The field of computational neuroscience encompasses a huge range of research, including the many projects run by CNC faculty. From theorists modeling how the brain could interact with devices in the next generation of neuroengineering (Raj Rao) to experimentalists analyzing what exactly is going on in a monkey’s brain as it navigates through a video game world (Beth Buffalo), there are endless possibilities when you combine neuroscience and computation. With faculty and affiliates spanning almost 20 departments and affiliate institutions, the CNC brings together specialists of many kinds to collaborate and continue to expand the field. While the diversity of research happening at the CNC is part of what makes it such a dynamic community, it can be difficult for early career computational neuroscientists to know where to focus their academic energies. Now entering its fourth year, the UW Minor in Computation and Engineering offers a way for undergraduates to sample the breadth of computational neuroscience and more deeply explore the parts of the field that excite them more.
The minor, which is administered by the CNC, requires students to take survey classes in computational neuroscience, and gives students the opportunity to take electives in areas of biology, neuroscience, math, computer science, and psychology. It also requires courses in bioethics, exposing students to the philosophical issues that computational neuroscientists often grapple with. Open to all students, regardless of their major, the minor offers a window into computational neuroscience broadly, and specifically to ongoing work in the CNC, bringing undergraduates into the CNC community and connecting them with research opportunities to add depth to their studies. Recent graduate Max Wiel, a Bioengineering major who completed the Minor in Neural Computation and Engineering, says that the minor allowed him to take courses that would have otherwise been difficult to get into. Wiel, now a Data Specialist at UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, says that these courses were instrumental in his career path. “I think those really led me to where I am now,” he says, “and I think it was really great that I was able to get exposure.”
Interested undergraduates can find out more information here, and should contact Jessica Huszar (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.