A first-year seminar being taught Fall 2015 brings undergraduates into a world beyond human experience – the world of perception in animals. This course, The Senses of Animals (PSYC 67) is taught by Professor Mark Hollins, with the help of Graduate Research Consultant Page Sloan Dobson. Students learn how our five senses are heightened in many animals: the sense of smell in dogs, for example, as demonstrated by Professor Don Lysle’s tracking dog, Loki, who located a person in hiding while students watched. The course also shows how some animals possess sensory abilities that we lack entirely. An example is the magnetic sense of loggerhead turtles, which guides them on their oceanic journey, as Professor Ken Lohmann of UNC’s Biology Department explained to a group of students who visited his lab.

Dr. Hollins’ PSYC 67 course uses a variety of active learning methods, from demonstrations and field trips to team projects and research proposals. Experts from across the Triangle, including Professor Dave Gammon of Elon University, Entomology Specialist Annie Spikes at the Museum of Life and Science, Duke graduate student Caroline Amoroso at the Duke Lemur Center, and Natural Science Educator Grant Parkins at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, have generously shared their knowledge with the students.

This course has received financial support from Carolina’s First Year Seminar Enhancement Fund and the Office for Undergraduate Research. First Year Seminars allow students to focus on how scholars pose problems, discover solutions, resolve controversies, and evaluate knowledge. Another important aspect of First Year Seminar is to encourage studetns to produce original research and creative activities. The First Year Seminar Enhancement Grant allowed Dr. Hollins to pay for special events and activities to enhance his PSYC 67 course.

The Senses of Animals will end with a research poster session in the lobby of Davie at 2:00 on Tuesday, December 1. By special arrangement with Professor Beth Kurtz-Costes, Honors Program Director, the posters will be judged by current Honors students, and a prize given to the winner.


Dr. Mark Hollins is a Professor in Behavioral Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology and serves as the Director of Graduate Research. He studies the biological and cognitive aspects of perception, especially pain and touch. This is his first semester teaching PSYC 77 The Senses of Animals.

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