top of page

!We embrace equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in our lab!


MPhil / PhD applicants:

Hello, this is Dr. Jingwen Frances Jin. Here is the information to students who are interested in working with me. First of all, I am considering prospective MPhil/PhD student(s) in the 2023-2024 application season for matriculation in Summer/Fall 2024. We are looking for curious minds who are interested in one or both of the following two research themes :

 

Theme 1: using experimental, neuroimaging and computational tools to understand emotion processing

  • Potential research topics/projects include:

    • Computational and neural mechanisms of basic emotion perception (active inference-based modeling which may also involve EEG, fMRI, and eye-tracking)

    • Model development —applying dynamic causal modeling in psychiatric nosology (modeling a longitudinal dataset involving psychosis and mood symptoms)

  • Preferred background and competencies:

    • High proficiency in written and oral English

    • Relevant academic background, including but not limited to psychology, neuroscience, biology, economics, mathematics, physics, statistics, computer science, and engineering

    • Strong analytical skills and familiarity with at least one of the following statistical tools: SPSS/Jamovi/R

    • Comfortable in Matlab, Python, or any other major coding language

    • Prior experience in EEG, fMRI, eye-tracking, and/or computational modelling

 

Theme 2: using experimental psychopathology to understand internalizing problems/disorders 

  • Potential research topics/projects include: 

    • Examining cognitive, computational, and neural mechanisms of depression and anxiety

    • Developing interventions centered around processing of uncertainty 

  • Preferred background and competencies:

    • High proficiency in written and oral English

    • Sufficient background knowledge about psychopathology

    • Strong analytical skills and familiarity with at least one of the following statistical tools: SPSS/Jamovi/R

    • Experience in programming psychological tasks

    • Comfortable with exposure to clinical populations

    • (preferred but not required) Familiarity with clinical assessments (e.g., SCID-5, MINI)

 

General core qualities that best fit in our lab:

  • Passion. Our lab is non-hierarchical. Graduate students are considered as junior collaborators by me. Hence, students are expected to be self-motivated, have independent thinking, and find the research process intrinsically rewarding and, hopefully, fun. Students should be passionate about their research projects and committed to take ownership of them.

  • Collaboration, not competition. We are a highly collaborative team. Students collaborate within our lab and with members of other labs worldwide. It is critical that our team members are willing to share their knowledge and help each other.

Myths:

  •  GPA dictates all. Is GPA important? Yes, it is. But only for the initial assessment. Here is how I utilize GPA information. An excellent GPA can indicate a sense of responsibility towards one's studies and self-discipline. These qualities are crucial in graduate school. However, I do not believe that GPA is the sole indicator of your academic ability, and certainly not of research competence. For example, I also consider the courses you have taken to achieve that GPA, as they provide insight into your specific interests.     

  • Publication is crucial. Having publications certainly helps. However, it is not the sole determining factor. I place more emphasis on your ability to think critically and your work ethics. I am not seeking someone who simply executes my commands faithfully. I am looking for someone who can ignite the joy of research. If you have published before, it is also helpful to point out what you have contributed exactly to each publication. 

  • Interview preparation makes you excel. Some people do mock interviews, which is fine. And I know there are institutions that do that for students. But I don’t anticipate that you have practiced. If you are someone who tends to get nervous about interviews because you have limited experience, then practice may help. But here is my genuine advice from the other side of the table. First, an interview for my lab is not a unidirectional evaluation. It is not just me evaluating you. You are also evaluating me. We are trying to figure out how well my lab and your research match. So, relax. Second, I do not conduct interviews just for formality, and I am perfectly aware of all the decision-making biases when relying on interviews. My interviews are designed to obtain as much information as possible to determine if both of us can be happy (as happy as one can be in graduate school) in the next few years. So please help me and yourself by being genuine. Third, you will also be talking to my graduate students, both as a group and individually. If there is a good reason, you may also speak with my collaborators. This is again to give both parties an opportunity to get to know each other, so be yourself and ask questions you care about! Ultimately, your passion and depth of thinking cannot be trained by mock interviews.

 

Pre-application inquiry:

I am humbled by the emails I receive from potential applicants describing their research passion and inquiring whether I would consider their applications. It has also come to my attention that applicants may seek my thoughts on their research proposals. While I am always eager to get to know passionate students, it is beyond my capacity to respond to all your emails individually and review your proposals. Hence, I would like to make a general statement here.

It is NOT necessary to send me an inquiry email, as we review each application holistically. However, if you do want to send an email, please direct it to frances.jin@hku.hk and only include the following information: 1) your research interest(s) and 2) methodological background. Additionally, please attach your CV. Interviews will be scheduled for shortlisted candidates, during which individuals will have the opportunity to learn about our lab culture and my mentorship style.

I will NOT respond to emails seeking my opinions on research proposals, and I will NOT review and provide personal feedback on research proposals before they are submitted to the HKU portal.  

 

Clarification:

The research postgraduate (RPG) (i.e., MPhil/PhD) training does not include clinical training for being a practitioner. When you are applying to work with me as a RPG, it is for research only. 

 

A word on rejection:

Rejection doesn’t feel good; it hurts. I know this from my own experiences. We should never judge our value as human beings based on how many offers or rejections we receive. The association between graduate school application outcomes and your value is just a silly illusion (you may not think so, but it is). I wish I could send each one of you a personal message, but that may take me weeks, if not months.

A rejection from a lab can be due to many reasons, considering various factors. For this lab, research interest fit, and readiness are often the major ones. For example, if you have never done research in relevant areas, it is hard to convince me that you know what you are committing to for the next 4 or 5 years and for your career! Look, a PhD often means a devotion to a field, so think about it carefully. Also, if you have little knowledge in the methodologies used in this lab – I know it may not be your fault – it will take quite some time for you to learn them; you will need to convince me how a 4-year PhD program is enough. Lastly, sometimes, I just don’t see how what I can provide is suitable for you.

Please do not let a rejection from a person you barely know, in this case, me, hurt your self-esteem because it simply shouldn’t.

 

We look forward to receiving your application!

bottom of page