Doctor of Philosophy

Meet Olivia Ghosh-Swaby

“The scientific process is so invigorating to me, and Western has the support systems you need to build your research career (mentors, resources, and community groups).”

Describe your research.
My research seeks to investigate the impact of diet and metabolism on cognition in obesity and whether exercise and anti-diabetic drugs can boost neuroplasticity (i.e. neural stem cell growth) and restore cognition in pre-clinical rodent models and clinical populations.

Do you serve on any volunteer committees?
Yes, I sat on Schulich Anti-Racism retreat committee, Strategic Planning committee, and BrainsCAN EDI Committee. I currently am a member of CREDIT.

Have you worked as a teaching assistant?
Yes, I have worked as a TA throughout my graduate degree specifically with my mentor Dr. Nicole Campbell. Her mentorship has allowed me to build communication skills and critical thinking skills that I transfer into my doctoral work. My passion in education and support from Dr. Campbell has resulted in a $55,000 grant to build an EDI-D toolkit for the biomedical sciences, set to launch in April.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone considering applying to your graduate program?
Understand that you may not know where you will end up or your future career direction once starting a graduate program. Graduate school is a place of self-discovery and personal growth. It will help you find what you are passionate about, as well as test your persistence and stamina. Make sure to find a support network in and outside of your graduate environment, engage with others beyond your research work, and do not let your research define you.

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.