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  REU Site: Interdisciplinary Program in High Performance Computing


Special Events


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


Welcome Meeting
Sunday, 06/16/2013
, 05:00pm-07:00pm
All participants, graduate students, and PIs met over pizza and soda. The teams formed and started the process of getting to know each other. Drs. Neerchal and Gobbert discussed the philosophy of the program, with its team building while learning parallel computing, research projects as team, and the integrated professional development program that teaches how to conduct research.



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Presentations by project clients
Thursday, 06/20/12, 02:00pm-04:30pm
Before the formal presentations by the potential project clients, we had a coffee break in the lounge at 01:30pm to welcome all guests to the program. At the beginning of each talk, each presenter discussed very graciously their career choices, which gave interesting insight into options for research jobs.
  • 02:00-02:30 Ian Thorpe, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMBC
  • 02:30-03:00 George Ostrouchov, Scientific Data Group, Computer Science and Mathematics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • 03:00-03:30 Coffee break
  • 03:30-04:00 K. Fred Huemmrich, Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, Joint Center for Earth System Technology, UMBC
  • 04:00-04:30 Nagaraj K. Neerchal, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMBC




  • 05:30-07:00 We had dinner with the clients at Hunan Manor in Columbia. We all learned some surprising things about all participants.


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VIP meeting with Dr. William LaCourse, Dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
Monday, 06/24/13, 09:00am-09:30am
After introductions of each member of the REU, Dean William LaCourse discussed the importance of interdisciplinary work in academia, mentioning such fields as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. He said that working in conjunction with various disciplines allows us to think outside the box, because you will have views from "different sides of the box." Dean LaCourse also gave an overview of the duties of his position, which include overseeing the various departments and working with the department chairs of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and handling budgets. He spent some time talking about the Chemistry Discovery Center at UMBC, a place for students to work in groups in learning chemistry, each taking different roles in the group in turn. I feel that Dean LaCourse's visit emphasized the importance of teamwork and actively engaging in learning, especially with interdisciplinary work.
-- Claire Chambless



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VIP meeting with Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC
Thursday, 06/27/13, 01:30pm-02:00pm
After each member of the REU Site introduced themselves, President Freeman Hrabowski gave an inspiring talk about the importance of math in his life and how it will impact us and our careers. He told us that we have a gift, because many people are uncomfortable with math, mainly because the education system does not teach the self-confidence that many need in order to do math effectively. He told us about his life, and how even though he does not use math directly in his career, math taught him the problem-solving skills that he needs in order to do his job effectively. He also said that studying math taught him patience, the ability to listen to new ideas, and how to ask good questions. He finalized by stating that there is a 'nobility' in STEM, given that it has applications in health, defense, and many other fields. Dr. Hrabowski's talks are always captivating and inspiring, and even though he only had 15 minutes to talk to the REU participants, this was no exception.
-- Julian Sass



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Presentations by project clients
Thursday, 06/27/12, 02:00pm-04:30pm
The formal presentations by the potential project clients were preceeded by the VIP visit of Dr. Freeman Hrabowski at 01:30pm.
  • 02:00-02:30 Sergio DeSouza-Machado, JCET and Department of Physics, UMBC
  • 02:30-03:00 Arthur Sherman, Laboratory of Biological Modeling, National Institutes of Health, NIDDK, and Bradford E. Peercy, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMBC
  • 03:00-03:30 Coffee break
  • 03:30-04:00 Yukun Wu, Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • 04:00-04:30 Christopher Mineo, Laboratory for Physical Sciences, Research Park, University of Maryland, College Park, and David J. Mountain, Advanced Computing Systems Research Program




  • 05:30-07:00 We had dinner with the clients at Paradise Indian Cuisine in Woodlawn. The students had already many questions about graduate school and used the graduate student in attendance to good effect.


