The Montana Board of Regents Appoints Chris Comer as UM’s First Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience.

black and white headshot photo of Chris Comer

Chris has been and continues to be a true champion for UM’s Neuroscience Program. He played a foundational role in the development of UM’s new B.S. degree in Neuroscience, helping both to shape its curriculum and mentor the faculty participating in the program.  Especially notable are his efforts to engage a wide audience of UM students by creatively bridging the neurosciences with the humanities and arts. These efforts are exemplified by his most recent book: Brain Mind, and the Narrative Imagination, which is soon to be published through Bloomsbury Press, London.  More details about Chris’s contributions can be found below.

 

There is no one more fitting to become UM’s first Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience.


photo of Chris Comer from the Missoulian
Photo by Toni Martino, Missoulian

 

Dr. Christopher Comer earned his Ph.D. in Biology in 1980 from the University of Chicago.  Following postdoctoral research in neurobiology and behavior, he joined the Department of Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Assistant Professor in 1982.  Dr. Comer advanced through the faculty ranks at UIC to become Professor in 2002 after which he assumed a series of administrative appointments that culminated in his being named Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in 2004.  Dr. Comer was recruited to the University of Montana in 2009, where he served with distinction as Dean of the College of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Biology & Neuroscience.  He retired from the position of Dean in 2018 to return to teaching and scholarship.  Dr. Comer retired from the University of Montana in 2020.

 

Professor Comer’s contributions to the field of neuroscience have been significant and extensive, particularly as related to identifying how the activity of specific groups of neurons are integrated to produce motor behaviors.  His work as spanned multiple areas of neurobiology, including: sensory function, behavior, neural evolution, signal encoding, systems neuroscience, and neural engineering.  The impact of his scholarly contributions are reflected in his CV which list more than 60 abstract and 45 published works, including papers in high-impact journals such as Nature and J. Neuroscience.  It is also notable that Professor Comer left academic neuroscience to serve as a Program Director of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Science foundation from 1993-1995.  His scholarly productivity is equally matched by a consistent track record of strong grant funding from the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies.  Professor Comer has given numerous invited lectures at venues that range from Great Falls, MT to Brisbane, Australia. Most recently he has been pursuing scholarship that lies at the interface of Neuroscience and the Humanities and will soon be publishing the book “Brain, Mind and the Narrative Imagination” through Bloomsbury Press, London.

 

While recruited to UM to serve as the Dean of the College of Humanities & Sciences, Professor Comer has remained committed to and invested in teaching, especially at the undergraduate level.  He has made valued contributions to the Neuroscience program, teaching in the “Fundamentals of Neuroscience” course and the very innovative interdisciplinary class, “Literature & the Brain”.  Professor Comer has also regularly participated in UM’s Study Abroad program, teaching the summer course “Brain, Mind, and the Artistic Imagination”, at University Dublin College.