Fall 2023 Quarter Class Review


My first quarter at UW! Summary: adapting to life in academia from the tech industry.

Courses I took:

  • A Psych 522: Laboratory in Statistical Computation 1
  • A Psych 524: Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Cr Psych 550: Seminar in Psychology
  • Cr Psych 552: Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • A ☆☆ Psych 542: Advances in Behavioral Neuroscience

Other Commitments: None


Grad Student Life

Nothing much to say here. I think that I did a pretty good job of balancing the transition between work and school. In hindsight, I think it’s a good thing that I worked for a few years before coming back to school.


I probably should have placed out of courses 522 and 524; they were focused on statistical tests (e.g., ANOVAs, Chi-squares) that don’t often appear in ML/DL papers and will probably(?) be largely irrelevant to my research. However, Geoff was a great lecturer, and I appreciated his online book which I might refer to if the need ever comes up.

Psych 542 was a game-changer. In my opinion, it was less about “Behavioral Neuroscience” per se and more a primer on “setting yourself up for success as a Ph.D. student.” That’s not to imply I didn’t gain insights into behavioral neuroscience; rather, that aspect was not my principal takeaway. My key learnings involved methods for knowledge accumulation, idea integration, and effective note-taking strategies for the research papers I read. Reflecting on my undergraduate days, where I encountered roughly 50 papers, the erosion of acquired knowledge is disheartening. Previously, my note-taking system was rudimentary at best—scribbling notes directly on the papers themselves, only to lose all when I moved. In hindsight, I deeply wish I had encountered a class like Psych 542 or a similar resource earlier in my academic journey.

  • P.S. The tool we utilized is called Obsidian , which offers various student discounts.
  • According to feedback from seniors familiar with earlier versions of the course, the competencies developed were instrumental for their success in qualification exams. Consequently, I am grateful for having taken this course in my first quarter.


Assembling my work machine and setting up the GPU took about three weeks for various reasons, two weeks longer than it should have. If you’re in the same situation, consider using Lambda Stack. My only gripe is that Lambda Stack requires running Ubuntu, which I am loathe to use - I use ArchLinux, btw.

My experience with neuroethology was limited, and I wish I had dedicated more time to reading up on it over the summer. While catching up was not excessively difficult, it required more time than expected due to balancing research, reading, and homework.