Why did you enroll in Integrated Science?
Having competed in the Physics Olympiad in high school, I loved (still do) problem solving. When I heard during the Academic Expo that the weekly problem sets were rigorous, with difficult but interesting interdisciplinary problems, I was sold. Even though I was decided on majoring in physics, I love all the sciences and wanted to explore the connections between the disciplines - thus, ISC.
What was the ISC freshman sequence (ISC231-234) like for you?
I am so glad I did ISC. It was the best learning experience of my freshman year, and one of my most enjoyable classes as well. Since the workload was huge, I was forced to be more efficient and manage time better in order to keep up. I was thoroughly fascinated by the subject material we learned in class, the mathematical techniques we used for problem solving, and the ingenious experimental designs. And that excitement kept me going.
How have the courses benefited you academically, and has it made you think about what you want to do after you graduate?
Through ISC, I have come to appreciate how elegant, and sometimes very counter-intuitive, the scientific world and its principles are. And I have learned that many real life problems are not limited to a particular scientific discipline, but tend to be interdisciplinary. Therefore, interdisciplinary problem solving techniques are often useful. For example, using mechanical models that one would learn in a physics class to describe Drosophila gastrulation, a process that one studies in biology; or using a computer program to solve a differential equation for damped oscillation that would be difficult to solve by hand.
I was always determined on going to graduate school after college. The summer after freshman year, I did quantitative and computational biology (QCB) research with one of my ISC professors. I enjoyed working on my research project. I learned that I enjoy experimental work more than purely theoretical science, among many other things. The summer research program corroborated my plans to join graduate school. Equipped with experimental and problem skills from ISC, I now feel confident about research at graduate school.
How do you like working with the various integrated science faculty and staff?
ISC is taught by amazing professors who are among the best in their fields. Their passion and enthusiasm for what they teach is contagious. The lecturers and preceptors were very helpful and accessible. We even got to know each other outside class over dinner, lunch, and foosball games. Over the summer, I worked on a research project with Professor Shvartsman, one of the coolest scientists and best storytellers I know.
What is it like going through Integrated Science with a close cohort of student peers?
I made some of my closest friends among my ISC peers. Between helping each other with MATLAB programs and making late meal runs from Icahn to Frist together, we soon became a close-knit family. I learned a tremendous amount from my peers; collaborating over psets and lab reports really helped me grow as a scientist and problem solver. I must admit, my peers were the best part of the ISC experience.