (such as the art of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). The younger sibs had to be disciplined to learn it (see the first point above). Early attempts at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were ugly, but edible. One of the sibs thought it was a good idea to add bologna and cheese to create a "turbo" sandwich. This person remains in the minority.
The courses I teach have a strong science component and they are core requirements in the Psychology department and the Neuroscience concentration. In my courses, perhaps not surprisingly, I emphasize the need for discipline, teamwork, and simplifying complex information. My lesson plan emphasizes a learning model used in science courses at Dartmouth College. In Physiological Psychology, concepts are covered from the macro to the micro levels. I believe that my students enjoy learning more about how their brain and body work, and how basic physiology influences behavior. In other courses, such as Experimental Psychology, there is an emphasis on effective problem-solving, creative development of experimental ideas, and powerful oral and written communication.
Students in my classes report that they are challenged, but learn a lot. To achieve this, I use a variety of active learning strategies for students to apply information that I introduce. In every class I teach, there is an emphasis on learning skills such as employing the Scientific Method to investigate a problem, reading graphs, presenting difficult information orally, effectively using technology, and simplifying complicated concepts through drawings. I would like to say that I am able to do all of this alone, but I am fortunate to have the help of excellent tutors and colleagues.
My research centers around issues related to brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is the amazing ability of the brain to change in response to experience. These changes are often positive, and contribute to increased learning or enhanced sensory capabilities. Neurodegenerative diseases can modify the brain, yet this process is poorly understood.
My primary research interest is to better understand these mechanisms. I use mouse models of human neurodegeneration to investigate questions related to sensory-induced neural plasticity, astrocyte biology, and proneurotrophin expression and function. We conduct studies that are multidisciplinary in nature. We often take behavioral, cellular, and molecular measurements. Ultimately, my goal is to understand how these important players interact.
Undergraduates play key roles in my research agenda and they are an important part of what I do. Members of my lab are chosen based on their academic performance, commitment to learning more about Neuroscience, and adherence to impeccable ethical standards. In return for their hard work and dedication, I offer them the opportunity to receive substantial scientific training, become seasoned users of the Scientific Method, and present findings in professional venues that ultimately will lead to publication (see * for student coauthors and collaborators in Selected Publications below). Documented mastery of these skills is crucial for any path that leads to medical, graduate, or professional school, as well as generally for life.
- PSYCH 1501: General Psychology
- PSYCH 2209: Physiological Bases of Behavior
- PSYCH 4100: Experimental Psychology
- FYS 1174: Schizophrenic Mice and Narcoleptic Dogs
- "For Science's Sake, a Small Liberal-Arts College Makes the Most of Its Location," The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2, 2011
- "Faculty-Student Connections Continue to Evolve, Deliver Results", Emmanuel Magazine
- Lois Rosen Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Michigan at Flint
- Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Teaching Honoree, Dartmouth College
- 90% Club Teaching Award, Communication Department, Purdue University
- Cornett, A.*, Sucic, J., Hillsburg, D.*, Cyr, L.*, Johnson, C.*, Polanco, A.*, Figuereo J.*, Cabine, K.*, Russo, N., Sturtevant, A., Jarvinen, M.K. (2011) Altered glial gene expression, density, and architecture in the visual cortex upon retinal degeneration. Brain Research, doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2011.09.011.
- Jarvinen, M.K., Chinnaswamy, K.*, Sturtevant, A., Hatley, N*, and Sucic, J. (2010) Effects of age and retinal degeneration on the expression of proprotein convertases in the visual cortex. Brain Research, 1317: 1-12.
- Lieberwirth, C.*, Reed, J.*, Fluegge, K.*, MacFadden, A.*, Lynd, J.*, Cabine, K.*, Jarvinen, M., and Sucic, J. (2007). Evaluating the progressive irreversible loss of vision: Implications for interventions. 4th Annual Michigan Undergraduate Research Forum, Lansing, MI.
- MacFadden, A.*, Jarvinen, M., and Sucic, J. (2007). The Effect of Vision Loss on Subtilisin-like Proprotein Convertase Expression in the Brain. Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters.
- Schwan, R.* and Jarvinen, M. (2006). The effects of the single prolonged stress (SPS) model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Topiramate on gene expression in the anterior pituitary of the rat. 3rd Annual Michigan Undergraduate Research Forum, Lansing, MI.
- Jarvinen, M.K., Lieberwirth, C.*, Dereszynski, J.*, Lynd, J.*, and Sucic, J. (2006) The effects of vision loss in a murine model of retinal degeneration on visual and cerebellar pathways, and neurotrophin and subtilisin-like proporotein convertase expression. Society for Neuroscience Abstract.
- Boegle, A.K., Paul, C.A., Fry, M., Penatti, C.A., Jarvinen, M.K., Yang, P., Jones, B.L., Henderson, L.P., and Maue, R.A. (2005) Impaired Electrical Activity of Purkinje Neurons in Niemann Pick Type C Disease is Associated with Altered Sodium Currents and Synaptic Function. Society for Neuroscience Abstract
- Fry, M., Jarvinen, M.K., Porter, D., Kearney, J.A., Meisler, M.A., and Maue, R.A. (2003) Developmental changes in electrical activity, Na+ channel isoform expression, and Na+ current components in Purkinje cells from wild-type and Na+ channel transgenic mice revealed by patch clamp recording and single-cell RT-PCR. Society for Neuroscience Abstract
- Jarvinen, M.K., Porter, D.M., and Maue, R.A. (2001) Na+ and K+ channel isoform expression during developmental changes in electrical activity: a patch clamp and single cell RT-PCR analysis of Purkinje cells in cerebellar slices. Society for Neuroscience Abstract.
- Paul, C.A. Jarvinen, M.K., Porter, D.M., Prasad, A., Lin, L., and Maue, R.A. (2001) Neuronal membrane signaling in Niemann Pick Type C Disease. Society for Neuroscience Abstract.
- Jarvinen, M.K., Wollmann, W., Powrozek, T., Schultz, J., and Powley, T.L. (1999) Nitric-oxide synthase containing neurons in the myenteric plexus of the rat gastrointestinal tract: Distribution and regional density. Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 199(2): 99-112.
- Jarvinen, M.K. and Powley, T.L. (1999) Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus neurons: A multivariate taxonomy. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 403: 359-377.
- Jarvinen, M.K., Morrow-Tesch, J., McGlone, J., and Powley, T.L. (1998) Effects of diverse developmental environments on neuronal morphology in domestic pigs (Sus scrofa). Developmental Brain Research, 107: 21-31.