Rutgers Undergrad Challenged to Succeed at Modeling Workshop

Riya Prabhaudes1

Contributed by: Riya Prabhudesai, Math and Physics Major, Rutgers University

The SAMSI Undergraduate Modeling Workshop was an amazing learning experience that I will never forget. A series of collaborations with postdoctoral scholars and a diverse group of undergraduate students, lectures given by field experts, educational workshops, and a poster session, created for a greatly productive week for me.

Getting Started

The first few days were more intense and packed with educational material than I had initially expected. We received an in-depth yet broad overview of the field of climate science, as well as mathematical and statistical methods that helped analyze the problems in climate change. This was accomplished through workshops that dealt with coding in R software, as well as presentations given by the program’s coordinators and guest speakers.

I appreciated that despite being undergraduate students, our inexperience in the field did not translate to an inability or ineptitude in the mentors’ and coordinators’ eyes. This empowered us to take on challenges that seemed overwhelming and unattainable in the span of a week — I was never told that I did not have the ability or brain power to solve a problem. Not only were the postdocs and program coordinators extremely encouraging, but the undergraduates that I worked with and talked to were helpful in any way they could be, and came to the workshop with a desire to learn.

Being in this environment motivated me to delve deeper into the project I was working on with my group throughout the week, while also giving me a list of papers and topics in math that I wanted to learn more about when I got back home.

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Rutgers University Undergraduate, Riya Prabhudesai, presents her research for her group project during SAMSI’s Undergraduate Modeling Workshop from May 21-25. Her group presented statistical research on vegetation through data captured by remote sensing methods.

Hard Work Pays Off

Although the workshop did prove to be intense and tiring at points, there was room for downtime with other students in the program. We ventured into downtown Raleigh area a few nights, as well as went on a few short walks around the NCSU campus itself. At the end of the week, we were able to exercise our presentation and communication skills through a 25-minute research presentation documenting the work we had done and problems we had solved throughout the week.

While the presentation in and of itself was a difficult task to finish, it served as a memento of all the work we had put in throughout the week. Through the course of a week, I learned how to implement various statistical and mathematical methods in R, and apply these techniques to analyzing complex climate systems. I caught a glimpse of the intricacy and thoroughness scientific research requires, and would recommend this workshop to anyone that has a vested interest in the mathematical sciences, as well as the subject material the workshop puts out every year.

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