2018-2019 REU-W Projects

The following are research projects available for students to choose from in order to participate in the CEWIT REU-W program for the fall 2018 and spring 2019 terms:

  • Project 1: Evolving Neural Networks

    Project Description:
    The student will learn to develop and train artificial neural networks to solve biologically-relevant and cognitively-interesting tasks. Students will learn to develop training techniques such as evolutionary algorithms and reinforcement learning. Unlike traditional machine learning, which focuses on feedforward neural networks and input-output classification tasks, this project will involve continuous-time recurrent neural networks and dynamic, embodied, control tasks.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will be learning to program in Python and learning to run and analyze computational experiments.

    Preferences:
    Students with quantitative skills are preferred, particularly students who enjoy math and programming.

  • Project 2: Designing for Women's Health

    Project Description:
    The project engages with specific themes and/or challenges involved with designing for, using, or evaluating technologies that relate to women’s body and health, in areas such as reproductive health and the experiences of motherhood; self-tracking and learning to know the female body; how women might use technology to explore their sexuality and/or help alleviate menstrual or menopausal issues among others.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Interested students will participate in all aspects of the research process when appropriate, including tasks such as data collection, prototyping using found materials or Arduino, system design, deployment, and evaluation among others.

    Preferences:
    (1) Strong interest in women's health and body; (2) some rudimentary research skills, and (3) some basic programming and/or physical prototyping skills.

  • Project 3: Effects of virality in Twitter on professional career

    Project Description:
    We will collect, sort, and analyze data from twitter about scientist and researchers to study how their presence/activities in that platform affects their professional career. We will also investigate how the external stimuli, such as having a viral tweet or large number of follower gain affect their own behavior and activity.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This project will involve brain storming, dataset preparation (both manually and programmatically), huge data analysis (programmatically), and statistical tests ( so knowledge of some statistics and/or programming will be helpful). This is a large project, and students can contribute in any of the phases according to their interests and expertise.

    Preferences:
    Interests in data science/data mining, some programing knowledge, maintaining deadlines and well organized nature.

  • Project 4: The Stories of How Today's Companies Are Founded

    Project Description:
    Every organization has a story has to how it got its start. These stories are frequently communicated when companies seek to raise money from new investors. A version of these stories becomes part of the public record then in the documents a company must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission when the company conducts and Initial Public Offering. In my research so far, I have shown that companies today are very different than their predecessors - they generally are either very large or very small and they tend to have shorter lifespans. How do the stories of their origin influence these outcomes? I'm looking for a student to join me to use software and tools to study 1) whether there are linguistic patterns in the stories that influence subsequent success, 2) whether the companies/founders change their stories over time, or perhaps 3) whether the companies present their stories differently for different audiences. You will assist me in using the best data-driven techniques for gathering founding stories, comparing stories, categorizing stories, following-up on stories, mapping stories, and ultimately deciphering the connection between these initial stories and what later happens for these companies.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    No prior experience is required, but I'm looking for a self-starting student comfortable with learning new software. Depending on the stage of the project and tailored when possible to the student's own interests and skills, we will draw on one or more computational/technological approaches: - We may need to use Python to gather/retrieve the stories (though much of this I have already completed) by downloading them in bulk from public repositories. But we may still want to gather corroborating stories from company websites, press archives or social media. - We will use computer-aided text analysis (e.g. LIWC, CATScanner) to examine the stories, for instance measuring the levels of optimism or entrepreneurial orientation contained within them. We might also generally describe the stories according to their length and complexity. We may come up with new 'dictionaries' to summarize the content of the stories. - We will use statistical packages (STATA or R) to link the variables we generate to financial information and run regressions to see if they are connected to company outcomes. - We may wish to depict graphically the interrelationships between stories or topics, so would need to employ topic modeling (perhaps in R).

    Preferences:
    I enjoy working with undergraduates who: 1) are genuinely curious and interested in learning, 2) are resourceful, that is comfortable trying to learn a software through trial and error or watching an online tutorial, so that our conversations are centered on the research goals. I want to help you when you get stuck, but I want you to learn by doing. You'll actually be doing some tasks I haven't yet tried before - not just repeating steps where I have already identified and cleared all of the obstacles. 3) are consistent. Your time coming to research should be carved out each week. This will be a time when you can focus on the work and the learning.

  • Project 6: The effect of augmented reality on consumer decision-making

    Project Description:
    My research focuses on how augmented reality influences consumer behavior in the context of digital shopping such as e-commerce and m-commerce. Augmented reality brings virtual experience into the real world and creates a new and engaging shopping experience for consumers. Specifically, I am interested in how the use of augmented reality influence mental imagery (imagined sensory experience). I would like to work with an undergraduate student who is interested in this topic and can help me with data collection on campus.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This study is about how technology (augmented reality) influences consumer behavior. A student researcher will not only learn about literature related to technology and human behavior but also aid me with lab experiments (instruct people with the use of augmented reality and administer a web survey).

    Preferences:
    Experience using mobile apps, MS Excel, MS Word, professionalism.

  • Project 7: Usable Privacy and Security

    Project Description:
    My research examines the issues of privacy and security connected with technology from the point of view of the experiences of the users. As such, the research is highly interdisciplinary, collaborative, and sociotechnical, connecting informatics and computer science with other fields such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, business, public policy, etc. For example, my ongoing projects are examining privacy settings on smartphones and social media, user experience of two-factor authentication, solutions for reducing the spread of fake news online, factors that influence people's susceptibility to phishing attacks, user behavior when using privacy enhancing technologies like the Tor Browser, quantification of the various kinds of cyber harms, investigation of privacy and security issues pertaining to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, etc. These projects utilize a variety of qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods drawn from statistics, social sciences, and computer science. They may also involve user interface and graphics design as well as building prototype software or apps.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The projects are in the domain of the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). As such, the research itself involves examination of some kind of technology and/or creation of novel technical solutions. The solutions may be implemented as prototypes or apps. The student can choose to be involved in any aspect of the research depending on skills and interests. Example tasks include (but are not limited to): implementing online surveys, collecting/entering/processing data, qualitative coding of study data, statistical analyses of collected data, writing scripts, building prototypes or apps, user interface or graphics design.

    Preferences:
    The most important quality I seek is curiosity, creativity, and a desire to try and learn new things.

