Information for academic staff

In the first year, each student will undertake two projects lasting 4 months each (January-April, May-August), and it is expected that one of these will become their PhD project and will be continued for the remaining 3 years. This website provides information for members of academic staff who would like to offer 1st year projects for the students on the Neural Dynamics programme.

Criteria of project suitability

Members of academic staff are welcome to propose 4 month projects that satisfy the following criteria.

  1. The project must concern research relating to the dynamics of activity of the nervous system.
  2. The research question must be addressed by substantial lab-based experiments (involving molecular, cellular and/or systems level approaches, including human studies) and also theory (e.g. mathematical modelling, simulation, robotic implementation, or advanced data analysis which goes beyond statistical approaches typically used in the analysis of experimental data).
  3. The project must be co-supervised by at least two advisors, one working on experimental or clinical neuroscience, the other with mathematical or computational expertise.
  4. Under normal circumstances, the advisors should be affiliated with the University of Bristol.

Application procedure

The proposed advisors of a project should jointly provide a brief project description by filling in a form that can be downloaded from here. The form should be e-mailed to Lindsey Watson by 28th October at the latest. The Programme Committee will review the proposals, including an assessment of suitability, training potential and feasibility, before making a final decision on which projects will be included in the programme.

Finding a collaborator

We would like to encourage neuroscientists who would like to supervise a student but do not yet have a theoretical collaborator, to present their research questions during a Neural Dynamics Forum meeting. This is an interdisciplinary and informal seminar series attended by both neuroscientists and theoreticians. If you like to present, please e-mail Conor Houghton.

Allocation procedure

By the end of November the Students will need to submit their choice of 4 mini-projects and their ranking. On this basis the Programme Committee will allocate each student to 2 projects (see next paragraph for details). Throughout November, the Students will meet with the potential Co-supervisors. During this meeting, could you please explain the project and arrange for the Students to see the experimental techniques involved (e.g. to spent a day with a Postdoc or PhD Student conducting the experiments). Furthermore, the Student will need to prepare a 2-page report on each chosen miniproject including review of key papers related to the topic. So could you please suggest key papers to the Students during your meeting.

To ensure the diversity of research of the Neural Dynamics students, it will be arranged that each year each neuroscientist co-advises at most 1 mini-project, and each theoretician at most 2 mini-projects. However, to increase students' choice, academics can propose more projects: each neuroscientist can propose up to 2 projects, and each theoretician up to 3 projects. Furthermore, if a large number of project proposals have been submitted, the Programme Committee may decide to limit the offer of the projects suggested by academics who were chosen as PhD supervisors by students in the previous years.

Funding for research during mini-projects

There is funding of 3000 GBP available to cover the expenses connected with conducting experiments during each mini-project. To claim the money you will need a spending code which will be e-mailed to you at the start of the project.

Write-up at the end of the project

By the end of the each mini-project, the students are expected to submit to co-advisors a report on their work. Reports should have approximately 15 pages, including figures, written in Arial, font 11, and 1.5 line spacing. After you receive the reports and read them, could you please meet with the students and give them feedback on their reports. Also please prepare a brief report (jointly by the two advisors, upto 700 words) describing what the student achieved, which will be submitted to the Welcome Trust. Please e-mail the report within 14 days from the end of the project to Lindsey Watson.