175! MCSP Student Research Gallery

by Roland Minton on February 15, 2018

Roanoke College recently concluded its celebration of its 175th year in existence. Another 175th  milestone has just been reached in the MCSP Department: 175 student research displays on the second floor of Trexler!

To be clear, the gallery on the second floor does not currently display all 175 frames, just the 100 or so most recent ones. Nevertheless, the frames that are there give second floor visitors an idea of the breadth and depth of research in physics, computer science, and mathematics. Each frame has a portrait of the student who did an independent project along with the project title and a picture that in some way illustrates the topic of inquiry. Due to the presence of several student overachievers in MCSP, there is a rule that no student gets more than two frames. It was tempting to waive that rule to get an infinite regression going for Scotty.

The original motivation for the Wall of Fame was to promote student research. Few students did research in MCSP in the 1980s, most simply not knowing it was a possibility. After the first few frames went up, students started asking how they could get their picture up on the wall. Success! From a modest start of 18 projects in the first five years of frames (1992-1996), student output has increased to 77 frames in the last five years (well over 80 projects, given the 2-frame rule).

The first three frames made were for Chris Hylton, Chris Assaid, and Erica Thompson. The Chrises worked together learning time series analysis and applying it to economic data. Erica investigated chaos theory and fractals from function iterations. Early frames featured photographs of computer screens, developed at K-Mart and taped to a piece of yellow paper. Images were not completely digital until 2000. You can see all of the frame images at https://webapps.roanoke.edu/mcsp/minton/IndStudies.html.

Some of the mathematics research titles include “Is It a Knot or Not?”, “Fuzzy Logic and Control”, “A Graph Theory Analysis of Food Deserts in the Roanoke Valley”, “Compositions and Counting Cards” (yes, of the Vegas type), “Assessment of Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay”, “Gothic Cathedrals and Sacred Ratios”, and “Is Streak Shooting a Cognitive Illusion?” As our students have discovered, mathematics is a very diverse field. Physics titles include “Spectroscopic Investigation of Gussev Crater, Mars”, “Origins of a Galaxy Group in Cluster A3128”, “Classic Neural Models for Small Cell Effects”, and “Growth and Characterization of Carbon Nanotubes”. Computer science titles include “Presence in an Immersive Environment”, “Accessible Accessibility”, “Maximal Snakes in Hypercubes”, and “Recursive Median Blob Detection”.

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