  • Project 8: Effect of Medicaid Generosity on Household Consumption

    Project Description:
    This project uses Medicaid eligibility guidelines to rank states in terms of the generosity of their public insurance program for low-income households. We will then use those rankings to determine the effect of such policies on household consumption before and following the Recession of 2008. This project will develop skills in data cleaning and management, as well as statistical analysis.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student will learn to use STATA and R in order to collapse and manage the data on household consumption. In addition to these programming skills, there will be am emphasis on efficient work flow practices with big datasets. The student will have the opportunity to work with a preexisting dataset, as well as have the opportunity to compile additional datasets.

    Preferences:
    It would be helpful if the student has an interest in quantitative research methods and policy.

  • Project 9: Adaptive Support in Game-based Collaborative Learning

    Project Description:
    This project is developing a multiplayer game to help middle school children collaboratively learn about ecosystems. We are using the data generated from playing the game to build support to help children collaborate well that will adjust to the interaction patterns. There will be opportunities to participate in design sessions as well as to collect and analyze classroom and focus group data as a integral member of the research team.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This is a research project supporting a new model of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) that combines the advantages of game based learning with problem based learning. Good game based learning environments combine rich scenarios with engaging activities to serendipitously provide student learning. These learning environments also provide an opportunity for players to collaborate in reaching their game goals. Good problem based learning environments provide support for the solution of complex and ill-structured problems. The combination of these two types of learning environments promises to provide the engagement and richness of game based learning with the support environment to engage students in authentic science. Both of these environments are computer based so the actions and interactions of the students and teachers are captured for analysis. Applying learning analytics to the captured data provides information on student learning for the teacher, provides learning information to the student for self-reflection and improved learning, and provides information for the system designer to improve the effectiveness of the new CSCL environment.

    Preferences:
    Knowledge of desktop and cloud-based word processing and spreadsheets. Works well with others and takes initiative in projects. Good at taking detailed notes. Interest in designing games and problems for learning.

  • Project 10: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation to build muscle strength and endurance in heart failure patients

    Project Description:
    In this study we use a lightweight, battery powered electrical stimulation unit (which is attached to the patient via self-adhesive electrodes) to produce a controlled contraction of the underlying muscle. It can be self-administered at home while the participant is passively sitting or lying down thus decreasing the demands of exercise while still allowing the participant many of the same benefits. We will be tracking patient activity data (using ActviPal worn on the thigh) to see if the electrical stimulation will encourage patients to be more active. This study has a number of physical tests and will use medical equipment including: dynamometer and DXA Scan. The hypothesis is that by using electrical stimulation, patients will, in part, reverse the muscle wasting and actually increase muscle mass and strength. With this increase in muscle, it is expected that patients will become more active. Being able to begin an exercise program without getting short of breath or having to invest a lot of energy in a population that is highly fatigued and short of breath, should improve participant use. With the increase in strength the patient may begin to feel some success which may then lead to increases in other activities leading to an overall improvement in exercise tolerance, improved functional ability, quality of life, and participation formal exercise programs.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This project will need people to program the electrical stimulation machines and activity monitors, download data from the activity monitors, extract data from the electrical stimulators, assist patients in performing physical tests, trouble shooting of equipment via the phone when patients are having trouble at home, as well as provide study support to patients. Further cleaning of data and then statistical analysis will also be needed. The duties can be adjusted with other members of the study team based on the students interests and needs.

    Preferences:
    Need to be able to tell the Mentor what they want from the experience. For example, would they prefer less patient interaction or more. If the mentee doesn't think they can meet a deadline due to school responsibilities, for example midterms coming up in 2 weeks so will not be available etc., be willing to plan ahead so appropriate plans can be made in a timely manner. Need to be personable with middle aged to older adults who may be slow to respond or understand something new or anything to do with technology. Mainly a friendly, personable, approachable, person.

  • Project 11: Brain responses to (non)native sentence processing

    Project Description:
    Non-native language processing seems more fragile than native processing, requiring greater effort. In support of this hypothesis, we use electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the timing and frequencies of brain responses to complex, but grammatical sentences by non-native and native speakers. Across groups, activity at higher frequencies seems linked to anticipation of upcoming material, while activity at lower frequencies seems linked to maintaining and integrating this information. Compared to native speakers, non-native speakers showed increased activity at mid-range frequencies, suggesting that non-native processing requires additional brain effort. Our work addresses the significance of brain activity at various frequencies during native and non-native language use.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The project involves EEG training and data preprocessing and analysis using MAT Lab, EEGlab, Cleanline, FieldTrip as well as R and SPSS statistics. Student will become proficient in these as well as principles of experimental design and analysis.

    Preferences:
    Interest in languages, knowledge of French a plus.

  • Project 12: CEWiT, Technology and IU Women: An examination of the extent to which variables of use, interests, efficacy, and experience vary among affiliate members across all majors at IU

    Project Description:
    Currently there are approximately 3000 IU women students from majors all across campus who have chosen to affiliate with the IU Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT). The purpose of this study is to examine characteristics of the women in non-computing majors to better understand attitudes, what technology they know, what they want to know, and how this differs from students enrolled in computing majors. We will develop and administer an online survey to students at IU. Also, interviews will be collected from some participants and a mixed-method approach will be used to analyze the data of the study. The goal of this study is to inform CEWiT to better support the development of tech skills for women prior to their move to the workforce.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Aside from the fact that the total focus of this research is on IU women in technology, technologies to be used will include Qualtrics Survey Software, statistical data analysis, and creating interesting ways to visualize the data results.

    Preferences:
    No experience required. Interest in this subject, solid communication skills including writing and interpersonal. Detailed oriented and willing to learn.

  • Project 13: 3D modeling of Egyptian objects in the Brooklyn Museum

    Project Description:
    The research project is entitled "A Virtual Museum of Ancient Egypt." We are creating three-dimensional models of ancient Egyptian sculptures in the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Student apprentices will assist in organizing photos; pre-processing them using Adobe Lightroom; creating the models using Photoscan; and in final editing of models using ZBrush. Students will then post the models to the on-line 3D model hosting site Sketchfab; students will learn to optimize the models for on-line presentation. No programming experience is required to operate any of this software.

    Preferences:
    Students should be comfortable with technology, but do not need coding/programming experience. Knowledge of digital photography is desirable. Students should have good organizational skills and be detail-oriented.

