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VSA 2020 Session 2

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the residential Vanderbilt Summer Academy program has been canceled for summer 2020. Please click the link below to read PTY’s official statement regarding summer programs.

Review PTY’s Statement Concerning COVID-19 and Summer 2020 Programs

Rising 9th and 10th Grade – June 14-26, 2020

Click on a course title below to jump to a description of that course

Adrift in a Sea of Data: An Intro to Data Science
Biology of Cancer: How the Cellular Machinery Goes Wrong and Potential Remedies
Law and Economics
Math and Machine Learning
Math and Music
Nanoscience and Engineering
Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism
Social Entrepreneurship in Action
The Force and Literary Criticism: When Darth Vader meets Stanley Fish
The Science of Human Movement: Sports, Biomechanics, and Wearable Technology
The Sixth Sense: An Introduction to Science and Entrepreneurship in Chemical Sensing
Writing Short Stories

*Courses and instructors subject to change.

Adrift in a Sea of Data: An Intro to Data Science

Data Science, Quantitative Research, Statistics, Programming

It is estimated that there are now forty times as many bytes of data as there are stars in the known universe. In this course we will learn to harness that amazing amount of information to ask meaningful questions of the world around us and transform raw data into new observations, make bold predictions, and uncover hidden patterns. Combining basic elements from statistics and computer science, we will gain hands-on experience in exploratory data analysis, data cleaning, machine learning, and data visualization using famous (and infamous) data sets. Better yet, we will be using Python 3, Jupyter Notebook, and GitHub just like the pros! Later in the course we will select and complete a project in real-time from one of several highly relevant areas that you will be able to showcase in your GitHub portfolio.

Robert Markowitz is a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University and a National Institute of Health Big Biomedical Data Science trainee. His central research interest is the application of data science to biological questions including personalized medicine and the human microbiome. He holds a Master of Business and Science degree from Rutgers University where he studied biological data science and entrepreneurship. Rob takes pleasure in traveling to national parks, digital photography, and hanging out with his dog.

Biology of Cancer: How the Cellular Machinery Goes Wrong and Potential Remedies

Biology, Chemistry, Cellular Engineering & Imaging

Cancer knows no race, ethnicity, region, or socioeconomic status. It is a global issue that affects families and populations across all seven continents. One of the most interesting facts about cancer is that it does not originate from an outside source. Rather, cancer is our cells malfunctioning and continuing to replicate at an exponential pace. If we can better understand the mechanisms that cause these cancerous cells to begin to malfunction, we can explore tools and therapies to treat the disease. This understanding of tumors on a cellular and genetic level, therefore, is vital to future cancer studies. In this course, you will learn what the disease of cancer means, how it affects the body on a micro and macro level, potential areas of treatment, and connections between populations and cells of origin. We will review current therapies already in usage and identify which aspects of the disease they are treating as well as the method’s efficacy. By the end of the course, you will be able to begin to offer your own proposals on how to approach the disease as well as offer suggestions on future directions in therapy research.

Dr. Joseph Weinstein-Webb received his PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2017. His dissertation work investigated the diagnostic and therapeutic capacities of gold nanostars in both prostate and breast cancer. He received his BS in biochemistry from Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) where he researched the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and its capabilities to operate human cellular machinery even as an exogenous player within the body. He is currently a professor of chemistry at Lipscomb University, as well as a STEM tutor at various academies in Nashville. Joseph has always had a fascination with the human body, how it operates, and its response to outside pathogens and disease. When he is not investigating human diseases, he is practicing yoga. He teaches yoga at studios around Nashville and loves being involved with the community as well as outreach.

Law and Economics

Law, Economics

It’s often said that eye-witness testimony can be very unreliable. Does it surprise you that jury decision-making can be just as unreliable? In this course, you will engage cutting edge research in the emerging field of Law and Economics to consider how economic principles are integral to producing socially efficient legal outcomes. Through case studies and group work, you will learn economic concepts such as cost-benefit analysis, utility maximization, and societal welfare and work to apply these topics to premier legal issues in society today. Learn about torts, liability, and property as you leverage scholarly resources to consider whether or not the courts have adequately taken into account economic considerations in groundbreaking legal cases.

Dami Kim is a first year graduate student in the Ph.D Program in Law and Economics at Vanderbilt University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics, with a minor in Mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests include behavioral economics, discrimination law, and medical malpractice law.

Anthony Chen is a first-year student in the Vanderbilt Law School’s J.D./Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics. His research interests relate to the difference in economic systems across different countries in the world. He considers himself to be the perfect model of a rational consumer that is used in economic theory. In his free time, Anthony is an avid gamer and believes that everything can be modeled by economics in some way.

Math and Machine Learning

Mathematics, Machine Learning, Data Analysis

From self-driving cars to Netflix’s recommendations for the next movie you should watch, machine learning, the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, is critical to the future of technological development. Machine learning provides an efficient way to approach certain types of pattern recognition problems such as developing an AI that recognizes handwritten zip codes and creating software that performs speech recognition. In this course, you will approach machine learning as a mathematician through exploring the relatively new field of statistical learning theory, a field that has emerged from engineering studies of pattern recognition and machine learning. Through methodologies such as data analysis, basic calculus and probability distributions, you will explore data numerically summaries, apply basic algorithms to real world problems and use Python to work through basic visualizations. If you love math, this is your course!

Sumati Thareja is a second year Ph.D. student at the Department of Mathematics, working in Machine learning and has two years of experience teaching Engineering Math. In her free time, she loves to work out, dance and cook different cuisines.

Math and Music

Music Theory, Mathematics

The dance between math and music is an intricate one. From Brahms to the Beatles, Bartók to Beyonce, the points at which mathematics and music collide open up both worlds as expressions of beauty and wonder. This course will examine topics such as set theory, musical scales, frequency, matrices, serialism, compositional techniques, and the Fibonacci sequence to help you reach a synthesis between the fields of math and music. A musical background is helpful but not required.

Dawson Gray is in his fifteenth year with Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth and his eleventh year as an instructor. He currently teaches at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee, where he serves as the mathematics department chair for grades 5–12 and teaches AP statistics, AP calculus AB, and college preparatory calculus. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a double major in piano performance and mathematics, and he completed a master’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis on mathematics at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College.

Nanoscience and Engineering

Engineering, Nanotechnology, Chemistry

Get ready to don your protective coveralls and enter the exciting world of nanoengineering. In this class, you will get an introduction into key nanoparticles and their properties while stretching your creative problem solving skills to their limits. You can expect advanced lectures, labs, and extensive study with faculty, grad students, and postdocs at the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE). You will also spend significant time in one of Vanderbilt’s newest, largest, and cleanest cleanrooms.* These experiences will challenge you to see the world the way a nanoscientist does—how manipulating the smallest of particles might address some of the world’s biggest problems.

*NOTE: Be advised that the special lighting, clothing, and atmosphere of the cleanroom may act as a “trigger” for students with anxiety disorders and tactile sensitivities. Please call our office if you’d like to discuss the specifics of the cleanroom further.

Tennessee students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in science may be eligible to apply for a competitive full tuition scholarship funded directly through Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) for this course. Click here for more information on applying.

This class is in partnership with the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE).

Dr. Greg Walker is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, holding several appointments at Vanderbilt, including in the Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program, the Thermal Engineering Lab, the Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education, and the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. His research interests include the modeling and simulation of nonequilibrium, coupled energy transport in electronics, and energy conversion materials.

Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism

Writing, Public Speaking

Do you want to be a better public speaker? Do you want to understand how society determines what is true and what is hyperbole? Do you want to be able to effectively research and organize arguments out of the massive amounts of information you are exposed to into something that makes sense? In this class, you will learn how to research, develop and organize arguments, adapt persuasive appeals to specific audiences, and, perhaps even change minds. We will also analyze arguments as we learn basic rhetorical theories and apply them to historical speeches. Be prepared to engage in discussions and critically analyze arguments and texts. Become a more involved and informed citizen, a better public speaker, and a critical consumer of information.

Dr. John P. Koch is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Director of Debate in the Department of Communication Studies. He has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies, with an emphasis in rhetoric, from Wayne State University. His primary research interests include argumentation and debate, citizenship, democratic theory, and presidential rhetoric. Other areas of interest are public memory and the intersection of political culture, rhetoric, and sports.

Social Entrepreneurship in Action

Entrepreneurship, Ethics

Amazon brings products to our doorsteps. Google brings information to your fingertips. Instagram brings the world’s moments to your cell phone. While these traditional business models have provided solutions to many of society’s wants, the complexity of social needs in the 21st century necessitate innovative, cross-sector solutions. Social Enterprise is rapidly emerging as one such model with great promise. In this course, you will analyze social challenges and create solutions to those challenges using the tools of social entrepreneurship. Working in small groups, be a change agent as you analyze a social challenge, design and develop a social enterprise to bring that solution to life and pitch that solution to members of the Nashville entrepreneurship community to demonstrate the impact of your solution.

Dr. Jeremy Payne is a Vanderbilt Triple-Dore (’00, ’02, ’07) with a passion for travel and making work productive regardless of your location. He is currently a Lecturer with the department of Human and Organizational Development at Peabody College specializing in group development and social enterprise. Previously, Jeremy was Head of People Operations for Remote Year, Inc where he equiped a global staff of remote workers with the tools, resources and support they need to be successful in their roles. Along with his wife, Alexandra (’03, ’04), and daughter Margaret, Jeremy calls Nashville, Tennessee home. Together they enjoy the world-class music scene, the foodie scene and the entrepreneurial spirit of their East Nashville neighborhood.

The Force and Literary Criticism: When Darth Vader meets Stanley Fish

The social and cultural influence and impact of the Star Wars movies crosses generational, socio-economic and regional divides. With the completion of the Skywalker saga nearly 40 years after the initial “Star Wars” film was released in 1977, scholars are taking a new look at the now completed cannon with multiple and diverse theoretical approaches. In this class, you will join this renewed academic effort through engaging traditional and emerging theories in literary criticism to develop your own scholarly analysis of a franchise that shaped popular culture for over four decades. With tools such as archetypal criticism, cultural criticism, feminist criticism, reader response criticism and post-structuralism, you will consider such issues as how Star Wars develops the significance of race, class, and gender, how Star Wars has both reflected and critiqued culture, and how much the meaning of Star Wars is dependent on the reader (viewer). At the end of this course, you will walk away with new analytical tools in your literary analysis toolbelt as well as your own developing theory of Star Wars as text.

David Ian Lee currently serves as full-time faculty for the Theatre and Dance Program at Tennessee State University and as Co-Producing Artistic Director for Nashville’s Pipeline-Collective, an organization that creates guerilla-style theatre, with emphasis on the craft of the actor, dynamic storytelling, and theatrical magic on a shoestring budget. He is a freelance actor and director, having worked in New York for companies including Pearl Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Source, Boomerang, Gideon, and Flux Ensemble; for regional theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep., Arizona Rep., Tennessee Rep.; and classical companies including New York Classical Theatre, Arkansas Shakespeare, Illinois Shakespeare, Sedona Shakespeare, Utah Shakespeare, and Nashville Shakespeare. He is an internationally produced playwright, with recent productions of his work in Canada, South Africa, Scotland, and Greece. He has presented at conferences including Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC), and will present again at MATC 2019. A graduate of the William Esper Studio, He received his M.F.A in Directing in 2015 from Illinois State University, where he was honored with an Outstanding Teaching Award. He has proudly taught with Vanderbilt’s Programs for Talented Youth since 2016. Favorite credit: his son, Beckett Harrison Lee.

The Science of Human Movement: Sports, Biomechanics, and Wearable Technology

Engineering, Medicine, Science, Sports

Ever wonder how your FitBit tracks your heart rate? Curious why different running shoes have unique groove patterns on the sole or varying levels of cushioning? Intrigued by how prosthetic devices are specifically designed for running, walking, swimming, cycling or skiing? Wonder how we know which athletes are at higher risk for injury? In this course, you will be introduced to math, physics, and anatomy concepts that can be used to understand human movement, explore how engineering skills can be used to design assistive technologies to augment human performance, and critically evaluate the ability of activity trackers to monitor human health and motion. This course is for anyone interested in exploring the intersections of engineering, medicine, science, and sports!

Rachel Teater graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on developing new prosthetic devices and evaluating the ability of these devices to improve the mobility of lower-limb prosthetic device users. Rachel is an avid sports fan and also loves to rock climb and cook in her spare time.

Emily Matijevich
graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioengineering. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on running biomechanics, overuse injuries, and cutting edge methods for using wearable sensors to monitor musculoskeletal loading measurements outside the lab environment. In her free time, Emily is passionate about making home made greeting cards, gardening, practicing yoga, and going climbing/hiking/running with friends!

The Sixth Sense: An Introduction to Science and Entrepreneurship in Chemical Sensing

Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Entrepreneurship

Chemical and electrochemical sensors are everywhere, from the blood glucose monitors used by diabetics to the smart watches which can monitor your heart rate in real time. We will explore many applications for modern day sensors, ranging from health-based sensors to environmental detectors of toxic metals. You will conduct hands-on laboratory chemistry experiments supplemented with lectures and in-class readings to see the underlying chemistry of how sensors work. You will also work with fellow classmates as you become CEOs of your own sensor company to research a problem and work to design a sensor solution together. At the conclusion of the class, your group will present “Shark Tank” style presentations where you pitch your idea to “investors.” Be prepared to combine scientific research with entrepreneurial skills and creativity as you come up with the next big idea in sensor technology!

Andrew Kantor is a 5th year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt. He conducts research in David Wright’s lab doing bioanalytical chemistry, in which he aims to improve chemical measurements of biological systems. Specifically, he studies how to improve diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, such as malaria, with the hope of producing sensitive tests that can be used directly at the point of care. In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing tennis, guitar, going to concerts, and going hiking. Andrew loves teaching and can’t wait to share his passion for chemistry with aspiring young scientists!

Writing Short Stories

Creative Writing, Literary Theory

As aspiring authors know, short fiction can be what William Faulkner called “the most demanding” form of prose. Writing Short Stories will help you develop the skills necessary to rise to Mr. Faulkner’s challenge. You will explore the short fiction genre through critical reading of classic and cutting-edge examples from authors such as Haruki Murakami, Flannery O’Connor and Jorge Luis Borges. Daily writing activities, feedback, and peer workshops will help you to hone and refine your craft. At the conclusion of this course, you will have completed your own short story and explored vehicles for short story publication. More importantly, you will also have learned stronger skills that will help you improve your voice, rhythm, and style.

Dr. Jan Elaine Harris is an Associate Professor of English and Writing at Lipscomb University. Jan earned her PhD from the University of Alabama in 2008. Six poems from her collection in progress, Voyager, were featured in Waxing and Waning’s Fall 2017 Issue. She has given readings of her work at SCMLA (2017), PCA/ACA (2018), and RMMLA (2018). One of her poems was featured on Spokane’s Public Radio in February 2018. Other poems have appeared in Anthology, Event, and Exposition. When Jan is not teaching or writing, she probably hanging out with her GSPs, Malloy and Astrid.