Quantitative Education for "Fearless" Life Science Graduate Students

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room LL21F (San Jose Convention Center)
Louis J. Gross,University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
The "curriculum" for life science graduate education is diverse,
and variable depending upon subdiscipline. There is a lack of
guidance on anything akin to general learning goals such as those
included in many recent reports on undergraduate biology. While
much of graduate education encourages specialization and the
development of intuition in a particular subdiscipline through
hands-on activities at the bench or in the field, there are
commonalities across the diversity of the life sciences
regarding appropriate goals to advance career opportunities of all
kinds. Reinforcing and expanding students quantitative abilities
provides one such potential common objective.

Enhancement of quantitative conceptual foundations and associated
skills in modeling, analysis, statistics and computing provides a
host of benefits, both in the capability of the students to "fearlessly"
go forth to develop novel research, and for them to appreciate the
theoretical framework of biology as an integrated field. This enhances
the capacity of students to interlink data-driven discovery approaches
with hypothesis-driven efforts derived from theory and integrative
perspectives. Extensive efforts to enhance the quantitative components
of the undergraduate curriculum can provide insights for ways to
incorporate the diverse array of quantitative methods and approaches
into the mixture of courses, lab and field efforts, collaborative
research and seminars that comprise the "curriculum" of much of life
science graduate education.