# Using mathematics and computers to understand the world

November 01, 2006Troy, N.Y. -- Undergraduate students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Howard University will now have a chance to pursue research at the intersection of mathematics and computational science, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. With the new award, a team of Rensselaer professors will implement a program to expose mathematics students to problems with important applications in a range of fields, from medicine to ecology.

"We are developing an innovative program that will help students use mathematics and computers to understand the world," said Mark Holmes, professor of mathematical sciences at Rensselaer and principal investigator for the project. "The modern world is complex. Our goal is to teach these students about the power of mathematics, and how to harness that power to solve problems in science and engineering."

Potential projects include examining connections between millions of neurons in the brain; understanding the way circadian rhythms regulate the human sleep cycle; and designing optical materials that can bend light in such a way as to make an object appear invisible.

The project is part of NSF's new Computational Science Training for Undergraduates in the Mathematical Sciences (CSUMS) program, which is designed to enhance computational aspects of the education of undergraduate students in the mathematical sciences. One goal is to attract students with mathematical skills to fields that are not traditionally strong in this area, such as the biological sciences.

Beginning in January 2007, Rensselaer will offer a new undergraduate course in emerging research problems in mathematics in conjunction with an interdisciplinary undergraduate seminar. The seminar will feature prominent speakers from academia, industry, and national laboratories. Eight Rensselaer students will be chosen from this course to receive one year of financial support. In addition, two students from Howard University will be selected to spend a year in residence at Rensselaer. The grant will support 50 undergraduates over a span of five years, according to Holmes.

The students will visit laboratories and companies around the country as part of the program, and they also will go to local high schools to demonstrate the interesting opportunities that can arise from a degree in mathematics.

But the heart of the program is applied research. "We have a number of carefully chosen projects ready for the students to investigate, each involving differential equations that arise in a variety of applications from fields including fluid mechanics, biology, combustion, and nonlinear optics," Holmes said.

Four other members of the Rensselaer Mathematical Sciences faculty will be working with Holmes to develop the program: Isom Herron, Gregor Kovacic, Peter Kramer, and Victor Roytburd. The grant also will support one full-time teaching assistant during the academic year and a quarter-time administrative assistant during the summer.

-end-

About RensselaerRensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

## Related Mathematics Articles from Brightsurf:

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.