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VIP meeting with Dr. Philip Rous, Provost of UMBC
Monday, 07/08/13, 09:00am-09:30am
During his visit with the students of the REU Site at UMBC, Dr. Philip Rous highlighted that making a difference in society is an underlying goal that is present within all individuals. Rather than introducing himself as the Provost and Senior Vice President of UMBC, Dr. Philip Rous initially presented himself as a theoretical physicist, describing his former research on condensed matter, which included simulations on solids and nanostructures. Dr. Rous explained his transition to becoming an administrator after working as a faculty member in the Physics Department for quite some time, emphasizing that it was something that he never expected to do. He mentioned that no matter how determined or set we are on accomplishing a certain goal, there will always be inevitable changes in life that may drive our attention to other features of life, enabling us to look at the bigger picture. Whether it is finding ways to get students to perform better in terms of academics or having direct communication with the Dean and President of a growing research institution, being a Provost for UMBC has allowed Rous to feel that he made a difference on campus. Dr. Rous closed his visit by sharing his insightful views towards research, comparing researchers to artists in the sense that they both need to possess a creative mindset in order to achieve their necessary tasks.
-- Jane Pan



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Tour of Tara
Tuesday, 07/09/13, 10:30am-10:45am
After an enlightening lecture on the history of supercomputers, we toured the tara cluster. Randy Philipp, the system administrator with the UMBC Division of Information Technology, showed us the various components of the cluster and explained to us their functions. Team 3 took the chance to familiarize themselves with the InfiniBand network for their project dealing with stressing in a supercomputer. -- Marshall Jiang



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Summer Horizons
Wednesday, 07/10/13, 09:00am-12:00noon
At the 2013 Summer Horizons, we gained a lot of useful information about applying to and attending graduate school. First, Dr. Warshaw gave us some good general advice about preparation for graduate school, such as making sure to assess yourself and your goals for your future, making connections, and communicating actively with your advisor. Then, Brittny Davis, a biology graduate student at UMBC, talked to us about her role in the GSA, the Graduate Students Association, on campus. The GSA is a group for graduate students that creates a community for the graduate students, and allows for their personal and professional development. Dr. Tull then gave us some more specific information about graduate school funding and the keys to getting admitted to graduate school. She described the different types of financial aid associated with graduate school, such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and external grants and funding. In addition, she gave advice how to craft a powerful statement of purpose, and reminded us that it is very important to study for the GRE. We then took part in a graduate school panel where we heard about various experiences in graduate school, such as how people arrived at the research they are doing, and how they figured out they wanted to go to graduate school. Finally, Dr. Hrabowski talked to us and reminded us that to find something we are passionately curious about, and to not let others limit us and set our vision high. All in all, it was a very informative session that provided very helpful insights about graduate school.
-- Jackie Yanchuck

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Professional development workshop with Kathy Sutphin, Assistant Dean of CNMS
Thursday, 07/11/13, 04:00pm-05:00pm
Kathy Lee Sutphin, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, met with the REU participants to speak about the 16th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (SURF), to be held on August 7th. Besides providing information on the practical and logistical aspects of preparing for SURF, her presentation touched on key points emphasized in previous discussions throughout the REU program. She spoke to the importance of communication and of the ability to organize and summarize information in an accessible and coherent way, as well as highlighting the importance of personal presentation and professionalism. Ms. Sutphin urged the groups to be able to explain why their research matters outside of the academic context in which it is conducted and to be mindful of the audience in any type of scientific communication. These sorts of considerations and tools will contribute to a successful presentation at SURF as well as help to shape a successful research experience in the weeks leading up to the event.
-- Gemma Gearhart



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Professional development workshop with Dr. Ken Baron, Director of Office for Academic and Pre-Professional Advising
Thursday, 07/18/13, 03:30pm-04:30pm
Today, we had a visit from Dr. Ken Baron who is the Director of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising at UMBC. Dr. Baron focused on how every student needs to make the decision about when and if they should go to graduate school as well as how to make the transition between the two. Dr. Baron emphasized the importance of forming relationships with faculty member so that we can get strong letters of recommendation and access to opportunities not normally available. He also talked about the importance having a back-up plan when applying to graduate schools. After his talk, we were able to have a more informal conversation with Dr. Baron at the Crab Fest organized by UMBC's student events board.
-- Thomas J. May



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VIP meeting with Dominick DiMercurio II, STEM Editor of the UMBC Review
Tuesday, 07/23/13, 09:00am-09:30am
Dominick is an undergraduate mathematics and biology student at UMBC in the honors program. He is also the STEM editor of the UMBC Review: Journal of Undergraduate Research. The UMBC Review is an interdisciplinary undergraduate research journal open to UMBC undergraduate students. Other important opportunities open to UMBC undergraduate students is the Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD). During URCAD, students present their research with poster boards and give oral presentations.
-- Nil Mistry



