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Summer 2010 Special Events

This page contains briefs reports and photos of special events the REU Site hosted or participated in.

For more photos, please view the Photo Album.

Sunday, 6/20/2010, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Everybody assembled at the welcome meeting and we introduced all undergradate participants, graduate students, and faculty.

Thursday, 6/24/2010, 1:30pm-5:00pm
Four speakers gave presentations on potential research projects for the REU participants. They were:

  • Dr. Barry Nussbaum, EPA
    Air Toxics: Several Views With an Approach Toward Consistency
  • Dr. Kevin Omland, UMBC Department of Biology
    Parallel Versions of BEST and *BEAST
  • Dr. Charles Eggleton, UMBC Department of Mechanical Engineering
    Parallel Processing of Cell Simulation Software
  • Dr. Robert Bell, AT&T Labs
    Matrix Factorization  for Recommender Systems


Thursday, 6/24/2010, 6:00pm-8:00pm
A professional development dinner was held at Hunan Manor in Columbia. The dinner gave the afternoon presenters a chance to talk about the career paths which lead to their current positions, and also gave a chance to the students to ask the presenters questions.

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Friday, 6/25/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC, spoke to the REU participants duing the morning social. Dr. Hrabowski spoke of the need to get students, especially under-represented minorities, more interested in math and science. He said that the REU students are essentially ambassadors for the field. He also spoke about his past and what got him interested in mathematics, since he was also a math major.

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Monday, 6/28/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
Casey Miller, the Assistant Director of Professional Practice for the Shriver Center at UMBC, discusses the opportunities available for students through the Shriver Center including internships, co-ops, service learning projects, and a peaceworker program. The goal of the Center is to help students give back to the community, while gaining experience in the workforce. For more information go to:
Cindy Cook


Thursday, 7/1/2010, 1:30pm-5:00pm
Four speakers gave presentations on potential research projects for the REU participants. They were:

  • Dr. Jacob Kogan, UMBC Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    Clustering and Parallel Computation
  • Dr. Brad Peercy, UMBC Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    Diabetes, Computational Islets, Beta Cell Dynamics in Pancreas
  • Dr. Maricel Kann, UMBC Department of Biology
    Identification of the Most Co-evolving Regions of Interacting Proteins
  • Dr. L.D. Timmie Topoleski, UMBC Department of Mechanical Engineering
    Structural, Mechanical Simulation of Pulmonary Artery Struts

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Thursday, 7/1/2010, 6:00pm-8:00pm
The second, weekly, professional dinner was held at Paradise Indian Cuisine in Gwynn Oak, MD. Aside from certain van problems, a “mis-placed” sense of direction, and recovering from lost time of a day of lectures, the REU enjoyed the calm of the entire establishment to themselves. On this particular night the career stories of our directors and lecture guests revealed a greater sense of the thrilling, chaotic, life of professional academia and more interesting ways of entering this carreer pathway. The most surprising treat of the night, aside from the exquisite mango smoothies, naan, and Indian food, was the authentic projected Bollywood, the out of this world popular music videos of India.
Chris Raastad

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Wednesday, 7/7/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
The guest speaker for the morning social was provost Elliot Hirshman. He gave us a number of different definitions of his title, Provost. Having chosen our projects, we gave him some explanation to what we will be working on.

Renetta G. Tull, the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, was the second guest this morning. She gave us some brief info regarding the graduate program here at UMBC. She was also kind enough and offered advice on graduate school topics, even if we are not applying to UMBC. We could e-mail or facebook her and she would help us with editing essays.

The two guests asked each one of us about some of the things that may affect our choices of going to graduate school. Many of us had different answers. In the end, we all had ideas about where and who we should go to for answers.
Sidafa Conde


Thursday, 7/8/2010, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Kathy Lee Sutphin visited HPC REU students during a Professional Development Dinner to discuss the importance of scientific posters and tips for creating an attractive and effective research display. The discussion began with the students each explaining why they are interested in the field of mathematics, allowing for an interesting and thought-provoking conversation. She listened to the group’s past experiences with posters and provided valuable input on areas that can be improved. Some such topics include font size and color, the use of graphics vs. text, and the benefits of both single-slide presentations and ones with multiple slides. The night concluded with Mrs. Sutphin providing helpful information concerning the students’ participation in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (SURF).
Scott Rabidoux

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Wednesday, 7/14/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
Today we had a the associate director of the Learning Resource Center stop by during our morning social. Cassie Bichy started off the morning with introductions and why we had all chosen to be in the program. The point she was trying to highlight was that we were building off of each other skills and that one of the reasons we were in the program was that we worked well in teams. She pointed out how our teamwork skills and the LRC had a few notable things in common such as the support we build each other and working closely in small groups. The LRC is available to all members of the UMBC community and they were able to provide many tutors for the difficult lower-level math and science classes at no charge.
Joshua Edgerton