  • Project 14: Cyber Deception and Detection

    Project Description:
    Understanding and characterizing deception for improved detection or cyber threats. Cyber security is a major global concern as cyber attackers and hackers are penetrating networks and clouds, where much of our information is manipulated and stored. The extended internet, including all means to access or utilize online space, is increasingly infested with intentional or unintentional malicious actors. To improve the security of the online space, it is becoming important to both understand, better detect, and when needed, better develop deception mechanisms. The deception mechanisms can be either human or machine based (or even can model the deception on biological deception practices). Depending on their interests, students will learn about human behaviors and society, or will focus on the more hardware / software-based practices. Questions to be address can include: understanding human propensity to behave maliciously in a social or cyber context or can be more computer science based and focus on deception and / or detection. The student will learn statistical tools and approaches, as well as develop an understanding of metrics (what they are, what qualities characterize good metrics). The metrics of interest could be human focused (such as characterizations of human behaviors) or more cyber focused (how to best measure what is happening in a network), depending on the interest of the student. The student can also choose to learn or expand their programming skills. This work will be guided by both more experienced students and faculty.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student will learn statistical tools and approaches, as well as develop an understanding of metrics (what they are, what qualities characterize good metrics). The metrics of interest could be human focused (such as characterizations of human behaviors) or more cyber focused (how to best measure what is happening in a network), depending on the interest of the student. The student can also choose to learn or expand their programming skills.

    Preferences:
    Self-motivated and a desire to learn. Some programming skills desired but not required.

  • Project 15: Environmental Resilience: Understanding and characterizing the factors influencing and affecting the resilience of an environmental system (both ecosystems and humans) to adverse impacts of climate change within a large, extended watershed

    Project Description:
    The world, especially the climate and weather, is changing more rapidly than predicted. At an eco-regional (watershed) level many aspects of the watershed have the potential to be (and are being) affected. Different disciplines (ecology or social economics or public health) monitor and evaluate climate effects differently, yet the ecoregion is affected holistically. Weather and climate will impact the ecosystem but will also impact humans: human activities (recreation, industry, agriculture) and human health. Further, human uses of the ecosystem (ecosystem services) are and will be affected by the changing climate. In order for a city or region to become more resilient, it needs to understand how to plan for and respond to these coming changes. When evaluating the resilience of a system, a suite of resilience indicators (i.e. metrics) must be selected that encompasses the four resilience characteristics (i.e. plan / prepare, absorb, recover, and adapt). Resilience indicators are time and location specific to the environmental system in question. We are especially interested in working with students who want to focus on ecological / environmental resilience as they will be joining a team.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student will learn both statistical and other analytical approaches to examining and analyzing data, including more visual and graphical approaches.

    Preferences:
    HS biology, chemistry, and/or environmental science preferred. Willingness to learn and self-motivated.

  • Project 16: The role of Pine-bark beetle damage, in altering stream discharge in SW Montana

    Project Description:
    Complete the compilation of US Geological Survey and US Forest Service data for two streams in the region, along with the historic satellite and Google Earth images. We will then analyze the relationship between the insect driven tree deaths and the change to the patterns of stream discharge. We are looking to see if the increased infestations driven by climate change have a significant impact on the stream discharge that is an important source of groundwater recharge and surface water irrigation in the region.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Data mining of the open source data programs from the various federal agencies and locating the relevant satellite images from NASA and Google Earth. Delineating watershed boundaries and plotting tree kills on the compiled maps. MATlab will be used to in evaluate the the significance of the data through basic statistics, and graphs will be generated for the data.

    Preferences:
    Interest in and some ability with spacial reasoning, introduction to excel, punctuality, willingness to think outside the box.

  • Project 17: Assessing hurricane damage to Saint Thomas using GIS

    Project Description:
    The Caribbean was hit with several hurricanes during the last storm season. These did considerable damage to buildings. This project will involve mapping the extent of damage using GIS and aerial photography to look at the presence of rooftops before and after the hurricanes. This student will learn some GIS tools for creating data, entering information, and using tables to compare the presence and absence of rooftops visible in aerial photography. The student should be willing to work independently and learn aspects of GIS software systems necessary to carry out the project.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The research project will use an existing layer that contains rooftops and will seek a post hurricane data layer to determine damage level. At a minimum the student should have some familiarity with computers and computer software. I will facilitate the students abilities with access to online courses in the operation of the program, access to tutorial books in my library, and office visits in which I will demonstrate the operation of the program. We will be using ARC Desktop. The project will involve geography, cartography, remote sensing, data management, data analysis, and poster construction.

    Preferences:
    Familiarity with computers. Willingness to learn. Lack of fear of being wrong. Self motivated. Inquisitive. Happy.

  • Project 18: Sensory involvement in motor skill learning

    Project Description:
    We have the ability to both sense our environment and make movements to interact with it. The sensory and motor regions of the brain interact with each other to make this possible. To better understand how this happens, and how it might go wrong in patients with impaired movement, we will study how changes in sensory areas of the brain affect motor skill learning in healthy people. You would help a PhD student collect data using non-invasive brain stimulation and a robotic manipulandum. This is an opportunity to gain experience with sophisticated technologies used in human behavioral and neurophysiology research.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This is a motor control neuroscience project involving data collection with sophisticated technology. The student will assist a PhD student and learn how non-invasive brain stimulation and behavioral research is done in humans. Specifically, the student will be trained to assist with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), neuronavigation, and electromyography (EMG). She will monitor the EMG signal for involuntary muscle contractions, record TMS coil positions in Brainsight, and adjust the stimulator settings as instructed by the PhD student who will administer the stimulation. She will also learn how to instruct and monitor subjects as they are trained to move the robotic manipulandum in a skilled pattern.

    Preferences:
    She should be enthusiastic, responsible, organized, and able to work well with a team. No specific skills or knowledge are needed.

  • Project 19: Profiling drug addiction through computational text analysis

    Project Description:
    Opioid and other forms of drug addiction are on the rise in the US. Researchers are tackling this problem from many angles, including medical, physical, and the social sciences. In this project we approach it yet from another angle - information and computer sciences. Using various text mining techniques, we'll try to understand addiction and addicts as they are described in the literature and identify the lifecycle of addiction, i.e. the events and entities around its beginning and development and battles to end it. This innovative project is friendly to newcomers to digital research, but it has many useful pieces to learn - from virtual environments to text mining to copyright and nonconsumptive (no-full-access) research.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The project uses methods of text mining in the virtual environment of the HathiTrust research center. The student will learn the environment and how to apply several standard methods (such as word frequencies, entity recognition, topic modeling).

    Preferences:
    Willingness to learn, persistence, awareness of various operating systems and software.

  • Project 20: Research on Speech Sounds Using Ultrasounds

    Project Description:
    You probably know that ultrasounds are used for diagnostic purposes in medicine. We use the same method to investigate pronunciation of speech sounds, to see the position and shape of the tongue when people speak. This helps us to better understand the mechanisms involved in the production of speech and, the differences in the articulation of sounds in different languages or by different people. If you choose this project, you will learn to use software for ultrasound data analysis, learn about the method, and help with data collection and analysis.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    We use 3D ultrasound medical diagnostic equipment for the research in articulatory phonetics. The student will learn to use Matlab software for the analysis of ultrasound images, and assist in data collection and analysis.

