Colorado College News: Mathematics & Computer Science, 3 Seniors to Present Wildfire Modeling Poster at Conference Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:45:00 MST ]]> <p>A poster by three Colorado College students has been accepted for presentation at the 22nd annual Posters on the Hill, to be held April 17-18 in Washington, D.C. Only 60 posters were accepted from the more than 400 applications received for the conference, which is sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.</p> <p><strong>Anna Hessler &rsquo;18, </strong>a computer science and Spanish major from Denver, <strong>Nick Crews &rsquo;18</strong>, a computer science and physics major from Girdwood, Alaska, and <strong>David Radke &rsquo;18</strong>, a computer science major and discrete math minor from Orinda, California, will present &ldquo;Using Artificial Neural Networks to Predict Wildfire Growth.&rdquo;</p> <p>In a letter to the organizers recommending the poster, Assistant Professor Matthew Whitehead and Visiting Professor Daniel Ellsworth, both with CC&rsquo;s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, noted that wildfires are extremely dangerous and costly. &ldquo;The US Forest Service alone spent more than $2 billion on firefighting efforts in 2017,&rdquo; the submission said. &ldquo;The research done in &lsquo;Using Artificial Neural Networks to Predict Wildfire Growth&rsquo; aims to substantially improve fire control efforts by providing better estimates for fire growth than currently available models. If successful, this work will help to reduce the time to contain wildfires, better predict where evacuations may be needed, and support improved simulations for use in training.&rdquo;</p> <p>The students&rsquo; model was trained on historical weather data, historical fire perimeters, digital elevation models, and historical satellite imagery. After evaluating this vast quantity of historical data, it is able to extract trends and patterns, so that given a new input of weather data and an updated state of a fire, it is able to predict the fire perimeter for the next day.</p> <p>&ldquo;We realized exactly how relevant this project could be when we saw the physical impacts of wild fires on communities, especially in recent years,&rdquo; says Hessler.</p> <p>Radke developed the poster idea after working on a research project at UC Berkeley last summer that focused on the effects that natural disasters could pose to California&rsquo;s fuel transportation infrastructure (roads, pipelines, refineries, etc.) through 2100. &ldquo;We used many different kinds of software on the project, including pre-existing fire modeling software,&rdquo; Radke says. &ldquo;Accuracy with some of these models was always in question, and with my senior capstone fast approaching, I decided I wanted to build a piece of software that could better model the spread of wildfires. After arriving on campus, I ran the idea by Nick and Anna, and after a couple days of brainstorming, we decided on this project. Using an artificial neural network to map wildfire is an approach that hasn&rsquo;t really been explored, and we thought it would be a really cool project moving forward.&rdquo;</p> <p>A neural network is a mathematical model of how the brain works, with &ldquo;neurons&rdquo; connected to each other with &ldquo;synapses,&rdquo; says Crews. When one neuron is &ldquo;stimulated&rdquo; by an input, it stimulates all its neighbors. &ldquo;By connecting them in a network, you can pass an input signal into one side of the network and an output signal comes out the other side,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They are useful because you can &lsquo;train&rsquo; them, by feeding them good examples of input/output pairs; for example, what the weather/fire conditions were the day before, and what they were the following day, and the network is able to update itself so it can emulate those predictions.&rdquo;</p> <p>Helping with the project was Matt Cooney, GIS&nbsp;specialist in the newly renovated Tutt Library GIS lab. &ldquo;He certainly helped a lot early on when we were needing to gather the remotely sensed data for all of our fire locations and format them so we could export them to our neural network,&rdquo; says Crews.<br /><br />The students also gathered historical weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, satellite imagery and Digital Elevation Models from the USGS National Map, and fire perimeters from the USGS GeoMAC database.</p> <p>In the submission, Whitehead and Ellsworth also note that &ldquo;machine learning techniques are an active and important research area in computer science. Deep artificial neural networks have been shown to have strong classification performance when working with large collections of scientific data and visual information. This project harnesses the power of convolutional neural networks to predict wildfire growth in an automated fashion. A successful model capable of accurately predicting the spread of wildfires would be an important result in applied machine learning research because of the novel dataset being tested along with the immediate practical applications.