Indiana University Bloomington
An IGERT Training Program

The Dynamics of Brain-Body-Environment Systems in Behavior and Cognition

Our training program is built around the cognitive science Ph.D. degree at Indiana University. Trainees can receive either a stand-alone Ph.D. in Cognitive Science or a joint Ph.D. with Cognitive Science and another department. Please see the Cognitive Science web page for more information about these degree programs. The IGERT program adds several additional requirements and opportunities to the basic cognitive science degree.

Degree Options Include
  • Cognitive Science Stand-Alone Ph.D.
  • Joint Psychological and Brain Sciences + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint Neuroscience + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint Computer Science + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint Informatics + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint Physics + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint Philosophy + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
  • Joint History and Philosophy of Science + Cognitive Science Ph.D.
Additional Course Requirements

All IGERT students must take the course Introduction to Embodied Cognitive Science, normally during their first semester in the program. This course provides a broad introduction to the growing importance of the concepts of situatedness, embodiment and dynamics in cognitive science. The course will cover both the key conceptual content and the historical development of these ideas. In addition, it will survey classic work in this area.

In addition, IGERT students must take at least two courses from the following list of approved electives:

  • Artificial Life as an Approach to Artificial Intelligence
  • Autopoiesis and Enaction
  • Behavior-Based Robotics
  • Biological and Artificial Neural Networks
  • Biologically-Inspired Computing
  • Networks of the Brain
  • Complex Adaptive Systems in the Social Sciences
  • An Embodied Approach to the Development of Brain and Behavior
  • Evolution and Analysis of Brain-Body-Environment Systems
  • Introduction to Complex Systems
  • Introduction to Dynamical Systems in Cognitive Science
  • Multi-Agent Modeling of Social Behavior
  • Perception/Action
  • Seek and Find: Search Strategies in Space and Time
  • Social Embodiment

Professional Development Seminar

All IGERT students must take the Professional Development Seminar, normally during their first year in the program. The goal of this seminar is to engage the full panoply of issues facing the new researchers/faculty members that our students will become. Topics to be addressed include the ethical conduct of research, proposal writing and review, critical reading of the scientific literature, paper writing and reviewing, presentation skills, teaching, international perspectives, challenges facing underrepresented groups in science and issues in cross-disciplinary collaboration. The seminar will be organized as a series of presentations and discussions led by IGERT faculty, IGERT students, and invited guests both from within and outside the university. Whenever possible, the seminar topics will be integrated with other ongoing activities in the IGERT program.

Extended Colloquium Series

All IGERT students are expected to actively participate in our IGERT colloquium series. A unique feature of our colloquium series is that it provides opportunities for extended interaction between IGERT students and external speakers. To make this possible, speakers are expected to stay for two full days. During this time, they will not only give a formal talk and visit related research labs, but they will also participate in a variety of activities specifically targeted at IGERT students. For example, time will be reserved after the formal talk for students to engage the speaker in more detailed discussion. In order to prepare students for this discussion, the extended seminar series will feature a critical discussion of one of the speaker's papers (suggested by the speaker themselves and lead by the faculty host for that speaker) during the week before their visit. In addition, trainees will have an opportunity to discuss broader issues with the speaker during a lunch hosted by the students.

Research Project

During their second year in the program, as IGERT students continue to take courses, they will also begin a year-long research project grounded in their preliminary research during their first year. These projects will be co-supervised by two IGERT faculty, either from different approaches within a research area or from different research areas. The main deliverable for the second year project will be a paper, to be submitted to a conference or journal. Although not required, it is anticipated that this second year research project will often form the basis of a student's dissertation work.

Teaching Experience

IGERT fellows should become involved in the teaching of graduate or undergraduate students as part of their training experience. To fulfill this requirement they will, together with their primary advisor and before the end of their second year, formulate a hands-on project involving a cognitive science (or related) class. For example, this could include giving a few lectures or leading discussion meetings, discussing journal articles, playing a role in the supervision of undergraduate class projects, collecting and communicating web resources related to course content, or engaging in a project aimed at developing new educational approaches. A brief outline of the project (including a plan for how the success of the project will be evaluated) should be submitted to the Education and Training Committee for their approval along with a letter of support from the faculty member within whose class the activities will be carried out.

Annual Research Showcase

Near the end of each academic year, we will hold an internal IGERT research showcase meeting. This meeting will consist of posters by IGERT students about their research. Not only will this meeting give all IGERT participants, as well as the larger Indiana University and Bloomington communities, a chance to familiarize themselves with all of the research being conducted within the IGERT program, but it will also give the IGERT students an opportunity to practice their presentation skills.

Research Internship

During their time in the IGERT training program, students have the option to participate in an IGERT-supported research internship at another institution, either domestic or international, with travel support funded by the IGERT grant. The program already has agreements with a variety of national and international research partners to host internships. However, additional hosts can easily be accommodated. Proposals for research internships, including a budget, should be submitted to the Education and Training Committee for approval, along with letters of support from the student's advisor and the external host. (Internship Instructions, Internship Tips)

Conference Travel and Other Support

The IGERT program also has some funds available to support student travel to conferences for the purpose of presenting papers, as well as to support the purchase of special-purpose equipment required for the student's research. Proposals for such support should be submitted to the Education and Training Committee for approval. A proposal should explain what the support will be used for and why it is needed, provide an estimated budget, and include a letter of support from the student's primary faculty advisor.