Earlier this winter, I received an email inviting me to a day’s worth of interviews for an MD/PhD program. This invitation included a schedule with Zoom meetings that extended much later into the day than I expected. As a result, these meetings conflicted with some of my classes as well as a meeting for an extracurricular activity.
We’ve all been there: something comes up and we can no longer make it to a class or meeting on our calendars. Whatever the reason, there’s a special kind of stress that comes with realizing you’ll need to cancel on someone. When will you have a chance to make this up? Will your colleagues and professors be upset with you?
I’ve also been on the other side of the equation: as a supervisor for Murray-Dodge Café, I’ve received my fair share of emails from students needing to miss a shift or a meeting. While the best way to handle these situations is to avoid them altogether, that isn’t always possible, so in this article, I’ll share some of my tips for handling these sticky situations!
As a senior concurrently enrolled in two Persian classes and working on completing a minor in German, I am no stranger to learning vocabulary words. To be frank, however, I have rarely enjoyed this process. From awkwardly jotting down words in the middle of conversations to hunting for their precise definitions and usages, I have found learning vocabulary to be more difficult and painstaking than the simple memorization task it is made out to be. The worst of all has been forgetting a vocabulary word I have studied or even failing to correctly identify a word, realizing after the fact that I ‘knew’ what it meant but couldn’t tease out the meaning in the moment.
Hello everyone and welcome back! It is with great excitement that I write this post from a cozy armchair in Chancellor Green Library within East Pyne. While the 2021-2022 semester is not normal in every sense, PCUR certainly has returned in full stride. And with a new year comes new correspondents: I am happy to introduce Cecilia Kim ’23, Agnes Robang ’23, and Sandeep Mangat ’24, the newest members to our team. I hope you enjoy becoming familiar with their unique voices as they share their experiences on the blog. They join us in addition to Yodahe Gebreegziabher ’22, Bridget Denzer ’23, Ryan Champeau ’23, Austin Davis ’23, and Abhimanyu Banerjee ’23.
In conjunction with the beginning of the academic year comes a storm of essays, tests and quizzes, readings, extracurricular activities, and research opportunities. Sharing their own tips, experiences, frustrations, successes, and realizations, our correspondents from a variety of disciplines and class years navigate their semesters alongside your own. Feel free to check out each of their bios as well, included below.
This academic year has certainly been atypical. For many, the process of doing research itself has been impacted by COVID-19: indeed, in our upcoming Seasonal Series, correspondents will interview research faculty and graduate students about their research experiences in the wake of COVID-19. Additionally, many of our favorite activities have been cancelled, while others march forward virtually. PCUR has continued to publish blog posts during this time.
In fact, we are happy to announce that PCUR is hiring new correspondents for the 2021-2022 academic year!
Most people’s New Years Resolutions, I imagine, are not about improving their knowledge of statistics. But I would argue that a little bit of knowledge about statistics is both useful and interesting. As it turns out, our brains are constantly doing statistics – in reality, our conscious selves are the only ones out of the loop! Learning and using statistics can help with interpreting data, making formal conclusions about data, and understanding the limitations and qualifications of those conclusions.
In my last post, I explained a project in my PSY/NEU 338 course that lent itself well to statistical analysis. I walked through the process of collecting the data, using a Google Spreadsheet for computing statistics, and making sense of what a ‘p-value’ is. In this post, however, I walk through how I went about visualizing these results. Interpretation of data is often not complete before getting a chance to see it. Plus, images are much more conducive than a wall of text when it comes to sharing results with other people.
In PSY/NEU 338, From Animal Learning to Changing People’s Minds, my group recently presented our capstone project for the course: we researched irrationality, trying to understand when humans make irrational decisions, how that is implemented in the brain, and if certain things might actually be incorrectly labeled as ‘irrational’. Our emotions are a leading example: although some call them irrational, in practice, they play a key role in fine-tuning our decision-making and reasoning abilities. When you’re happy, for example, everything might be going more positively than expected. Your mood is thus encouraging you to continue the behaviors that led to those rewards, since that positive trend might continue (for a neuroscientific discussion of this topic, see this paper).
