Impressions from the Undergraduate Workshop on Data-Driven Decisions in Healthcare

big group of students outside SAMSI

February 2013 Undergraduate Workshop participants.

SAMSI recently held the Undergraduate Workshop on Data-Driven Decisions in Healthcare for about 30 students. Visiting professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate fellows who are participating in this SAMSI program led the sessions providing cutting-edge research into the lectures. Students had a chance to work with data from the SEElab at Technion in Israel, got an overview of personalized medicine and a tutorial in R and a demonstration of the ARENA software.  Here are a few of the students’ impressions from the workshop.

Eric Laber instructing students

Eric Laber, NCSU, giving lecture at the workshop.

Eric Kernfeld, Tufts University Class of 2014, Applied Mathematics

“I had a great time at the workshop on Data Driven Decisions in Health Care this past weekend. It was a nice opportunity to meet statisticians, something I don’t get the chance to do back at Tufts. I also met a lot of undergraduates majoring in statistics and mathematics. The food was good, the staff were welcoming, the accommodations were convenient, and the talks were well-pitched. I recommend SAMSI workshops to anyone who’s interested in the topics, especially to people considering graduate education down the road.”

Danielle Llanos, Georgetown University

“I thought the SAMSI workshop was wonderful. It was a great opportunity to learn from talented individuals, and a chance to expand my network. The lecture topics were incredibly interesting and were very relevant to my career goals. Probably the best part of the workshop was the graduate student panel. The ability to ask those burning questions and learn from the experiences of others was great. I would recommend any SAMSI workshop to students looking to learn more about opportunities in the sciences, and expanding their educational experiences.”

three students at table

Students networking at lunch.

Brittany Boribong, sophomore, biomathematics major at University of Scranton

“As a student with no background in statistics and programming, I found the workshop a bit overwhelming but no less interesting. Coming into this with no experience just allowed me to take that much more out of the workshop.  I was able to explore new fields of math that I never considered before and learn about topics that I had no idea even existed. As a Biomathematics major, I found the topic of using data to derive decisions in healthcare intriguing since it is an application of my major that I was not aware of. Another wonderful aspect of the workshop was the chance to speak to people in different fields. During lunch, I had the opportunity to speak to a post-doc fellow and during dinner, I spoke to one of the professors that gave a lecture earlier in the day; these opportunities don’t come along every day. It was enjoyable hearing their stories and being able to have a casual conversation with them. The panel made up of current graduate students and post-docs was also helpful in that they were able to share their experiences about graduate school and offer along any advice. I found it particularly helpful since one of the speakers was currently in a biomathematics program and I was able to ask questions I had about my major.

However, the best part of the workshop, in my opinion, was being to meet other students. Coming from a university with a smaller math department, I really enjoyed meeting students from around the country with interests similar to my own. It was great being able to make connections with students in different fields and from universities from all over. Overall, I had a wonderful time meeting new people and exploring different fields of mathematics during the workshop and found this to be a great experience.”

Topics in Probability: a VI-MSS Workshop

Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) is a NSF program that facilitates collaborations among researchers from different countries.  One of the awards under this program is the Virtual Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (VI-MSS).  This award connects two U.S. NSF funded research institutes (SAMSI and ICERM) with several leading research institutes in India (Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)).  VI-MSS provides funding to U.S. graduate students, post doctoral fellows and faculty for research visits to partner institutes in India. Another key objective of VI-MSS is to sponsor joint workshops that have the potential to lead to collaborative research between scientists in the two countries.  The workshops are co-sponsored by the Indian federal research funding agency, Department of Science and Technology (DST).

group photo at the CMI workshop

Participants from the SAMSI-SAVI Workshop on Topics in Probability at Chennai Mathematical Institute, Siruseri, Tamilnadu, India

Topics in Probability was one such workshop that was held at CMI on December 18-20, 2012.  The workshop was co-organized by me and the director of CMI, Professor Rajeeva Karandikar.  CMI, located in Siruseri at the outskirts of Chennai was founded in 1989 as part of the SPIC science foundation and is a premier research institute in Mathematical Sciences in India.  The workshop brought together leading researchers in Probability Theory;  from U.S. Universities (Professors Richard Bass, Sandra Cerrai, Tom Kurtz, Ramon Van Handel and Mathukumalli Vidyasagar);  and  from several top Indian research institutes (Professors Siva Athreya, Vivek Borkar, Arup Bose, Manjunath Krishnapur, Krishanu Maulik and Anish Sarkar).  A broad range of topics were represented, including Random Matrices, Diffusion Processes, Percolation Theory, Infinite Dimensional Stochastic Analysis, Stochastic Partial Differential Equations, Random Graphs, Limit Theorems, Information Theory, Discrete Probability Models and Elliptic PDEs with applications in Probability.  Approximately fifteen graduate students, both from U.S. and India, participated in the workshop.  Talks were spread over three days with 3-4 talks each day giving ample opportunities for interaction and discussions.  As a result of a small number of talks per day, the pace of lectures was leisurely and the environment was relaxed and informal with frequent questions and extended discussions.