FAQ

About Neuromatch Academy

Q: What is Neuromatch Academy?

A: Neuromatch Academy is a massive, interactive, online summer school experience spanning from hands-on modeling experience to meta-science interpretation skills across just about everything that could be reasonably included in the label "computational neuroscience". We're a group of neuroscientists from around the globe who have run smaller, in-person summer schools in the past, but that's not possible this year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What makes it special?

A: We are aiming to provide equal access to excellent computational neuroscience training for all students regardless of geography, nationality, socioeconomic status, or other factors. Also, unlike most other online courses, we have TAs. Plus, there will be lots of scientific networking through matchmaking algorithms. And it's the first of its kind and that's pretty special, right?.

Q: Why should I sign up for Neuromatch Academy?

A: If you have ever wanted to learn about computational neuroscience, this is your chance! We don't just teach you the skills; we will also teach you how to use those skills to answer neuroscience questions. And it will be a lot of fun!

Q: What topics will be covered in the course?

A: An integrated, scientific inquiry-based curriculum with instruction in core topics of neural data science and computational neuroscience such as dimensionality reduction, neuron models, network dynamics, Bayesian modeling, and deep learning. We have a large focus on meta-modeling, too: how to choose the right model for your dataset and question, and what insights each approach can provide. See our syllabus.

Q: When will the tentative programme be available on the website?

A: We have a syllabus and pre-course reading available now. We're working on a more detailed plan of the daily structure and will have it to you as soon as possible.

Q: What is the structure of the course?

A: Each day has a series of modules (10min lecture, 20min hands-on tutorial), a keynote / interpretation session, and professional development activities. Small-group projects (Interactive track) happen afterwards. Lectures will be pre-recorded; TA modules, projects, and other activities will be live.

Q: How do students get grouped into teams or 'pods'?

A: We use an algorithm (cite 1, cite 2, cite 3) to place people in complementary groups based on common interests and background knowledge, according to a textual analysis of their existing research. We will use a few abstracts from each participant to identify who has similar interests. You don't need to have any publications to do this -- you can also write an abstract about things you're working on or want to work on, or submit (copy-paste) abstracts written by other people that you find interesting. We'll ask for these abstracts and more info in Round 2 applications.

Q: How big is each 'pod' or team of students who work with 1 TA?

A: Each 'pod' will consist of 2 TAs working together with roughly 20 students. Therefore the TA to student ratio is ~1:10.

Q: What are group projects?

A: There are small-group (3-5 students from your pod) projects for students in the Interactive track. This is a fun way to apply hands-on skills to your own topic of interest! We will step-by-step mentor you in how to model and the projects will also be supervised by TAs.

Q: What's the professional development aspect?

A: Each day, professional mentors will be providing career advice to individuals or small groups.

Q: What time zone will it take place in? What if I am not in the timezone of the school? How will I access the lectures and my "pod"?

A: We will have TA-facilitated pods accessible in real time from all timezones in the world. When you sign up and commit to attending the Interactive track you will be asked for your timezone so we can place you in a group that operates in your preferred timezone. Lectures and tutorials will (likely) be pre-recorded with multiple live Q&A sessions spanning multiple timezones to give you a chance to ask questions to the instructors in a live setting.

Q: Will the courses be in any languages other than English?

A: The main language of instruction will be English, and all materials will be in English. We are currently exploring whether we can group students into "pods" with a TA who also speaks a language of your choice in addition to English, so if this is something you are interested in, please indicate it in your application.

Q: How long can I access the lectures and materials for after the school?

A: Everything will be freely available after the school on Github.

Q: Can I have access to a list of all participants and TAs before or after the school, so I can set up my own networking opportunities after the school?

A: All participants will be able to opt in to sharing their contact information.


Interactive versus Observer Tracks

Q: What is the Interactive vs Observer track?

