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SMARTSTART training concept

The SMARTSTART program provides a variety of training opportunities to the students. This includes participation in lectures, lab rotations, summer schools and conferences with connection to the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience. Participants receive financial support for transportation, accommodation and participation fees.

A list of current events can be found in the event calender of the Bernstein Network.

Basic training

The SMARTSTART course catalogue lists lectures, seminars and block courses offered by faculty members. Students can create their own curriculum to complement their initial education. Their mentors will help them to identify those courses that fit their individual needs.

Find courses in the online course catalogue


Advanced training

Seasonal schools and intense methods courses focus on special aspects of computational neuroscience as well as research methods.

SMARTSTART students visited for example:

Individual training

Short-term lab visits (SMARTSTART 1) and extended lab rotations of up to 6 months (SMARTSTART 2) allow the students to gain hands-on research experience and acquire necessary skills. The exchange at the collaborating lab covers an aspect of the SMARTSTART 2 research project and allows them to prepare their subsequent PhD project.


During conferences, students can learn about most recent developments in computation neuroscience, present their own work and begin to establish their own scientific network.

SMARTSTART students regularly participate in these and other conferences:

Soft skill training

Scientific Writing

Science is not only research, but also publishing results. Yet, it can be a long road from manuscript sketch to the final publication. In this 1.5 day course, the participants learn how to:

  • prepare and present their data
  • write precisely, condense and interesting
  • identify and approach the appropriate journal for their topic
  • format their manuscript according to the specific journals requirements

Career Maker Course

Later during the SMARTSTART year, students are offered to participate in a professional career development course. The Career Maker Course comprises three components:

  • An interactive one day group workshop in which they learn how to clarify your goals and achieve them,
  • A self-study period
  • A one-on-one follow-up session.

SMARTSTART networking events

 Kickoff workshop

The Kickoff workshop marks the official start of the SMARTSTART year. It is the first opportunity to meet all students of the current cohort as well as SMARTSTART alumni from earlier cohorts, members of the faculty and the program coordination. Additionally to scientific lectures, the workshop is complemented by a scientific writing workshop to prepare the participants for publishing their research. The workshop takes place right before the annual Bernstein Conference.

Students Retreat

Towards the end of the SMARTSTART year, the students of the current cohort will come together for a full weekend to present and discuss the results of their projects. This informal event is organized by the SMARTSTART students themselves with support from the coordination office.