Scholarship for the PhD in Medical Sciences in the field of Neuroscience / Biomedical Sciences for the PhD Research Project ‘The Brain on the Witness Stand:  Investigating Implicit Memory Recall in Crime Witnesses’

The PhD in Medical Sciences:

The University of Nicosia Medical School offers the degree PhD in Medical Sciences.  The degree is awarded to students who successfully complete an independent research programme that breaks new ground in the chosen field of study. The PhD programme aspires to empower students to become independent researchers, thus advancing innovation and development.

The Research Project:

We are currently inviting application through a competitive process for high calibre candidates to apply for one PhD Scholarship in the field of Neuroscience / Biomedical Sciences. The successful candidate will enrol on the PhD programme in Medical Sciences at the University of Nicosia Medical School and will work under the Supervision of Dr Nicoletta Nicolaou ([email protected]), with expertise in the fields of Biomedical Signal Processing and Machine Learning.

Project Description:

Title of research project: The Brain on the Witness Stand:  Investigating Implicit Memory Recall in Crime Witnesses

Background and Rationale:

The emerging field of “neurocriminology” involves the application of neuroscience to the field of criminology and the investigation of ways in which neuroscience may contribute to criminological research. Example applications include the use of brain imaging to understand disorders linked to criminal behaviour, the application of neurophysiological methods for lie detection, and analysis of electrodermal and electrocardiogram activities to detect lies or concealed crime-related information. The field of neurocriminology may also provide novel and robust solutions to crime scene investigation, and specifically relating to crime witnesses. Witnessing a crime is an emotionally stressful event and can elicit strong emotional responses, which may lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with severe consequences for the witness, including loss of explicit memory recall of the traumatic event. The latter is important from a crime investigation point of view, as sometimes a witness may be the only source of information relating to a crime and law enforcement officers often rely on witness reports and witness identification of potential suspects. Another issue is that identification accuracy decreases as the time between witnessing a crime and being asked by law enforcement to provide a statement or identify a suspect lengthens.

Aims and Objectives:

The project investigates whether the field of Neurocriminology may provide crime witness-related aspects of declining explicit memory recall over time, explicit memory loss due to strong emotional responses and accuracy of recalled information relating to a crime. The project will use a combination of pre-existing crime scene videos, questionnaires and experimental neurophysiological data collection to assess recall of information relevant to a crime. The aim is to compare the quality of information recall using features extracted from the neurophysiological activity of the ‘witness’ (implicit memory), in comparison to written recall of information that is commonly provided in the form of a ‘witness statement’ (explicit memory). The proposed project will also allow us to identify the neurophysiological changes that characterize emotional responses elicited during crime witnessing, and which may also be related to PTSD. The findings will contribute not only towards the use of neurophysiological activity as means of implicit memory recall of information related to having witnessed a crime, but also towards identifying the neurophysiological mechanisms behind emotional trauma and PTSD.

 The Scholarship:

The PhD project comes with a Research Scholarship that includes:

  • A monthly stipend of €1,500 (up to 36 months).
  • Coverage of tuition fees for the PhD programme for a duration of three years (totalling €13,500). The successful candidate is expected to cover the tuition fees for each additional academic year (€1,500 per year).

This scholarship is designated for full-time commitment and is subject to annual renewal based on the recipient’s satisfactory academic progress, with maximum renewal period of three years.

Requirements and Qualifications:

  • Eligible Candidates should hold (or hold by the time that the programme is expected to commence) either a recognised degree (BSc or a degree equivalent for entry to a Master’s Degree) and a Master’s degree (MSc) in the field(s) of Neuroscience and/or Computer Science and/or Biomedical Sciences and/or Biomedical Engineering, or a Doctor of Medicine degree (e.g. MBBS or MD degree).
  • Programming skills (e.g., MATLAB®, Python) and/or experience with EEG data collection and analysis, will be considered advantageous, but not required. Relevant training will be provided.

Application for the PhD Scholarship:

Candidates should submit an online application through the ‘Request Information’ form and upload the following supporting documents:

  • A cover letter clearly stating that they apply for the PhD Scholarship in the field Neuroscience / Biomedical Sciences for the PhD Research Project ‘PHD-2023-1: The Brain on the Witness Stand: Investigating Implicit Memory Recall in Crime Witnesses’.
  • Copies of the applicant’s qualifications/degree(s) – the application can be assessed with scanned copies, but certified true copies must be provided if the candidate is successful and prior to enrolment on the PhD programme.
  • Copies of the applicant’s transcript(s) – the application can be assessed with scanned copies, but certified true copies must be provided if the candidate is successful and prior to enrolment on the PhD programme.
  • Proof of English language proficiency such as IELTS with a score of 7 overall and with a minimum score of 7 in writing or TOEFL iBT with a score of 94 overall and a minimum score of 27 in Writing. Other internationally recognized English language qualifications might be considered upon review. Students from the UK, Ireland USA, Canada (from English speaking provinces), Australia and New Zealand are exempt from the English language requirement.
  • Two reference letters, of which at least one should be from an academic.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae (CV).

Applications should be submitted by Friday, 10th May, 2024 at 5pm.  Only fully completed applications, containing all necessary supporting documents will be reviewed.

Only candidates who are shortlisted will be contacted and invited to an interview.