A: The Interactive track will involve 6+ hours a day of lectures and small-group project work with a TA and a pod of other students who have similar interests, language preferences and time zone requirements. Pods will be divided into two groups of roughly 4, each of which work on a project together. The Observer track will have access to the course materials but will not participate in the TA-facilitated live coding pods, group projects, or other interactive mentorship components.

Q: Will Observer Track students receive certificates?

A: Observers will not receive the same certificate of completion given to Interactive participants, however other indications of participation may be possible depending on what aspects of the course the observer completes.

Q: Can I switch from Observer track to Interactive track and the other way round once I have submitted my application, or once the school has begun?

A: Switching tracks is possible, but only up to a certain point. There will be a final decision date at which you will have to commit to one track or the other. In the meantime please use your best guess at what you want to do and will have time for. The better our estimates of numbers are, the better the pod allocation process will be. Unfortunately, due to the planning involved and the group formation, you cannot switch tracks once the school has begun.

Q: Will my application be considered for both tracks or only the track I selected?

A: We will consider your application for the track you selected, although it is possible to switch before a deadline (to be determined).

Q: Will I still be able to ask questions if I am on an Observer track?

A: In some cases yes. You'll have access to the lectures and curricular materials but you will have no TA or mentor support, and no group projects. You may be able to join the live Q&A for lectures (details tbd).

Q: What if my Interactive track application is unsuccessful? Will I be offered a place on the Observer track?

A: Yes.

Q: I only want to do the Observer track, do I still need to provide reference letters?

A: No.

I want to be an Observer, do I need to complete round 2 of the application

A: No, unless you think you may wish to switch tracks. If there is any chance you may want to switch tracks you must complete round 2. If you have not completed round 2, by the time the deadline date is reached, you will not be able to switch tracks.


Neuromatch Academy Student Applications

Q: Who should be a student?

A: Anyone who is interested in following a career in neuroscience either in academia or in industry. Students should have some background already in coding (but we will provide learning resources), although there are two different tracks to facilitate a broader range of abilities.

Q: I completed my student application but was not asked to add my email address anywhere? How do I know my application was received?

A: We will send a large email blast to everybody who applied to be a student or TA welcoming them to participate in Round 2 of the application process. If you don't receive this confirmation email by May 11 (or latest May 12), please sign up again or contact us at neuromatchacademy@neuromatch.io. Please make sure to include your email address in Round 2.

Q: Can I make changes to my round 2 application before 25 May? How do I do this?

A: In order to make changes to your student application you will need to resubmit the round 2 form. The selection committee will use the most recent application when making the final student selection.

Q: Do I have to have a Google Scholar account to apply? (I don't have any publications yet)

A: You don't have to have a Google Scholar account, but if you do, sharing it will be helpful for us to evaluate Neuromatch Academys long term impact and raise funding for future years. Note that you don't need to have any publications to apply to Neuromatch Academy or to create a Google Scholar profile.

Q: What level of Python experience do I need?

A: Students should be comfortable writing simple Python programs at the minimum when the course begins. If you have never seen an "if" statement before, this probably isn't for you, but you don't need to be a super expert either. If you have expertise in a comparable language (e.g. R, MATLAB, or C), you should commit to taking an introductory course or tutorial in Python prior to the start of the course to learn the Python syntax. We have a list of prerequisites with materials to help you catch up. here.

Q:What if I'm not a great coder? Can I still join?

A: You do need to have good programming skills to be able to participate, as described above. However, we will have two levels of goals for every tutorial: one for beginner/intermediate students and one for intermediate/advanced students. This way everybody has reasonable targets to fit their ability levels.

Q: What does it cost to be a student?

A: We currently expect to charge a small fee for the Interactive track for full-time students/academics in order to help pay for TAs. We want to make this school accessible to everyone, so we are exploring a tiered payment so money does not stop you from attending. The Observer track will be free of charge.

Q: What if I drop out of the academy?

Dropping out of the academy makes it harder for your pod to work well because there will only be a small number of people at the start of the academy. You will also not receive your certificate of completion and may not be selected to participate in future Neuromatch programs. Of course we understand that unforeseen circumstances can arise and will accommodate those as needed, but please do plan to stay through to the end.

