The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Open source micro-courses that provide the foundation you need to give back to the community

One of the biggest benefits of this partnership is that while the OSI ensures access to open source technology leaders who design and facilitate each course, Brandeis University provides years of experience ensuring that the courses are designed to their standards and that each facilitator is prepared as a teacher as well as an OSS expert. – Ken Udas, program chair of the Open Source Technology Management program

The online Open Source Technology Management program at Brandeis is dedicated to enhancing and supporting the OSS community through content that is founded in the principles of software freedom and collaborative development. The program, a partnership between Brandeis University and the Open Source Initiative (OSI), provides the foundation for open source professionals to expand their skills and give back to the open source community and beyond.

Watch Ken Udas, program chair, explain why the OSI/Brandeis partnership is unique and how professionals benefit from the micro-courses experience.

As program chair, Ken oversees course content and helps ensure that the courses and program remain relevant. He has served in a variety of teaching and management roles at a number of esteemed universities. Ken is also the co-founder of the Educause Constituency Group on Openness and the Jasig 2-3-98 project that are focused on the emergence and adoption of open and agile practices, policies, and initiatives.

When you sign up for one of the program’s offerings, which consists of micro-courses, digital badges, a certificate, or graduate credit, you’ll benefit from Ken’s expertise as well as from leading experts in the field. You will also receive top-notch instruction from known leaders in the open source industry. In addition, you’ll engage with a curriculum that has been influenced and shaped by instrumental advisory board members. Ultimately, the micro-courses and program provide a rewarding experience as you meet, collaborate with, and learn from fellow open source professionals who will impact how you decide to give back to your community.

Join Ken in a live chat on Thursday, June 18 at 12 p.m. EST.  He will be available to answer questions pertaining to the upcoming micro-course, Cultivate an Open Source Community (starts July 6), and the other program offerings. Please register for this free online chat.

UPDATE (6/25/20): Join Ken for another live chat on Monday, June 29 at 12 p.m. EST.  Again, he will be available to answer questions pertaining to the upcoming micro-course, Cultivate an Open Source Community (starts July 6), and the other program offerings. Please register for this free online chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing Coursework with Working from Home

These are no doubt challenging times for the global community as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. We at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies are committed to providing our students with resources that will help them succeed with their professional goals during this global crisis. Although we may be forced to stay at home to maintain the health of our communities, many students find themselves in the difficult situation of balancing working from home and other aspects of their life, including coursework. Here are some tips to help our students succeed in their coursework while working from home. 

1. Create a dedicated work/study space

Creating a space solely dedicated to studying and working will help to foster a healthy work-life balance. By creating a space devoted to work and study, you are clearly separating your work and academics from other parts of your life. It can be hard to enjoy watching tv r when you are constantly thinking about work. Keep your work and school items in one space of your house, whether that be an entire room or just a table, so that you can continue to live a normal life even during quarantine. 

2. Develop a plan

Another way to balance coursework while working from home is to develop a realistic plan for yourself. When you first get your syllabus, make sure to mark all important assignments, exams, and final projects in your calendar. Set a specific time each day that you will devote to your academics before or after work. By creating a schedule for your coursework and being prepared in advance for the assignment-heavy weeks, you are setting yourself up for success. 

3. Take time for yourself

By now you may have seen the internet flooded with posts about how to spend your time in quarantine productively. While it would be great to write the next great American novel, do not put extra pressure on yourself to be “productive” just because you are stuck inside. This is an extremely stressful time because we are all concerned about the safety of our loved ones. Make sure to take time to decompress for your own mental well-being, even if you have a ton of work and studying to do. There is nothing more important than your own well-being. Set aside time everyday to take time just for yourself.

4. Find a flexible graduate program at Brandeis GPS

Brandeis GPS’s upcoming 10-week session runs from July 15 to Sept. 22. Courses are fully online and designed with a learning experience that supports adults working full-time.

