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.
|Summer Thesis Research Table||Ethics Discussion|
|Summer Research Student Presentations||Documenting Your Research with Zotero|
|Exploring Data with Excel||Manipulating Images with Adobe Photoshop|
|Statistically Speaking with R||Creating Drawings with Adobe Illustrator|
|Mapping Geographic Data with ArcGIS||Producing Presentations with PowerPoint|
|Scientific Programming with Python||Scholarly Communication in Science|
|Debugging and Version Control for Programming||Effective Poster Design|
|Analyzing Data with Mathematica||Constructing Posters for High-Impact Communication|
|Writing Scientific Papers with LaTeX|
|Poster Presentation Workshop|
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, with facilitation from research librarians and writing associates. Stay tuned for plans for summer '23.
Pending COVID-19 policies around the size of gatherings & available locations, our summer researchers will have the opportunity to present their work in either a department-hosted event or a large session event. Presentations may be held through the course of the Fall Session pending each department's schedule.
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.
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.
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.
No registration needed, just show up!
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 graphing. 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 and install for free.
The R Project for Statistical Computing is a high-level programming language focused on statistical analysis. It can be applied to a wide variety of statistical models and includes functions for high-quality graphical display. It is most commonly used in the social, environmental, and biological sciences, as well as by statisticians. This class will provide a very basic introduction to R and present a few standard statistical applications. (The Department of Mathematics and Statistics provides a more thorough program of study.) R is open-source software and can be downloaded and installed for free. The integrated development environment RStudio is recommended and can also be downloaded and installed for free.
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
• Analyzing and extracting geographic data.
ArcGIS can 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 Pro 3.1 from the Amherst Software Collection.
This workshop is in four parts:
Python is a high-level general-purpose programming language that has become very popular for everything from scripting applications and web-page generation to machine learning and solving scientific problems, most commonly in the physical sciences. It shares many basic characteristics with languages like Mathematica, Matlab, and Labview, and has an extensive set of numerical and scientific modules. In this course we will use Python to build instructions describing scientific problems, and solve them using the college computing cluster. Python is open-source software which can be downloaded and installed for free. Anaconda is the recommended distribution for scientific computing, providing many important modules for Python such as numpy, scipy, and pandas, along with the integrated development environment Spyder.
This workshop is in four parts:
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 from the Amherst Software Collection.
This workshop is in two parts:
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.
Adobe Photoshop is the industry-standard program for image creation and editing. Images created in Photoshop can be incorporated into other documents such as Word, InDesign, PowerPoint, and Web pages. Using Photoshop you can easily crop and merge photos (e.g., “Photoshop me in!”) and retouch them to create sharper, more vibrant, and blemish-free images. Students must have Photoshop on their own computers, but if it’s not already installed, registration must occur by Friday, July 7 to allow time for licensing and installation.
Adobe Illustrator is a superior tool to create diagrams, trace images, and transform the graphical output of other programs such as Excel. Its illustrations can be included in other documents such as Word, InDesign, and PowerPoint. Students must have Illustrator on their own computers, but if it’s not already installed, registration must occur by Friday, July 7 to allow time for licensing and installation.
This workshop will help you produce a slide presentation that will get your message across to your colleagues at Amherst and at external conferences. We’ll discuss adding text, photos, illustrations, charts, and other graphic features, and applying special effects. We will use Microsoft PowerPoint, a popular program to build computer presentations, but Google Slides is very similar. PowerPoint is part of Microsoft Office, which students, faculty, and staff can download for free.
A panel of SURF faculty will discuss their own experiences with scientific communication: presenting posters and talks at conferences, submitting papers, and other avenues for sharing research. Hosted by Ethan Myers, Writing Center Associate in Science Communication, and Stephanie Capsuto, Science Librarian.
Through examples, analysis, and discussion, we will determine what makes a research poster successful, and we will discuss visual design and rhetoric, effective use of graphics, and how to engage your audience.
This workshop is required for all SURF students, but other Amherst College students are welcome to attend as well.
Led by Ethan Myers, Writing Center Associate in Science Communication, and Stephanie Capsuto, Science Librarian.
This workshop is part 1 of the poster design series; for part 2 (an introduction to the software for poster design), visit:
All summer research students are invited to describe their efforts and results at the annual Summer Research Poster Presentation at the beginning of the Fall semester. This class will help you produce a large-format poster that will get your message across here and at many other conferences.
This workshop will build on the principles from the Effective Poster Design workshop to show you how to lay out your poster, including adding text, photos, illustrations, and graphics, and applying special effects. You have two technology options:
This workshop is repeated three times, with different tools:
All sessions will be held in:
LaTeX is an accessible 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 (which can also be embedded in Moodle pages and some Markdown documents), 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 implementations that you can install on your own computer, and is most easily composed using a dedicated editor and interpreter. We recommend the following:
Hosted by Susan Daniels, Writing Center.