Spring 2024 Quarter Class Review

Published:

My third quarter at UW! Summary: No matter how heavy or light my quarters are, I always find a way to overload. Also, I’m rarely satisfied with my accomplishments, but I can confidently say that I’ve finished my first (school) year of my Ph.D. happy with the progress I’ve made.

The Reviews

  • TODO AMATH 500 L: Special Studies In Applied Mathematics: NEURO AI SEMINAR
  • TODO ☆☆ CSE 599 N: Special Topics In Computer Science: Machine Learning for Neuroscience
  • Cr Psych 550: Seminar in Psychology
  • Cr Psych 552: Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cr Psych 555: Seminar in Cognition/Perception
  • Cr Psych 560: Research Strategies
  • Cr Psych 700: Master’s Thesis

Other Commitments:

  • Psychology Research Festival. I finally had the opportunity to present my work to the rest of the 2023 cohort! Fun stuff
  • I taught a Numpy to JAX quick course at the eScience Institute.

Retrospective

Grad Student Life

This quarter marked the moment when the “Ph.D. student mentality” truly set in: I focused more on my classes that closely related to my research. Initially, I was enrolled in another time-consuming CS class, but I decided to drop it because 1) it would consume too much of my research time, and 2) it would interfere with my learning in CSE 599 N (more on this later). It took about 6-ish months for this mentality to develop, but I’m glad it finally did.

This quarter, I had the opportunity to present my work to the larger department, which was exciting. Although I didn’t get any “bites” in terms of follow-up discussions, I’m sure that day will come eventually.

Reflecting on the JAX lesson, I found that creating material for a course is surprisingly time-consuming. I feel for all the TAs and new professors who have to do this, especially when the students are unresponsive during lessons. Fortunately, I had some trusted individuals who provided valuable feedback. Being on the other side of the table and receiving frank feedback gave me a new appreciation for the amount of work our educators put in outside their official hours.

Classes

I must say that CSE 599 N was easily the best class I’ve taken at UW. I highly recommend it to anyone with a decent foundation in math who wants to learn more about computational neuroscience and the role ML plays in modern neuroscience research. Matt Golub did an amazing job pacing the lectures. Although I wish we could have covered more material, I learned a lot. Overall, the material wasn’t difficult, but it’s been so long since I’ve taken a CS class that I psyched myself out and invested too much time into it, probably because of my experience with CS classes at CMU that left me with a sort of paranoia and FOMO (fear of marks off).

Miscellaneous

I’m embarrassed to admit that dropping the class was a huge hit to my pride. I think undergraduate Ian would have been appalled and given me a hard time for it, but I suppose my priorities have changed. Good things overall.


On to Summer!