MIT’s Quantitative Methods Workshop Empowers participants to build new skillsets and establish valuable connections.

On January 1st, while many were still enjoying the holiday season, students and professors from multiple universities gathered virtually for MIT’s Quantitative Methods Workshop (QMW). This intensive week-long program focuses on applying computational and mathematical techniques to neuroscience and biology research. However, QMW is more than just a crash course. Its main goal is to enhance participants’ scientific outlook by introducing them to new skills, concepts, and a collaborative community.

Susan L. Epstein, a computer science professor at Hunter College and education coordinator of MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, describes QMW as a transformative experience. She believes it broadens participants’ horizons and exposes them to valuable applications they may not have considered before. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for future collaborations with fellow researchers.

This year, QMW had 83 undergraduates and faculty members from institutions that cater to underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Mandana Sassanfar, the organizer of the workshop, states that since its inception in 2010, over 1,000 individuals have participated. Out of those, more than 170 have gone on to join MIT Summer Research Programs, and 39 have pursued graduate studies at MIT.

Individual aspirations, collective growth

QMW attracts undergraduates and faculty members from various STEM disciplines who are interested in enhancing their computational and mathematical data analysis skills. Participants with a background in computer science and statistics explore how these techniques can be applied to life sciences. Through lectures, hands-on Python programming labs for data processing, analysis, and visualization, and informal interactions with MIT faculty, everyone works collaboratively and gains valuable insights from each other.

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