&rdquo;</p> Teddy Corwin ’17 Receives Fulbright ETA to Germany Mon, 01 May 2017 10:00:00 MDT <p><strong>Teddy Corwin &rsquo;17</strong>, a Colorado College mathematics and economics major and German minor, has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). He is the second CC senior to receive the prestigious award this year.</p> <p>Corwin will be teaching at a primary school in Rheinland Pfalz, a state in western Germany, during the 2017-18 academic year. He spent the fall semester of his sophomore year studying in L&uuml;neburg, Germany, and says despite his German ancestry, he had little knowledge of German culture.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having mostly experienced Third World countries before studying in Germany, I recall being surprised at how distinct Germany and the U.S. were, given their&nbsp;similar levels of development and economic power,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I began using Germany as a point of reference when thinking about problems I saw in the&nbsp;U.S. government, and doing so made me all the more curious about how Germany became what it is today.&rdquo;</p> <p>Corwin, originally from Hickory, North Carolina, says he hopes to learn alongside his students, building their English skills, improving his German, and studying the economic culture that enables Germany to maintain stability despite immense outside pressure.</p> <p>The Fulbright ETA award also is intended to facilitate cultural ambassadorship, so the teaching assignment is only half of the appointment. Grantees also propose a plan to engage the community outside a classroom, and Corwin selected the cooking and&nbsp;sharing of meals.</p> <p>&ldquo;I chose this route not only because it allows the exchange of cuisine, a powerful cultural aspect, but also because bonding over meals was instrumental in my home life,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;As my mother was a chef and my father manufactured dining room chairs, dinner was sacred in more ways than one.&rdquo;</p> <p>Corwin credits three people in particular with helping him receive a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship: His cousin, who received an ETA almost 10 years ago and encouraged him to apply; CC Fulbright Program Adviser Roy Jo Sartin, who provided feedback and support during the process; and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature Bill Davis, Corwin&rsquo;s German minor advisor and a German Fulbright alum who served as a reference.</p> <p>Colorado College had <a href="">five students who were named Fulbright semifinalists</a> this year. In addition to Corwin, <a href=""><strong>Sidharth Tripathi &rsquo;17</strong></a> went on to receive a Fulbright ETA.</p> Melissa Jay ’16 Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:00:00 MDT <p><strong>Melissa Jay &rsquo;16</strong>, who graduated from Colorado College <em>cum laude</em> with a BA in mathematics, has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She is one of six recent CC graduates to receive the award. Jay also <a href="">was named a Goldwater Scholar</a> while a junior at Colorado College.</p> <p>Currently she is working for a healthcare analytics start-up company in the San Francisco&nbsp;Bay Area. In August she will start work toward a Ph.D. in biostatistics at Harvard University&rsquo;s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.</p> <p>&ldquo;I'm interested in developing statistical methods to analyze clinical trial results when&nbsp;there are&nbsp;missing outcome&nbsp;data. I&rsquo;m particularly interested&nbsp;in cancer clinical trials and&nbsp;research,&rdquo; says Jay.&nbsp;&ldquo;One reason I'm attracted to Harvard&rsquo;s program is its location in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston. I&rsquo;ll have the opportunity to work with collaborators at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or at a&nbsp;nearby hospital such as Brigham and Women&rsquo;s,&nbsp;the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Mass General, on current studies in public health and medicine.<br /><br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m&nbsp;also&nbsp;excited to gain statistical consulting experience, so I can help scientists on campus and in the community design their&nbsp;clinical trials,&rdquo; she says.<br /><br />Jay&rsquo;s work this past year with the healthcare analytics company involved developing&nbsp;predictive algorithms for sepsis and patient instability using&nbsp;machine learning.<br /><br />&ldquo;Through this experience, I've had the opportunity to write articles&nbsp;for medical journals, analyze patient data, and develop ideas for grants.&rdquo; Jay says. &ldquo;It has been really exciting to work with a team that uses&nbsp;statistics with the vision of&nbsp;improving&nbsp;patient care&nbsp;and has been a great experience for me before starting&nbsp;graduate&nbsp;school.