MSTP Programming Workshop
by Evonne McArthur (G2)
Usually, Wednesdays at noon in May are a pretty boring time for MSTP students–the seminar series ends in April but DIB club doesn’t start until June. However, this May, Danny Sack (G2), Thomas Li (M1), Abin Abraham (G3), Duncan Smart (G2), and I (G2) put on a 5-part MSTP Programming workshop series. We were inspired by some discussions at an April Student Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting. The leadership team encouraged us to come up with creative ways to stay productive during this quarantine time while we are away from lab. In this meeting, Thomas and I learned that many students were trying to stay productive by learning scientific and/or statistical programming. As “dry lab” scientists, we realized that we might have wisdom and experience to offer. Thus, we sent out a survey assessing student needs and interests. Luckily, we had some interested learners, but also had some additional interested teachers (Danny, Duncan, and Abin) and the rest is history!
We put on five one hour workshops on Wednesday at noon, covering not only basic computer science topics like variables, but also advanced practical topics like machine learning, single-cell sequencing analysis, and publication-quality plotting. We had over 50 unique participants across the sessions including incoming M1s, PSTPs, and faculty. Even if some of the topics went over our head (covering a year’s worth of intro computer science courses in 5 hours is not easy), we hoped the learners gained some new skills in this bizarre time. Furthermore, we have compiled a comprehensive set of resources to assist future learners in their programming adventures. In this document, we have links to recordings of all 5 sessions, sample R code for every concept covered, example data sets, and many curated links to our favorite additional resources. We encourage anybody to forward this along to interested labmates or friends. We are now soliciting feedback on our series (please fill out this survey) to improve our programming in the future.