Who is Neurohackademy for?
There’s no single answer to this; in the past, Neurohackademy (formerly Neurohackweek) has attracted applicants and participants from a wide range of backgrounds, career stages, and skill levels. In general, however, our prototypical participant is an early-career researcher–most commonly a mid-to-late stage graduate student or early postdoc–who has some prior experience analyzing neuroscience data, as well as basic computational literacy (including minimal familiarity with basic programming concepts). On the spectrum of the many training courses out there, Neurohackademy fits somewhere between beginner courses and advanced courses. We assume a basic familiarity with core concepts in both neuroscience and computational science, but we also give priority to applicants who do not have strong expertise in both domains. If you don’t know what a for-loop is, you’ll probably get more out of an introductory course like Software Carpentry. Conversely, if your full-time job is developing state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms for joint EEG/fMRI-based clinical prediction, this probably isn’t the right course for you either. But if you fall somewhere in between these extremes, congratulations–you’re our target audience!
We also strongly encourage members of groups that are underrepresented in science to apply. Diversity is one of our explicit evaluation criteria, and we work hard to try and make Neurohackademy a comfortable and welcoming environment for people of all races, genders, orientations, nationalities, and other backgrounds.
I’m an early-career researcher with a strong background in a computational field, but little or no experience in neuroscience. Can I attend?
While we don’t expect most applicants to have a very strong background in neuroscience, we do impose a soft requirement that applicants should have at least some prior experience working with neuroscience data. It’s important for us to make sure that participants with computational backgrounds are confident they’ll enjoy working on neuroscience problems during (and ideally beyond) the course, and have sufficient familiarity with basic neuroscience concepts to benefit from the materials and projects. So if you have a background in, say, physics or computer science, but have never touched a neuroscience dataset, this probably isn’t the right course for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve had some prior experience (possibly in a collaborative context) working with neuroscience data (e.g., you’ve helped write algorithms to process or analyze brain data), and enjoyed it, you should absolutely apply.
I’m an early-career researcher with a strong background in neuroscience, but my computational skills aren’t very strong. Can I attend?
The primary goal of Neurohackademy is to help researchers develop the computational skills they need in order to make the most of large, rich neuroscience datasets. So we certainly don’t expect applicants to come in with extensive prior programming experience. That said, we do assume that all participants have a minimal level of programming competency–without which a participant will probably find it much more difficult to benefit from the course.
This of course leaves open the question of what we mean by “a minimal level of programming competency”. The short answer is that you should be comfortable writing a simple analysis script (in a language of your choice) that uses basic control structures (i.e., if-then statements and for-loops). Beyond that, things get murky. In our experience, many beginning programmers (and also many non-beginners!) are not very good at objectively assessing how much they actually know. So if you’re on the fence, we strongly encourage you to go ahead and apply anyway.
I’m a [faculty member/research assistant/postdoc/1st year graduate student/…]; can I still apply?
Applicants at all career stages are welcome to apply to Neurohackademy. In the past, we’ve admitted participants who range in experience from research assistant all the way through tenured full professor. We don’t consider career stage as an explicit factor in the evaluation process. That said, the admission criteria do implicitly give some preference to graduate students and postdocs, as applicants at these career stages are most likely to benefit from the course (undergrads and research assistant are less likely to have had time to develop the necessary basic computational and/or neuroscience skills, whereas current faculty typically have less opportunity to directly apply any skills they might gain). Our application process shouldn’t take more than an hour or two of your time though, so if you think you’ll benefit from the course, we encourage you to apply regardless of your career stage.
I want to attend Neurohackademy, but I can’t afford it. Is there travel support?
To make Neurohackademy as inclusive as possible, we’ve tried to cover most of the costs associated with attending the course. For the duration of the course, all participants will be provided with a (shared) room in the UW dorms, as well as a meal card that covers all-you-can-eat breakfast and lunch at the cafeteria. We will also provide dinner at receptions at the beginning and end of the course. Participants are only responsible for (a) travel to the UW campus in Seattle, (b) a $200 registration fee, and (c) dinner on most nights. Our hope is that this will make the course affordable to nearly all admitted participants.
That said, we recognize that some participants–particularly those traveling from other countries, or whose home labs or institutions lack funding for travel–may not be able to meet these requirements. We will therefore do our best to provide fee waivers and/or travel support to any participants who can demonstrate a valid need. To apply for travel support, please follow the instructions in the application form. You will need to arrange to have your supervisor (or department chair, etc.) email us a letter affirming that there are no local resources available to support your participation. We must receive this letter no later than 1 week after notification of admission to the institute (but we encourage you to arrange to have it sent at the same time as your application).
Note that all travel support is need-based, and plays no role in the application evaluation or decision process. We will neither privilege nor penalize applicants who indicate that they are likely to need travel funds.