In 2008, the Center for Quantitative Science was 40 years old. These forty years represent a long term and successful collaboration between the schools of Environmental and Forest Sciences and Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. This successful collaboration rests upon a common understanding and appreciation of the faculty of both units that the development of quantitative capability in both undergraduate and graduate students is essential to the development of biological and resource management fields, as well as to student success in these fields. In these 40 years CQS has taught quantitative methods classes, such as courses in statistics and calculus and differential equations, to thousands of students from the UW's biological science departments and resource management units. The unique aspect of the Center and its faculty is that it has been interdisciplinary from its very design, because the faculty who teach the classes have always been faculty from Aquatic and Fishery Sciences or Environmental and Forest Sciences, as well as being skilled statisticians and mathematicians. Therefore, questions that students in general often ask, such as, “What’s the relevance?” or “Why do I need to know this?” or “Where’s the meat?” rarely, if ever, come up. This is because the faculty are very biologically knowledgeable; sometimes they are literally carrying out biological experiments themselves. And, if not doing biology themselves, the chances are high that they have been asked to design the statistical sampling or experimental design for someone’s data collection.
With this long history of interdisciplinary teaching and research, the Center has easily adapted to changes in the research and teaching environments of quantitative material in the relevant fields, because the faculty are actual practitioners in these fields. These are some of the reasons why the CQS faculty is highly valued within the UW, in their units, nationally, and internationally.
In recent years it has become possible for undergraduate students to have a minor in their academic program. It is easy to understand why students from other disciplines, as well as those in fisheries and forestry, have found the CQS minor of great value when they apply for graduate school or jobs. It signals loudly and clearly to prospective employers, or to prospective faculty supervisors, that this student has the capability and interest to pursue quantitative analysis in a scientific world that is increasingly quantitative in its expectations.
The faculty in the Center, and in fact the entire organization of the Center, are dedicated to optimizing students’ futures by teaching courses that are acceptable and relevant to their interests and thereby likely having profound impacts on their entire professional careers.