Delaware Bridge program

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Welcome

​​​​​

This two-year, post-baccalaureate fellowship program is designed to provide students from underrepresented groups (first-generation college students, students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, underrepresented minorities) with intensive training in data science and applying it to studying the brain and behavior. Along with graduate-level coursework, BRIDGE scholars will engage in mentored research and professional development from multiple mentors at our university. Our goal is to provide students with the experience necessary to be competitive for graduate school. After completing the program, all BRIDGE scholars will receive a certificate in Data Science and Psychology from the University of Delaware.

We are looking for applicants who will be competitive for graduate school but may not yet have competitive applications for graduate school. All applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, have a bachelor's degree upon starting the program, and must be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate school (underrepresented minority, first-generation college student, low-income background).

Thanks to generous support from the National Science Foundation and the University of Delaware, all BRIDGE scholars will receive full financial support during the program. ​

Application deadline: March 1, 2023

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Program information

Admissions

Admission criteria are as follows:

  • U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Have recently obtained (or will obtain before starting the program) a bachelor's degree
  • Must be a member of an underrepresented group, defined as at least one of the following:
    • Member of a historically underrepresented racial and/or ethnic group. This includes, but is not limited to: Afro-Caribbean, American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Pacific Islander.
    • First-generation college graduate (i.e., both parents did not complete a four-year degree)
    • Low-income background (e.g., was eligible for Federal Pell grants, was eligible for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years, received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC))

As part of your admissions materials, participants will be asked to provide the following:

  • Undergraduate transcript
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A statement describing their interest and intent to pursue a career in data science and behavior (statement of interest)

Prospective students are also welcome to optionally submit additional information that would help their application. This includes:

  • Self-reported standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE)
  • Examples of written work​
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Coursework

Bridge Scholars will take coursework with a strong focus on data science and behavior. This will include a three-semester series in statistics and data science, two courses in human behavior/neuroscience based on their own research interests, and one elective (approved by the faculty advisor). Students will also be asked to attend the regular seminar for their own department. The course sequence and descriptions follow.

Statistics Sequence

  • ​PSYC 860 (“Psychological Statistics I")
  • PSYC 861 (“Psychological Statistics II")
  • PSYC 862 (“Data Science for Psychology and Neuroscience")

Along with this three-course sequence, students can take other existing data science/statistics as electives including Hierarchical Linear Modeling (PSYC 878), Structural Equation Modeling (PSYC 879), and Data Science for Physical Sciences (PHYS 661).

Behavior and Neuroscience Sequence

Scholars will also take a minimum of two graduate-level courses in human behavior and/or neuroscience. A broad selection of classes are offered, ranging from neuroscience to social psychology, ensuring that scholars can take formal coursework that best fits their interests. Below is a sample of available courses.

  • ​PSYC 653 (“Introduction to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging")
  • PSYC 667 (“Cognitive Neuroimaging")
  • PSYC 867 (“Seminar: Prejudice, Stereotyping and Discrimination")
  • PSYC 867 (“Seminar: Social Perception")
  • NSCI 643 (“Body and Space: Sensorimotor Cognitive Neuroscience")
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​Research​

Mentor Selection

Faculty who are currently mentoring students are listed on the faculty mentor page. We ask all applicants to reach out to potential faculty mentors well before turning in your application to find out their planned projects. On the application, please list your top three mentors (and make sure to discuss your interest in their research in your statement of interest). Upon receiving an offer, we will also list who your primary mentor will be.

Research Project Execution

Bridge scholars will run their research project during their two years in the program. This project will be provided to the student by the Bridge mentor. To complete the program, participants will need to write a report on their research, similar in style to a scientific journal article. Furthermore, students will also give a spoken presentation of their research at a Bridge program presentation day. The dates for deliverables related to their research project are as follows:

  • Scholar year 1, July 15th, research project outline due (feedback by August 1st)
  • Scholar year 2, October 1st, first draft of research project paper due (feedback by Oct. 15th)
  • Scholar year 2, November 15th, final draft of research project paper due
  • Scholar year 2, first week of December, research presentation day

These dates ensure that Bridge scholars have a sample of written work and research presentation experience that can be included in their graduate school application (with most graduate school applications due in December). Students will also be strongly encouraged to present their research at scientific conferences, with some travel for EPSCoR Bridge scholars supported by grant funds.

