Navigating Neuroscience at Rice

Disclaimer: This is a page I wrote back in 2016 before the neuroscience major at Rice was finally approved in December 2017. Some of this information is still useful, so I thought I’d leave it here for any future students who are interested in more of a computational path into neuroscience. 

“What I wish I had known as a freshman.” This page is dedicated to the advice I would give my first-year self as an undergrad interested in neuroscience. Some opportunities are Rice specific, as research funding for undergraduates is often plenty but hidden. Hopefully this is helpful to those who stumble upon it.

Research Opportunities


In general, I think it’s a good idea to begin applying for funding as early as possible. It demonstrates that you are a independent scientist and that you can convince people to give you money for your ideas.

  1. If you are a rising junior/senior, I’d highly recommend the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program. You will pretty much be funded (around $1500 for the year) as long as you make a case for each item you want to buy/conference you want to attend/etc.
    • Perks: you’ll also get close mentoring from RUSP mentors/your own PI and practice presenting/defending a thesis/writing grants.
  2. Rice Undergraduate Conference Funding! Go present/travel on Rice’s money 🙂
  3. If you have declared Cognitive Sciences as a major, you are still in the School of Social Sciences. I used to think this was ill-fitting based on my research interests (neuroscience) but I’ve found that this is actually useful, since you can ask SSURE to fund you (up to $1500).

Other Rice Opportunities

  1. Distinction in Research and Creative Works is relevant to anyone who writes/defends a thesis.
  2. Present your research at RURS, which also has cash prizes every year!

Rice Course Advice for CogSci Majors

Please note this course advice is largely tailored to a focus in cognitive/computational neuroscience, but also provides a solid foundation for anyone interested in neuro/wanting to go to graduate school. These are by far the best courses in my self-developed curriculum (CogSci, Neuro, CAAM) that I have taken/will take at Rice.

  1. CAAM 210: MATLAB
  2. CAAM 335: lin alg
  3. MATH 211: diff-eq
  4. STAT 310: stats/probability is important for everything
  5. NEUR 430: neuroimaging w/ Dr. Ress at Baylor
  6. NEUR 362: cog neuro
  7. NEUR 385: fundamentals of cellular to systems neuro. this class will get you thinking like a true scientist***
  8. NEUR 380: sys neuro
  9. PSYC 351: perception
  10. COMP 182: algorithms (audit or pass/fail if possible…)
  11. COMP 540: machine learning
  12. CAAM 378: optimization
  13. CAAM 507: graph theory
  14. CAAM 435: dynamical systems
  15. CAAM/NEUR 415: theoretical neuro I
  16. CAAM/NEUR 416: theoretical neuro II (now neural computation)
  17. STAT 413: data mining and machine learning
  18. NEUR 401/402/412: honors thesis sequence (defend in the Spring)
  19. HONS 470/471: rice undergraduate scholars program. see “Funding #1”

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