The Landscape of Research and Innovation at Penn

Freshman Seminar -- Fall 2014
Instructors: Mark Liberman and Utsav Schurmans

At Penn there are thousands of faculty, staff, and students engaged in an extraordinary variety of research projects. The goal of this freshman seminar is to give entering students an overview of this landscape. Participants will survey and discuss the content of a dozen fields and sub-fields, and will also learn how to get involved in research and innovation during their time at Penn. Each student will develop an individual plan, covering the acquisition of needed knowledge and skills, the development of personal and social connections, and the exploration of on- and off-campus research opportunities.

We will meet twice a week. At one weekly meeting (Tuesdays 6:00-7:30), an active researcher will join us for an informal discussion, in the context of the regularly-scheduled series of "Dinners with Interesting People" in the Quad. In the other weekly meeting (Thursdays 1:30-3:00), we will review background reading and discuss the featured area, including exercises in computational modeling of real datasets.

The Tuesday sessions will meet over dinner in McClelland Hall (South Lounge), 6:00-7:30 pm. The Thursday sessions will meet 1:30-3:00 in McClelland 121 (the seminar room behind the TV in the central seating area).

The seminar has a Piazza site, which you should all have been invited to join. Use it to ask and answer questions, carry on discussions, and so forth. You will generally get answers more quickly that way, and the results will also be retained as a threaded forum-style discussion that may be useful or interesting to your classmates. You can post anonymously if you like. Note that Piazza has iPhone and Android mobile apps.


10 weekly assignments @ 7 points each    = 70 points
1 term project (= individual research plan) = 20 points
Attendance and class participation            = 10 points

Schedule and readings