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 as much as possible 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 programme be available on the website?

A: We have a complete syllabus and pre-course reading available now. The instructional materials will be released at the start of the course.

Q: What is the structure of the course?

A: Each day has a series of modules (lectures and hands-on tutorial), a keynote / interpretation session, and professional development activities on weekends. 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, time availability, seniority and in many cases shared language. This will allow students to meet online at a time and context that is most convenient for them.

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

A: Each 'pod' will consist of a TA working together with roughly 10 students.

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: Professional mentors will be providing career advice in the form of talks and career panels during optional weekend sessions.

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 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. In addition, many of our students will be grouped into pods where the TA and students all share another language.

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 and YouTube. Please see our Course Materials page.

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.

Q: Can Iranian residents participate in NMA?

A: Yes. Shortly before the start of NMA 2020, we announced that, because the organizers of NMA includes US Citizens, NMA could not provide our course as a service to people residing in Iran. This was a result of existing US sanctions against Iran. Upon learning of this restriction, we applied for a license to operate in Iran and were granted an emergency relief from the sanctions. This allowed us to invite back the students and TAs residing in Iran.

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. Please see further information on our Interactive vs. Observer page.

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 will be able to interact on the Neurostars discsusion board, however.

Q: I want to join the Observer Track. How do I do this?

A: You can join the Observer track by completing this link.

Q: I expressed interest in being an Observer a long time ago (e.g., back in May 2020) and never received follow-up emails, what can (s)he do?

A: All students that expressed interest of becoming observers in the past have been emailed the registration form to complete / confirm their registration. Every once in a while, an email domain rejects an email or sends it to spam even though it’s legitimate. We are very sorry to hear that. However, there is still time to join the Observer track, so please use this registration link.

Q: I’m an Observer and have received more than one email with my matches. Which ones are the valid ones?

A: All of them! Very rarely (< 1%) happens that students re-register to the Observer track (e.g., because they want to change some registration details) while we are in the middle of two rounds of matching (yes, matching does not happen in real-time!). In these cases, students will be matched in both rounds and will receive two separate emails with different matches. However, this is an extra (free) networking opportunity, so take advantage of it and reach out to all your matches!

Q: I’m an Observer who originally signed up for not being matched, but I changed my mind and I now want to be matched. Can I update my preferences?

A: Please use this special link and we’ll do our best to match you!

Q: I’m an Observer who has received my matches and I don’t like them, can I be matched again?

A: Unfortunately, this is not possible. However, you can use Neurostars to make new connections, network, and self-match with other observers.

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.

I need to make a change to my Pod Matching. Can I do this?

A: All pods were assigned based on the choices you provided in your application and it is difficult to change them because of time, expertise and language constraints. We are considering reassignment requests but will grant them only in situations where the need is critical due to severe timing mismatches or other major problems that would prevent you from participating. We have nearly 2000 students so the amount of work we are facing is enormous so please be considerate! If you still need to open a switch request support ticket, use this link and select the relevant option from the drop down menu. We will consider requests on a case by cases basis, but due to the complexities of pod matching and the short duration of the course, we cannot guarantee that your request will be granted.

Q: I didn't get an Interactive student acceptance/rejection email.

A: Every once in a while, an email domain rejects an email or sends it to spam even though it’s legitimate. If our acceptance or rejection email went to your spam folder or bounced back from your server and you never got it, we’re very sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, now that the program is starting so soon, we've committed to as many Interactive students as we can due to financial and schedule constraints. If you can’t join us as an Interactive student, you are of course very welcome to join us as an Observer student by filling out this form if you haven't already.

Q: I haven't received an Interactive student payment email.

A: If you were accepted as an Interactive student but have not received information about your fee payment, please be assured this info will be sent to you shortly. We will send info about how to log into your student portal, where you'll see your fee and be able to pay online. We will have the information as soon as possible, but the amount will not exceed 100USD and a fee waiver will be available for those who cannot have their fee covered by either their institution, company, or lab and cannot pay on their own. Thus, if you have been accepted into the Academy you are guaranteed to be able to participate regardless of your funding status!

**Please note that we cannot accommodate direct payments from your university or company for your student fee. You can pay by credit card in the student portal and then be reimbursed according to your local policies.**

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.

Payment and Financial

Q: What does it cost to be a student?

A: The interactive track fee will not exceed 100USD per student to help pay for TAs. A fee waiver will be available for those who cannot have their fee covered by either their institution, company, or lab and cannot pay on their own. Thus, if you have been accepted into the Academy you are guaranteed to be able to participate regardless of your funding status!

The Observer Track will be free of charge.

**Please note that we cannot accommodate direct payments from your university or company for your student fee. You can pay by credit card in the student portal and then be reimbursed according to your local policies.**

Q: Can I get a refund?

Unfortunately we cannot process fee refunds once you have paid. We have hired the exact right number of TAs to accommodate all the registered Interactive students, and we can’t take back their stipends if you drop out!

Q: Can I direct pay by invoice via university.

Due to the complexity of processing payment and overseas transfers, technical details of linking wire transfer payments to your account, and delays in university payment processing, we cannot accommodate requests to pay by direct invoice to your university. Please pay your fee by credit card in your student portal. You will receive a receipt. You can ask your supervisor, university, or company to reimburse you according to your local policies.

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: The course content of the Academy is rigorous and cumulative which makes it difficult to keep up if you miss days in the middle. Therefore we expect Interactive students to be present for the whole 3 weeks of the program. However if you need to be absent from the program for any amount of time, tell your TA ahead of time or as soon as possible if it is an emergency. Please also see the next item for the impact of absences on your certificate of completion/participation.

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 deadline to join the Observer Track. Can I still do this and how do I do this?

A: Interactive student applications are now close. You can join as an observer by completing this link.

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: Students will receive a certificate of completion/participation at the end of the course, which will show how much of the course you completed. If you missed 1 day, it will say "93% completed", if you missed 2 days it will say "86% completed", and so on. This certificate will also say whether you successfully participated in your group project. We will be able to mention the name of your institution on the certificate (for example, Laura from the University of X). If you miss more than 50% of the course you will not receive a certificate of completion/participation.

Q: Will Observer Track students receive certificates?

A: Observers will not receive a certificate of completion.

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.