Thursday, 7/22/2010, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Tonight we held our professional development dinner at La Palapa Too Mexican Grill in Laurel, MD. The speakers for the night were our very own Dr. Gobbert and Dr. Neerchal. They spoke with us about graduate school – their experiences, logistics, and advice. It was great for each of us to be able to get some personal advice on our academic endeavors. In addition to good conversation, the night was topped off with a plethora of fruit smoothies and an entertaining game that consisted of challenging Kyle to name every country’s capital (the final straw being Uzbekistan).
Virginia Smith

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Monday, 7/26/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
Dr. Philip Rous visited the REU team on Monday to explain what a dean does and how he became a dean. Though the conventional method of becoming a dean is sometimes thought to be a path from assistant professor to chair to dean, Dr. Rous explained his unorthodox trail of simply volunteering to do what others would not.

Later Dr. Rous showed us the CASTLE, a learning environment that can accommodate over 90 students, but still have every student actively participating in learning. The technology and research behind the CASTLE makes it an exciting addition to UMBC.
Michael Curtis

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Thursday, 7/29/2010, 5:30pm-8:00pm
Ken Baron, the director of academic advising at UMBC, attended our professional development dinner to talk about graduate school. We discussed the choice of going to graduate school right away or taking time off for various activities. He emphasized the importance of finding a compatible advisor who has a high success rate of graduating students along with getting updated references. To wrap up the night, Ken suggested we purchase Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher to aide us in applying to graduate schools.
Julia Baum

Click here to view Dr. Baron’s presentation slides.

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Monday, 8/2/2010, 12:00pm-4:00pm
On this day, the HPC REU graciously received a “Red Carpet” tour of the largest employer of Mathematicians in the USA, the National Security Agency (NSA). Dr. Melvin Currie sponsored our adventure to one of the most secure sites in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. After passing a 45 minute round of security clearance, relieved of absolutely all electronic devices, we pressed on inside completely excommunicated from the outside world.

Deep inside headquarters, we overtook a conference room complete with bottled water, presentation technology, and US government candies (Rollos and Hersheys). The Director of Research, Dr. Dave Mountain, presented an (unclassified) glimpse of cutting edge, innovative, and technologically advancing research conducted at the NSA. Furthermore, Dr. Melvin presented to the students and staff of the REU a more “trivial” set of ideas. Included, a recollection of why we are “Mathematicians at heart” and a call to not forget the beauty of elegant mathematics, to always look for the (in the words of Paul Erdos) “the proof from the book.”

We concluded our day with a visit to the National Cryptologic Museum. Here, the students and staff of the REU saw high-tech 1980 computing technology and a room devoted to why the Enigma decoding won WWII.
Chris Rastaad

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Tuesday, 8/3/2010, 9:00am-9:30am
Today, we met with Atheeth Hiremath, an editor of the UMBC undergraduate research journal UMBC Review. He gave us advice and answered questions about publishing research papers, mentioned that the UMBC Review was completely student run, and that the publication had a publishing rate of approximately 25%. Additionally, he talked about how professors can receive credit when their student’s research paper is published.
Teresa Lebair


Thursday, 8/5/2010, 5:30pm-8:00pm
Tonight at our professional development dinner we had a special guest speaker, Dr. Rutledge, the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School. She presented us with several presenting questions that made us rethink why we want to go to graduate school as well as the purpose of higher education. Why do a PhD, and what does it mean to have be a doctor of something were just a few questions we addressed. As mentally stimulating as Dr. Rutledge was, she also answered an array of questions to help sooth all of our anxiety on graduate school.
Joshua Edgerton


Wednesday, 8/11/2010, 9:00am-1:00pm
The REU students presented their research projects at the Summer Undergraudate Research Fest (SURF) at UMBC. Two students gave an oral presentation, while the rest of the students presented posters, representing each of the two teams. The clients for each team, Dr. Peercy and Dr. Bell, were both present for the event.

At the conclusion of the poster session, Dr. Gobbert and Dr. Neerchal presented the students with certificates of recognition for presenting their research at SURF as representatives of the REU.

After the event, the participants of the REU, along with the graduate student staff, faculty, and clients, had lunch at the Skylight Room on campus.

Click here to view the SURF webpage.

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2010 HPC REU at UMBC, from left to right:
Top row: Joshua Edgerton, Dr. Nagaraj Neerchal, Dr. Matthias Gobbert, Dr. Robert Bell; Second frow from top: Kyle Stern,
Christopher Raastad, Virginia Smith; Second row from bottom: Andrew Raim, Julia Baum, Cynthia Cook, Sidafa Conde;
First row: Dr. Brad Peercy, Michael Curtis, Scott Rabidoux, Teresa Lebair