Brain Trust: Dr. Veith, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Our Alumni Connections

In 2015, Dr. Richard Veith (’69) and his brothers Dr. Robert Veith (’70) and David Veith (’83) established the Barbara Ellen Maguire Scholarship at WWU (in honor of their mother) to support students who are working in research, summer programs, and internships in behavioral science or health science. The scholarship is an extension of the family's dedication to student success, and alternates annually between the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Recipients of the Barbara Ellen Maguire Scholarship get to meet with the Veith family—including Barbara Ellen Maguire herself—at a luncheon in Seattle every year. BNS major and Outstanding Graduate, José Carrillo (’17) met with the Veiths and Dr. Janet Finlay earlier this year.

Dr. Richard Veith began his long and esteemed career in psychiatry and behavioral science at WWU, where he majored in psychology. He specializes in the psychological effects of cardiovascular disease and treatment. He is also a leader in telemedicine, bringing psychiatric treatment and counseling to rural areas in Washington State through technological advances. His brother, Dr. Robert Veith, is an orthopedist who specializes in foot and ankle surgery and prosthetics. Another brother, David Veith, worked as a Solutions Architect at Amazon and has since retired. The Veiths won WWU's Alumni Legacy Family Award in 2016 for their continued support of Western programs, and mentoring of students and new grads. See below to see how Dr. Richard Veith perpetuates the spirit of Vikings helping Vikings.

Photo of Dr. Richard Vieth with students and professors who are in the story.

A Delicate Balance—The Shared Disciplines of BNS

The Behavioral Neuroscience Program, College of Health and Human Services, and the College of Science and Engineering

The Behavioral Neuroscience Program (BNS) at WWU uses an interdisciplinary scientific approach to study how the nervous system affects positive and negative behavior patterns. BNS focuses research on the treatment of depression, addiction, and mental illness. Western students work alongside professors in the development of research projects. Alumnus José Carrillo (’17) and current student Anne Huntemer-Silveira (’18) have won the Barbara Ellen Maguire Scholarship established by Dr. Richard Veith (’70) and his family. Home to the Finlay Lab and the Carroll Lab, the College of Health and Human Services grants 50 bachelor’s degrees and 12 master’s degrees every year. Behavioral Neuroscience is housed within CHSS, but its course requirements include chemistry, molecular biology, genetics, physics, and other classes offered in the College of Science and Engineering. In this spirit of shared disciplines, the Barbara Ellen Maguire Scholarship alternates between CSE and CHSS.

Key Faculty

Dr. Janet Finlay

WWU Psychology professor and BNS program coordinator, Dr. Janet Finlay runs the Finlay Lab which focuses on the neuroscience of psychiatric disorders. She and her team of undergraduate and graduate students are seeking better approaches to the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia. She says of her program, “BNS is more than just a major ... it's a commitment to a family invested in extending a hand out to help the next generation of students along.”

Dr. Jeff Carroll

Dr. Jeff Carroll is known for his work on Huntington's Disease. For Dr. Carroll, this work is very personal—he was diagnosed with Huntington's when he was 25. His research is focused on prolonging the lifespan and health of HD sufferers, and he has received millions of dollars in grants and research funding for his work. He has garnered national attention for studying gene silencing, and has published papers with his students. José Carrillo (’17) worked with Jeff Carroll as an undergraduate. 

Dr. McNeel Jantzen

Dr. McNeel Jantzen explores the intersection of how language and speech function in the brain. She employs imaging like EEG to investigate neural changes as learning occurs. Barbara Ellen Maguire scholar Anne Huntemer-Silveira (’18) works with Professor Jantzen. 

Dr. Jeff Grimm

The Grimm Lab studies the neurobiology of relapse, which includes studying cravings, addictions, and other strong behavioral-neurobiological connections. Fiona Griffin (’14) worked with Dr. Jeff Grimm as an undergraduate. She is WWU’s first placement at the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Brain Children—Current students of BNS

Anne Huntemer-Silveira (’18)

Anne is a current BNS major who works with Dr. McNeel Jantzen, and her current study is testing musicians and non-musicians on language perception. She is a 2016-2017 recipient of the Barbara Ellen Maguire scholarship established by the Veith family, which was applied toward tuition. Anne attended the Organization for Brain Mapping conference in Vancouver, B.C. in 2017 along with other members of the lab. 

Anna Marie Yanny (’18)

Anna Marie is a fixture on campus in many different roles—she is a student ambassador, an officer of the Poets and Lyricist Society, and an avid swimmer. She worked on a study involving drummers and music and brain function. Anna Marie is involved with two campus research labs and won a psychology scholarship for 2017-2018. She shadowed Max Dewees at the Hofstetter Lab at the UW before she began her internship in the Neurosurgery Department.

Thought Leaders—Recent alumni from the BNS program

José Carrillo ('17)

2017 Outstanding Graduate and first generation student from Peru, José Carrillo worked with Dr. Jeff Carroll at WWU, about which he says, “Working in Dr. Carroll’s lab has taught me a lot about science and what it takes to do research. My involvement in his lab is what I’m proudest of at Western.” Jose received the Barbara Ellen Maguire Scholarship established by Dr. Veith and his family, and joined the Veiths—including Barbara Ellen Maguire— in April 2016 for a lunch in Seattle. José was a double-major in Philosophy and Behavioral Neuroscience and graduated with honors in both majors. A 2017 Outstanding Graduate in Behavioral Neuroscience and he is currently applying for medical school.

Max DeWees (’15)

As an undergraduate, Max DeWees worked with Dr. Janet Finlay and Dr. Mike Mana studying schizophrenia. Hannah Manning (’14) was his mentor in Dr. Finlay’s lab. Max graduated from WWU in the summer of 2015 and went to work in the Hofstetter lab under the supervision of Dr. Zin Khing at the University of Washington working on behavioral research and finding opportunities for clinical relief. His primary area of interest is traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the biomechanics of brain injury. He is attending the University of Oregon to study Applied Bioinformatics and Genomics. He also invited Anna Marie Yanny (’18) to shadow him at the Hofstetter Lab at the University of Washington. She stayed on at UW and got an internship with the Neurosurgery Department at UW for the summer. 

Hannah Manning (’14)

Hannah is a full-time computational biology intern at Oregon Health and Science University. She earned her master’s at the University of Oregon where Max Dewees is entering his first year. She is a computational biologist for the OHSU School of Medicine, studying the intersection of precision medicine and genomics to advance big-data approaches to cancer research. At WWU, she was a research assistant in Dr. Janet Finlay’s lab, where she mentored Max Dewees. She also participated in an internship at PeaceHealth shadowing Dr. David Goldman during spinal surgeries and consultations. 

Fiona Griffin (’14)

At WWU, Fiona worked with Dr. Jeff Grimm studying the neurobiology of food addiction, specifically the science of cravings. After Western, she started as a Research Associate at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. She is currently working as a Research Associate, studying the visual cortex. She was the first WWU alumna hired by the Institute. She contributes to multiple projects, but one of her main contributions is to gather data for the Allen Brain Observatory. 


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