“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the CBU. A PhD is a big change, but the Unit has several mechanisms in place to provide all the support and assistance required, from fantastic pastoral staff members, to the friendly and approachable graduate tutors.
A PhD at the CBU offers plenty of opportunities to develop skills through the teaching supplied by world-leading experts in their fields. Furthermore, teaching is supported by the lectures hosted twice-weekly at the Unit with talks from guests and in-house speakers, allowing us to learn more about other research conducted within the CBU. The Unit also provides opportunities to PhD students to present their research and discuss it with in a safe and constructive environment.
The CBU is unique as it houses both an MRI and MEG scanner, in addition to the support and technical staff that assist the day-to-day running of the equipment. The opportunity to learn new skills and achieve researcher status to work with both of these scanners is provided, while the CBU’s participant panel offers access to thousands of healthy and patient groups who have an interest in the research taking place at the CBU, making participant recruitment simple and effective.
Besides the top-level teaching, resources and research aspect of PhD life at the CBU, the atmosphere within the Unit is open and friendly. The regular coffee and tea breaks, (not to mention the general love for cake) allows personal as well as professional relationships to build. The social aspect of life at the Unit is extended to lunchtime BBQs in the beautiful garden and regular after-work trips to the pub. Weekly yoga sessions are also held at the unit, for the mid-week de-stress that is often required when working in research!
Overall, I love working at the CBU, it has everything you need for a supportive learning environment in addition to satisfying the social and well-being aspect of life in Cambridge, too. I feel lucky to be a part of it, and know I have gained the best possible start to my career.”
— Rebecca Beresford, PhD Student
“When I started the PhD program at the CBU I constantly heard that the unit is a special place to belong to. It is not a common occurrence that the heart of a world-class research unit lies inside an old Victorian house with a nice garden. And even though the unit houses about 150 members, you soon feel like you are all one big family. You meet all your fellow students during an annual graduate retreat. And you meet everyone else in the large common room during coffee breaks, in the garden for games and barbeques and when you participate in the unit’s long-held tradition of a Christmas pantomime!
What continues to amaze me is how graduate student training is a main driver of the unit’s operations. As a student here, I had the opportunity to be supervised and interact with some of the leading experts in my field. Many of my projects involved utilizing a new type of MRI-based brain imaging pipeline that was never tried in Cambridge before. A dedicated MRI-methods team helped me set up the MRI sequences and the unit’s IT team helped to resolve unexpected technical issues. In hindsight, it all went smoothly, but I only realized later that I was lucky to have had this level of support and access to many cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience tools all under one roof.
Living in Cambridge is also fun. When I first moved here (from a metropolitan city) I thought I would be bored. But to my surprise, the university’s colleges had several events running almost every day, from parties to talks from world leaders to sports societies …. The list is long and I quickly had no time to attend many events. Not to mention that London is only a one hour train ride away!
As I write this during the COVID-19 pandemic, I recognize that much of what I have just said is temporarily on hold. The unit has always placed a special emphasis on the students’ mental well-being and we were never short of help channels during these challenging times.
It thus no longer surprises me that many of the founding pioneers, as well as previous and current leaders in the fields of human psychology and neuroscience, were affiliated with the CBU at some point in their careers. Its world class research and mentoring continue to be a magnet for the best minds. Now that I have just completed my PhD, I can confidently tell anyone that this unit is indeed a special place.”
— Moataz Assem, PhD Student, November 2020