    Preferences:
    Being precise, attention to details, interest in languages and/or language acquisition

  • Project 21: Analysis of speech in neurological disorders

    Project Description:
    A large percentage of people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson disease or Autism evidence speech abnormalities. Research the Speech Acoustics Lab centers on trying to identify the specific features that lead to perceived speech deficits. A variety of computer-based analyses are conducted to determine the underlying difficulties in speech that lead to reduced understanding of speech produced by people with neurological disorders.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    A number of different computer-based algorithms are used to analyze the acoustic features of speech. One aspect of the project entails comparison of two different analysis procedures to determine the validity of the procedures. The student will learn how to use the different algorithms, how to relate the acoustic information obtained to the underlying physiology of speech, and assess the reliability of different analysis procedures.

    Preferences:
    Ideally, the student will be interested in speech production and its disorders. Basic computer skills would be good but little or no programming ability is needed.

  • Project 22: Participatory Culture and Comics Fandom

    Project Description:
    Students will be engaged in a research project to study fan/reader contributions to comic book publications. The research tasks will include: digitizing materials that document reader participation in comics; developing a database and metadata to organize materials documenting reader participation in comics; data analysis; data visualization.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will digitize (scan, digitally photograph) print materials; students will interact with spreadsheet and database software and do some development of complex spreadsheets and/or databases; students will work with various computational tools to analyze data collected; students will work with computational visualization and mapping tools to visualize the data collected.

    Preferences:
    Familiarity with spreadsheet and/or database software (Microsoft Excel; Microsoft Access; FileMaker; MySQL, etc.); Web development experience; programming experience (e.g., JavaScript, PHP, Python); XML or XSLT experience. None of these skills is required, just preferred.

  • Project 23: Evolutionary Ecology of Parasitism and Mutualism

    Project Description:
    Our lab focuses on how competitive and mutualistic interactions affect the evolution and coexistence of species. Our goal is to test theoretical models explaining the maintenance of genetic variation. Specifically, we work on bacteria that are insect pathogens and mutualistic partners of nematodes. These bacteria produce anti-competitor toxins that can kill closely related bacterial strains. We are characterizing the degree to which these toxins are beneficial in a competitive context, and in what ways their production can be costly in other contexts. We are also examining sequence variation among natural isolates these bacteria examine variation in toxin loci vis-à-vis diversity in other parts of the genome.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    CEWiT students will be involved in statistical analysis of their data using techniques such as proportional hazards regression, logistic regression and analyses of covariance via SAS or R. Depending on the student and the project, they will be involved in designing primers and analyzing quantitative PCR data or bioinformatics analyses of bacterial genomes.

    Preferences:
    Basic courses in biology, differential equations, statistics, bioinformatics and programming would be helpful, but are not required Intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic are a must.

  • Project 24: Indiana Nonprofit Sector

    Project Description:
    We have two priorities: (1) Analyzing a large survey (N-1,100) of Indiana nonprofits of all types on a wide range of topics: programs and services, organizational structure and program evaluation, human resources, marketing and technology, financial information, advocacy and policy activities, and relationships with other organizations. There are also questions specific to membership associations and faith-based organizations. Also (2) we will be updating our analysis of paid nonprofit employment in Indiana. For information about the project see, https://nonprofit.indiana.edu/.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will get experience with large databases and will be suing statistical software (SPSS) and Excel. This will include data cleaning, preparing descriptive statistics, preparing graphs and tables, and most likely also some multivariate analysis.

    Preferences:
    Interest in learning new skills, attention to detail, critical thinking,very comfortable working with numbers, and ability to work well with others and in a team setting.

  • Project 25: Trolling globally

    Project Description:
    This project will focus on collecting and analyzing online trolling data from a global platform, focusing on comparing troll behaviors.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will experience with scraping data from social media platforms, cleaning the data, and analyzing the data.

    Preferences:
    I’d like to work with creative and detail oriented students, who are excited about research.

  • Project 26: Studies in Social Human-Robot Interaction: Robot-Assisted Language Learning

    Project Description:
    The work described below is affiliated with the R-House Lab, which is a collaborative research space that brings together faculty, scholars, and students interested in human-robot interaction (HRI). HRI is a field that explores how people perceive, respond to, and interact with robots, and how to better design robots so they can be used in everyday contexts, such as the home, work, education, or healthcare. If you are interested in such topics, we invite you to join us in our studies of people's interactions with robots and contribute to future robot design. In particular, next year we need help with the following project, among others you could participate in. 

    Robot-Assisted Language Learning: The aim of this project is to test how non-native word learning is affected by the timing of non-verbal behavior (eye gaze) when performed by a robot tutor. Although there is general consensus that greater contingency leads to greater learning in human interaction, in robot-assisted learning, conflicting literature has emerged. As well, it has been found that parents direct their gaze to objects prior to naming and that this increases joint attention on the object, which is associated with increased learning. An experiment will be devised to test whether a) a non-contingent robot that directs its gaze to the target prior to naming it will increase children’s word learning (compared to a robot whose gaze is contingent to the learners) and b) whether this results in varying perceptions of the robot by learners and learners’ parents. Research activities for undergraduates on the project would include running participants through the study protocol, controlling the robot in the study, and collecting, managing, and analyzing textual, audio, and video data. No skills needed but must be motivated and reliable.

    Project description: Robots for Intergenerational Interactions: Explore the use of robots for multi/inter-generational interactions in non-familial settings, especially among older adults with dementia and pre-school kids at Jill's house intergenerational preschool and assisted living facility in Bloomington. We will design interactions for a new social robot prototype under development by Honda Research Institute to see the different interactions that can be supported between children and older adults during a storytelling session using this robot. We use observations, interviews of participants and video recordings to collect the data and perform video coding to analyze it.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Responsibilities on this project would include: Programming the robot. Operating the robot on site during the research. Analyzing the collected data (Training will be given for video coding). Prior skills required are some experience with programming (to customize the robot's interactions as per research design).

    Preferences:
    We look forward to meeting new researchers interested in human-robot interaction!

  • Project 27: Studies in Social Human-Robot Interaction: Designing a Robot for Childhood Healthy Eating

    Project Description:
    The work described below is affiliated with the R-House Lab, which is a collaborative research space that brings together faculty, scholars, and students interested in human-robot interaction (HRI). HRI is a field that explores how people perceive, respond to, and interact with robots, and how to better design robots so they can be used in everyday contexts, such as the home, work, education, or healthcare.  If you are interested in such topics, we invite you to join us in our studies of people's interactions with robots and contribute to future robot design. In particular, next year we need help with the following project, among others you could participate in.

