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NSF Project on Interdisciplinary Computing: Owen Astrachan

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I am interested in the proposed NSF/Interdisciplinary Computing project. My interests stem from having developed and taught three courses at Duke that are narrowly and widely interdisciplinary in two different ways. The first is a course in genomics, computational biology and bioinformatics for first-year students who likely will *not* major in computer science. This course was part of a related courses in one of Duke's FOCUS suites: The Genome Revolution. Faculty from Biology, Public Policy, English, Computer Science, and Writing created four related courses, students take three of them their first semester at Duke. My interests and expertise were in teaching programming, so I used this opportunity to learn about computational approaches to biology and bioinformatics and created a first course that has now been offered for seven years (I handed the course off after the first three years). This work has informed my teaching across many levels, has opened opportunities within Duke and beyond, and has brought an entirely new area into focus for me. The second set of courses is one about which I have written (SIGCSE) combining the Technical and Social Foundations of the Internet [the course's title]. This is policy, law, economics, and technical view of how the Internet works, is governed, and is managed and viewed by the different constituencies/stakeholders that help run and use it. I've formed collaborative and useful relationships with faculty in the law school, or school of public policy, and political science as part of this course. I teach two versions: one for majors that is a seminar and one for non-majors that is currently the largest course at Duke. I've learned about collaborating with faculty in other disciplines and developed a point-of-view on what computing can lend to fields as far as contributing to both learning and research [though more on the former]. Depending on timing, I'd like to be involved with this initiative if possible at the beginning, it's exciting.