Biological Modeling: Mathematical and Computational Approaches
Spring 2020 - My man's handwritten notes look like hieroglyphics. Jokes aside, Van Savage is an incredibly kind and understanding professor. Spring quarter was tough especially towards the end, and he listened to students' feedback regarding the difficulty and pacing of the class and made fair adjustments accordingly. It was a flipped classroom, so there were 1.5-2 hr pre-recorded lectures per class and the actual zoom class meeting (optional) was Q+A. The class is made up of: Labs (10): 20% Problem Sets (5): 60% Midterm (1): 10% Final: 10% - opted out For Spring quarter, he allowed us to opt out of the final and drop the lowest lab and problem set score. There are are 10 labs total, so each matters minimally to the final grade. Labs are in MATLAB and you answer a couple questions exploring a concept that was covered in class, and they're not too difficult (working in groups on your own time helps a lot). The problem sets matter most to the grade, and they are actually pretty difficult to do and require some mathematical knowledge (diffEq and discrete were relevant) and thinking, but as long as you deeply understand the material he imparts and start early on them, you should be fine. He doesn't always give straight answers if you ask him about the homework questions, but he does try to help you as much as possible. Group work is definitely needed for this class. For the midterm, he gave us 48 hours and allowed collaboration. It was basically a longer problem set and it did take a very long time to finish (definitely would not have finished in 2 hours), but it was doable, and if you did particular problems very well, secret extra credit was given. I found his board notes to be the most useful, but sometimes he would mumble and his handwriting was illegible. His handwriting was even more illegible during live zooms, and I found those meetings to be kind of useless (go if you need to ask questions, though). The curriculum itself is very interesting, and I think Van tried his best to pick and choose which parts of this massive field of computational bio to show us. That being said, I think I was somewhat disappointed with the depth of the concepts and think that the class could have had a lot more to offer.