Students interested in a Brandeis GPS graduate program can take courses before starting the application process. View the July course schedule here. To speak with an enrollment advisor, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

 

Brandeis GPS Class of 2020 celebrates graduation virtually

“Over the past 70 years, the university has remained committed to providing access to competent and curious students from all walks of life, including those who could not give up their careers and families and come to campus full time.” – Dr. Lynne Rosansky, Interim Vice President for the Rabb School of Continuing Studies, in her opening address.

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies honored 111 Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) graduates with a virtual celebration on May 26, 2020. Student speaker, Charlie D’Angelo, a graduate of the MS in Digital Marketing and Design program, addressed the Class of 2020, along with guest speaker, Sarah McEneaney, Partner and Digital Talent Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In her opening address, Rosansky congratulated graduates on their hard work and dedication during their master’s degree programs. “It’s a great accomplishment, and you should be very proud of your success,” said Rosansky.

She went on to add, “I would like to note that for most of you who have reached this milestone, you have not done so without support and encouragement of others. So, for family and friends who have stood by you over the years of your graduate studies, here’s a tribute to them.” She looks forward to when the community can come together in-person to celebrate and greet graduates, their family, and friends.

Rosansky honored Project and Program Management instructor Nadeem Malik as the recipient of this year’s Rabb School Outstanding Teacher Award. “Nadeem has a reputation for going above and beyond for students and for being responsive to the changing needs of the PPM program,” she said.

Dedicated instructors, such as Malik, shape the learning experience for GPS students. D’Angelo talked about the various benefits of studying at Brandeis GPS, including his appreciation for the faculty.

“I can honestly say every class I took I applied what I learned, and often immediately at my job; and the knowledge has helped me immeasurably to succeed.”

The direct correlation between D’Angelo’s coursework and his job, his insightful classmates, and learning from outstanding faculty, provided opportunities for him to excel in his professional life.

D’Angelo went on to encourage his fellow classmates to be lifelong learners: “Don’t lose your curiosity for learning.”

Similarly, McEneaney stressed the importance of continuing to learn. “A continuous learning mindset removes barriers and perceived constraints from where your potential and opportunities overlap. And, developing varied approaches to problem-solving and gathering rich experiences, those are the capabilities that make you unstoppable.”

“Each of you can be a force in leveling the opportunity field for so many others,” McEneaney informed graduates, “by helping out others who don’t look like us; who don’t think like us. Those that don’t have natural connections or relationships opening doors for them.”

“The most successful and effective leaders in the future are the inclusive ones,” said McEneaney.

Graduates’ names were read by the chairs of each program. The full breakdown of diplomas awarded is as follows:

  • MS in Bioinformatics (8 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech (1 graduate)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (10 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (16 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security (2 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (3 graduates)
  • MS in Information Technology Management (3 graduates)
  • MS in Instructional Design and Technology (1 graduate)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (30 graduates)
  • Master of Software Engineering (8 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (17 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (6 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (6 graduates)

You can view our virtual graduate celebration until June 8, 2020. Congratulations to our graduates!

Why a micro-course on open source communities can strengthen your collaborative skills

Technology and collaboration have gone hand-in-hand in breaking down the barriers of isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Professionals in all industries are utilizing innovative technology as a way to collaborate remotely. In fact, organizations have started leveraging open source software to foster innovation and efficiencies. Employers need talent well-versed in the dedicated policies and programs required to ensure that the investments in open source projects produce the desired benefits while still aligning with the values of the open source communities.

Cultivate an Open Source Community, a micro-course offered by Brandeis University and the Open Source Initiative, starts June 1, 2020. Registration is currently open. Through this four-week survey course, you will explore the array of active open source communities to distill patterns and best practices. You’ll discover the reasons that people join communities; compare how collaboration tools influence how communities achieve their goals; and, define management and governance structures for communities. Coursework prepares you to identify and join projects that you’re interested in, select projects for your company, and improve projects that you rely on as either an individual or a company.

What can you expect to do on a weekly basis?

