This call for participants is a preliminary draft and has not been finalized. However, you can sign up to receive updates here.
🔗 Call for Participants
We are looking to at least eight early-career participants (including undergraduate students) for a ten-week, funded, full-time, fully-remote software development workshop during the summer of 2021.
The goal of the workshop is four-fold:
- to catalyze effective science communication and science pedagogy by helping participants develop the know-how to showcase their research through interactive web applications,
- to jumpstart software development on web framework and core digital evolution tools in support of the next version of the Avida-ED scientific and educational software, and
- to yield software that broadly enriches the digital evolution, scientific, education, and open-source communities.
This workshop is organized in conjunction with the Avida-ED project. Avida-ED extends the full-fledged Avida software, originally developed for digital evolution research, as a freely-available, interactive web application. This web application enables laboratory activities that teach evolution through experiments with self-replicating computer programs. A curriculum of lesson plans and classroom materials, targeted to high school and university students, supports instructors. Outreach and training puts these tools into hundreds of real-world classrooms. From there, the team has used evidence-based methods to evaluate activities’ effectiveness in terms of actualized learning outcomes.
Each WAVES workshop participant will collaborate with an assigned mentor on a software development project related to Avida-ED or the underlying scientific software tools that power it. We will help participants choose projects based on their personal interests and background during the first week of the workshop. We describe several possible project categories below. Participants’ projects will directly contribute open-source software to the foundation of future versions of Avida and Avida-ED. To demonstrate their software, participants will build their own prototype scientific web application/mini research project or contribute to an existing web application/research project. As a culmination of their workshop experience and an exercise in professional communication, participants will publish a blog post describing how their software works and how to use it. Check out last year’s project write-ups here!
During the workshop, participants will also engage in a weekly software discussion group and a weekly group check-in meeting.
The virtual workshop will take place between June 14, 2021 and August 20, 2021. If these dates don’t work for you, we may be able to shift this schedule by a week or two for individual participants. Let us know in your application and we will do our best to accomodate you. Participants will be expected to commit to full-time (approximately 40 hours/week) engagement with the workshop. To accommodate multiple U.S. time zones, all group meetings will be held over videoconference between 1pm and 4pm EST (GMT-4). A $6,000 stipend will be disbursed to participants in five bi-weekly installments of $1,200.
All U.S. citizens/permanent residents are eligible to apply, as are international students already enrolled at Michigan State University. The workshop will be aimed at upper-level undergraduates in computer science, but graduate students or other early-career computer scientists are also welcome to apply.
Applications should consist of a single PDF file named
- a cover page with your name, your GitHub username, and your email address,
- a curriculum vitae or resume,
- a brief (appox. 500 to 1000 words) statement that describes
- your personal background and career goals,
- your contribution to promoting diversity, equity, and/or inclusion (past, present, or future),
- your interest in the program, and
- an interesting coding project you’ve tackled.
- in any setting: school, hackathon, personal project, research, work, etc.
- as possible, link us to the code, the deployment, the project website, a writeup, and/or presentation!
- the name, email, and relationship of any letter writers you have asked to submit on your behalf (see below).
We also encourage applicants to provide at least one and up to two letters of reccomendation.
However, we will still consider applicants without a leter of reccomendation.
Please ask letter writers to provide their reccomendation as a single PDF file named with your GitHub username.
For example, if your GitHub username was
mmore500 each letter on your behalf would be named
Applications and letters should be submitted by file upload. Where the file upload service asks for “Your name,” please provide the GitHub username of the uploader (whether an applicant or a letter writer). If the uploader does not have a GitHub username, please register a free account at https://github.com/join.
Applications should be uploaded no later than March 22, 2021. Reccomendation letters should be uploaded no later than March 29, 2021. We will announce participant selection no later than April 12, 2021.
This workshop is funded through Active LENS: Learning Evolution and the Nature of Science using Evolution in Action (NSF IUSE #1432563). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
🔗 Example C++ Projects:
Build core digital evolution framework tools in the Modular Agent-Based Evolution (MABE) project.
- Develop virtual CPUs for the Avida organisms.
- Build simple grid-based virtual worlds for organisms to move through and interact with.
- Extend and existing data management tools for fast and dynamic data manipulation.
- Improve unit tests and automatic testing suite.
As part of their work, participants will assemble a mini research project that demonstrates their software.
🔗 Example Emscripten Projects:
Build core web framework tools in the current Avida-ED system and in the Empirical C++ library for scientific software development.
As part of their work, participants will assemble an example research, educational, or science communication web application that demonstrates their software.
🔗 Example Pedagogy Projects:
🔗 Other Example Web Projects
- Clean up and package existing drag and drop tools.
- Work on desktop windows emulation in current Avida-ED software.
- Make a touch and mobile interface for current Avida-ED software.
- Work on back-end tools that allow instructors to monitor web applications within their classrooms.
- Write software to facilitate easy translation of labels, buttons, and other text in the Avida-ED web application.
As part of their work, participants will make contributions directly to existing Avida-ED software.
🔗 Who We Are
We are members of the Avida-ED Project and the Digital Evolution Laboratory at Michigan State University.
🔗 Primary Investigators
- Dr. Charles Ofria
Dr. Robert T. Pennock
- Lyman Briggs College
- Dept. of Philosophy
- Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
- Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
- Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science (SEPOS)
🔗 Workshop Coordinator
- Matthew Andres Moreno
🔗 Student Project Coordinators
- Matthew Andres Moreno (Empirical)
- Dr. Diane Blackwood (Avida-ED)
🔗 Project Mentors
- Acacia Ackles
- Alexander Lalejini
- Dr. Anya Vostinar
- Austin Ferguson
- Cliff Bohm
- Dr. Diane Blackwood
- Dr. Emily Dolson
- Jose Hernandez
- Kate Skocelas
- Matthew Andres Moreno