&rdquo;</p> Kaitlyn Martinez ’15 Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:45:00 MDT <p><strong>Kaitlyn Martinez &rsquo;15</strong>, who graduated from Colorado College <em>cum laude</em> with a degree in mathematics, has received a <a href="">National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship</a> to support her graduate work at the Colorado School of Mines, where she is a Ph.D. candidate in Computational and Applied Mathematics.</p> <p>Martinez, of Lakewood, Colorado, was one of only one of 12 math biologists to receive the fellowship this year.</p> <p>Her thesis work is on mathematical models for epidemiology, specifically developing new models and analysis methods for the spread of infectious diseases. &ldquo;Currently I am working on a partial differential equation model for the spread of Ebola,&rdquo; Martinez says. &ldquo;I am developing methods for incorporating stochastic (random) behavior into the models and analysis techniques for the spatial models necessary to properly characterize the disease.&rdquo;</p> <p>At Colorado College, Martinez&rsquo;s senior thesis was on modeling the spread of bullying in children, which she worked on with Associate Professor of Mathematics Andrea Bruder.</p> <p>The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master&rsquo;s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. It is a five-year program that includes three years of a $34,000 stipend for research as well as tuition coverage. During the 2017 awards cycle, the NSF received more than 13,000 applications and granted 2,000 fellowships.</p> Abbie Moore ’18 Receives Gilman Scholarship to Study in Budapest Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:15:00 MST <p><strong>Abbie Moore &rsquo;18</strong>, a computer science major at Colorado College, has been awarded a Gilman International Scholarship for the Spring 2017 semester. Moore, who is from Dublin, Ohio, will be studying at the Aquincum Institute of Technology in Budapest, Hungary.</p> <p>Moore says she chose the Aquincum Institute of Technology because of their program. &ldquo;It bridges the gap between computer science&nbsp;and business.&nbsp;Everything depends on technology, and society is able to serve more people because of it," she says.</p> <p>Moore, who is looking forward to her semester in Budapest, adds, &ldquo;On a personal note, I'm&nbsp;also thrilled to meet Ernő Rubik,&nbsp;who invented the Rubik&rsquo;s cube.&rdquo;</p> <p>She hopes in the future to&nbsp;work for an organization that builds relationships&nbsp;with clients and creates strategies&nbsp;that help improve their business through&nbsp;technology, she says.</p> <p>The Gilman Scholarship Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of State, reviewed more than 2,700&nbsp;applications for spring programs, and awarded just over 850&nbsp;scholarships to students participating in study abroad programs and career-oriented internships around the world.</p> Two Professors Recognized in Cancer Moonshot Challenge Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:00:00 MDT <p>Dan Johnson, associate professor of economics and business, and Matthew Whitehead, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science,&nbsp;<a href=";id=46b82a4384&amp;e=1fbe09a14a">received&nbsp;an&nbsp;honorable mention</a> in the U.S. Commerce Department&rsquo;s United States Patent and Trademark Office&rsquo;s <a href=";id=bbeb7292b1&amp;e=1fbe09a14a"><strong>Cancer Moonshot Challenge</strong></a>, part of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. The task force&nbsp;aims to speed up patient-focused cancer treatments, increase patient access to clinical trials and therapies, and align policies that improve the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.<br /><br />In their proposal, titled &ldquo;Seeing the Forest AND the Trees; An Introduction to the Patent Projection Graphing Prototype,&rdquo; Johnson and Whitehead used neural networks and linguistics to visualize and compare networks of patent documents centered on individual cancer-related concepts. Their prototype creates an online interactive visualization tool for analyzing the semantic proximities of U.S. patent documents that are related to cancer research and treatments.</p> <p>This tool allows the user to perform keyword searches and then presents visualizations of sets of relevant patent documents clustered by semantic similarity. Semantic similarity is calculated using a combination of word embeddings obtained using the skip-gram algorithm and the t-SNE dimensionality reduction algorithm.</p> <p>The user may then select individual points in the cluster to view more detailed patent information. This process allows the user to explore the connections between related patents and see more general trends in the semantic shape of the technological space. &ldquo;It is our hope that this tool may serve as one of the starting points for data analysis leading to future innovative approaches to cancer treatment,&rdquo; write Johnson and Whitehead in their submission. Their proposal was honored for the unique and innovative methodology applied.