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Lionel Newman

Received the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship

A prestigious new scholarship programme has recently been launched targeting exceptionally talented Master’s students from outside Europe. The Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship (AES) is a full scholarship of €25,000, covering tuition and living expenses for one or two academic year(s).

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Lionel Newman – 1987
Nationality: American and Thai
Research Master Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Lionel Newman obtained his Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and English at Northern Illinois University. He then completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in Communication Science and Philosophy, and worked as a research specialist before being selected to receive the UvA’s Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship.

Lionel Newman



I’m really interested in intersections between neuroscience, linguistics and philosophy. What can language tell us about the brain, and how does the brain apply meaning to the things around us such as language, cultural rituals and symbols? The clinical application of this interests me: how people map meaning into events, behaviours and symbols such as languages. And what happens to people who have a disrupted pattern of drawing meaning from the things around them? Is it possible to change those patterns by uncovering what brain mechanisms are involved in the interpretation and insertion of meaning?


I chose this programme because of its good reputation - even as far away as in the United States. To me the most attractive feature of the Research Master is its flexilibity: you can customise the kinds of lectures you take, do internships at different labs, choose where you want to work and the skills you wish to gain. I can take pieces from different fields such as linguistics, neuroscience and philosophy, and put them together to tell a compelling story and explain something about –not just how the brain works– but what it means for people’s happiness. Being able to participate in this Master’s programme really is an incredible opportunity.


Being selected for the AES Scholarship has done wonders for my self-confidence and motivates me to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen as one of the first recipients of the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship. The faith that the university has shown in us also inspires trust.


Living in Amsterdam makes me feel like I am a kid again! Because I look at everything as if it’s new, and it is new, and I have no preconceptions. It makes me approach life with an open mind in order to be ready to learn a new system.


As yet I don’t have any plans to return home when my programme ends in August 2016 – I am still keeping my options open. I’d like to work at the UvA, or maybe do a PhD on something related to the science of the mind and language. 

More information on the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship