Celebrating QR Connections

The "Celebrating QR Connections" series, sponsored by Ellen Genat Hoffman, '68 and Stephen G. Hoffman, celebrates the connection between quantitative reasoning and various disciplines.

Run every third semester, each series involves three to five events -- hands-on workshops, lectures, or debates -- clustered in a month’s time.  These events are open to Wellesley College students, faculty, staff, and friends.  The first series examined the relationship between QR and art; the second, QR and biology.  Details for the more recent series are presented below, and for several of these, recordings are available on iTunes U

QR and Engineering (Spring 2013)
 

Designing for the Developing World:  The Misconceptions, Challenges, and Adventure

Jodie Wu, founder and CEO of Global Cycle Solutions, a social enterprise that develops and distributes simple technologies that improve the lives of smallholder farmers, discusses and demonstrates some of the technologies developed while at MIT and at her company in Arusha, Tanzania, and highlights the various ways in which quantitative reasoning skills are essential in the design, testing, and improvement of these technologies.

 

Allometry Brings Together Engineers, Anthropologists, and Statisticians

Catherine Carneal, Biomechanical Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Brian Corner, Research Anthropologist in Biomechanics and Barry Decristofano, Chemical Engineer, both at the US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center, explain how their search for information to confirm an assumption about potential scaling laws between internal and external anatomy - known as allometry - led engineers, anthropologists, radiologists, computer scientists, and statisticians to look for a way to draw conclusions about what we can't see inside a body from measurements we can make on the outside. Information gained from their research will enable development of highly accurate human models which can be applied in the fields of safety and protection, medical device development, and personalized medicine

Engineering at All Ages

Kristin Sargianis and Melissa Higgins, from the Boston Museum of Science’s “EiE: Engineering Is Elementary” Program, ask: What does engineering (and quantitative reasoning) look like in elementary school? What foundational engineering practices do students need as they move from elementary, middle, and high school into college? After engaging in a hands-on engineering challenge ourselves, we visit real elementary school classrooms via video, observe students in action, and discuss how what we see can translate to the university level and beyond.

 

Machine Learning and Data Mining:  How BIG data is having a BIG impact in Medicine, Finance, Sports and More

Every day, vast amounts of data are collected more or less everywhere.  What can we do with all these data? Learn!  Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, is the study of computer programs for finding and analyzing patterns in data. Jenna Wiens, doctoral candidate at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, introduces us to the world of big data and the machine learning tools that computer scientists use to analyze it and learn from it. Together we explore exciting applications of machine learning and data mining in the fields of medicine, finance, sports and more. Recording of this talk on iTunes U.

From Grains of Sand to Asteroids:  Using Engineering to Understand Granular Materials

Dawn Wendell, Assistant Director of Admissions at MIT, is fascinated by granular materials that occur throughout nature.  Dr. Wendell, a mechanical engineer, discusses the underlying physics and special properties in granular materials that have implications in engineering systems from wheat farming to pharmaceutical processing and provides examples from her own research about digging in granular materials and implications for underseas exploration.

 

QR and Sustainability (Fall 2011)

 

Sustainability on College Campuses

Jason Hamilton, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca Collegeexplores the academic and intellectual framework of “Sustainability” and the role it plays in dealing with our current environmental, social, and economic dilemmas.  Drawing on his experiences at Ithaca College, he describes the role of education on sustainability across the college curriculum and in practice on campus, as a way to move us toward a more secure future.

 

Sustainable Cities

Joyce Klein Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, draws on her expertise in environmental planning, sustainable development, and the public health effects of urbanization to take us from the history and design of cities to discuss the environmental impacts of urbanization and analyses of climate-related effects on health in today’s urban areas. Lecture available on iTunes U.

 

Sustainability is Good Business

Sierra Nevada has won numerous awards for its beer and for its sustainability practices. The company's sustainability coodinator, Cheri Chastain, explains how the brewing company tracks and reports key performance indicators in energy, water, agriculture, transportation, recycling/recovery, greenhouse gases, and more for both our environment and the company’s bottom line. The Sierra Nevada case study illustrates how science and economics are intertwined in sustainability. Lecture available on iTunes U.

QR and Women's Health (Spring 2010)
 

A Panel Discussion about the New National Guidelines on Mammography and Breast Self-Examination Moderated by Wellesley's Susan Reverby, Women's and Gender Studies with panelists, Cindy Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women's Health Network, and Ngina Lythcott, Breast Cancer Liaison from the National Black Women's Health Project. Lecture available on iTunes U.  Also, see NYT math blogger Strogatz on conditional probabilities, including the probability of having breast cancer, given a positive mammogram.

 
Historical Perspectives on the Treatment Debates for Breast Cancer Barron Lerner, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and author of the award-winning book The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America, shares his perspective on the debates as both a medical doctor and a social historian. Lecture available on iTunes U
 
 

Understanding False-Positives and False-Negatives Jessica Polito, from Wellesley’s QR Program, provides hands-on computer applications and real data to help participants understand these different testing issues in the context of pregnancy tests, tests for cancer, etc.

 

 

Evidence-Based Maternal Care Carol Sakala, Director of Programs at the Childbirth Connection, makes the case for stakeholders from across the health care system to engage in more evidence-based maternal care in the US if we are to reverse some of the negative trends in women's health in recent years. Lecture available on iTunes U.

 

 

Quantitative Reasoning, Polling, and Predictions (Fall 2008)

 

bar graph Pollster 101: The Ins and Outs of the Polling Profession  Pollster Anna Greenberg advises Democratic campaigns, non-profits, and charitable organizations, particularly those focusing on women's health, religion, and youth.  The senior vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research is an expert on public opinion, research methodology, and survey design.  Come take a mini-course in "Pollster 101." Lecture available on iTunes U.

 

2008 electoral map

The Persuadable Voter:  Wedge Issues in the Presidential Campaigns Harvard Government Professor and Survey Research Director, D. Sunshine Hillygus highlights findings from her book (co-authored with Todd G. Shields), analyzing who can be persuaded by campaign information and how candidates try to sway these pivotal voters. Lecture available on iTunes U.

 

voting ballot Political Arithmetik:  Where Numbers and Politics Meet Charles Frankin, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, co-founder of Pollster.com and co-director of the Big Ten Battleground Poll, helps us understand political numbers and the logic of statistical comparisons before heading to New York City to help ABC News behind the scenes on Election Day. Lecture available on iTunes U.
 

 

Quantitative Reasoning and Forensic Evidence (Spring 2007)
 

Quantitative Reasoning in the Hit Show "NUMB3RS"Gary Lorden, Professor of Mathematics, California Institute of Technology and mathematical consultant to the hit CBS television show NUMB3RS, now in its third season, shows clips from the series and explains the logic, math, and statistics behind the show’s FBI crime solving.


 

2008 electoral mapReal World CSI - Not As Fast or As Easy As It Appears on TV! Carl Selavka, Former Director of the Mass State Police Crime Lab System, describes how quantitative skills are used in various lab analyses, especially for the contextual interpretation of test results. These forensic analyses include criminalistics, DNA testing, street drug testing, toxicology, and the characterization of trace evidence such as hairs, glass, fibers, paints, and debris from arson fires and explosions.
 
 
voting ballotHow Examining a Computer is Like Exploring a Dumpster 
Alison Chung, Wellesley College Trustee and founder and president of TeamWerks, a technology consulting firm specializing in computer forensics, explains how investigators can learn far more than what they were expecting when reconstructing computer activity, keystroke-by-keystroke. The strength of her computer forensic techniques are clear:  her firm’s clients have not lost any litigation matters since 1998!

 

Contact Us

Contact Us

Quantitative Reasoning Program
Pendleton East 503
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

 

 

Corrine Taylor
Program Director
ctaylor1@wellesley.edu
Tel: 781.283.2152

Jessica Polito
Lecturer
jpolito@wellesley.edu
Tel: 781.283.3032

Sheila Datz
Administrative Assistant
sdatz@wellesley.edu
Tel: 781.283.2157
Fax: 781.283.2177

 

QR in Professions

Chefs use quantitative tools to plan schedules, balance costs against value of ingredients, and monitor nutritional value of meals.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

School administrators deal regularly with complex issues of scheduling, budgeting, inventory, and planning - all of which have many quantitative dimensions.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

Journalists need a sophisticated understanding of quantitative issues (especially risks, rates, samples, surveys, and statistical evidence) to develop an informed and skeptical understanding of events in the news.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

The social sciences rely increasingly on statistical analysis of data from surveys and censuses or from historical or archeological records.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

Social Workers need to understand complex state and federal regulations about income and expenses to explain and verify their clients' personal budgets.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

Advances in scientific understanding of the brain have transformed psychology into a biological science requiring broad understanding of statistics, computer science, and other aspects of quantitative literacy.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

Architects use geometry and computer graphics to design structures, statistics and probability to model usage, and calculus to understand engineering principles.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

Lawyers rely on careful logic to build their cases on subtle arguments about probability to establish or refute "reasonable doubt".
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Professions

Doctors need both understanding of statistical evidence and the ability to explain risks with sufficient clarity to ensure "informed consent".
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

The study of language has been influenced by quantitative and logical methods, especially in linguistics, concordances, and the new field of computer translation.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

The stunning impact of computer graphics in the visual arts (film, photography, sculpture) has made parts of mathematics, especially calculus, geometry, and computer algorithms, very important in a field that formerly was relatively unquantitative.
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

Medicine requires subtle understanding of statistics (to assess clinical trials), of chance (to compare risks), and of calculus (to understand the body's electrical, biochemical, and cardiovascular systems).
From Mathematics and Democracy

QR in Academic Fields

Interpretation of historical events increasingly depends on analysis of evidence provided either by numerical data (e.g., government statistics, economic indicators) or through verification and dating of artifacts.

QR in Academic Fields

Biology requires computer mathematics (for mapping genomes), statistics (for assessing laboratory experiments), probability (for studying heredity), and calculus (for determining rates of change).
From Mathematics and Democracy