</p> <p>Johnson has been on the faculty at Colorado College since 2004 and Whitehead joined the Colorado College faculty in 2010.</p> Eyner Roman-Lopez ’19 Named Future Global Leader Tue, 03 May 2016 12:00:00 MDT ]]> <p>Colorado College first-year student Eyner Roman-Lopez of Lima, Peru, has been accepted into the internationally competitive 2016 Future Global Leaders (FGL) fellowship&nbsp;program. Roman-Lopez is one of only 20 fellows selected from a pool of 300 international applications.<br /><br />Roman-Lopez joined the CC Class of 2019 as a graduate of the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore&nbsp;and is currently a Davis United World College Scholar at CC. He is studying math and studio art with the intent of becoming an architect, hoping to use design as a means of achieving social impact and reducing socio-economic inequalities.<br /><br />The Future Global Leaders three-year fellowship, provided by the <a href="">Future Leaders Foundation</a>, offers mentorship from world renowned professionals, a three-week&nbsp;intensive leadership training&nbsp;in the Rocky Mountains, funding and support for an internship abroad, customized career advice and tools, and access to the&nbsp;<a href="">Fortis Society</a>&nbsp;upon completion of the fellowship. The aim of the Fortis Society is to bring more diversity to world leadership.<br /><br />&ldquo;I grew up in a small district in the outskirts of Lima,&rdquo; Roman-Lopez says. &ldquo;When I was a kid, I helped my mother at the bookstore she owned before I went to school in the afternoon. She would tell me that the person who reads has the ability to go far in life.&rdquo; In 2010 he enrolled in the only public boarding school in Peru, and it was there he first experienced intercultural exchange. Two years later he won a scholarship to study in Singapore, where he interacted and learned with people from all over the world.<br /><br />Roman-Lopez says the multicultural education at the boarding school and the international environment at UWC were beneficial. &ldquo;They exposed me to complex and puzzling situations that showed me a wide picture as a young idealistic student. That motivated me to&nbsp;join the FGL fellowship; I want to keep expanding my access to global education.&rdquo;<br /><br />Roman-Lopez will be joining young leaders representing 35 nationalities and excelling at college and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and the United Arab Emirates. The foundations&rsquo; admissions committee &ndash; comprised of leaders in the corporate and public sector &ndash; unanimously selected the final 20 FGL fellows based on their proven records of academic excellence, strength of character, leadership potential, and ambition.</p> CC Team in Top 8 Percent in International Math Contest Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:30:00 MDT ]]> <p>A paper by a team of three Colorado College students entered in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling received one of the top designations. The solution paper by <strong>Ellen Smith</strong> <strong>&rsquo;16</strong>, <strong>Hanbo Shao &rsquo;18</strong>, and <strong>Thomas Braine &rsquo;16 </strong>garnered a Meritorious Winning designation, putting their paper in the top 8 percent of 7,421 submitted solutions worldwide.</p> <p>Smith, Shao, and Braine researched, modeled, and submitted a solution to one of three modeling problems. The question they selected posed a&nbsp;subtly complicated problem involving a person faced with the dilemma of taking a bath in a standard tub in which the water temperature is cooling and gradually becoming uncomfortable. Teams were challenged to model this situation in both time and space in order to identify an effective strategy under which a person should add heated water to raise the temperature back to near starting levels while minimizing the overall use of water. The combination of thermodynamic heat transfer in discretized space involving a human body, dynamic evolution and distribution of temperature and human motion over time, and optimizing water resource use strategy proved to be substantial for all teams.</p> <p>Smith, a geology major from Dallas, Texas, will be working with the USGS this summer. Her final placement hasn&rsquo;t yet been determined, but one possibility is conducting <strong>seismic </strong>data research in Ecuador, following the recent earthquake. After that, she hopes to teach.</p> <p>Shao, from Hangzhou, China, is a math major. Following graduation he hopes to conduct math or operations research.</p> <p>Braine, from New York City, is a physics major. He plans to work as a math and physics tutor in Denver this coming year while applying to graduate school in physics.&nbsp;</p> <p>The 2016 CC team was advised by Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Andrea Bruder, who also advised the 2013 and 2015 teams. