Overview of the PhD Program



Since 1994, the Center has been the home for a unique Ph.D program in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences. Students learn how medical imaging techniques, laboratory biology, and analytical and computational mathematics can be combined to offer powerful and unique insights into the human brain and other complex phenomena. Our goal is to create a “new breed” of neuroscientist who can unite theory and experiment, computational modeling, laboratory biology, and medical imaging to be at the cutting edge of brain research. Our graduates have pursued research careers at Institutions such as Harvard, Brown, Emory, New York University, the Salk Institute, and the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego in addition to private industry such as IBM and Mathworks, and institutions such as NIH, US Air Force, NASA and NRL.

The aim of this program is to create a new kind of brain scientist who will be both biologically and mathematically literate who will bring new ways of thinking into neuroscience. The courses are research oriented and consist of a core curriculum in neuroscience (including computational and cognitive neuroscience), the mathematical concepts and tools of nonlinear dynamical systems, and computational science.

Applications are currently being accepted for fully funded PhD training in Complex Systems & Brain Sciences. The aim of this 5-year graduate program is to train scientists to perform cutting-edge brain research that combines computational modeling, laboratory biology, and medical imaging. Students learn how this combination can yield powerful insights into the operation of the human brain as a complex dynamical system. Individuals with undergraduate degrees in any pertinent discipline are invited to apply. The program offers multi-year stipends and tuition remission.

Our students learn to fully participate in multi-disciplinary approaches to brain research. Past graduates have pursued careers at academic institutions such as Harvard, Brown, Emory, NYU, the Salk Institute, and the Neurosciences Institute, at private industry companies such as IBM and Mathworks, and at research institutions such as NIH, US Air Force, NASA, and NRL. 

Research opportunities are available using behavioral, computational, and neuroscientific methods. Research projects will focus on approaches to understanding the brain as a complex system, with possible concentrations in areas such as computational neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, systems neuroscience, neurorobotics, molecular neurobiology, cellular physiology, and neuronal regeneration. A new 3T scanner and multi-channel EEG recording systems will be available for neuroimaging research. Opportunities also exist for research collaborations with the new Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital (BRRH).\

Desirable qualifications include:

* training in neuroscience

* training in cognitive science

* training in complexity, network science, or graph theory

* quantitative training in physics, mathematics, computer science, or related fields

* programming experience (Matlab, C/C++, python, R)

* English speaking and writing skills

Qualified students are encouraged to apply to the program by following the instructions on the requirements page. Applications should be submitted by February 15th.


Elan Barenholtz: Psychophysical and computational approaches to visual and multisensory perception and recognition.

Janet Blanks: Gene therapy, retinal degeneration, neuroprotection in the retina, mammalian retinal development and differentiation.

Steven Bressler: Cognitive Neurodynamics: Investigation of cognitive processing through analysis of the large-scale dynamics of activity in the cerebral cortex using  fMRI, EEG, MEG, and LFP data.

Armin Fuchs: Analysis of large scale brain activity patterns and combining noninvasive recording technologies, i.e. EEG, MEG and functional MRI.

Howard Hock: Perception of motion.

Sang Hong: Investigation of color vision, motion processing, visual awareness, facial expression perception, and multi-sensory integration using psychophysical, eye-tracking, and fMRI methodologies. 

Scott Kelso: Mechanisms of self-organization underlying the coordination of brain and behavior.

Howard Prentice: Ischemic adaptations, Neurodegenerative disease, Brain anoxia, Mitochondrial dysfunction and aging processes. 

Wen Shen: Electrophysiology of channels and receptors, Transporters in neurodevelopment and adult system, Signal transduction in retinal circuits. 

Robert Stackman: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Spatial Navigation, Brain Representations of Space, Mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

Emmanuelle Tognoli: EEG Coordination Dynamics of human behavior: large-scale integration within and between brains.

Robert Vertes: Neurophysiology/Neuroanatomy. Functional organization of the brainstem and its role in controlling activity of the forebrain.

Jang Wu: Neuroscience, neurotransmitters and neurological disorders. 

Program Requirements:

First Year: Core Courses

     Neuroscience 1

     Neuroscience 2

     Cognitive Neuroscience

     Nonlinear Dynamical Systems

     Psychological Statistics Course (Experimental Design 1)


Second Year: Electives (See "Courses" Page, a minimum of 5 must be taken)

Third Year: Directed Independent Study 

Fourth year and Beyond: Dissertation (a minimum of 12 must be taken)

Total of 80 credits, grade "B" or better      

Additionally, in the second year, a research paper, or a poster presentation at a conference is required for admission to candidacy. In the third year, the student submits a Plan of Study (Form 5) and forms a Ph.D. committee, which will meet occasionally to check progress.

Students will receive the Ph.D. degree in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences.  Tuition waivers and competitive stipends for predoctoral fellows are available through the NIMH training grant, individual research grants or the University.