    Designing a Robot for Childhood Healthy Eating:
    This project involves building a robot that can encourage picky eaters, aged 2-5, from low-income families to try more diverse and nutritious foods. It is meant to be a dinnertime companion and function in part based on parental feedback. It will also serve as a visual representation of the child’s recent eating habits (growing bright when the child has been eating well and dim when they have not) and be customizable by parent and child. Research activities for the undergraduate on the project would include helping to build an early stage prototype. This will involve programming a RaspberryPi and its peripherals, and may include building the robots’ body for 3D printing in Fusion360. Prototypes will be tested at various stages, which will include surveying and interviewing participants in-person and/or online. Additionally, you may be cross-trained in running participants for another ongoing study. Must know Python at an intermediate level or higher (approx. two previous courses or equivalent self-study). Must be motivated. All other skills can be learned during the course of the program.

    Project description:
    Robots for Intergenerational Interactions:
    Explore the use of robots for multi/inter-generational interactions in non-familial settings, especially among older adults with dementia and pre-school kids at Jill's house intergenerational preschool and assisted living facility in Bloomington. We will design interactions for a new social robot prototype under development by Honda Research Institute  to see the different interactions that can be supported between children and older adults during a storytelling session using this robot. We use observations, interviews of participants and video recordings to collect the data and perform video coding to analyze it.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Responsibilities on this project would include:  Programming the robot. Operating the robot on site during the research. Analyzing the collected data (Training will be given for video coding). Prior skills required are some experience with programming (to customize the robot's interactions as per research design). 

    Preferences:
    We look forward to meeting new researchers interested in human-robot interaction!

  • Project 28: Using computers to develop mathematical proofs

    Project Description:
    This project would be for any student who is interested in writing and checking mathematical proofs on a computer. (It is not expected that you have ever done this before.) In the course of the project, you will learn to use an interactive proof assistant. Your goal will be to develop programs which generate proofs for the proof assistant.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The focus of the project is on using a computer to perform a task -- mathematical proving -- which is commonly carried out mentally with pen and paper or on the blackboard.

    Preferences:
    Some experience with a functional programming language (e.g., from C211) would be beneficial. No specific mathematical background is required; but a readiness to learn some new ideas is essential.

  • Project 29: Opioid Addictions and the Labor Market

    Project Description:
    Combining workforce data (BG), professional training (EMSI, Iped) and Opioid overdose data investigate whether 1) there are improvements in extent of disease given the treatment availability and whether 2) these improvements also lead to improvements in job growth.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The project involves data analytical skills: data wrangling, database, pattern recognition, and visualization. From data extraction to data visualization, students will be exposed to a variety of essential skills to Data Scientist, e.g. learning basics of postgres/sql, analyzing data with R and python, learning Sci2 software and tableau.

    Preferences:
    Programming basics in R, python and good organizational skills. postgres/sql is plus but can be learned during the project.

  • Project 30: Forces of Nature Beyond Gravity and Electromagnetism

    Project Description:
    Our group conducts experimental searches for forces of nature beyond gravity and electromagnetism. We concentrate on forces which act over distance ranges less than one millimeter. There are 4 known fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. However, there could be additional forces of nature millions of times stronger than gravity acting over distances resolvable to the unaided eye, about which we have no information. Many theories that attempt to describe both gravity and the other fundamental forces make predictions of additional, sub-millimeter forces. Discovery of a correct “unified theory” has long been a “holy grail” of fundamental physics. Furthermore, ordinary matter makes up only 5% of the known mass in the observable universe. Exotic, sub-millimeter forces could be mediated by “dark matter,” the otherwise unknown quantity making up 27% of the mass, and “dark energy,” the even more mysterious quantity thought to make up the remaining 68%. We are conducting several experiments using different techniques. All techniques involve very sensitive measurements of the force between two test objects; those measurements are then compared to the predictions from known physics to check for any deviation. We have several projects associated with each experiment. One project is to design, construct, and test a magnetic calibration system for one experiment. Another is to build a device for magnetizing the test masses in this experiment. A third project is to build a test mass for a second experiment.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    One project is to design, construct, and test a magnetic calibration system for an exotic short-range force search. Forces could depend on several properties of test objects involved, such as mass (like gravity), or charge (like electromagnetism). Another fundamental property of matter is spin, which can be thought of as intrinsic angular momentum. Most subatomic particles (including protons, neutrons, and electrons) have non-zero spin, which determines their magnetic properties: magnetic forces interact with spin.

    Our group has developed special materials which have a high degree of spin but which, under the right conditions, very low magnetism. This is important because magnetic forces could swamp out a signal of an exotic force. These special materials will be used as the test masses in one of our experiments. In order to verify that we have attained the conditions in which the magnetism has been minimized, we plan to build a system to drive the test masses magnetically: when this force is minimized (and ideally zero), we can infer that we have attained the ideal conditions.

    The calibration system will consist of a set of magnetic coils. The student working on this project will be expected to learn and use techniques of computer modeling, coil construction, basic electronics, and magnetic field measurement. The student will first complete a computer model of the magnetic coils (based on the work of a previous CEWiT student) using the very powerful and versatile technique of finite element analysis. Then the student will work with an engineer to produce a practical design of the coils. Depending on the details of the design, the student will either help build the coils in the lab or coordinate their fabrication by outside vendors (or both, if shared construction is appropriate). Time permitting, the student will connect the finished coils to the appropriate electronic devices (signal generator, amplifier if needed), make measurements of the magnetic fields generated, and compare the results to the computer model.

    A second project is to design and build a device for magnetizing the test masses in this experiment. The special materials must first be magnetized for them to acquire spin. (After they are magnetized, they will be cooled to about -50 degrees Celsius; at this temperature the magnetism will disappear but the spin will remain.) The student working on this project will be expected to learn basic mechanical design, magnetic field measurement, and techniques of computer modeling. The student will acquire strong, permanent magnets of sizes appropriate for the test masses and build a rig for holding them. In parallel, the student will build a computer model of the magnets, using finite element methods, and use it to calculate the expected fields generated by them. Then the student will make careful measurements of the fields generated by the magnets, and compare them to the computer calculations. Based on these measurements, the student will design a more detailed holder appropriate for magnetizing the test masses.