Research Proposal

After developing research, writing and presentation experience during the project execution phase, students will have experience in research on a given topic. The next step is generating a novel empirical idea that can be executed via experimentation and data analysis. In graduate school interviews, a common question asked is about future research: what kinds of questions does the student want to address, and how would they address them? These interviews often happen early in spring semester, and it is important for Bridge scholars to have thought deeply about research ideas before interviewing. Additionally, employees from private industry in related fields (e.g., data science, user experience) will often expect that advanced candidates are able to reason from an abstract problem to proposed solutions.

With guidance from their faculty advisor, students will write their own research proposal on a topic of interest to them. This research proposal will consist of two parts: a short literature review in which they identify a “gap" in the literature, and then a section in which they identify a research question and design an experiment to empirically examine this question. The primary goal here will be to consider theoretical models in the scholar's field of interest and then design experiments to test existing models or introduce new models and/or hypotheses that explain previous findings better.

The due dates are as follows: outline, January 15th of scholar year 2 (SY2); first draft, March 15th of SY2; formal advisor feedback by April 1st of SY2; final draft on April 15th of SY2.​

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Career Guidance & Mentorship​

Currently, there is a strong demand for individuals with training in data science and behavior in both academia and industry. Occupations such as user experience research, data analysis at technology companies such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple, and diverse private companies that collect vast amounts of data on consumer purchases and other relevant activities that involve human behavior, all depend upon employees with the ability to cope with large amounts of human behavioral data. Although we are academics, we encourage Bridge scholars to forge the path that is best for them, whether it be in academia or industry. Our goal as mentors is to provide them with the training and information necessary to be happy and successful. Most of the training that will be provided in the program (e.g., formal coursework in data science and behavior, developing writing and presentation skills) will be beneficial for those pursuing careers in academia or industry. However, some training is specific to either path. By April 1st of SY1, students will discuss with their advisor whether they want specific training for the academic path, industry path, or both paths. The details for each path follow.

Academic path training

For those interested in the academic path, our Bridge program is designed to provide students with the necessary skills and deliverables to be competitive for graduate school, including training on the “hidden curriculum" of academia. An important aspect for a graduate school application is “fit": how well the scholar's interests match with the interests of their graduate school advisor. As faculty, we have seen several applications that have been ignored because the applicant did not clearly communicate the link between their own interests and their targeted lab. Therefore, Bridge scholars will engage in the following to strengthen their application:

  • May 1st, SY1: Bridge scholars will meet with their PIs to discuss their research interests and identify potential Ph.D. program mentors. Bridge scholars will be presented with guidance on how to contact potential mentors (including template emails and how to navigate informal contact before applications are sent).
  • October 15th, SY2: Bridge scholars will share their application materials with their advisor (including their resume and personal statement) and be provided with mentored feedback, focused on their personal statement. All feedback will be returned one month before their first application is due (typically November 1st).
  • First week of January, SY2: All students applying for graduate school will go through a “mock interview" with Delaware faculty. Any faculty member involved as a program mentor, along with the grant PI and co-PI, will “interview" each scholar for 30 minutes as if they were applying for their own graduate program. After the interview is completed, the scholar will receive formal feedback highlighting positive aspects while also noting where improvement could be made.​
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Faculty Mentors

​​Psychology and Neuroscience

  • Jasmin Cloutier (social, impression formation)
  • Mary Dozier (clinical, interventions for children who have experienced adversity)
  • Amy Griffin (behavioral neuroscience, spatial working memory)
  • Amanda Hernan (behavioral neuroscience, epilepsy research at Nemours Children's Hospital)
  • Anna Klintsova (behavioral neuroscience, plasticity, animal models of fetal alcohol syndrome)​
  • Dayan Knox (behavioral neuroscience, stress, learning, and memory)
  • Jennifer Kubota (social, achieving equity in intergroup relations)​
  • Jared Medina (cognitive, neuropsychology and brain stimulation, body perception)
  • Peter Mende-Siedlecki (social, racial bias in pain treatment, ​social impression updating)
  • Josh Neunuebel (behavioral neuroscience, ​ultrasonic vocalizations and social behavior)​
  • Naomi Samimi-Sadeh (clinical, self-regulation, understanding risky, impulsive and self-destructive behavior)
  • Tim Vickery (cognitive, neuroimaging, visual perception, statistical learning
  • Robert West​ (cognitive, executive function, technology use)

Linguistics and Cognitive Science

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