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Interdisciplinary Research Training


Admission requirements

This course is open to all students that have been admitted to the minor ‘Quantitative Biology’.

Contact information

Course coordinator: Dr. S.C. Hille


Under supervision the students work in the (small) teams as in the course ‘Innovative Research Ideas’ to transform the various ideas that were proposed there into one project proposal for experimental research that takes a Quantitative Biology approach, and which could be executed in principle. This requires further literature search and study, formulation and preliminary examination of (an) appropriate mathematical model(s) and analysis techniques as well as an assessment of feasibility of the proposed experimental design. Students bring in their specific skills and knowledge to the team in accordance with their background. Each student writes an individual essay on his or her personal experience and evaluation of the interdisciplinary process and on the particular mathematical, computational or biological input and arguments that they provided during the set-up of the team proposal. For example, particular reasoning based on experimental research papers that were found by the team that lead to particular modeling decisions, or detailed computations that led to a choice for a specific functional form in a model, etc. The team formulates finally a single project proposal, which is presented in a joint presentation to the other teams, and discussed.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
The student will reflect on pitfalls, challenges and advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration, from his or her personal perspective. He or she will learn to build on personal skills and expertise in such collaborative effort and appreciate those of others. By doing – under supervision – the students discover what is involved in setting-up a detailed experimental design that takes a Quantitative Biology approach to specific biological research question(s) and formulate this as an interdisciplinary research proposal. They will learn to assess the experimental, mathematical and computational feasibility of such an approach.

Final qualifications:
• Awareness of challenges, pitfalls and advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration.
• Ability to assess feasibility of experimental design and mathematical and computational approaches in a specific Quantitative Biology setting.
• Experience in setting-up an interdisciplinary research proposal
• Each participant gained insight into his or her personal appreciation of interdisciplinary research
• Insight into the appropriateness of a Quantitative Biology approach for his or her (future) research agenda.

Time table

The time table is provisional and provided times are indicative. A detailed final schedule will become available before the start of the minor. It is foreseen that the course activities and meetings run from week 11 until week 15 of the semester. In the first week of January meetings are foreseen, after which the students can prepare for the final presentations in the third week of January, which finalize the course.

Mode of instruction

Plenary instructions and meetings for team feedback. Project team meetings. Team meetings with supervisor.

Assessment method

a) Participation and contribution to the team (10%)
b) Presentation of final proposal (10%):
c) Written final proposal (30%) – Feasibility, level of innovation, clarity for multidisciplinary audience
d) Individual written essay on personal evaluation and contribution in depth to the establishment of the final project proposal. Personal contribution will be assessed from the perspective of the student’s educational background. (50%)

h3 Blackboard

Blackboard will be used for communication and provision of course material.


Will be announced.


Via Usis. Enroll also for the course in Blackboard.
Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective students website for information on the application procedure.