Q: What if I can't attend the whole school?

A: We expect Interactive students to attend 100% of the school. Because of the small group structure, a student's absence will negatively impact the experience of their peers as well as their own learning. However we understand that some absences are unavoidable and students will be able to communicate with their TAs in advance if they need to miss any time. Excessive absences will not lead to a certificate of completion of the course.

Q: Will extra info be given to unsuccessful candidates about what is missing from their application?

A: Unfortunately we will not be able to give personalized feedback to applicants.


Q: I missed the 25 May deadline to switch from Interactive to Observer Track. Can I still do this and how do I do this?

A: If you applied to be on the Interactive track and now want to be an Observer or withdraw your application entirely, please email us (neuromatchacademy@neuromatch.io) with the subject line "Switch to Observer" or "Withdraw application". Please do this as soon as possible so that we can allot your spot to someone else.

Q: I forgot to submit my Round 2 Application by midnight 25 May. I still want to be considered for the Interactive track. Is it too late?

A: Yes it is too late. Due to the volumes of applications received and the post-application work required to match students for the pods, we are not able to accept late applications for the Academy. Follow us on @neuromatch on Twitter for updates on possible late Observer applications openings.

TA Applications, Selection, and Responsibilities

Q: Who should be a TA? What do TAs do?

A: TAs will work closely with a given pod for three weeks to help students solve problems and guide group projects. TAs should have substantial expertise in Python and experience with some aspects of neural data analysis.

Q: I'd like to apply to be a TA but have no neuroscience experience, but I'm experienced in Python. Can I still apply?

A: No. Since a central theme of the course is learning how to appropriately apply models to neuroscience, TAs should have experience with that. But if you can get enough neuroscience background with the pre-course resources we provide, you may still be eligible to participate as a student in the Interactive track, or you can follow along in the Observer track.

Q: I completed my TA application but did not receive any kind of email confirmation? How do I know my application was received?

A: We will send a large email blast to everybody who applied to be a TA welcoming them to participate in Round 2 of the application process. If you don't receive this confirmation email by May 10, please sign up again or contact us atneuromatchacademy@neuromatch.io. Please make sure to include your email address in Round 2.

Q: Can I be a TA in week 1 and then a student in week 2 and 3? Can I be a TA and a student?

A: TAs must follow the same group of students through all three weeks. Thus the simple answer is no, you can't be a TA for just a week or two. However, we expect to need several backup TAs, so if you cannot commit to all three weeks please indicate this in your application and we may ask you to be a backup TA!

Q: I'd like to be a TA but it looks to be merit based. Should I also apply as a student?

A: Yes, please do apply both as a TA and a student!

Q: How much do TAs get paid?

A: We are currently aiming to pay TAs in the neighborhood of at least $1000 each. This will depend on funding sources, and we are actively working to get as much funding as we can to pay compensate TAs appropriately. Stay tuned for updates!


Being a Mentor

Q: Who should be a Mentor? What do Mentors do?

A: Mentors can be either academic faculty or industry professionals who are interested in networking with students, answering questions related to their line of work, and, in some cases, providing support on project development


Certificates of completion and course credit

Q: Will students receive a certificate of completion?

A: Yes, we will provide all Interactive track students who complete all 3 weeks of the Interactive track and associated group projects with a certificate of completion. Please note that this certificate cannot currently be used for university credit and that we are not an officially accredited university or school.

Q: Will you provide any grades so I can get university credit for participating?

A: We do not plan to give any standardized grades, but you will receive a certificate of completion if you're on the Interactive track and you finish the course, including the group project. This certificate of completion does not automatically guarantee any sort of university credit (because we are not an officially accredited school), but you might be able to talk to your administration about that option. Every school has different policies, so you'll need to take your certificate of completion and the curriculum information to your specific institution or school to see if this is an option for you; unfortunately we can't help facilitate this process given the number of students and universities attended.