Emory University’s Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods (QuanTM) will launch an undergraduate fellowship program next semester part of a series of initiatives by the Institute to increase education in “computational modeling and statistics,” according to an April 4 University press release.
Other initiatives include a new interdisciplinary statistical course and a new major that focuses on quantitative analysis as well as a summer program in quantitative research.
The fellowship program pairs fellows with faculty advisors who assist them in conducting quantitative research in their areas of interests, according to Associate Professor of Political Science Cliff Carrubba. Carrubba, who will serve as the director of QuanTM, explained that program administrators also plan to coordinate speakers and workshops for the fellows.
Program administrators plan to announce the students selected to participate in the program next week.
In order to apply for the fellowship program, students must send a cover letter, a transcript, a statement of interest and references to the program director Jeevan Devassy.
Though administrators have chosen approximately five fellows from the applicants for next year, Carrubba expects that there will be anywhere between 4-8 fellows each year in the future.
According to Carrubba, the fellowship program is just one of several initiatives that QuanTM plans to implement within the next few years to “help Emory improve its undergraduate and graduate education” through an increased emphasis on quantitative skills and research in data analysis and statistics.
Carrubba explained that College Dean Robin Forman approached him last year to discuss the possibility of starting up a “new quantitative initiative” at Emory because he believed that many academic departments had expressed “widespread demand” for such a program.
“Basic literacy in statistics is absolutely necessary [because] data is everywhere,” Carrubba said. “There’s a strong incentive to invest in these kinds of skills for students these days. [QuanTM] is about trying to develop strength in quantitative skills at Emory and to brand and advertise that strength.”
He added that QuanTM administrators have worked on developing an undergraduate “Introduction to Statistical Inference” course open to any student, which the College will begin to offer for the fall 2012 semester.
There will be four sections of the course — two offered during the fall semester and two offered during the spring semester.
Although the course will not be listed under a particular academic department, several departments — such as Educational Studies, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and Sociology — have expressed interest in making the course a prerequisite for majors, Carrubba noted.
He explained that QuanTM created the course because “a number of departments” believed it important to integrate statistical education into their major curriculums.
“I think there’s a perception among undergrads that there are really three different worlds — the natural sciences, social sciences or humanities — within the College,” Carrubba said, explaining that administrators hoped that students would find the statistical skills taught in this course applicable for a variety of different majors.
QuanTM also hopes to offer a six-week summer program for high school and college students who are interested in learning quantitative methods by 2013.
During the summer program, students will take a basic introduction to quantitative methods course; they can also choose from several different lab components in their specific areas of focus, Carrubba said.
In addition, Carrubba is currently in the process of constructing a new undergraduate major that would center around a set of “core quantitative classes” in subjects such as probability and statistics, mathematics, regression and computer programming.
According to Carrubba, the proposed major’s curriculum would explore “all different ways quantitative research is used across different fields.”
In addition, students could take classes under this quantitative curriculum along with classes in other departments to earn “associated majors” — such as Quantitative Economics or Quantitative Biology, for example — according to Carrubba.
QuanTM administrators hope to hire additional faculty members to assist with teaching the courses offered under this new quantitative major.
Carrubba said that he is in the process of “doing some grant-seeking activity to get some start-up funds [to hire] the additional faculty.”
Starting next year, QuanTM will also organize a series of workshops, speakers, and conferences centered on a common theme for graduate students and faculty members. Carrubba explained that next year’s theme will be “Big Data.”
“The basic idea is that there’s an explosion of data in the world that’s just getting bigger,” Carrubba remarked. “We see this in terms of businesses, research, marketing and sales information. There are all of these social media sources of data now [that] a lot of scholars and businesses can use to learn about the world.”
Carrubba said that QuanTM also plans to offer a “statistics consulting arm” consisting of a faculty member — who will assist any faculty, graduate students or honors thesis students with statistical and data analysis — as well as a graduate student who will man a statistics help-desk that will operate 10 hours per week.
— Contact Stephanie Fang.