To demonstrate this phenomenon first-hand, we had students in the class play what is known as the Ultimatum Game:
You are the proposer. You have been given $100. You are tasked with splitting your money with a stranger, the responder. If the responder accepts the split that you propose, you both keep the money after the game ends. If the responder does not accept, no one keeps the money.
The question: how much money do you decide to offer the responder?
After reading this, students had five seconds to provide their answer. They were then asked to report their mood. The question we wanted to answer was simple:
Is the amount of money people offered statistically different between those who reported “positive” versus “negative” moods?
In this post, I’ll explain some of the basic statistics I used to formally answer this question, bolding some key terms in the field along the way. In my next post, I’ll walk through the programming aspect for visualizing those statistics.
Getting PSETs done over Zoom can be a combination of awkward and challenging. To assist with that task, fellow PCUR Correspondent Ryan Champeau recently wrote a post with suggestions for working on PSETs in the age of remote learning. A great tip in that article is to collaborate with friends when permitted under a course’s collaboration policy. However, given that students can’t meet in person to work on assignments anymore, I’ve found the process of checking over PSETs to be a bit more difficult than usual.
Specifically, I’m taking QCB 455, an introductory course to quantitative and computational biology in which there are four total problem sets. As a neuroscience major in a class filled with computer science majors and some graduate students, I didn’t really know many people in the course. Going over the first PSET with people I didn’t know over Zoom felt a bit strange, but I’ve since found that there are actually a few benefits to going over PSETs that are specific to the remote experience. In this post, I’ll go over the three strategies I’ve started to use when collaborating on PSETs for my classes:
Oh, it’s unfortunate that your classes are all online now… But all the extra free time must be nice, right?
Actually, no. Somehow, I have ended up in a place where I’m busier than I was back when school was offline. And that’s without Powerlifting Team practices, the thirty-minute dinners that consistently turned into three-hour-long social gatherings, and all of the hours I spent working on-campus jobs.
I’ve realized it has to do with my relationship with time. In the past, I didn’t need to be very intentional with my free time: it always just happened. Nowadays I think back fondly to my naïve visits to the Rocky Common Room for pre-bedtime cereal-breaks, only to end up practicing handstands on the rug by the piano with my friends until 2 am.
Without spontaneous social interaction, I ended up filling up all of my time with work, clubs, projects, and research. Unfortunately for first-year students, these challenges are only compounded by the transition to college academics in general. Whether or not you feel like you’re busier this semester, I believe we can all benefit from evaluating how we make time for ourselves: below are five tips I’ve implemented to help facilitate a productive and sustainable semester this fall.
Recently, we’ve all had to do our best to adapt our coursework, extracurriculars, and past times to a remote format. Some activities – like hands-on research in a lab – may be difficult, or even impossible, to do over Zoom. For those of you looking to fill the gap, hackathons may be the solution. Hackathons are short programming events designed for students to learn new skills, meet new people, develop solutions to everyday problems, and win prizes. And because of the COVID-19 situation, many hackathons are turning virtual.
To hear a little more about what exactly hackathons are and who they might be a good fit for, I interviewed Princeton sophomore and Director of the TechTogether New York hackathon, Soumya Gottipati. For those of you who have recently hard your internships canceled, Soumya also let me know about internship opportunities you might be interested in!
For this year’s Winter Seasonal Series, entitled Research Resources: Unsung Heroes, each correspondent has selected a faculty member, staff member, or peer working for a research resource on campus to interview. We hope that these interviews will provide insight into the variety of resources available on campus and supply the unique perspective of the people behind these resources. Here, Kamron shares his interview.
A few weeks ago, I interviewed Sara Howard, the Gender and Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement librarian. I’ve found that I often don’t use all the available research resources to my benefit. Given that we have all recently transitioned on an online learning community, consider meeting with your librarian over Zoom!