Hamilton Lab: Graduate Research Opportunities

Interested in joining the lab as a graduate student? Dr. Hamilton is able to take students from a number of different graduate programs. Those programs are listed below with some general guidelines. Students should look into the requirements of each program to determine what is the best fit for them. Our research explores the intersection between systems and cognitive neuroscience, communication sciences and disorders, neural engineering, neurolinguistics, and computational neuroscience, so we welcome motivated lab members from a variety of backgrounds.

Graduate Programs

  1. The PhD in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
    • This is a research-focused program with an emphasis in speech, language, communication, and related disorders. Students are required to have their Master's degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences or similar field before entering as a PhD student (those who do not have an MA must follow the MA-PhD coursework). 
    • Students in the CSD PhD program must apply directly to a lab they are interested in and must secure support from their mentor before applying to the program. This is a direct-admit program (you join the lab immediately upon entering).
    • Many students in the CSD-PhD are clinically certified in Speech Language Pathology or Audiology, and the coursework has a somewhat more clinical emphasis than the Neuroscience PhD program.
  2. The PhD in Neuroscience through the UT Austin Institute for Neuroscience
    • This is a research-focused program with a broader emphasis in neuroscience, including cellular/molecular, systems, computational, and cognitive neuroscience. A Master's is not required for entry into the program.
    • Students in the Neuroscience PhD program rotate through 2-3 labs in their first year, after which they choose a lab in which they will pursue their dissertation work (unlike the CSD PhD program, this is not a direct-admit program).
    • The PhD in Neuroscience does not specifically include any clinical certification and is intended for students interested in pursuing neuroscience-related research.
  3. The Master's in Speech Language Pathology in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
    • This is a clinical program intended for students who wish to become Speech Language Pathologists. Research is not required as part of this program, however, students may opt to undertake research projects through a Graduate Research Assistantship (and an independent study course, for example CSD380E) or through the Masters Thesis option.
    • Students interested in the research thesis option may choose to spend their second year pursuing a research thesis (in CSD698A and CSD698B) in addition to their coursework and clinical hours. 
  4. The AuD in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
    • This is a clinical program intended for students who wish to become Audiologists. In the third year, students undertake a capstone project under the supervision of a faculty member. 
    • AuD students who wish to participate in research should contact the faculty member they are interested in working with to discuss potential projects.
  5. The MA-PhD and AuD-PhD programs (in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences)
    • These programs are intended for students who wish to enter the PhD program and do not yet have the MA-SLP or AuD degree. The MA-PhD has an option for non-clinical coursework as well as a clinical coursework option. 
    • Admission to the PhD program, as in the CSD PhD program option, requires that you secure a research mentor before applying and verify that there is funding/space in the lab.
  6. A research rotation as a second year PhD student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (where you have a different primary mentor)
    • As part of the second year of the PhD in CSD, students are required to perform a research rotation in a lab other than their primary advisor. Students can register for CSD380E (Independent Study) to complete this research rotation.
    • In year 2, the student is required to present the results of their research rotation to the department in an end-of-year student talk series. The student should also submit a final written report (journal article in APA style) to end the research rotation.
    • See the PhD student guide for details.
  7. Medical Students and Residents at Dell Medical School - Neurology
    • Medical Students and/or Residents with an interest in neurology, human neurophysiology, neurosurgery, epilepsy, or speech and language should contact Dr. Hamilton to ask about potential research opportunities.

If you are in another department and interested in collaborating with us, please email!

Example Graduate Student Projects

The following are examples of graduate student projects completed in the Hamilton Lab. Many of our publications in the lab are also related to these specific projects and may be led by a graduate student. For some of these projects, the skills learned from the experience are also detailed so students know what to expect. 

AuD Capstone Projects:

  • Hearing Loss and Virtual Learning Fatigue in Post-Secondary Students - Jacob Cheek, AuD student
    • Skills learned: Survey design (Qualtrics/Gorilla.sc); Statistical analysis in R, python, and SPSS
  • Cortical Speech in Noise Processing in L2 Bilingual Sign Language Interpreters - Erica McVey, AuD student
    • Skills learned: Scalp EEG data collection; ePrime stimulus presentation; event-related potentials analysis in MNE-python; statistical analysis in R and python
  • Speech in Noise Processing in Pediatric Epilepsy Patients Using Intracranial Recordings - Elise Rickert, AuD student
    • Skills learned: Intracranial EEG data collection in pediatric patients with epilepsy; working with clinical populations; analysis of intracranial EEG data in MNE-python; visualizing neural activity on the brain using img_pipe; statistical analysis in python (libraries: MNE-python, matplotlib, numpy)
  • Cortical and Subcortical Contributions to Speech in Noise Processing in Individuals with "Hidden Hearing Loss" - Lydia Su, AuD student
    • Skills learned: Audiometry; Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR); Scalp EEG data collection; ePrime stimulus presentation; event-related potentials analysis in MNE-python; statistical analysis in R and python

Research Rotation Projects:

  • Representation of errors in natural speech production using intracranial recordings - Yao Chen, PhD student in SLHS (primary mentor: Dr. Chang Liu)
    • Skills learned: Textgrid generation and manipulation in Praat; analysis of intracranial EEG data in MNE-python; visualizing neural activity on the brain using img_pipe; statistical analysis in python (libraries: MNE-python, matplotlib, numpy)

Research Collaborations Across Departments:

Collaborations with Undergraduates for Independent Study:

  • Brain Stimulation Can Help Us Understand Music and Language - led by Maansi Desai, PhD student, in collaboration with Rachel Sorrells, undergraduate student in Neuroscience, in collaboration with Matthew Leonard (UCSF) and Edward Chang (UCSF)
    • Skills learned: Writing for young audiences, figure design, scientific communication

Masters Theses:


  • Validation of highly acoustically rich audiovisual stimuli for naturalistic speech encoding in the brain - Maansi Desai, PhD dissertation


General Advice

The following are some suggestions for people who are interested in working in the lab, and is similar to what I recommend for undergraduates. The following advice is paraphrased from Loren Frank's laboratory at UCSF:

  1. Read (or at least skim) papers from the laboratory before you apply. Make sure that the sort of work the lab does is exciting to you and that you will be willing to put in the time and the effort required to learn about the science done in the lab. You can find some of our papers here.
  2. Do not write a general application letter that you send to a number of research groups. Instead, explain why you think you are interested in the work being done in the specific laboratory to which you are applying.
  3. If you are emailing to inquire about entering as a PhD student, please include your resume/CV with your email. This should have your relevant coursework, any previous research or relevant work experience, honors and awards, and publications or presentations.


Lab Philosophy

We cultivate a lab culture where people are encouraged to work together to solve problems and to come together as a team to understand the fascinating mystery of how the brain supports speech and language. We strive for high impact research while working collaboratively. As a mentor, I (Dr. Hamilton) pledge to help you discover your own potential and guide you toward your future goals, whether these be in academia, the clinic, industry, or elsewhere. I appreciate maintaining an open line of communication between myself and my lab colleagues.