    The third project is to finish the construction of a test mass for a different exotic force search experiment. This experiment uses the technique of magnetic resonant imaging (MRI) on samples of helium-3 atoms. Usually, MRI is used for the purpose of detecting very small magnetic forces. In this experiment, it will be used to detect a magnetic-like response of a sample of atoms in the presence of a very heavy but non-magnetic test mass: this would signal the presence of an exotic force. The student working on this project will be expected to learn techniques of basic mechanical design, semiconductor microfabrication, and computer modeling. The student will refine and use a computer model of the heavy test mass to predict its thermal expansion properties. Then the student will assemble a system for heating the mass and pressing a precision shaft into it, for the purpose of connecting the mass to a drive mechanism. The student will also learn the operation of a vapor deposition system and use it to plate a reflective gold pattern on the test mass for the eventual purpose of assessing its velocity when assembled in the experiment.

    Preferences:
    Curiosity, and openness to the idea that the progress of basic research-unlike learning science from textbooks-is often slow and involves false starts, are essential. Perseverance and willingness to devote significant time to research on a weekly basis, especially in the face of other academic responsibilities, are important. Seeking help from and asking questions of advisor and other lab personnel when unsure of next steps on a project is also important. Solid background in high school physics and calculus, or some exposure to introductory college physics and calculus, and some experience with computer programming, are preferred but not essential.

  • Project 31: Research Tutorial Creation

    Project Description:
    The Government Information department at Wells Library supports the research use of many open resources (Census data tools, Grants.gov, HealthFinder.gov, and more). This research apprentice would be focused on created online tutorials to aid Indiana University scholars in the use of such resources. Formats will definitely include both video and webpage, but open to additional.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student will gain full experience with video creation, along with various other forms of computational instruction.

    Preferences:
    Strong communication skills; interest in subject; willingness to ask questions; basic computer literacy.

  • Project 32: Supporting the home birth pregnancy journey

    Project Description:
    As rural hospitals continue to close and access to care diminishes, more and more individuals choose to experience healthcare in the home. One condition which is increasingly managed in the home environment is childbirth. Planned home birth in the US has been on the rise since 2003 and is currently at the highest rate since tracking home births was initiated. Little systematic research has been performed investigating the mothers who plan home births and there is a lack of research to support these mothers who are choosing to give birth outside of the traditional healthcare system.

    To address these research gaps we propose two primary research aims. The first is to collect a rich set of data on the physical, emotional, social, communication, and socio-economic challenges faced by women over the course of their home birth pregnancy journey. These data will describe barriers to care experienced by pregnant women and their families/caretakers such as economic hardships, gaps in knowledge and social support, and the challenges of understanding and managing pregnancy alongside the demands of daily life. The second aim of our work builds on the first and focuses on encoding and analyzing the data collected, using the results of this analysis to formulate design guidelines for interaction techniques, interactive designs, and initial prototypes of a system designed to provide holistic support to home birth patients over the course of their pregnancy journey.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    I take a human-centered approach to designing, building, and evaluating user-facing interactive technologies. In the context of this project, we will focus on requirements gathering (understanding our users) and designing/building mobile systems for data collection. An interest in women’s health is key if you are going to join this project as we are very focused on empowering women to engage with and understand their health over the course of their pregnancy. Students will be taught how to collect both qualitative and quantitative data, how to analyze those data, and how to design and build interactive systems based on those data.

    Preferences:
    Students must have an interest in women’s health and pregnancy. They must also be good with people, organized, focused, and able to follow direction well. Experience with user-centered design, HCI, or building mobile apps is a plus.

  • Project 33: Environmental Sensing and Mapping the Local Food Network

    Project Description:
    "Extreme heat events are responsible for more annual fatalities in the United States than any other form of extreme weather. Urban populations are also more likely to be exposed to extreme heat as a result of the urban heat island (UHI) phenomenon where temperatures in cities are higher than their surrounding rural counterpart.

    Vegetative strategies have been shown to be a very effective heat mitigation strategy for lowering local temperatures in cities during periods of extreme heat. This research aims to monitor vegetation in Bloomington through the creation of an environmental sensing network on the IU campus in order to better understand how vegetation functions during extreme heat conditions. Temperature, relative humidity, and soil moisture sensors will be deployed in differing urban form environments (i.e. along streets, in parking lots, and in parks) in order to measure how these environmental variables change during heat waves.

    This project will build on an environmental sensing project started in the summer of 2018. We currently have installed sensors at the Willie Streeter Community Garden and at the Bloomington community orchard with plans to add an additional sensor at the IU Campus Farm. We anticipate adding more sensors to the network and improving our database backend to support analysis and visualization of the data we are collecting.

    We are also collecting data on urban farms and local agriculture around Bloomington and Indianapolis in an effort to understand the impact of small scale agriculture on temperature.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student working on this project will help to monitor and grow the sensor network as well as work with the backend database for analysis and visualization purposes. Additionally, the accepted student will work with geospatial software to map the local food network around Bloomington and Indianapolis. The student will map the local agricultural farms around Bloomington and urban agriculture around Indianapolis. The student will learn ArcGIS software in order to spatially map the location of farms as well as to create the backend database taken from farm surveys.

    Preferences:
    A successful student working on this project should be interested in the environment and believes in climate change. I am looking for a creative student who is comfortable thinking outside of the box, self motivated and hard working. The student needs to be comfortable enough with technology in order to learn a new software program as well as work with data. Numbers should not scare them. This student should also want to work in the field and be willing to get a little dirty. The environmental sensors are located outside at local agricultural sites and this person should feel comfortable working with basic tools (drills, etc) and being outdoors. Also, this person should feel comfortable talking with people and being a public face of a research project, as the student will be talking with farmers and community organizers to learn about their farms.

  • Project 34: Sexual Health Educational Videos for Females with Spinal Cord Injury

    Project Description:
    Sexual health, identified as one of the most important topics post acquisition for women with a spinal cord injury (SCI), is a recreational therapy facilitation technique that has been omitted from telemedicine (telehealth through technology). Prior research completed by this team indicated that SCI sexual health education focused on men, was untimely, and attention to sexuality issues was absent from post rehabilitation care, primarily in rural areas, for women living with SCI. The objective of this project is to develop sexual health educational videos that can be incorporated into the rehabilitation process as a form of telemedicine.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    These funds will support the implementation of sexual health as a form of telemedicine for allied health professionals, primarily recreational therapists, who work directly with individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI). Sexual health, identified as one of the most important topics post acquisition for women with SCI, has been omitted from post-hospitalization care, and is sparse to non-existent within telemedicine. Prior research completed by this team indicated that SCI sexual health education is disproportionately focused on men, untimely, or entirely absent during rehabilitation. Students will work with the community-based rehabilitation team to develop sexual health videos that can be accessed through telemedicine associated with a rehabilitation hospital.

