Application for Undergraduate CIR Fellow 2018-2019

CIR Interest and Application for 2018-2019

Greetings –

Applications are now being accepted for the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) for the 2018-19 academic year; review of applications will begin on Sunday, April 8th. 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 250 students have participated since that inaugural year.  The goal of the CIR is to provide undergraduate students with interest and background in statistics and data science with training and experiences in modern practice while engaging in applied, collaborative, interdisciplinary research.

Many details about the CIR can be found at, 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 most teams ultimately present their work at regional and national conferences.

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 statistics and data science careers and graduate school are also covered.  For the 2018-19 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 an ORC credit after successful completion of both semesters of CIR.

Applicants for the CIR should meet the following criteria:
* successfully completed Statistics 272: Statistical Modeling (or currently enrolled this spring)
* are a declared statistics concentrator
* are available Mondays 2:00-2:55 both Fall and Spring semesters in 2018-19.  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 6-8 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 Sunday April 8th at 5:00 PM, and we will notify Fellows selected by Wednesday, April 11th.

If you are accepted as a CIR Fellow, you should register for MSCS 389: MSCS Research for Fall semester 2018.  We will then solicit your input on potential projects for 2018-19 this summer before making team assignments.

If you have any questions about the CIR, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or any statistics faculty member.  We look forward to receiving your application!

Professors Eisinger, Lane-Getaz, Legler, Roback, and Ziegler-Graham