Examples of Previous Research Projects
Introduction to Combinatorics and Graph Theory
Pioneer Research Journal
Graph theory and combinatorics is an area of discrete mathematics with many applications to theoretical computer science and optimization. In this course we will study graphs, discrete structures that can be used for many types of discrete models. To understand some of the graph theoretic arguments used, we will also briefly discuss topics in combinatorics, a related field that focuses on how to cleverly count and partition items in a set. No specific courses are a prerequisite to this course, but students should have experience or an interest in learning how to write mathematical proofs.
Development of Drug Use, Abuse and Dependence
In this course, students will use real-world data sets to explore the psychology of drug addiction, abuse and dependence. Students will use skills involved in the merging field of “big data” to conduct independent research. Students will develop an ability to generate testable hypotheses, conduct a literature review, prepare data for analysis, conduct a range of descriptive and inferential statistical tests, and present research findings.
European Integration in Comparative Perspective
This course explores the origins and narrative of 20th century European integration in order to analyze its evolution in different policy areas, including economic, political, and social developments, from Community to Union. The implications of the Eurozone crisis for the Union’s future are considered in the context of Europe’s changing relations with the United States, Russia, and rising powers. The later modules offer students the chance to assess the Union’s expansion from a comparative perspective and to analyze the implications of integration in Europe for a specific region of their choice.
This course will explore the principles and applications of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), a technique that allows chemists and biochemists to analyze and deduce the structures of molecules, to examine their three dimensional forms and to study their behavior in dynamic environments. In particular, the course will look at the historical development of nuclear magnetic resonance, consider the physical aspects of the technique, and explore the methodologies of using NMR to establish structures of molecules, both simple and complicated.
Social Media in Society
This course focuses on the impacts of social media and mobile technologies in society, such as social networking sites, email, forums, chat, and online games. We will focus on the analysis of the social processes and structures that emerge when people use these applications, and the problems and barriers that emerge from the use. Key concepts such as privacy, identity, the digital divide and virtual communities will be discussed and critiqued. We will primarily take a social scientific approach to computer-mediated and mobile-technology communication. We will investigate questions such as: How do we represent identity and perceive others in the social media environments? How does interpersonal communication differ online and in brick-and-mortar environments? Can we develop meaningful relationships, and perhaps even love, purely through social media? Is privacy dead? How do people use social media to find information, get social support, and evoke social/political change? Although students are not required to join any social media sites as part of this class, students will be viewing various social media sites throughout the course without signing up for an account. Depending on the level of interest, students could choose a particular social media site to examine the research questions.
Number Theory, Cryptography, and Secret Codes
There is a surprising amount of mathematics involved in creating and in breaking secret codes. In this course, we will begin with some simple substitution ciphers, move on to the Vigenére codes of the 19th century, and then finish with a full understanding of the public-key ciphers of today. These codes are unique in that while the encryption methods can be made public (in that anyone can make the codes), there’s an additional factor that is kept private and only the holder of this extra key can decipher the code. These codes are used extensively in banking, internet commerce, and e-mail security. We also provide just enough number theory (in particular, on prime numbers and congruences) to understand this type of encryption.
Introduction to Political Philosophy
What is the nature, origin, and purpose of political life? This course explores some of the most important responses to this question by five important Western political philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. The aim is to develop skills to critically assess these thinkers and the place their ideas occupy in our imagination and practices. Some of the main ideas we will consider include the following:
• human nature and its relationship to morality
• the meaning of freedom
• the social contract
• obligation and consent
• political sovereignty
We will also consider some larger historical questions such as the changing conception of individual identity from the classical to the modern period, the possibility for moral truth, and the origins of political society.
Science, Technology and Society
This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary discourse known as Science Studies or Science and Technology Studies (STS). We begin by examining the nature of science as defined by philosophers, sociologists, literary theorists and science practitioners and continue by exploring the relationships between science, technology, and society in related readings. We address such questions as: What is science? Can science still be distinguished from technology? Do race and gender impact science? How do science and technology affect society, the arts, and literature? Can science help in interpreting the arts? What effect, if any, do the arts, literature, and other 'social' factors have on science? We explore these and other issues through short essays, short fiction, and film.
Solid State Physics at the Nanoscale
Solid state physics is the study of solid matter and how it behaves when exposed to vibrational waves, optical waves, and other excitations. It is interesting to note that the behavior of solid matter can change dramatically when the size of the solid considered is in the nanoscale regime (between 1 nanometer and 1 micrometer). In this course we will study concepts and methods from crystallography, quantum physics, and thermodynamics in an effort to understand some of the cutting edge questions in nanoscale engineering and materials science. Previous coursework in physics and calculus is required.