  • Work with a small team on a project to identify patterns and best practices in open source communities.
  • Attend a live virtual hour-long interactive lecture with the instructor.
  • Watch interviews with open source experts and leaders recorded specifically for this course.
  • Use open source collaboration tools to talk with other course participants and build your network.
  • Receive guidance and feedback from the expert course instructor on your team project and on open source communities

About the Instructor

Georg Link, PhD is an Open Source Strategist. He co-founded the Linux Foundation CHAOSS Project to advance analytics and metrics for open source project health. Georg has 15 years of experience as an active contributor to several open source projects and has presented on open source topics at 20+ conferences. As the Director of Sales at Bitergia, Georg helps organizations and communities with adopting CHAOSS metrics and technology.

Brandeis University and the Open Source Initiative offer other micro-courses, digital badges, and a certificate program in Open Source Technology Management. If you have any questions about registering for the Cultivate an Open Source Community, contact Christie Barone at cbarone@brandeis.edu.

How to Stay Sane during this Quarantine

These past couple of weeks have proved to be trying times for the global community. This transition to an online world has left many scrambling for a sense of normalcy. Many find themselves worried about the safety of their loved ones, especially if they are in the high-risk category. Others are trying to parent during a pandemic while also maintaining their regular work schedule. So, how do we keep our sanity during this unprecedented global lockdown? We have compiled a list of some helpful tips to stay sane during quarantine.

1. Stick to a routine

Being stuck inside can make the days blend together and amplify negative emotions. Creating a sense of structure during these uncertain times can help to soothe nerves. Take some time out of your day to figure out all of the activities that were important to you before the global pandemic. Did you go to the gym everyday? Try to workout at home (there are plenty of free workouts on youtube). Create a detailed schedule and stick to it. Be sure to include  when to wake up, shower, work, exercise, and most importantly, when you can relax. Hopefully this will help to create some semblance of normalcy.

2. Limit your news intake

It is important to keep up-to-date with information regarding the Coronavirus, especially when it concerns regulations or guidelines for public interactions in your area. But obsessing over the latest Coronavirus news can be  unhealthy and detrimental to your mental health. Consider limiting your news intake to just one or two times a day. Also, remember to check the reliability of your news source. One of the best sources of information about the Coronavirus is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Another great resource for mental health coping strategies during these unprecedented times is NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), which we encourage everyone to read. 

3.Stay physically active

WHO, otherwise known as the World Health Organization, strongly recommends that everyone finds a way to stay physically active during self-quarantine. It’s important to our health and well-being to avoid remaining sedentary. Try taking a few breaks during your day to go on short walks, even if it’s just around your house. And get outside if you can! Just remember that if you plan on exercising outside, to do so by abiding by the CDC guidelines.

Bioinformatics and COVID-19 therapeutics

By Alan Cheng

Unprecedented. It describes the current pandemic and its terrible human and economic impact. It also describes the speed and pace of scientific work unraveling the novel virus and enabling drug discovery efforts. That speed and pace is driven in no small part by recent bioinformatics advances.

The first global alert of a novel virus causing severe cases of pneumonia came in late December 2019. Just a couple weeks later, the first genome sequence of this novel virus was completed, enabling scientists to use bioinformatics to identify the novel virus as a beta-coronavirus, and a relative of the SARS and MERS viruses. A phylogenetic analysis found the novel virus most closely resembles the SARS-CoV coronavirus, leading to the official naming of the virus as SARS-CoV-2.

Naming the virus is one thing. Using bioinformatics approaches again, the proteins produced by the virus were identified, and subsequently made and characterized using experimental molecular biology techniques. The close homology of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins to those from SARS-CoV enabled us to transfer the learnings about SARS over the last 15+ years to help us understand SARS-CoV-2 and accelerate vaccine and drug discovery efforts around the world. Homology modeling allows us to rapidly build approximate 3D structures of the proteins and help suggest existing experimental drugs that were quickly put into clinical trials for combatting SARS-CoV-2 viral entry and replication. Experimental molecular biology and protein structure work, while more time and resource-intensive, has led to more accurate atomic resolution 3D structures of key SARS-Cov-2 proteins, including the spike protein, RNA polymerase, and main protease. This molecular understanding allows scientists at biopharmaceutical and academic institutions to efficiently begin to identify molecules that are not only efficacious in stopping viral expansion but also selective enough to be safe while not being too selective that viruses can easily mutate away from drug binding. All of this happened within two months of the genome sequence, with many efforts, especially in drug discovery, ongoing.