    Preferences:
    Excellent time management skills, verbal and written communication skills, sensitivity of working with individuals with disabilities (i.e., living with a spinal cord injury).

  • Project 35: Physical properties of galaxies imaged by Hubble Telescope

    Project Description:
    Hubble archive contains a large number of fantastic detailed images of galaxies. However, by just browsing the archive it is difficult to place these galaxies in a broader context of how they evolve and relate to other galaxies in terms of their shapes, masses and other physical properties, which limits the scientific impact of these images. The goal of this project is to connect the Hubble images with the catalog of physical properties of galaxies and produce a web tool that will display galaxy images and data in relation to other galaxies, using a number of filters.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Student is to download and organize data and create an interactive web-based tool to display images and graphs.

    Preferences:
    Computer programming, (especially web programming) would be useful but is not required. No astronomy background is required.

  • Project 36: Behavioral genetics in Drosophila larvae

    Project Description:
    How and why do animals behave the way they do? Many studies have shown that animal behavior is controlled and coordinated by elaborate nervous system networks. Nevertheless, how these networks of interconnected neural circuits properly develop and function remains unknown.My research uses the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) model system to investigate which genes contribute to the neural basis of behavior and understand how these genetic instructions are implemented at the cellular level to achieve specific morphologies and connectivities at the neural circuit level. Recent studies from the lab have identified novel genes that govern somatosensory behaviors in fruit fly larvae. Students will have the opportunity to further characterize how these newly identified genes contribute to somatosensory behaviors by detailing their role in dendrite morphogenesis of specialized sensory neurons. Students will learn larval behavioral assays, confocal microscopy, and neuronal tracing methods using Matlab software.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Computational component: The student will use customized Matlab scripts to auto-trace morphological features of sensory neuron dendrites from confocal micrographs. Resulting parameters will be collected analyzed using appropriate statistical methods. Moreover, there is an additional opportunity for a motivated student to write her own (Matlab) code to analyze larval behavior in video recordings.

    Preferences:
    An interest in (neuro)biology, a willingness to learn new material, and self-motivation to contribute to the research project (with guidance from the mentor). Prior knowledge in programming will be helpful if the student wishes to write custom code for video analysis of behaviors in fruit fly larvae.

  • Project 37: Designing interactive technologies for supporting animal welfare and environmental conservation

    Project Description:
    1. Smart technology in animal shelters. The goal is to understand how technology can streamline the animal shelter intake and adoption process, and how to better promote awareness to the general public using technology.

    2. Smart pet toys in home environment. The goal is to understand how to design and evaluate smart toys to improve interactions between pet owners and pets.

    3. Smart technology at Indy Zoo. The goal is to understand how to design zoo exhibit using technology to make the visit experience more informative and engaging.

    4. Smart technology on hiking trials. The goal is to understand how to design mobile and wearable technology that will enhance both casual and avid hikers' experiences on hiking trails.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The students will conduct field interviews and observations, design low and high fidelity prototypes, and evaluate technologies that are deployed in the real world settings.

    Preferences:
    Requirement: (1) Need to love animals and nature, (2) need to be interested in technology and its impact on the society, and (3) enjoys interacting with people and animals. Optional skills that may be useful: (1) ability to program, (2) ability to design, and (3) critical thinking skills.

  • Project 38: Using technology to increase physical activity and reduce anxiety in adults with autism spectrum disorders

    Project Description:
    Anxiety is one of the most common and debilitating co-occurring conditions in adults with ASD and there exists an absence of adjunct anxiety treatment options. The population of adults with ASD is expanding and the lack of adjunct anxiety treatments contributes to the overall poor health and well-being outcomes documented in these individuals. Regular physical activity (PA) participation helps reduce anxiety in people without ASD and presents a potentially effective adjunct treatment for those with ASD. Physical activity in this population may be best stimulated by using gamified mobile apps, particularly considering reports that adults with ASD use technology devices over four hours per day, primarily playing games. However, the success of mobile apps in promoting behavior change is questionable because most are not designed using behavior change techniques (BCT). The purpose of this study is address the critical need for adjunct anxiety treatments for adults with ASD by assessing the efficacy of Puzzle Walk, a gamified, BCT based mobile app developed by the research team on increasing PA and reducing anxiety in this population. Specific Aims: (1) Compare Puzzle Walk vs. non-gamified, non-BCT based, commercially available mobile apps on increasing PA and reducing anxiety in adults with ASD, and (2) Compare the impact of gamification and BCT design elements on mobile app adherence and usage in PA mobile apps without and without these features.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Student will be involved in computation/technology by: working with mobile apps, working with accelerometers and heart rate monitors, and managing data.

    Preferences:
    Qualities: self-direction, initiative, emotional stability/maturity, strong communication skills, interest in working with atypical populations.

  • Project 39: The Role of Serotonin in Encoding Auditory Perception

    Project Description:
    In order to navigate social communication, humans and animals must be able to place cues in their appropriate context. While context is an important factor in interpreting social cues, little is known about how context is encoded in the brain. To a male mouse, the squeaks of a female may indicate either rejection or acceptance of male courtship depending on the context of those squeaks. Squeak context likely involves components of the squeak, like timing, pitch, and intensity, and other social cues, like female reproductive state, male dominance status, and previous social experience of the male. The context of these squeaks is likely encoded in the male brain by the serotonergic system which responds to changes in social environment and female rejection in auditory regions of the mouse brain. However, little is known about male response to female calls and there is much to be understood about both the behavior and neurophysiology in male response to squeaks. We will investigate the role of serotonin in perception of female rejection cue by pharmacologically changing serotonin in the auditory regions of the brain and then measure male response using behavioral and electrophysiological methods.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    This project will involve using ultrasonic recording equipment and software to record mouse ultrasonic vocalizations. Students will also learn to run behavior and pharmacological manipulation trials and will have the opportunity to be trained in mouse handling, administering anesthetic and drug, and using specialized equipment to perform precise injections to specific brain regions. Additionally, students will use the software to create new stimuli or manipulate existing audio files to create stimuli that will test different components of squeaks that may have meaning for males listening. All data from student projects will be analyzed using the open source statistical software program R.

    Preferences:
    I have successfully worked with students with a wide variety of backgrounds and skills.I have found in the past that some previous experience handling animals (dogs and cats included!) helps when learning to handle mice but is not required. In general, students that have had success as research assistants are able to work independently and in teams, communicate, and are generally interested in pursuing a biology or neuroscience related career.

