This Workshop, originally scheduled for March 2020, was postponed due to COVID and was held virtually through NIMBioS Interactive December 1-3, 2020. The original group of participants were invited to the virtual Workshop and applications were open for those who were not originally able to attend to participate. The Workshop was structured to allow for the individual-to-individual and small group interactions made possible through NIMBioS Interactive, as well as having a variety of breakout sessions on topics suggested in preparation for the original planned dates.
Topic: Quantitative Education in Life Science Graduate Programs
Meeting dates: December 1-3, 2020 from noon to 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)
Location: NIMBioS Interactive
Support and Partners: This workshop was supported by funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, from the National Science Foundation support for NIMBioS, with additional support from the University of Tennessee. The Workshop arose from a partnership between NIMBioS and the Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology (SCMB).
Objectives: This workshop brought together a diverse group of researchers and educators working at the interface of various areas of the life sciences and quantitative science (e.g. mathematics, statistics, computing, data science). There has been very little open discussion about educational aspects of graduate life science quantitative training, such as what topics to prioritize across the vast array of potential quantitative methods, how formal courses might be effectively mixed with online learning, seminars and lab group activities and the effectiveness of boot-camps and tutorials. While many meetings, conferences and projects have focused on undergraduate education at this interface between the life sciences and quantitative methods, there has been nothing similar for graduate education.
The intent of the workshop was to gather thought leaders on graduate life science education and its relation to quantitative training to determine commonalities of approaches across institutions and consider what evidence is available on the effectiveness of these approaches. The expectation was that this would provide potential guidance based on experiences at diverse institutions and in biological sub-disciplines about what has been tried, how effective the results have been, and what still needs to be examined. Attendees shared experiences and any evaluation data regarding the programs they have been involved with. The workshop gathered advice from those with extensive experience in educating not only the few students specializing in quantitative biology, but also with the broad range of life science graduate students. Applications were welcomed from those at any career stage, including recent PhDs and current graduate students.
Format: The workshop consisted of a limited number of summary presentations from some of the programs with experience in educating life science PhD students, breakout sessions with facilitators and rapporteurs who reported back to the whole gathering, opportunities for birds-of-a-feather individual-to-individual and small group informal discussions as well as "receptions" at the end of each day for opportunities to chat informally with colleagues. We will use online collaborative tools to compile the various discussion results, from which an overall workshop summary of findings and report will be developed by the organizers. Participants were invited to suggest additional breakout session topics from the initial ones posted with the draft agenda and these topics were prioritized prior to the Workshop through polls of the participants. Breakout session topics were revised adaptively during the Workshop based on participant decisions. A workshop evaluation will be carried out by the National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER) (niser.utk.edu)
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