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t be prouder of their achievement. Colorado College teams entering the contest have been wildly successful in recent years,&rdquo; Bruder says, noting that the school has had three Outstanding Winning teams (1987, 2013, 2015), one Finalist Winning team (2014), and three Meritorious Winning teams&nbsp;(2011, 2014, 2016).</p> <p>This year 13 countries were represented in the contest. In addition to the United States, teams from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Scotland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom participated.</p> $5.6 Million Gift Honors Retiring Professor Steven Janke Mon, 25 Apr 2016 15:00:00 MDT ]]> <p>A $5.6 million gift from an anonymous donor will honor retiring Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Steven Janke and help support financial aid at Colorado College.</p> <p>Of the gift, $2.5 million will be directed toward a chaired professorship established in honor of Janke, who joined the faculty in 1975 and is retiring at the end of the academic year. The estate commitment also will benefit Colorado College students by providing $3.1 million in financial aid.</p> <p>&ldquo;When I was a student at Colorado College, Steven Janke changed everything,&rdquo; says the donor, a member of the Class of 1982. &ldquo;I had not been a successful math student, and he helped me regain my confidence. He also piqued my interest in computer science. His advice and encouragement shaped my career.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge honor for me and for the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Colorado College,&rdquo; Janke says. &ldquo;The alumnus who made this gift is essentially saying that math and computer science are worth the investment. Computer science now applies across so many disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and philosophy,&rdquo; says Janke, who consistently has emphasized the powerful cross-disciplinary application of computer science as technology has evolved.</p> <p>Initially hired as a statistician, Janke was tapped to teach the department&rsquo;s first computer science course and played pivotal roles throughout the department&rsquo;s history.&nbsp; Computer science became an emphasis of study in 1988 and a major in 2005. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve enjoyed teaching a whole lot and I hope I&rsquo;ve made some difference,&rdquo; Janke says.</p> <p>&ldquo;During Steven&rsquo;s career at Colorado College, which has spanned four decades, countless students have learned from him and gone on to successful and meaningful lives,&rdquo; says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler, who <a href="">pays tribute to Janke in a blog post</a>. &ldquo;The gift is an incredibly generous acknowledgement of the talent and dedication of our faculty, and it will ensure that Colorado College continues to attract high-quality professors who are as passionate as Steven about teaching on the Block Plan.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;The main purpose of endowing the chaired professorship is to honor the fine tradition of excellent teaching and intellectual development at Colorado College, which have been exemplified throughout Steven&rsquo;s career,&rdquo; says the donor.</p> <p>The donor also emphasized the significance of financial aid.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s important for Colorado College to reach a diverse group of students,&rdquo; says the donor. &ldquo;Scholarships can reduce the financial burden and allow students to graduate without a large amount of debt.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;This far-reaching gift will benefit Colorado College faculty and students for generations to come,&rdquo; Tiefenthaler says. &ldquo;Our faculty and our alumni time and again demonstrate their commitment to each other and our extraordinary place within and beyond higher education.&rdquo;</p> Professor Glen Receives Computational Probability Research Grant Tue, 09 Feb 2016 10:15:00 MST <p>Colorado College Visiting Professor of Mathematics Andrew Glen has been awarded a three-year, $211,985 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office.&nbsp; The grant will support his research in computational probability, a new area of research that explores combining probability theory with symbolic computer languages to further the fields of probability and statistics.</p> <p>The research is significant because it uses automation of calculus and algebra operations to further probabilistic modeling in a way that cannot be done by hand, oftentimes due to the volume and complexity of the mathematics. One of the goals of the grant is to develop free, open-source computational probability software, which could be of benefit to all areas of science that rely on probabilistic and statistical methods, such as data analysis, bio-statistics and medical studies, applied probability, mathematical statistics, econometrics and actuarial methods.</p> <p>In addition to supporting Glen&rsquo;s time conducting this research, the grant also will support a research fellowship for a Colorado College student each summer.</p>