NRT @ UMN is an interdisciplinary graduate training program supported by the National Science Foundation's NRT grant mechanism. The program unites a fundamental understanding of basic sensory science (vision, audition, motor control, speech and language) with deep technical expertise in engineering, computer science, and other related fields. The research conducted by NRT trainees will explore the development of effective assistive technologies for people with sensory deficits that have a major impact on an individual's quality of life. NRT aims to to serve up to 50 different Ph.D. students over five years, including six NSF-funded trainees per year from computer science, engineering, kinesiology, psychology, and speech-language-hearing disciplines via courses, research opportunities, professional development opportunities, internships in the medical-devices industry, and public outreach activities.
The NRT training program consists of six key parts: (1) co-advisors, (2) the translational sensory science minor, (3) research experience, (4) industry internships, (5) professional development activities, and (6) science outreach. You can learn more about each of these parts below.
Each NRT trainee has a co-advisor from a department other than their own department. A key feature of the NRT training program, co-advisors offer trainees opportunities to make professional connections outside of their own area, to develop new perspectives on their research, and to extend their research in new directions and into new fields of study.
NRT trainees are encouraged to participate in industry internships during their time as a trainee. Internships give trainees an opportunity to learn about how their skills and interests can be applied outside of the academic setting. Our trainees have interned at a number of companies, including 3M, Cochlear, Envoy, and Oticon (more info on the Internships page).
Funded NRT trainees are required to complete the Translational Sensory Science minor as a part of their coursework (more information on the Translational Sensory Science Minor page). This minor provides all trainees with a solid foundation in translational sensory science topics such as hearing and vision loss, but is flexible enough to be tailored to each trainee's individual interests.
The NRT @ UMN program regularly invites speakers from the broader campus community to give talks and presentations on professional development topics (e.g., individual development plans, data visualization). Additionally, the program organizes small workshops and brown bags on research, science communication, and professional development.
NRT trainees complete research in their own labs and are also encouraged to develop interdisciplinary cross-lab collaborations with other trainees. The topics researched by NRT trainees range from basic auditory perception to the development of new types of implantable neural prostheses. You can learn more about our research on the Papers and Conferences pages.
A key part of the NRT program is connecting the trainees with the broader community and helping them learn how to communicate about their science to that community. One of our key outreach programs is hosting a regular journal club at Abiitan, a local retirement community in downtown Minneapolis. Learn about other outreach efforts on our Outreach page.