There is still a lot unknown about medical aspects of the disease itself, and how SARS-CoV2 interacts with and affects human host biology. Using proteomics approaches, scientists are identifying human host interactions with the viral proteins. Using genomics and statistical genetics approaches, scientists are analyzing how each of our unique genetic compositions and health situations affects disease progression, which will impact how we can most effectively treat patients. Longer term, the unprecedented speed enabled in no small part by bioinformatics will be important in preventing and treating future epidemics as well.

Developing your bioinformatics skillsets. The importance of bioinformatics in improving human health is growing. For current and prospective Brandeis students, here is how your coursework relates to the approaches being discussed.

  • Foundational bioinformatics analysis
    RBIF 101: Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python
    RBIF 111: Biomedical Statistics with R
  • Genomics analysis of viruses and host response
    RBIF 109: Biological Sequence Analysis
  • Protein homology modeling and structural bioinformatics
    RBIF 101: Structural Bioinformatics
  • Understanding disease biology
    RBIF 102: Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Disease
  • Proteomics and expression profiling
    RBIF 114: Molecular Profiling and Biomarker Discovery
    RBIF 112: Mathematical Modeling for Bioinformatics
  • How individual human genetics affects disease progression
    RBIF 108: Computational Systems Biology
    RBIF 115: Statistical Genetics
    RBIF 290: Special Topics: Functional Genomics
  • Drug discovery for treatments
    RBIF 106: Drug Discovery and Development
    RBIF 110: Cheminformatics

Bioinformatics resources

Dr. Alan Cheng is chair of the MS in Bioinformatics program at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. In his day job, Alan is a Director at Merck & Co., where he leads a group applying computational and structure-based approaches towards discovery of new therapeutics. He received a PhD from the University of California, San Francisco, and undergraduate degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. All opinions presented here are his own.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more about the MS in Bioinformatics, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

Student Spotlight: Stuart Mitchell

Student Spotlight: Brett Stephens

An open source education program that suits your availability and learning style

Brandeis University and the Open Source Initiative® (OSI) announced at OSCON 2019 that they would be partnering to provide new educational offerings for the open source community. The OSI-Brandeis partnership aims to help address the growing demand for expertise within organizations seeking to authentically collaborate with, and productively manage, open source resources.

Now, more than ever, OSI and Brandeis University understand that providing options that align with individuals’ lifestyle and learning style ensures a positive learning experience. The fully-online Open Source Technology Management program that was initially launched in January has been redesigned to empower professionals in the open source community to pursue a valuable and needs-specific professional development opportunity. In fact, there are no prerequisites for the program.

The first micro-course of the program begins on June 1, 2020. Students have the choice to select one of four learning options. Participation in the program provides the opportunity to obtain open source skills that will set open source professionals apart from their colleagues, collaborate with fellow open source community members, and have access to quality coursework that is endorsed by OSI.

Option 1
Take a single 4-week micro-course. The upcoming course that will be offered is Cultivate an Open Course Community. Other courses in the program include:

  • Integrate the Open Source Community (launches July 6, 2020)
  • Open Source Business Practices
  • Establish an Open Source Program Office
  • Open Source Workflow and Infrastructure
  • Production of Distributed Open Source Software

Option 2
Complete two micro-courses in a given topic area, and earn a digital badge in one of these three areas: The Business of Open Source, Open Source Community Development, or Open Source Development Fundamentals.

Option 3
Complete all six micro-courses, and receive a certificate in Open Source Technology Management.

Option 4
Complete a capstone assignment at the conclusion of two micro-courses, and earn 3 graduate-level credits.

True to open source software process and principles, the educational offerings coming out of the partnership are crowd-sourced and jointly developed by an advisory board comprised of university curriculum development experts and senior open source advocates from Amazon, Red Hat, Bloomberg, Twitter and other leading companies.

Sign up to receive more information about the program. Specific questions can be emailed to Kathryn Wight, Director of Partnership Engagement.

Student Spotlight: Ines Stafford

 

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