Research Experiences for Undergraduate Students Program

During summer 2010, the NCSA cybereducation team supported 8 undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 9 weeks as part of the REU program of the National Science Foundation. The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in specific areas of research conducted by NCSA and its partners.

The 8 undergraduate students were selected from 65 applicants. Each awardee selected their research focus from several disciplines including, but not limited to chemistry, biology, physics and engineering, as well as emerging technologies and computational science education. Students were matched to faculty/staff based upon their interest.

All interns presented their summer research project at NCSA on July 23 to staff and students. The interns, projects and presentations are:

Project 1: Augmented reality for understanding social and environmental science.

Intern: Lauren Semararo, General Engineering
Mentor: Alan Craig
Presentation: Augmented reality: Current Trends and Future Possibilities

Augmented Reality (AR) is an exciting emerging technology that overlays geographically registered three dimensional computer graphics on the real world. Until recently, AR required expensive hardware, or, at the minimum, a laptop computer equipped with a web camera. Recent improvements in cellular telephone technology, however, have enabled the possibility to use a smart phone as an interaction device for AR thus creating a portable AR experience. By using the cell phone as a "magic lens", participants can view the real world through the camera on the phone and see the augmentations in place, in registration with the real world. In this project we created a demonstration of how Augmented Reality can aid in understanding and teaching social and environmental science. Our interdisciplinary, collaborative team of researchers will develop and demonstrate a sample scenario for using AR environments to teach archeology at the collegiate level.

Project 2: Cyberenvironments: Web 2.0 application for image and video management.

Intern: Luis Mendez, Computer Engineering
Mentor: Luigi Marini
Presentation: 3-D on the Web

In this project, students worked with the Medici repository - a Web 2.0 application built by NCSA for image and/or video management, and/or adding LinkedData support to existing middleware (LinkedData is the form of semantic web data integration that is currently gaining momentum).

Project 3: Computational Biology

Intern: Anthony Papa, Aerospace Engineering
Mentor: Eric Jakobsson
Presentation: Modeling Neural Membranes

This project explored the differences between probabilistic stochastic and continuum differential equation models of natural phenomena to gain an understanding of the underlying relationship between probability and calculus, and how that relationship can be used to make a computer model of a natural system that provides probabilities for different phenomena in complex systems. The differences are expected to arise when complex systems are "deciding" on which trajectory to follow. The stochastic models capture the unpredictability of natural systems, ranging from weather to the spread of disease.

Project 4: Building the TeraGrid community for professional learning.

Intern: Sammy Nammair, Electrical engineering
Mentor: Alex Yahja
Presentation: Building the TeraGrid community

This work involved the development and analysis of social networking based on Elgg for the Teragrid Community--a community of informal learning on Teragrid education and training materials. The development included adding code or plug-ins for Elgg or Elgg's MySQL database to obtain data for analysis. The analysis focused on mapping the social network interactions and determining the roles some participants assume in the network.

Projects 5 through 8: Cybereducation: Computational Chemistry, Biology and/or Physics research tool development.

These projects focused on developing and/or repurposing scientific research tools for the K12 and undergraduate classrooms. The Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science (ICLCS) is bringing authentic computational research tools to courses and classrooms. This research experience engaged undergraduates in the development of user-friendly interfaces to a number of computational tools, which will be used in high school and/or undergraduate classrooms and developed tutorials for their use in courses and classrooms by first researching education literature and surveying teachers, and then by identifying and repurposing appropriate tools.

Intern: Brittany Weida, Bioengineering
Mentors: Dave Mattson and Edee Wiziecki
Presentation: ChemID: Utility in Chemical Education

Intern: Evan Rodrigues, General Engineering
Mentors: Dave Mattson and Edee Wiziecki
Presentation: Integrating computational tools in high school physics education

Intern: Stephanie Hasty, Biochemistry
Mentors: Dave Mattson and Edee Wiziecki

Intern: Thomas Krakau
Mentors: Dave Mattson and Edee Wiziecki
Presentation: Moodle as a Platform for Lesson Design and Distribution in ICLCS