The Library, the Writing Center, the SURF program, and Academic Technology Services are offering the following programs for Amherst College students doing research on campus during the summer, as well as other members of the community. All workshops require advance registration; see links in the descriptions below.

Any questions? Please contact Andy Anderson (Academic Technology), Stephanie Capsuto (Library), Jessica Kem (Writing Center), or Jess Martin (SURF).

For an iCal-compatible calendar grid with exportable events, click here.

For a Google Calendar grid with duplicatable events, click here.

2020 Schedule


The Research Process

Summer Thesis Research Table Ethics Discussion
Summer Research Student Presentations Documenting Your Research with Zotero



Analyzing Data with Mathematica Writing Scientific Papers with LaTeX
Exploring Data with Excel Constructing Presentations for High-Impact Communication
Mapping Geographic Data with ArcGIS  
Scientific Programming with Python
Debugging and Version Control for Programming  
Investigating Networks with Gephi  




Summer Thesis Research Table

The thesis research table is a regular meet-up for students who are starting work on a thesis project or other similar long-term research project. Each week's discussion will focus on an aspect of the research and writing process; topics will be determined by the group. We'll provide the donuts! Drop in or attend regularly. Hosted by Frost Library & the Writing Center. Hosted by Jessica Kem (director, Writing Center) and Blake Doherty (research, instruction, and outreach librarian, Frost Library). Learn more and register here.

  • Meetings will be held Wednesdays 2 – 3pm, from June 10 – July 15


Annual Summer Student Research Presentations

Join us for a virtual showcase of original student research from this summer! Student researchers will share works in progress, summer research stories, thesis ideas, and experimental results. This showcase is open to AC students who completed both on- and off-campus projects, and other students working with Amherst College faculty.

All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend!

View previous summer student research and “Best of” winners!

  • First week of class, details to be announced!


The Research Process


Ethics Discussion

Many student researchers are required to take ethics training, formally known as Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). At Amherst College this requirement is fulfilled through online training and through faculty-student discussions. Prof. David Hansen, our SURF Faculty Director, will lead the session with talk on research ethics. This will be followed by an open discussion that will address scenarios that student researchers might face. Students will be encouraged to explore ethical questions related to their own research process and consider what to do when presented with an ethical dilemma. This workshop is mandatory for SURF students and strongly encouraged for SRP students. Other summer research students are also encouraged to attend, as well as take the online training.

  • Tuesday, June 9, 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM


Documenting Your Research with Zotero

Want to make your research process more organized and efficient? Attend a one-hour tutorial to get started with Zotero! Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free program that helps you collect, manage, and cite your sources. It's available in all computer labs on campus and you can also install it on your personal computer for free. Tutorials and documentation are also available.

Several workshops are currently scheduled. Depending on your experience with Zotero and your goals, sign up for one or more:

Zotero Basics

Downloading, installing, configuring; adding citations and files to your library.

  • Thursday, June 11, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
  • Friday, June 19, Noon – 1:00 PM
  • Monday, June 22, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, June 24, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Write & Cite with Zotero

Insert citations or foot/endnotes; create bibliographies in Google Docs and Word.

  • Thursday. June 25, 11:00 AM – Noon
  • Tuesday, June 30, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Organize & Collaborate with Zotero

Take Notes, use Tags, and make Groups for research.

  • Friday, June 19, 11:00 AM – Noon
  • Thursday, June 25, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

For more information about Zotero and check for future workshops, visit the Library’s Zotero Web site, and register here: .




Analyzing Data with Mathematica

Mathematica is a multifacted tool for doing mathematics on computer, from algebra and trigonometry through calculus and beyond. It can perform both symbolic and numeric calculations, and it provides numerous mathematical and statistical functions, letting you work with many different data formats, solve equations, and fit data to arbitrary functions. It can also graphically display functions and numerical data in two and three dimensions, allowing visualizations that you can easily manipulate. It is used by mathematicians and statisticians, scientists, engineers, economists, and even game developers. Mathematica can be installed on student-owned computers from the Amherst Software Collection; faculty- and staff-owned computers must obtain a home-use license.

This workshop is in two parts:

  • Tuesday, June 9, from 1 PM – 5 PM
  • Friday, June 12, from 3 PM – 5 PM.

Please register in advance.


Exploring Data with Excel

Excel is an essential tool for organizing and exploring data from all fields of research. Its flexible tabular format provides a convenient display of data, and it provides many functions for basic statistics, selection, summary, and plotting. In addition, if you understand Excel, you will also be familiar with Google Sheets. If you’ve been a casual user of Excel, there are many capabilities and tricks that you may not be aware of. Come and find out what you’ve been missing. Excel is part of Microsoft Office, which Amherst students, faculty, and staff can download for free.

