Applications are now being accepted for the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) for the 2014-15 academic year, and review of applications will begin on Monday, April 7th. St. Olaf College’s Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), had the unique opportunity to establish the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) in 2004, and over 175 students have participated since that inaugural year. The goal of the CIR is to provide undergraduate students with interest and background in statistics, applied mathematics, or computer science with training and experiences in the modern practice of their discipline while engaging in applied, collaborative, interdisciplinary research. You are receiving this invitation because of your background and potential interest in statistics, although you are welcome to consider opportunities in applied math or computer science as well.
Many details about the CIR can be found at http://wp.stolaf.edu/cir/, including lists of the cool and diverse past projects that have been completed. In short, CIR Fellows participate on interdisciplinary research teams whose goals are to use statistical, mathematical, and computational thinking and analysis to support the quantitative research of faculty or staff from a variety of disciplines around the college. The research teams meet weekly with their MSCS mentors and domain experts, and many teams ultimately present their work at regional and national conferences. CIR Fellowships also provide academic year support (up to $3400) intended to increase your awareness of the national need for statisticians, applied mathematicians, and computer scientists and to encourage you to consider careers in those fields.
In addition, CIR Fellows participate in a weekly Research Skills Seminar which focuses on research-oriented oral and written communication skills, from one-on-one collaboration to formal scientific presentations. Other topics such as ethics in research and opportunities for MSCS careers and graduate school are also covered. For the 2014-15 academic year, this seminar will be held from 2:00-2:55 MWF. The entire group of CIR Fellows will meet Mondays, and then Wednesdays and Fridays will be used for meetings of individual research teams. Participants receive a 0.5 academic credit each semester for this seminar in addition to the stipend associated with participation in the CIR. You will also receive an ORC credit after successful completion of both semesters of CIR.
Applicants for the CIR who are interested in statistics projects should meet the following criteria:
* successfully completed (or on track to complete) Statistics 272: Statistical Modeling
* are a declared statistics concentrator
* are available Mondays 2:00-2:55 both Fall and Spring semesters in 2014-15. Ideally, participants would also be available Wed and Fri 2:00-2:55, but there is some flexibility here.
* love (or think they might enjoy) using statistical problem solving skills to address real research questions!
Applicants must be willing to make a regular, concerted time commitment to CIR. Our collaborative domain experts are depending on us to help them form answers to real research questions. Although time commitment fluctuates based on the stage of the projects, CIR Fellows probably average 5-8 hours per week including group meetings, preparation for meetings and the Research Skills Seminar, and individual work. Therefore, you should consider your other commitments—classes, extracurriculars, work study, etc.—before applying. But I think most CIR alum have considered their commitments to the CIR to be highly worthwhile, meaningful, and even fun.
If you are interested, you should apply online. With advising and registration for next year soon underway, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. We will start reviewing applications on Monday April 7th, and will notify Fellows selected by Thursday, April 10th.
If you are accepted as a CIR Fellow, you should register for MSCS 389: MSCS Research for Fall semester 2014. We will then solicit your input on potential projects for 2014-15 before making team assignments over the summer.