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Visit from the REU Site EXERCISE at Salisbury University
Thursday, 07/25/13, 02:30pm-04:00pm
Today we had a visit from fellow undergraduate students from the REU Site: EXERCISE - Explore Emerging Computing in Science and Engineering at Salisbury University. The students from Salisbury are computer science majors, and therefore were eager to learn about the tara cluster here at UMBC. Each student introduced themselves to us and explained some of their research. Their projects included working with GIS, studying graph theory, analyzing CUDA, and more. We learned that their REU projects were more individual and less team-based than ours. Each student works with a faculty mentor, and each faculty mentor advises two students. Some of these pairs worked together, while others worked on completely separate projects. The Salisbury students stayed to hear the talk by Dr. Janet Rutledge later in the afternoon and also accompanied us to dinner.
-- Shelby Kilmer



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Professional development workshop with Dr. Janet Rutledge, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
Thursday, 07/25/13, 04:00pm-05:00pm
Dr. Janet Rutledge, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, spoke with us regarding graduate school and fellowship applications. She gave insightful information on the differences behind the purpose of obtaining Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees. She also spoke on the different types of funding that are available for graduate school programs. Dr. Rutledge furthermore talked about how to succeed in writing graduate school applications, including in-depth details on the statement of purpose and letters of recommendations. To conclude, Dr. Rutledge gave us exercises to do that will help us think about our future goals and personal and professional accomplishments. -- Brandy Cho



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Field trip to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Friday, 07/26/13, 09:00am-04:00pm
Arthur Sherman, of the Laboratory of Biological Modeling, National Institutes of Health, NIDDK, and Bradford E. Peercy, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UMBC are the clients Team 4 are working with this summer. Both Dr. Sherman and Dr. Peercy graciously gave us a tour of the National Institute of Health. When we arrived we had the opportunity to hear about specific research projects being conducted at NIH. After we saw a few people present their research, we had the chance to ask the presenters how they had gotten to be doing research at one of the world's foremost medical research centers. This discussion involved advice on graduate school, NSF fellowships, and information on how to do research outside an academic institute. We then were shown around parts of NIH's large campus. Team 4 presented their research progress to their clients and to the researchers that presented to us earlier that day over lunch.
-- Matthew Bachmann



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VIP meeting with Dr. Karl Steiner, Vice President for Research
Monday, 07/29/13, 08:30am-09:30am
The participants of UMBC's High Performance Computing REU welcome Dr. Karl Steiner, new Vice President (VP) of Research, to campus for his first official duty as a member of this university's growing community. Dr. Steiner has held major positions in both industry and research such as Executive Director of the Center for Composite Materials, founding Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Research Center-Delaware, President and Founder of Lightweight Solutions, Inc. and founding Associate Director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. By having a hand in a variety of fields stretching from designing lightweight structures for tanks to simulating hands on surgical procedures, Dr. Steiner knows the direction that research is heading and the importance of interconnecting different disciplines. Officially taking his place as VP on September 1, 2013, he is excited to enter into another chapter of his life, one in which he can take his impressively diverse background and focus it towards leading UMBC's research agenda. The UMBC community is excited to welcome Dr. Steiner and accompany him in his journey towards bettering the research mission already established.
-- Jesse Smith



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Field trip to the National Security Agency
Monday, 07/29/13, 09:30am-11:35am
This morning our group was given the opportunity to visit the National Security Agency (NSA) at the UMBC Research and Technology Park. After being granted our security badges we had the opportunity to participate in a talk given by David Mountain of the Advanced Computing Systems Research Program (ACS). In this talk we learned about the development of a new computer chip that could have countless future computing applications. Following the talk, we got more insight on the NSA from a more recent edition to the agency, Christopher Mineo. He explained to us how his journey lead him to the agency and how the demand for Mathematicians and Computer Scientists is at an all time high. Both talks were insightful into the kinds of opportunities that are available at the NSA. Following the talk, we were given a look into the non-classified lab. Here we were able to see a large scale demonstration of immersion cooling, where a computer system is completely submerged in a tank of mineral oil. The mineral oil is then circulated around the tank using a pump to keep it cool . Immersion cooling is an innovative way to keep computer components within suitable temperatures. Although we only spent a few hours at the NSA I was inspired by all of the different project and opportunities available to students even as undergraduates.
-- Jordan Ramsey



