Dr. Culham is seeking highly qualified, motivated Master’s students for the Fall of 2020.
Students interested in graduate school should consider applying to either the Psychology Graduate Program (deadline ~January for September admission) or the Neuroscience Program (applications accepted throughout the year, though preferred in ~January for September admission).
Both Psychology and Neuroscience require a grade of at least 78% or B+ in the final two years of undergraduate studies. An Honours degree (or equivalent) is required for the Neuroscience program and highly recommended for Psychology.
Dr. Culham says:
I am looking to train and mentor the best and brightest students, especially those who have previously demonstrated high levels of internal motivation and a passion for research. As such, I look not just for candidates who meet the minimal requirements above but those who show high potential for success in academic, professional, or non-academic careers after completion of a Master's or PhD. When I have excellent students who take initiative, I will devote much time and energy to mentoring them to reach their full potential.
Previous experience successfully leading a research project such as an Honours thesis is essential. Strong recommendations from past supervisors are essential; promising candidates may want to ask their advisors to "put in a good word" early on. Given the growing emphasis of computational skills in cognitive neuroscience, programming experience (especially Python, Matlab and/or R) is desirable. I much prefer to take students who apply for a Master’s and intend to proceed to a PhD rather than students interested in a terminal Master’s or students who have done a Master’s degree in another lab.
Western's graduate programs provide adequate funding through the Western Graduate Research Scholarship, teaching assistantships, and the supervisor's grants. Nevertheless, as having one's own funding is an important stepping stone to later funding, potential graduate trainees with competitive track records (high grades and/or publications are encouraged to apply for external funding. Most deadlines are well before the training would commence. Canadians and permanent residents of Canada can apply for Canada graduate scholarships at the Master's level (deadline: December). Canadians, permanent residents and a very small number of international students can get Ontario Graduate Scholarships (deadline: January).
Neuroscience students must take a full-year survey course (Neuroscience 9500) and a strong science background is recommended (second-year or higher level biological or natural sciences). I would encourage students who have not taken many science courses to apply to Psychology instead of or in addition to Neuroscience. Psychology Master’s students must take a full-year graduate statistics course (Typically Psychology 9041 and 9040 for students interested in cognitive neuroscience). While not officially required by the Neuroscience program, these courses are also strongly recommended for Neuroscience students in my lab.
There may be opportunities to participate as affiliates in a joint training program on The Brain in Action between Western (and Queen's and York) and two German Universities in Marburg (Philipps University Marburg) and Giessen (Justis Liebig University).
At the moment, Dr. Culham's grant funds for postdoctoral salaries are limited. Candidates who are eligible to apply for external funding are welcome to contact Dr. Culham by e-mail at jculham<at>uwo.ca to discuss possibilities. Outstanding candidates should consider applying to the CFREF BrainsCAN postdoctoral fellowship program. Canadians and permanent residents of Canada can apply for NSERC postdoctoral fellowships. Both Canadians and non-Canadians can apply for CIHR postdoctoral fellowships or, if they have outstanding track records and support from a supervisor, prestigious Banting postdoctoral fellowships.
NSERC Summer Students
The lab has a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grant and can sponsor summer students who are eligible for the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA). The USRA pays students (in addition to top-ups from the advisor's grant) to work on a research project for four months (May-Aug.). Good grades are essential to have a chance at receiving one of these. NSERC requires at least a B average, but in practice, a high A average is more likely to make the cut. In other words, successful candidates typically have grades in the high 80s or better. Applying for an NSERC USRA requires working with a potential advisor to write an application that includes a proposed research project. For Psychology professors at Western, these applications must be submitted to the Department of Psychology in January to hold an award the following summer. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Culham well in advance of the deadlines.
Full-time Research Assistants
Due to funding constraints, we do not anticipate any openings for full-time research assistants in the near future.
Honours Students, Independent Study Students, and Scholar's Electives Students
Our lab will consider taking students who are interested in conducting behavioral experiments or possibly in working on a subcomponent of a neuroimaging project. We also take students doing independent study projects in Psychology and Scholar's Electives students.
Part-time Undergraduate Assistants
We often have undergraduate assistants in the lab through the Western Work Study Program or as volunteers. Students will typically work with one or more graduate students or postdoctoral fellows to assist with research projects.
Dr. Culham says:
I get many requests from undergraduates who are interested in working in the lab -- far more than I can accept. Often the requests are not accompanied by much information by which to evaluate potential candidates. I am most likely to accept students who have both a promising background (grades above ~85%, evidence of ambition, conscientiousness, relevant coursework -- psych, stats, neuroscience, perception, cognition) and a strong interest in Psychology or Neuroscience. The following information would be helpful for your application which can be sent by e-mail to Jody Culham at jculham<at>uwo.ca:
a recent transcript (unofficial okay) indicating courses taken and grades
any letters of reference or names of professors (esp. in Psychology), teaching assistants, or previous employers who may be able to evaluate your academic ability, work habits and/or personality
information about your level of experience with computers (PC, Mac or Unix) and software (e.g., MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
an indication of why you are interested in joining the lab and how it fits in to your academic or career goals
an indication of how many hours you can commit (you must be willing to regularly commit at least two hours per week) without jeopardizing your coursework
an indication of whether you are eligible for the Work Study program (in which case, you can get paid for a certain number of hours per term). See the Western Work Study Program information page for eligibility criteria
Jessica Grahn has an excellent summary of what professors look for in students and volunteers
Brian Scholl has some good advice for undergrads seeking research experience