  • Thursday, June 11, 1 PM – 3 PM

Please register in advance.


Mapping Geographic Data with ArcGIS

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a powerful tool to discover spatial relationships and illuminate your research with intuitive maps:

• Illustrate historic sites and extract features from old maps;
• Spatially correlate census, economic, and other data;
• Display geologic formations and delineate watersheds;
• Track human, animal, and plant populations; and
• Map locations from a GPS receiver.

You will learn about:

• Constructing and Sharing Maps (including with Google Earth);
• Mapping Named Data (including census data and street addresses);
• Mapping Coordinate Data (including using a GPS receiver);
• Mapping Image Data (including scanned maps and satellite data); and
• Extracting Map Features

ArcGIS can be (but does not need to be) installed on faculty, staff, and student Windows computers, or on Macs running Windows under Parallels (note link to the Student Edition) or a similar virtual machine (16 GB of total RAM is highly recommended!). Download ArcGIS 10.7.1 from the Amherst Software Collection.

This workshop is in three parts, Tuesday – Thursday, June 16 –18, 1 PM – 5 PM.

Please register in advance.


Scientific Programming with Python

Python is a freely distributable high-level programming language that has become very popular for everything from scripting applications and web-page generation to solving scientific problems. It shares many basic characteristics with languages like Mathematica, Matlab, and Labview, and has an extensive set of numerical and scientific modules. In this class we will use Python to build instructions describing a scientific problem, and solve it using the college computing cluster. Python is open-source, and Anaconda is the recommended distribution.

This workshop is in three parts:

  • Tuesday – Thursday, June 23 – 25, 1 PM – 5 PM

Please register in advance.


Debugging and Version Control for Programming

Want your computer code to be perfect? Start by realizing that you will make mistakes when writing it! In this class you’ll learn how to discover and fix your errors. We will cover basic principles of debugging applicable to any programming language, though examples will use the Python language and its standard debugger pdb. Sometimes you’ll also want to try out new ideas without ruining the code that’s already working. We will therefore learn the basics of using the Git version control system, which makes it easy to fall back to an earlier version of your code if necessary. Git is also an important tool for collaborating with others, so that you can safely experiment with fixing errors in their code and taking it in new directions. This course will use the Anaconda distribution of Python along with Github Desktop, a free GUI that simplifies Git quite a bit.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 1 PM – 3 PM

Please register in advance.


Investigating Networks with Gephi

Gephi is a freely distributable tool for exploring and analyzing networks, with or without a geographic component. Related items can be associated with each other with different colors based on their properties, and clusters of connections and other patterns can be easily visualized as you rotate and arrange the network. Terrific for social network analysis, e.g. who’s writing to who, as well as economic analysis, e.g. what one country is selling to others, and even for studying biological networks!

  • Wednesday, July 1, 1 PM – 3 PM

Please register in advance.




Writing Scientific Papers with LaTeX

LaTeX is a computer language for the creation of high-quality scientific and technical documents. In addition to structuring your writing in the usual paragraphs and sections, its features include mathematical equation typesetting, bibliographies, and automatic numbering of sections, equations, references, tables, and figures. LaTeX is built upon a lower-level typesetting language called TeX, and is open-source and free to use. It’s available in a number of packages that you can install on your own computer, and is most easily composed using a dedicated editor and interpreter. We recommend the following:

Macintosh: MacTeX + TeXShop
Windows: MikTeX + TexStudio

  • Thursday, July 2, 1 PM – 3 PM

Please register in advance.


Effective Presentation Design

Part 1 of the presentation design series

Through examples, analysis, and discussion, we will determine what makes a research poster successful. We will discuss visual design and rhetoric, effective use of graphics, and how to engage your audience.

All summer research students are invited to describe their efforts and results at the annual Summer Research Presentation during the first week of the Fall semester. This class will help you design and produce a large-format poster that will get your message across here and at many other conferences. This workshop is required for all SURF students, but other Amherst College students are welcome to attend as well. Led by Kristen Greenland, Science Librarian, and Jessica Kem, Director of the Writing Center.


Constructing Presentations for High-Impact Communication

Part 2 of the presentation design series

All summer research students are invited to describe their efforts and results at the annual Summer Research Presentation during the first week of the Fall semester. This class will help you produce a presentation that will get your message across here and at many other conferences.

This workshop will build on the design principles shared in Part 1 to show you how to construct your presentation, including adding text, photos, illustrations, and graphics, and applying special effects. We will use Microsoft PowerPoint, a popular program to build computer presentations. It can also be used to lay out print posters, so we will also discuss some elements of poster design. PowerPoint is part of Microsoft Office, which students, faculty, and staff can download for free.

  • Wednesday, July 8, 1 PM – 3 PM

Please register in advance.