Viraj Alawa

Viraj Alawa

About your course/programme

Why did you choose to study your course?

Neuroscience is one of the rapidly growing highly complex fields of science. I entirely believe that it is more than the brain and nervous system, it is about being able to enhance the integrity of life through various research. This has fascinated me and made me choose Neuroscience for my Masters.

What do you enjoy about your course?

The best thing about the course is its flexibility, the course allows the students to decide which area they are really interested in, Computational, Cognitive, Molecular or Cellular Neuroscience. You can continue your project in the field that is most fascinating to you personally. You can also propose your own project or you can work with the ongoing projects.

What have been the highlights of the course so far?

The course curriculum was completely different from what I studied during my bachelors, which was quite challenging in the beginning because I had to start everything from scratch. But I received plenty of support from staff and peers who were always there to guide me.

What have been the greatest challenges throughout your course so far?

Given that I started at the peak of the pandemic, the biggest challenge was adapting to the new way of things and studying primarily online. However, I felt that the course was adapted well, and I definitely got the most out of it despite the circumstances.

What is your research project about and what has it involved?

My project involves neural encoding of the multisensory decision. We are using computational methods to understand the perceptual decision-making process. We investigate how humans process a decision using multiple senses and how different parameters affect the decision-making process, using a python-based tool, Hierarchical Drift Diffusion Model (HDDM).

About the University

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

The University of Leeds is known to house some of the best resources, tailored curriculums, state-of-the-art facilities and a plethora of research opportunities. Its cultural diversity is what entices me the most, and having the opportunity to learn in such an environment will help me understand well-being in a better manner, to make my contributions in the best possible way.

How have the facilities (libraries/labs etc.) helped you get the most out of your degree?

During this time of uncertainty, the University made sure that we get all the benefits and we are not lagging behind because of the pandemic. The libraries were open all the time, with all the precautions. The vast collection of books in the library with all the amenities helped me to research more about the project.

Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the university? If so, how has this enhanced your time at the University?

There are many societies available for students to join, from exploring their hobbies to their career interests. I have joined the Neural Networks society, as it can help more in my research. We had many events that took place where students and organisers talked about new technologies and research ideas. Moreover, this society helped me visualise my future career.

What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming to do the same course?

This program at the university opens all gateways whether you are planning to go into further research or in the industry. It will equip you with techniques such as data collection, data processing, data analysis, statistical methods and the mathematical algorithms and interpretation of the result. By the end of the course, you will be proficient in analysing and interpreting the biological data, able to conduct your own experiments, propose your own project and many more.