I will be accepting applications from prospective PhD students in Fall 2020, for matriculation in Fall 2021. On our website, you can find more information about our research and a list of our recent publications. If you are interested in any of these topics, or other topics that dovetail with our existing lines of research, I encourage you to consider our lab for your doctoral training. Please see the following Q&A for information about whether and how to apply.
Is the MemoLab right for me?
As you put together your list of potential grad school labs, there are a lot of factors to consider– the scientific fit of the lab, the PI’s mentoring style, the reputation of the program and university, the geographic location, among others. To help determine whether our lab is a good scientific and mentoring fit for you, I recommend the following:
For scientific fit - Read a couple of our papers. Do you think they are interesting? Do new scientific questions or ideas come to mind as you read them? Would you be interested in answering those questions? Does the idea of working with large datasets and analysis techniques excite you? If you’ve answered yes to those questions, then our lab might be a good scientific fit for you.
For mentoring fit - Read through our lab manual, which outlines my expectations for trainees and for myself as a mentor. Do these expectations fit with what you are looking for? Does the vibe seem right to you? One of my main goals as a mentor is to foster a collegial, collaborative environment with appreciation for each individual’s talents, perspectives, and life circumstances. My mentoring approach is likely to differ somewhat from person to person. If you are invited to interview with our lab, I encourage you to talk with the other trainees and see what their experiences have been.
How do I apply?
Specific application instructions can be found here. Note that the application fee can be waived in some circumstances, and I encourage you to apply for a waiver if you can. We are also waiving the GRE requirement for this upcoming application cycle (and perhaps also in future cycles).
Our department uses a traditional lab-based admissions process, in that each student applies to work with a particular professor in a particular lab. If you wish to work with me, then I will be the one who is primarily reviewing your application. You should be sure to list my name on your application. You can list other professors as well; however, this is not required. In some cases, a grad student can be co-mentored by two professors. If this is something that you’re interested in and if it makes sense for your research interests, you should include this in your application.
You are welcome to email me ahead of time to introduce yourself. I do not typically hold Zoom meetings with applicants until after I’ve reviewed applications (but if there are extenuating circumstances, let me know). If you choose to email me before submitting your application, please include your resume or CV and a paragraph about your research interests and why you want to apply to my lab (see section below). If it is obvious to me that it’s not a good research fit, I will tell you, and then it’s up to you whether you proceed with the application process.
Once I have reviewed the applications, I will contact a short list of applicants for Zoom interviews, probably before the end of the year. Then an even shorter list will be invited to interview on campus early in the spring semester (COVID-permitting).
What will make my application stand out?
When I review applications, I pay most attention to two things: 1) the research fit and 2) demonstration of critical and creative thinking. Both of these can be communicated through the personal statement, although the other pieces of the application provide supporting evidence (especially letters of recommendation or descriptions of previous academic or research experiences). For research fit, I want to be able to read your application and understand why you’re applying to my lab in particular. What are the questions that drive your curiosity? How do they intersect with our general research program? You do not need to already have research experience that is directly related to our lab’s work, nor do you need to have a specific plan for what kinds of experiments you want to run. But you should be able to express interest in questions or topics that are one or two degrees more specific than “the neuroscience of memory.”
Your personal statement can also be a place to showcase your critical or creative thinking skills. If you can relate a topic that you care about to existing scientific research, that’s a great sign. When you describe your past academic, research, or work experiences, don’t just list what you did and where– describe why you did something the way that you did and what you learned from the process. I want to hear about how you’ve persisted and why you’ve decided that cognitive neuroscience is the field for you. And again, more than anything, I want to get a feel for the ideas, techniques, and topics that spark your curiosity.
What types of research projects are you planning for the future?
Right now, our main projects are centered on the network interactions supporting episodic construction, individual differences in episodic memory, and the role of memory processes in emotion regulation. Most of our work uses behavioral or fMRI methods. In the COVID era, we are collecting behavioral data online and making the most of our existing fMRI datasets and other open fMRI datasets available online. We hope to resume fMRI data collection in fall 2020.