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Research projects are supervised by at least two faculty members, one having an experimental and the other having a theoretical or computational background. Students meet with their supervisors at least once a month to report, to discuss research results and to obtain feedback and advice by their mentors. Students are initially admitted to the PhD program for one year. After admittance, students have to select at least two mentors. Within the first half year, each student has to define her or his research project together with her or his mentors and has to formulate a research proposal which consists of an overview of the state-of-the-art, a section specifying the goal of the project, and an implementation and work plan. After six month, the project proposal must be defended in front of a PhD committee which includes both supervisors and at least one additional PI of the training group selected by the plenum. The PhD committee decides on the final acceptance and gives advice to the student if necessary. In order to monitor progress and to provide advice, there will be a formal research presentation in the second and – if applicable – in the third year in front of the PhD committee.
The study program consists of lecture courses and seminars, original research in interdisciplinary projects, and training of general skills (“soft skills”) which are essential for successful scientific work. Each PhD student has to take 25 ECTS credit points of course work, which includes 15 credit points for advanced scientific courses and 10 points for soft skills courses. Students are required to obtain a certificate for every course, which must include a statement of successful participation. The principal investigators offer a lecture series on advanced methods in machine learning and computational neuroscience, as well as on specific research problems of sensory computation. Members of the research training group can attend international summer schools and methods courses for credit if needed, and are be encouraged to visit research groups within Germany or abroad for the purpose of learning specific techniques. Short term projects / lab rotations within the groups of the PIs are offered and can also be taken for credit. “Soft skill” courses may include but are not restricted to courses on scientific writing, presentation techniques, grant writing, didactics and tutoring, ethics and scientific conduct, science management, legal aspects and impact of research on society.