Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Klaas Enno Stephan


On this page I am answering some FAQs in the hope that this will reduce e-mail traffic, minimize any misunderstandings and disappointments, and explain why I do – or don’t do – certain things.


Email and general enquiries

I have sent you several emails. Why did you not reply?

I am very sorry but I receive many more emails than I can possibly answer. If I tried to respond to each and every message, I would do nothing else all day and stop being a scientist. In other words, I would quickly turn into a person that has nothing interesting to say – and then you would not want to email me anyway…

My email was really urgent! Why did you respond so late?

Please forgive me - I may not have seen your message in time. I get a non-trivial number of messages (see above), and I read emails at restricted times only.

I have a problem with statistical analysis or computational modeling of neuroimaging data. Could I get your advice?

I am certainly happy to give advice whenever I can. However, please forgive me that I cannot deal with all the questions I receive by email or in bilateral meetings.

If you are in/near Zurich, you are very welcome to present your problem at our weekly Computational Neuroimaging Clinic (CNC) in which my team members and I try to solve any problems with neuroimaging data analysis that are brought up. This is an open and public forum that takes place every Wednesday, 2-4pm (also during the semester breaks). You are welcome to just pop in; however, to ensure we have enough time to discuss your problem, it is recommended that you reserve a time slot in advance via this online form.

If you are based elsewhere, please post your question in the TAPAS Forum or send your e-mail to the SPM Mailing list (spm(at), depending on the contents of your question. There are many knowledgeable colleagues in this forum/list, and most likely, someone will help you.

I would like to spend some time at the TNU to learn about Neuromodeling, Computational Psychiatry or Computational Psychosomatics. Is that possible?

Due to limited desk space and supervision capacity, we can only support research stays at the TNU that are tied to a collaborative project within our core areas of interest.  Please note also that we require a minimum duration of 6 months – shorter stays are usually inefficient and do not easily allow guests to integrate into the unit.

I would like to use the tools you have been developing. Could I have a copy of your software?

We generally strive to make our software available once we have published the underlying methods. We provide code of the tools we have developed as part of the open source software packages TAPAS or SPM (Statistical Parametric Mapping).

Can I ask you to write a letter of recommendation for me?

I am happy to do so, provided that I know you (or your work) sufficiently well. Please forgive me that I will not write letters for colleagues who I barely know. This would not be in your interest either since a vague letter without a credible basis will not serve your cause.


Editors and publishing companies

Can we invite you to contribute a chapter to a book?

I am very sorry, but I do not write book chapters any more because their value and impact is questionable (at least in my field). I am also not positively impressed by the way publishers treat authors of book chapters. I disseminate my research through preprints, peer-reviewed articles (and possibly single author books in the future).

Can I ask you to review a paper or grant proposal?

I can usually accommodate the review of one paper or grant proposal per week. Should your request arrive when I am over quota, please forgive me that I will have to decline.



Where can I find the courses you teach?

A list of the courses I teach can be found here.

I am/was a student in one of your courses. Are you interested in some feedback?

Yes, I would cetainly be very interested to hear what you found useful and what you did not like so much. Ideally, please speak to me directly after the course. You can also email me your thoughts (but see above).


Prospective students and post-docs

What are necessary skills and interests to join the TNU?

Work at the TNU generally requires good programming skills (particularly in Matlab and Julia) and, for most projects, a decent understanding of mathematics (probability theory, calculus, linear algebra). Please note that you are expected to have these skills by the time you would join the TNU.

Academic training in clinical medicine, psychology, and/or cognitive science are a big bonus. However, in contrast to programming/mathematical skills, we do not necessarily expect that you have knowledge about medicine or cognition by the time you join us.

I would like to do my MSc thesis in your lab. Is that possible?

Motivated and talented students are always welcome to join our team, provided we have supervision capacity left. We accept students both from UZH and ETH. We also accept international students, provided we have supervision capacity left and a formal agreement with UZH or ETH is in place. Please take a look at our list of open MSc projects and contact the relevant project leader directly.

I would like to become a PhD student / Post-Doc in your lab. What is the best way to apply?

Whenever we have an open position, we advertise it on our Open Positions website. Please check this site first – if it has no entries, we presently have no funding for positions. In this case, please do not send prospective applications unless you have secured your own funding (or a concrete plan how to obtain it).

Please note that we put a great emphasis on team play. Therefore, regardless of the advertised position, I generally ask any candidates to come and meet the entire team. This gives you an impression of who we are and whether you would like to work with us, and vice versa, we get a better picture of whether you would fit into our team.