The mammalian brain is an exceptionally complex organ that poses unique challenges to scientific study. Although the field of neuroscience is multidisciplinary, it is seldom interdisciplinary because it is difficult for individuals to integrate information across different levels of analysis (e.g. from behavioral to molecular). However, a true understanding of the brain will ultimately require such an interdisciplinary approach, and the emerging field of Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience provides this integrated view through the application of mathematical and computational methods to the complex questions of brain science.
The goal of the Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience track is to train the next generation of neuroscientists with the broad range of computational and analytical skills that are essential to understand the organization and function of complex neural systems. This specialization is intended for students with backgrounds in neuroscience, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, computer science, engineering, and mathematics.
The Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience track allows Neuroscience Program students to concentrate on a focused program of rigorous course work in both the theoretical and experimental aspects of computational neuroscience. Students are encouraged to pursue thesis research that includes both an experimental and a computational component. Students often have two mentors, one being a theorist and the other an experimentalist.
The theoretical group at UT GSBS is part of a larger group that includes several universities and medical schools in the Houston area, the Gulf Coast Consortium in theoretical and computational neuroscience (GCC-TCN). Many of the courses offered are combined courses across these institutions, providing a large community of faculty and students that are interested in similar topics. Through the GCC-TCN it is possible to obtain additional training grants, as well as have joint mentors from other universities and disciplines.
In addition to completing the core requirements of the Neuroscience program, the Theoretical and Computational track student is required to complete the following courses:
- GS140153 Theoretical Neuroscience: Cells Circuits and Systems (Shouval) Not offered Fall 2014—Instead, interested students can cross register to the following course at Rice: http://dsp.rice.edu/courses/elec548
Elective courses from the GSBS curriculum as well as from Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and University of Houston are taken, in consultation with the students’ mentor. Each student’s complete course schedule will be determined in consultation with their individual mentors, and with the graduate advisor for the track, Harel Shouval.