ASPIRE Module: Data Science Essentials
This module is offered every year starting in the Fall
The BRET Office of Career Development offers the ASPIRE module, Data Science Essentials, for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from biomedical sciences who are interested in:
- learning what data science careers entail;
- acquiring introductory technical competencies to break into the field of data science;
- honing their communication skills, both to articulate their PhD-level strengths to employers and to convey technical information to non-technical audiences;
- meeting data science professionals from a range of industries.
Up to 24 trainees will be selected to participate in this program, which is a partnership with the Nashville Software School. The deadline to apply is Monday August 2.
Read more about the module as featured in the VUMC Reporter.
In 2019, the Data Science Essentials module was awarded an Innovations in Research and Research Education Award sponsored by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
This module was developed thanks to a 2018 Career Guidance for Trainees Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to Assistant Deans Ashley Brady and Kim Petrie, and Senior Associate Dean Kathy Gould.
With companies generating more and more data each year, there is a growing demand for individuals who can mine and interpret these data to drive growth and innovation. At the end of 2017, LinkedIn identified the “Data Scientist” job title as the second largest growth category on their platform, and a report from labor market analytics firm Burning Glass projects that the need for qualified data scientists will increase for the foreseeable future.
It is not surprising that data scientists are in short supply. Data science requires a unique blend of talents, including mathematical reasoning skills, technical skills in programming and visualization, domain expertise, and business competencies.
The ASPIRE module in Data Science Essentials will provide a foundation in the programming and data analytics tools employed by data scientists, training in communication skills, and case studies in data science presented by professionals from a variety of industries. This is a program for biomedical scientists, developed in collaboration with the Nashville Software School with a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
The ASPIRE module in Data Science Essentials consists of three sections that will take place from September to March. Selected participants are expected to participate fully in all three sections. (Please note: this is not a credit-bearing course.) See the FAQ for specific eligibility requirements.
|Introduction to Data Science*||Communication & Networking||Data Science Case Sessions|
|Instructors||Nashville Software School/ Michael Holloway and Mahesh Rao||BRET Office of Career Development/ Ashley Brady||Data Science Professionals from Various Industries|
|Timing||August to October 2021||December 2021 to February 2022||February to April 2022|
The Introduction to Data Science section will focus on fundamentals of programming and data analytics. This section will be taught by the Nashville Software School, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to expand the technology workforce in middle Tennessee through hands-on training programs and mentorship. Participants will learn data science tools and approaches and use open-source programming and data visualization software to complete a data science project.
*Prior to the first day of class, participants will complete a 4-hour online course from DataCamp.
The Communication & Networking section will be led by Dr. Ashley Brady and the BRET Office of Career Development. Communication skills are a key component of success in a data science career. Data science professionals need to be able to distill complex information into actionable takeaways for decision-makers or customers. In this section, participants will learn fundamental communication skills, as well as learn strategies for conveying their professional accomplishments to prospective employers.
In the third section of the module, professional data scientists from the Nashville area and around the country will present Data Science Case Sessions about projects they have completed for their company. Presenters will describe the data science approaches they use and the impact of their work on their company and industry. They will share a snapshot of their workday and provide advice for pursuing a similar career path. Most Case Session presenters will be alumni of VU PhD or postdoctoral programs in the biomedical sciences who have successfully transitioned to a career in data science.
This module is designed to provide an efficient introduction to data science concepts and tools.
|Section||# of Class Sessions||
In-class time, per week
|Out of class time, per week (estimated)|
|Introduction to Data Science||8||2 hours||2-4 hours|
|Communication & Networking||9||1.5 hours||0-1 hours|
|Case Sessions||4-5||2-4 hours||0 hours|
All module participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end, pending regular attendance without unexcused absences, and completion of the data science project.
Because the course is a limited enrollment opportunity, course participants need to attend all sessions and participate fully. Participants should discuss time away from the lab with their research advisor in advance of the course. Anticipated absences, such as for scientific conferences, should be discussed with the course director.
This module has three sections: Introduction to Data Science, Communication & Networking, Data Science Case Sessions.
Questions about the syllabus? Contact the course director, Dr. Ashley Brady, or program manager, Angela Zito.
INTRODUCTION TO DATA SCIENCE (AUGUST 18-OCTOBER 20, 2021)
During this section taught by Michael Holloway and Mahesh Rao of the Nashville Software School, trainees will complete a data science project using publicly available datasets and open-source programming and data visualization tools. All sessions will meet on Wednesdays from 9:00-11:00 a.m.
|prior to September 1||On your own, complete a free online short course from DataCamp. Estimated time to complete: 4 hours|
|8/18||Data Science as a Career , Jesse Spencer-Smith, PhD, Chief Data Scientist, Data Science Institute, Vanderbilt University|
|8/25||Introductory orientation session for individuals with no previous programming or coding experience|
|9/1||What is Data Science?
