Doctor of Philosophy

Meet Alexander Moszczynski

“You will truly get what you put into graduate studies in the Neuroscience program. The possibilities are endless for collaborations, but you have to seek them out. My advice is that you should be prepared to think, work, and put yourself out there in your graduate training environment, and you will be rewarded for doing so.”

Supervisors: Dr. Arthur Brown and Dr. Michael Strong

What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?
The faculty is approachable and helpful for personal, academic and professional matters.

Describe your research in 100 words or less.
I study the role of tau protein in neuronal toxicity causing neurodegenerative diseases. Using cell culture, animal models, and human tissue from a variety of neurodegenerative diseases I am investigating one pathway to neuronal death and linking this to potential therapies for the treatment of disease. These studies will ultimately culminate in clinical trials potentially leading to the treatment of disease, but will also teach us about the ageing process in the brain, cellular stress responses, as well as differences between neuronal populations in the central nervous system. A thorough knowledge of the brain at the systems level, as well as molecular level is necessary for this research, as possible only through the neuroscience program.

What idea, suggestion, or comment would you like to share with the Western graduate community?
We are truly privileged to be graduate students here. The campus is beautiful, the people are friendly and helpful, and the research environment is energizing and world class. It is something to be proud of.

Do you belong to any university or community groups?
I am part of a radio show called GradCast. I am a member of the Schulich Graduate Students’ Council, a member of Making Waves, and a member of Let’s Talk Science.

What are you most passionate about?
Research. It is truly thrilling to know that when I look through the microscope and see something for the first time, I am the first person in the world to know what I know. However big or small the finding turns out to be, for a moment in time, I am the only person who knows it. It is a thrilling thought, and one I have always dreamed of having. It is the closest thing I can think of to being a modern day explorer, blazing a trail through unchartered territory.

What one thing would you like people to know about you?
I love animals. Except snakes. They scare me to death.

What’s your favourite book?
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks. It is a mix of neuroscience and humanity that first showed me how beautiful both science and people are when combined.

Degree Requirements - PhD in Neuroscience

Course requirements

  • Principles of Neuroscience (Neuroscience 9500A/B): students will be required to enroll in this course at the beginning of their full-time enrolment
  • Perspectives in Neuroscience Seminar Series: students will be required to complete this milestone in each academic year of their full-time enrollment
  • Neuroscience 9601B - Grant Writing Course
  • Additional courses as required by the student's Advisory Committee to prepare the student for the comprehensive examination and/or to provide background for the student's particular area of research.
  • Our graduate program is highly interdisciplinary and students enter with a variety of academic backgrounds. Some students admitted to the program will be required to enroll in Neuroscience 9000A: Fundamentals of Neuroscience. The course better prepares new graduate students in Neuroscience that may lack training in the biological sciences and hence lack a fundamental knowledge of the language of neuroscience. This course combines graduate level skills training with learning about fundamentals in Neuroscience, with an emphasis on sensory systems and cellular/molecular Neuroscience. Enrollment in this course will better prepare students for the required Neuroscience 9500 A/B course. It will not count towards the required credits for degree completion. In consultation with potential supervisors, applicants identified by the Program Committee to require this course are notified through their admission offer letter.

Comprehensive Assessment

The purpose of the comprehensive assessment is to emphasize and gauge the development of skills needed to succeed as a PhD student. Students will be assessed on their depth and breadth of knowledge within their domain of study, their ability to think critically and evaluate relevant literature, understand key concepts and methods in their domain of study, and express scientific thoughts in a written and verbal manner.

Complete details regarding the comprehensive assessment process can be found by clicking here

Preparation of Thesis

Submitting your ETD is a quick and simple process. After your thesis supervisor has approved your thesis, follow the instructions on the SGPS website for submitting your ETD documents to Scholarship@Western.

Once your examination is successful it is time for you to update your original work and resubmit the revised thesis to Scholarship@Western.  Please note that revisions and final thesis submission are due 6 weeks after a successful thesis examination.  Detailed instructions on submitting your final thesis are located on the SGPS website.

Residency Requirement

The median duration of the PhD program is four years. The minimum residency requirement is 9 terms (three years).

Own Your Future is the first curriculum-based professional development program in Canada, and is designed to complement doctoral students academic studies by preparing them for their future careers. The program supports development of six core competencies, all of which are essential to current and emerging careers for doctoral graduates.

Through Own Your Future, doctoral students will develop insight into their current skill set, focus their ongoing development on personally relevant outcomes, and learn to articulate and apply their strengths and abilities to their career goals. The program empowers students to take charge of their future by providing opportunities to develop the skills most relevant to their personal career aspirations.