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VIP meeting with Dr. Diane M. Lee, Dean of Undergraduate Education
Tuesday, 07/30/13, 09:00am-09:30am
Dean Lee paid a visit to the REU Site, sharing her thoughts on undergraduate research. She discussed research in the STEM fields and in the social sciences and humanities, both at UMBC and elsewhere. She emphasized some qualities essential for researchers: base knowledge, patience and persistence, and creativity. Dean Lee also stressed the importance of communication in research. She inquired about our experience working with others in our field, and reminding us that researchers must communicate their work with people both inside and outside their field. She also encouraged us to publish in the UMBC Review or other undergraduate journals if we had the opportunity. Dean Lee also described an innovative project called Applied Learning Environments, highly interdisciplinary undergraduate programs that place an emphasis on student discovery and often culminate in a final project. She noted that these mimic the research process and allow students to develop a research mindset early on in their educational career.
-- William Bailey



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VIP meeting with Dr. Penny Rheingans, Director of CWIT
Wednesday, 07/31/13, 09:00am-09:30am
Dr. Penny Rheingans, director of the Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT), spoke with us about CWIT's mission and gave advice to those of us considering a graduate degree in computer science. CWIT strives to promote and support women's participation in information technology and engineering. It provides several programs, including peer and industry mentoring as a means to this end. Dr. Rheingans advised the pursuit of a master's degree if planning a career in industry, because it is safe to expect a return on your investment. According to Dr. Rheingans, a doctorate does not provide a proportionate return, but it is easier to find funding to pursue one. In conclusion, she advised we choose a graduate school based on research expertise and the accessibility of professors.
-- Ashley Dyas



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VIP meeting with April Albertine, Statistics graduate student and NSF Fellowship recipient
Friday, 08/02/13, 09:00am-09:30am
Graduate student and NSF Research Fellowship recipient April C. Albertine explained the process of the NSF Fellowship application and her prior background experience during her visit with participants of the REU Site at UMBC. Albertine initially majored in International Affairs at Georgetown University, but after working in industry after graduation, she decided to go back to school and study Mathematics. Enrolling as a non-degree seeking student at UMBC, Albertine eventually chose to study Statistics due to the applicability of the field. During the summer of her first year as a graduate student, she worked as the RA to one REU team which offered her sufficient background in research for the NSF application. The application process requires one to apply during his or her senior year as an undergraduate, or the first or second year of graduate school, and requests a personal statement, two pages explaining prior research experience, and two pages describing a research proposal. Intellectual merit and broader impact are the two main criteria on which one's proposal is judged, which emphasize the scientific rigor and real world applicability of the project. Albertine wrote her proposal on "Publication Bias in Meta-Analysis", addressing the tendency to not publish non-conclusive evidence in research. Her approach builds upon one Bayesian method for univariate data, and proposes to extend it to multivariate data sets. The benefits of an NSF Fellowship include a $32,000 per year stipend, in addition to paying one's tuition and fees, and allow a student to conduct research for support rather than, for instance, becoming a TA in the department. As an award, one may be offered a grant or honorable mention, though even merely applying for support is impressive and shows that a student has a certain decent understanding of the research process.
-- Benjamin Wiley



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CNMS Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (SURF)
Wednesday, 08/07/13, 09:00am-12:30pm
All four teams presented their posters at the CNMS Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (SURF) hosted by the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS). Team 4 additionally gave one of only six oral presentations. Several of the clients were able to attend, and all participants and guests had lunch at the Skylight Room.


Team 1 with Dr. Neerchal and Dr. Thorpe Team 2 with Dr. Neerchal and Dr. Thorpe
Team 3 with Drs. Gobbert, Neerchal, Mineo, and RA Huang Team 4 with Dr. Gobbert and RA Khuvis
All participants and the directors at the Recognition Ceremony All participants, directors, RAs, clients, and guests



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