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🔗 Call for Participants

We are looking to recruit 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:

  1. to help participants advance their careers by skillbuilding through hands-on C++ and/or JavaScript software development in an academic setting,
  2. to catalyze effective science communication and science pedagogy by helping participants develop the know-how to showcase their research through interactive web applications,
  3. 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
  4. to produce 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.

🔗 Logistics

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 accommodate 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 sometime between noon and 5pm 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. Past workshop participants are welcome to apply, as well.

We are seeking participants with prior practical experience in computer science: writing and running software of some sort. Prior experience with C++ and/or JavaScript is expected, but not strictly required. We especially encourage applications from members of underrepresented groups in computer science.

Applications should consist of a single PDF file named application.pdf containing:

  1. a cover page with your name, your GitHub username, and your email address,
  2. a curriculum vitae or resume,
  3. a brief (appox. 500 to 1000 words) statement that describes
    • your personal background and career goals,
    • your interest in the program and how participating in the workshop will advance your objectives,
    • your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (see below), 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!
  4. the name, email, and relationship of any letter writers you have asked to submit on your behalf (see below).

The portion of your statement covering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can discuss any combination of

You can view the workshop’s statement on DEI and the rubric we will use to evaluate DEI statements below.

We 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 mmore500.pdf.

Applications should be submitted by file upload to Letters of reccomendation should be submitted by file upload to Where the file upload service asks for “Your name,” please provide the GitHub username of the uploader (whether an applicant or a letter writer). Note that if you are signed in to a DropBox account, the upload form might not let you set a custom name. To set a custom name you might have to log out of DropBox, use another browser, or activate your browser’s private mode. If the uploader does not have a GitHub username, please register a free account at

In order to better understand the makeup of our applicant pool, we ask that applicants complete a demographic questionaire. We will not view this survey until after we have finalized admissions decisions.

If you have questions about the workshop or the application process, please email We will respond to all questions by email and will post generally-applicable Q&A’s in our FAQ section.

Application reviews will begin on March 26, 2021, but will continue on a rolling basis after that. For full consideration, please submit your application by this date. We will update this page to announce when all workshop positions have been filled. Reccomendation letters should be uploaded by March 31, 2021, but will also be considered after this date on a rolling basis. 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.

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

As part of their work, participants will make contributions directly to existing Avida-ED software.

🔗 Frequently Asked Questions

To submit a question, please email

No quetsions yet! Why not be the first to ask?

🔗 Applicant DEI Statement Rubric

We will prioritize applications that demonstrate strength in at least one of the three criteria below. Demonstrating strength across multiple criteria will benefit an application, but we will also take into account contextual factors affecting opportunity applicants have had to engage with these issues.

  1. Knowledge/awareness about DEI: a. Weak (little to no evidence of awareness of DEI issues) b. Adequate (Some evidence of awareness, but falls short of significant knowledge base or deep interest) c. Strong (clear and deep understanding of dimensions of DEI)
  2. Track record in advancing DEI: a. Weak (describes few or no past efforts in any detail) b. Adequate (some evidence of past efforts, but not extensive enough to merit a high score) c. Strong (sustained track record of varied efforts to promote DEI in teaching, research, or service)
  3. Plans for advancing DEI: a. Weak (no personal plans to advance DEI) b. Adequate (some idea about advancing DEI, but not much detail) c. Strong (clear and detailed plans for advancing DEI)

Adapted from the UC Berkeley Office for Faculty Equity & Welfare.

🔗 Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Pervasive systemic inequities exist within our society with respect to systematic marginalization and exploitation of certain groups, including with respect to race, sex, sexuality, socioeconomic status, disability, age, and religion. These inequities harm both members of underrepresented groups and the vibrancy of our professional communities and our wider society. We hold our own professional communities (academia, computer science, evolutionary biology) accountable for our role perpetuating this injustice, and we must continue to work to address it. Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to advancing our professions and strengthening our society.

We aim to fulfill our duties as workshop organizers in a manner cognizant of the continuing history of pervasive systemic inequity. We commit to acting, to the extent possible, to allay these inequities within our workshop and support our community in grappling with them. We also commit to actions that contribute to dismantling systematic inequality.

Among other actions, we will

🔗 Who We Are

We are members of the Avida-ED Project and the Digital Evolution Laboratory at Michigan State University.

group headshot collage

🔗 Primary Investigators

🔗 Workshop Coordinator

🔗 Student Project Coordinators

🔗 Project Mentors