BNA Scholars Programme

The BNA is excited to announce the launch of the BNA Scholars programme.

The purpose of the BNA Scholars programme is to support students from underrepresented ethnic groups to thrive in neuroscience, and build a supportive community through networking opportunities, bursaries and mentorship.

Key dates

BNA Scholar scheme opens on 4th January 2021

BNA Scholar applications close on 1st February 2021 (23:59 GMT)

BNA Scholars will be announced the first week of March 2021

Mentor applications close on 19th March 2021 (23:59 GMT)

BNA2021 Festival of Neuroscience 12th-15th April

BNA Scholar and mentor matches will be introduced the first week of May 2021

About the programme

What is offered

There are seven places on the BNA Scholars programme in this first year (a pilot year). Successful BNA Scholars will remain on the programme for three years* and the programme confers the following benefits for the full three years*:

  • Free membership to the BNA
  • Free membership of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)
  • Access to a BNA Scholars’ mentoring scheme administered through the BNA
  • Networking opportunities through the BNA and BNA events
  • Opportunities to connect with key individuals within the BNA, for instance members of the BNA Council and Committee, and the Editorial Board of the BNA Journal
  • Funding towards BNA Festival of Neuroscience attendance
  • Funding towards FENS Forum attendance

*If the Scholar completes their neuroscience degree and does not remain in the neuroscience sector (where ‘the neuroscience sector’ includes any neuroscience-related role in the public, charity or commercial sector, including both academia and industry) before the three years are completed, they will receive free BNA Associate membership for the remainder of the three years but no other benefits. If the scholar is still in process of completing their neuroscience degree after the three years have finished, then ongoing inclusion on the scholarship will be reviewed on a year by year basis. We will take into consideration any required career breaks (e.g for caring responsibilities) on a case by case basis.

Expectations of BNA Scholars

Expectations of BNA Scholars are as follows:

  • Commitment to engage with the programme and attend mentoring meetings with your mentor
  • To feedback to the BNA (both formally and informally) based on your experiences for evaluation purposes
  • To engage with the BNA and participate in related activities e.g. to contribute to an article in the BNA Bulletin
  • To attend the BNA Festival of Neuroscience and present a poster at the Festival if possible

There is an expectation of 4-6 meetings between the Scholar and mentor per year. The format of meeting can be decided between the Scholar and mentor, whether they take place online, over the phone or in person (when permitted).

Expectations of mentors

Expectations of mentors are as follows:

  • Commitment to engage with the programme and attend mentoring meetings with your BNA Scholar
  • To feedback to the BNA based on your experiences for evaluation purposes

There is an expectation of 4-6 meetings between the Scholar and mentor per year. The format of meeting can be decided between the Scholar and mentor, whether they take place online, over the phone or in person (when permitted).

Eligibility of Scholars

Scholar applicants must be:

  • A Final Year Undergraduate, Masters (including integrated Masters) or PhD student
  • Affiliated with UK Higher Education Institution (and planning to remain affiliated for at least the next year)
  • Self-identify as Black, Asian, or minority ethnic
  • Interested in pursuing a future career and have research interests in neuroscience and/or the wider neuroscience sector

Eligibility of mentors

We are welcoming mentor applications from all ethnicities and all career stages.

BNA Scholar candidates will be asked of their mentor preferences during their application stage and successful candidates will be matched with a mentor through a review panel.

Selection process

To ensure fairness in the selecting process, all application form data will be anonymised. A review panel, chaired by the BNA National Committee member for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), has been set up to assist in the initial Scholar selection process and the mentor matching process.

If there are a greater number of applicants who meet all criteria than there are scholarships available, then factors including the following will be considered when selecting the successful applicants:

  • Geographical spread across the UK
  • Ethnic group
  • Commitment to the BNA scheme and to mentoring future cohorts
  • Likelihood of and commitment to pursuing a career in neuroscience or related to neuroscience

BNA Scholar and mentor matching process

After the announcement of successful BNA Scholars, the mentor matching process will take place. The review panel will recommend the best match for each successful BNA Scholar from a shortlist of mentors selected by the BNA Scholar programme coordinator. A grading system of 1-5 where ‘1’ is ‘very poor’ and ‘5’ is ‘very strong’ for each match will be submitted and reviewed by the panel.

Matches will be determined by the following factors:

  • Similarity between the stated career aims of the BNA Scholar and the mentor’s current position
  • Similarity between the BNA Scholar’s and mentor’s research interests
  • Similarity between the BNA Scholar’s and mentor’s personal circumstances e.g caring responsibilities
  • If any preferences of the BNA Scholar on the ethnicity and career stage of their mentor are stated during the application phase

There will be a no-commitment introduction meeting between the BNA Scholar and mentor before a final decision is made. We want to reassure applicants that the BNA is committed to ensuring the BNA Scholar feels well-matched with their mentor.

BNA Scholar attendance at BNA2021

We expect the successful BNA Scholar candidates to attend the BNA2021 Festival of Neuroscience taking place on the 12th-15th April 2021. The event will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, whilst offering the opportunity to present a poster and network. If a successful BNA Scholar has already registered and submitted a poster abstract for BNA2021 Festival of Neuroscience, then the BNA will issue a refund. In the case of successful BNA Scholar candidates who have not registered or submitted a poster abstract, we will offer a special abstract submission window in which they can do so. The poster abstract will be subject to peer-review prior to acceptance.

Application forms

Please ensure you fill in the correct application form for either the BNA Scholar or mentor position.

BNA Scholar application form:

You will be asked to provide general applicant details and information regarding your current degree programme/course. You will also be asked to provide 200 words on your research interests and plans for the future, as well as 200 words on why you want to be part of the programme and how you think it might benefit you.

Visit funding web page
(https://www.bna.org.uk/about/our-prizes/#bna-scholars-programme)