  • Project 40: Harvesting Field Station Data: Raspberry Pi Sensors to Jetstream Databases

    Project Description:
    Biological and marine field stations have a long history of collecting information about the environment – in fact, they often have records which extend decades—even a century or more—into the past. These records are valuable; however, they are not always accessible to those who need to use them. Fortunately modern cyberinfrastructure can aid in making data collected (now and moving forward) available for consumption. Here we outline a proof-of-concept workflow that will make the task of collecting data to understanding data more attainable for researchers. Field stations now frequently collect environmental data via remote sensors—we will develop this data collection process by generating real environmental measurements using Raspberry Pi’s. Once data is collected, we will develop methods to feed this data to a database hosted on an virtual machine (using national resources such as Jetstream and Wrangler). We will then demonstrate how database pulling and visualization works on Jetstream.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    We will simulate data collection processes by generating real environmental measurements using Raspberry Pi’s which will involve soldering sensors and otherwise assembling the data collecting units. Once data is collected, we will develop methods to feed this data to a database hosted on an virtual machine (both of which will have to be created). We will then demonstrate how database pulling and visualization works on Jetstream using modern statistical tools (R).

    Preferences:
    Can work independently, good verbal and written communication skills, patience, "can-do" attitude.

  • Project 41: Twelve years of Serious Entertainment: Social Issues addressed during the twelve-year period of MTN Bushfire World Music Festival, Swaziland

    Project Description:
    This project will focus on answering the question: “What main social issues has MTN Bushfire World Music Festival addressed over the past twelve years?” In the pursuit to answer this question the student will learn how to select and read relevant literature that relates to social research as well as literature that relates to this chief social issues of concern in African countries. S/he will directly experience the procedure of writing emails and making calls, seeking permission to administer questionnaires electronically and to conduct interviews via telephone, Skype or Whatsapp. S/he will also learn how to construct questionnaires and interview questions to use in collecting data. S/he will learn how to analyze data using both quantitative and qualitative measures. During the final stages of the research the student/s will learn how to prepare summaries of research findings to present at the CEWiT Poster Presentation event. If interested, the student/s will work toward publishing a research paper in a relevant journal.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    The student will learn how to send professional emails as well as use social media to communicate with artists and MTN Bushfire World Music Festival Personnel. She will learn how to do a quantitative data analysis using one of the most accessible statistical programs. She will learn to use EXCEL and create tables and graphs to use when making summaries and reports.

    Preferences:
    The student should be comfortable with computing skills, including typing, using EXCEL and numbers. The ability to work as a team with me as a mentor and independently will be appreciated. Interpersonal relational skills and being polite and respectful will be a strength in this project. Willingness to learn, broad-mindedness and critical thinking will be great strengths!

  • Project 42: Analyzing Genomic Data using High Performance Clusters

    Project Description:
    The National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS) at Indiana University provides support to the national biological research community with genomic analysis. The team works on many genomic projects, ranging from microbes to plants and animals, and benchmarking genomic software. The student will work on one of these genome projects under the team’s guidance. The student will run our readily available pipelines on genomic data - assembling genomes from sequence data and annotating the dataset to understand biological functions. The goal for this project is flexible: the student will be able to decide if they are interested in answering research questions with the data, benchmarking new bioinformatics tools to add to our pipelines, or adding extra steps to our pipelines. The resulting research will be provided back to the research group who shared the data with us, to help them answer the biological questions they are interested in. Through this entire process the NCGAS team will be supporting and helping the student—learning bioinformatics and computation at this level is highly interactive.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will obtain research experience in handling large amounts of biological data in a High Performance Clusters (HPC) setting, since most of the analysis steps require HPC resources. NCGAS is sited in the Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB) along with the other HPC teams. In addition, they will become comfortable working in a LINUX environment and running bash commands to process/format datasets. Depending on the student’s interest, they will have the opportunity to learn R and python.

    Preferences:
    Prior experience working in a LINUX environment will be helpful but not required.

  • Project 43: Exploring the Higgs Sector with data from the Large Hadron Collider

    Project Description:
    The Large Hadron Collider located in Geneva, Switzerland collides protons at speeds near the speed of light and analyzes the results of the collisions. It recreates the conditions of the Big Bang, and thereby studies how matter behaves at the most fundamental scales. The LHC experiments discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012, a watershed moment for particle physics, and I am interested in understanding the properties of the Higgs and how it interacts with other fundamental particles. In this project, you will be exposed to the workings of one of the largest and most complex experiments (ATLAS Experiment) on the planet, you will learn the computing skills needed to visualize and analyze data from the LHC.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    You will learn how to use the computational tools high energy particle physicists use every day. Along with some computer programming in C++ and python, you will use the ROOT statistical analysis package to analyze data, and visualize the data collisions using in-house ATLAS software packages.

    Preferences:
    Basic programming skills are helpful but not required, but lots of curiosity is.

  • Project 44: Understanding the Success of Speedrunning as a Charity Event

    Project Description:
    Speedrunning is a type of video game play where the object is to complete the game as quickly as possible. Speedrunning has been gaining popularity not only as a hobby but as a professional and spectator sport. Speedrunners stream their game-play, commentate, stream their play on Twitch, and participate in large events. In this study, you will assist our team in interviewing and observing speedrunners and those involved in the Games Done Quick (GDQ) event, the largest in-person event. GDQ has been hugely successful also as a charity event, raising nearly 2.5 million last year in only a week. We will be asking the question: how and why does GDQ succeed as a charity event? Students may also engage in design work around technologies for charities or non-profits.

    Technological or Computational Component:
    Students will engage in studying streaming (Twitch), e-sports, video game, and non-profit/charity technologies. Students will examine how these technologies are currently being used and what design opportunities exist to improve current tools.

    Preferences:
    Students should be comfortable and passionate about doing fieldwork--understanding people's motivations and imagining what it is like to live as others do. Good people skills are necessary--students will do interviewing and observing. Students should also have excellent reading and writing abilities. The research team will help mentor the student to help improve these skills. Transcription and computer programming experience is a plus but not necessary.

  • Project 45: Estimating Mutation Rates in Primates

    Project Description:
    The project will involve using genomic sequence data to estimate the rate of DNA mutations in non-human primates.

    Technological or Computational Component: 
    Genomes represent very large amounts of DNA data, and current technologies for genome sequencing produce gigabytes of often redundant data in order to uncover even a handful of mutations. The work involves using cutting-edge software to be able to identify high-quality mutations.

    Preferences:
    Basic familiarity with python or a scripting language would be preferred, but willingness to learn new tools is the most important quality.