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“Working at the Bernstein Center has been a great opportunity for me.”

April 16, 2019: This is what Mohammadreza Mohagheghi Nejad thinks overall about his time as a PhD student in Freiburg. Now that the biomedical engineer has successfully finished his doctorate, what is going through the mind of the young scientist after graduating? He talked with the Bernstein Center Freiburg about this.

“Working at the Bernstein Center has been a great opportunity for me.”

Mohammadreza Mohagheghi Nejad. "Click" to view full-size image.

 

Congratulations, Mohammad! How do you feel now that it's all over?

After doing a lot of work and looking forward to this moment for the last years – it is really a pleasant feeling. But it has taken a few days for it to really sink in completely.


What was the biggest challenge for you on your way to the doctorate?

The biggest challenge occurred when my supervisor moved to Sheffield and two group members went with him. It was a really difficult time after that.


From both aspects, from the personal and work level?

Yes. We had frequent meetings, exchanges, professional discussions and so on. It is different if you do this via Skype or in person. Or if you have the possibility to speak in person to each other at short notice. Therefore, at the beginning I felt a little bit alone with my work and my topic. But I adapted myself to the situation.


Unexpected things can always happen. Should one be mentally prepared for it as PhD student?

Yes of course. One should expect challenges. But I suspect that the relocation of a supervisor is not one of the things that you often have to reckon with.


On the other hand, what have been the positive moments for you during the PhD?

Working at the Bernstein Center has been a great opportunity for me. I was quite lucky to be here and being in the international joint PhD program EuroSpin. It has been really useful to be with all the people involved in my PhD thesis. Overall, I really have enjoyed my time as a PhD student.


Why did you decide to do a doctoral thesis?

In general, I was quite interested in doing research and becoming a scientist in the future. My background was in biomedical engineering, but during my undergraduate and graduate studies I became familiar with neuroscience and computational neuroscience and I really liked it. Therefore, I became aware that this is a path I would like to do research in.


You are from Iran. Do you want to go back to your country?

Yes of course. At some point, I would like to go back. If I can be useful and if I were to have enough opportunities there – which hopefully will be the case not too far in the future – I would be very happy to go back.


Did you have special expectations for your promotion?

When I came to the BCF, I was surprised at all the possibilities that were available in terms of equipment, scientific interactions, and access to various facilities all there in order to help pursue a successful PhD. This was definitely above my expectations.

What are the next steps that you are planning?

I'm planning to continue my career in research jobs. I really would like to stay in academia. Specifically, looking for a postdoc where I can further improve my knowledge in neuroscience.

 
What would you recommend to anyone who is thinking about doing a doctorate?

I would summarize that doing my doctorate wasn’t just an opportunity to do research but it has also helped develop my personality. Through my PhD I have become more curious about questions and am able to solve them more systematically. Therefore, for those who are in a dilemma as to whether to do a PhD or not: Also think about the personality benefits.

Thank you very much for the talk! The Bernstein Center Freiburg wishes you all the best for the future!

 

Dissertation
Interaction of sensory and motor signals in the basal ganglia in health and disease

Movement is a type of behaviour that we perform very often. However, this rather simple type of behaviour is disrupted in patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. In my PhD thesis, I utilized computational models to improve the understanding of the neuronal activity patterns that underlie initiation and suppression of movement. In addition, using these computational models, I presented novel predictions about how these patterns may change during neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Original Publication
Mohammadreza Mohagheghi Nejad, Stefan Rotter, Robert Schmidt, Transmission of motor signals from the basal ganglia to the thalamus: effect of correlations, sensory responses, and excitation. BioRxiv 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/386920

PhD Program EuroSpin
www.bcf.uni-freiburg.de/eurospin

Contact
Mohammadreza Mohagheghi Nejad
University of Freiburg
Bernstein Center Freiburg
via
Robert Schmidt
Department of Psychology
University of Sheffield
Floor D, Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane
Sheffield
S1 1HD
UK
E-mail: robert.schmidt@sheffield.ac.uk
Phone: +44(0)114 2226501

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