Coding Skills/Statistics/Domain Expertise
The Data Science Process
Examples of Data Science in the World
Install Python & Jupyter Notebooks to prepare for next session
Review resources for help with coding
|9/8||Understanding the question + Getting Data
Building domain expertise
Common data wrangling issues
Refine question for workshop and get data
Common data wrangling & cleaning issues
Hands-on lab to clean, organize data
|9/22||Exploratory Data Analysis
Types of data and techniques to explore variables by type
Visualizations as a tool for exploration
Hands-on lab to create data visualizations and summary statistics
|9/29||Annotation and Reproductability
Using markdown in Jupyter to annotate analyses
Importance of reproducibility
Hands-on lab exploring data visualization and annotating methods
|10/6||Formulating a Hypothesis about the Data
Develop (and execute) a plan to test the hypothesis
Introductory overview of machine learning
Hands-on: pair plots and linear regression
|10/13||Communicating the Results
Importance of empathy/know your audience
Hands-on to polish work for presentation
|10/20||Presentation of Project Insights
Resources for Learning More / Building Skills in Data Science
Communication & Networking Section (December 1, 2021-February 23, 2022)
This section will be taught by Dr. Ashley Brady and the BRET Office of Career Development. All sessions will meet on Wednesdays from 9:00-10:30 a.m.
|12/1||Introduction to the section
StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Co-led with Kate Stuart)
|1/5||Marketing for Scientists and Implementing Effective Networking|
|1/12||Meeting New People and the Art of the Follow-up|
|1/19||Crafting a Compelling Elevator Pitch|
|1/26||Delivery of Elevator Pitches|
|2/2||Story MasonTM: The Art of Job Talk|
|2/3-2/22||No meetings: Over the course of this 20 days, participants will take part in a real-world exercise in networking- attend a relevant networking event or meet-up along with Dr. Brady, or conduct an informational interview- where the tools and strategies learned in the module can be put into practice.|
|2/23||Post-event debriefing and strategies for follow-up|
Data Science Career Case Sessions (spring 2022)
Approximately 4 Case Sessions will be scheduled to occur during late February through April. Typically, sessions have been 2 hours long, and most take place at local companies who wish to host students at their organization. Case sessions dates/times will be announced in the spring.
Please review the time commitment and attendance policy carefully to ensure this opportunity is a good fit for you and your other obligations.
The module is for Vanderbilt and VUMC PhD students or postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences.
- PhD students must have passed their qualifying exams before the module begins
- Preference will be given to PhD students affiliated with a School of Medicine or VUMC department or program, students affiliated with an institutional training grant, and students who have been admitted through the IGP, QCB, or IMSD.
- Preference will be given to postdoctoral fellows who have been in their laboratory at least six months.
Please contact Program Manager Angela Zito (email@example.com) if you have questions.
Up to 24 PhD students and postdocs will be selected to participate.
The Introduction to Data Science section will be taught by an instructor from our partner, the Nashville Software School. The Communication & Networking section will be taught by Dr. Ashley Brady. The Data Science Case Sessions will be given by PhD alumni who have pursued careers in data science.
The module has three parts (see the syllabus). It will be a mix of interactive lectures, data science projects with publicly available data sets, small group discussions, case studies with data science professionals, site visits to area employers, and group attendance at a local data science Meetup.
Participants will need a laptop computer that they can bring to each Introduction to Data Science session. You will use the laptop in- and out-of-class to complete a small data science project using open-source software that is freely available.
No specialized programming experience is needed. Participants who are new to programming will be asked to take a free, online short course to learn some basics about Python, before the start of the Introduction to Data Science section. It will take about 4 hours to complete. As for stats experience, the exposure you had as an undergraduate or graduate student in STEM will be sufficient. Please ask us questions if you have any concerns!
$0.The only thing we ask in return is your enthusiastic participation and regular attendance…and for you to fill out an evaluation survey at the end.
From September to April, once a week for 1.5-2 hours. The class won't meet in November or over the university's winter break. See the syllabus for the full schedule.
In-class: 1.5-2 hours per week in class. Out-of-class: we estimate 2-4 hours/week in September-October (for your data science assignments and project) and 0-1 hour/week in December-April.
Unfortunately, no. This module is limited to 24 people in order to maximize interaction between the instructor and students. We need to reserve this unique opportunity for trainees who can participate the whole year.
Please contact Ashley Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org), BRET Office of Career Development
No. This is not a credit-bearing course and it will not appear on your transcript, if you are a student. Participants who finish the module will receive a Certificate of Completion from the BRET Office of Career Development.