Annual statement from the Neuroscience PhD Program Director

February 3rd, 2016


Image credit clockwise: Dan Feldman, Elizabeth Carroll and Tong Xiao, Heesoo Kim, William Jagust, Helen Bateup, Richard Hakim, Hillel Adesnik.


A message from Neuroscience PhD Program Director Dan Feldman



Emily Jacobs

The Neuroscience PhD Program is now in its 16th year, and continues its mission to train outstanding students across the breadth of modern neuroscience.  We have 64 current students. They are producing great research on a wide range of topics, from discovery of neural circuits for sensory behavior in Drosophila, to building new types of brain-machine interfaces, to restoring vision in retinal degeneration using new light-gated molecular tools, to understanding cognitive flexibility, working memory, and face perception in humans. They publish in top journals (see selected publications here). I am very proud of our students, who are an integral part of the exciting research environment at Berkeley.



Gautam Agarwal

Our students also go on to great careers. We have graduated 78 students since our first graduating class in 2006. 85% of our students enter postdoctoral positions after receiving their PhD. Currently, 11 of our graduates are university professors or instructors, 36 remain postdocs, 12 are research scientists in industry or at universities, 2 direct academic research programs, and 3 are officers of start-up companies.


In 2015, we added Michael Yartsev (Bioengineering) to our faculty. Yartsev is a systems neuroscientist who studies the neural basis for spatial navigation, decision-making, and communication, using bats as a unique and powerful model species. Also new on campus are Steve Brohawn (Molec & Cell Biology), who studies the biophysics of channel gating in mechanosensitive ion channels, and Anne Collins (Psychology), who studies cognitive and neural systems function using quantitative modeling approaches. We welcome them to the Berkeley Neuroscience community.


Ben Shababo

Program goals for 2016 include establishment of a new first-year career skills course, which will cover research methods, design and analysis, as well as advising topics such as “How to Choose a Thesis Mentor” and “Writing an Effective Scientific Paper.” We will continue to offer Neuroscience Boot Camp (now in its 5th year) and Applied Statistics for Neuroscience (in its 3rd year). Students interested in advanced imaging methods should keep their eye out for the next “4D Advanced Microscopy of Brain Circuits” course, which is one element of the BrainMIC imaging collaboration between UC Berkeley and Zeiss Microscopy.


I thank our students for their continued dedication and hard work, and I look forward to another exciting year of neuroscience discovery at Berkeley.


If you are a Neuroscience Program graduate, please let us know what you are up to by contacting Candace Groskreutz, our PhD Program Coordinator. Candace is marking her first anniversary as Graduate Program Coordinator, coming from the liberal arts but rapidly immersing herself in neuroscience. Candace is doing a terrific job keeping the program gears running, and we appreciate her hard work!


DanFeldman_UCBerkeleyDan Feldman

Neuroscience PhD Program Director

>> Feldman lab website