What is rough is my first year at William & Mary. What is not so rough is the completion of my CAMS minor in December!
It also happens that I had to decide what major is not only job-worthy but interesting. Despite my struggles in my beginning computer science classes, I am happy to find out my neuroscience research course counts toward my CAMS minor. Top this off with a mathematical biology class, and I will be able to focus on computer science by January. Here are my past and upcoming classes in the minor.
Computational Problem Solving
I took this class as a transfer equivalent. Back in community college, we were learning how to program in Java. I did not think of it at first because we had a book where I just memorize the techniques and apply them to problems in exams and homework. Even if I took the course online, I am so happy I have to learn Java again as I will take Software Development in the fall. Hopefully, I will finally be able to master Java and develop a big app.
Cellular Biophysics & Modeling
When I first entered William & Mary, cellular biophysics is a class where I just complete the work and follow it up with a TA. Additionally, cheat sheets, practice exams, and curves make me fall in love with neuroscience. Although I am no longer pursuing a neuroscience major, cellular biophysics served as a springboard for my favorite class: computational neuroscience. Such concepts as power spectrum and EEG techniques are giving me ideas on what to include in my future research projects.
Probability & Statistics for Scientists
Statistics is no easy feat for neuroscience majors. Not surprisingly, it is the one class where I excel in calculations. Sorry, organic chemistry (where I withdrew after two failing exam grades), but statistics helped me exercise my mathematical capabilities. Collecting important formulas is personally my favorite hobby and thus reduces my study time for math. That would have been tricky if we write proofs all the time in Foundations of Math.
This class was a seminar that required us to read and think deeply about topics like machine learning, natural language processing, and neural networks. Also, we had to complete a project of our choice. For my project, I described a neural simulator that handles large-scale neuroscientific data and supports mirror neuron research. My assignment seems to stand out because I have combined neuroscience and computer science together in a way that science makes more sense to me. Below is my video that explains everything:
Introduction to Mathematical Biology
This is the course I will take in the fall. With my mathematical and computational merits, I can channel my focus into modeling. By passing the course, I seek to utilize the methods learned and take my research interests to a new level. What I expect to see is modeling applications in neuroscience. My secret weapon for class projects would be neural engineering. In my opinion, mathematical biology would not be complete without engineering as both can further enhance my numerical and problem-solving skills.
Research in Neuroscience
My upcoming class, NSCI 400, involving helping a certain professor with his research while building a faculty-student relationship. In my first year, I was too confused to find out the best possible research experiences for me. The closest opportunity I found was being a TA for a general chemistry lab section. Today, I am switching gears as I look for scholarly sources that would support the development of my honors thesis. Further, I am about to begin my STEM internship close to home, and my current project deals with neuroinformatics. With a poster presentation at the end of my internship, I have no doubt research could be a rewarding academic experience.
What makes me excited and nervous about it is finding the right jobs and graduate programs with my CAMS minor. It feels great to choose interesting classes, and I have only two years left to get myself out there and be recruited. Somebody pinch me if I land the most prestigious job or graduate school offer in the world!