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Franjo Weissing (Science and Engineering)

I am the coordinator of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme Evolutionary Biology (MEME), which is a joint endeavour of four European universities (Groningen, Montpellier, Munich, Uppsala) and Harvard. All MEME students are of excellent quality (only 10% of all applicants are admitted; virtually all students graduate within the allotted 2 years), but they come from all over the world (see ), with diverse educational backgrounds. In particular, not all students have a sufficient background in mathematics and statistics. To close this gap, we will establish a preparatory self-study course where students can learn the basics of Biomathematics and Biostatistics (up to systems of differential equations and Bayesian statistics). We will develop course material where the theory is motivated by concrete biological problems and where the theory is explained in the context of applications and exercises. When studying the material, the students can open links to videotaped mini-lectures (with a pre-assigned level of depth and difficulty) where the written course material is explained from a slightly different angle. Doing exercises (both with pencil and paper and with Maple or Mathematica) is crucial for understanding the course material. At different stages of an exercise, students can get hints and explanations (either videotaped or in written form), but these are only available after students have spent sufficient effort on the exercises themselves. Most videotaped explanations will be given by biology students without background in mathematics; experience shows that ‘math-timid’ students find this approach very stimulating. Hopefully, we can also include a chat function where participants can exchange questions and insights with each other and where the organizers can contribute to clarification. By adding more and more elements, the course will grow over the years. It may also be useful for other fields where the lack of a good foundation in mathematics and statistics can be a bottleneck.

Last modified:16 October 2017 11.24 a.m.