Undergraduate Projects | STEM Education Research Center | SIU

Southern Illinois University



STEM Education Research Center

College of Science

Research Projects

The Student Creative Activities and Research Forum is a celebration in which all students engaged in any type of scholarly activities, research, or creative activities are invited to present a poster sharing their work with the SIU community. After the forum the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Research will speak and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards will be given for the best poster presentations in each category (Undergraduate and Graduate).

 Please follow the links below for additional information.

Information for participants

Featured Projects

Students working with the gyroid

The Gyroid Project

Rebekah Durig, senior, Mathematics.
Oneal Summers, senior, Mathematics.

The gyroid shape, an infinitely-connected triply periodic minimal surface, was conceived in 1970 by SIU Professor Emeritus Alan Schoen, then a scientist at NASA, in his theoretical search for ultra-light, ultra-strong materials for use in space. For decades materials scientists have been experimenting with the gyroid and now an international team of researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford in Britain, the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany, Institute Curie in France and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis has shown that the gyroid structure can be used to self-assemble a low-cost photovoltaic cell. The idea could lead to more economical solar collectors and more efficient fuel cells.

Undergraduate assistants Oneal Summers and Rebekah Durig are using the Mathematica computational engine to produce a model of the gyroid for three dimensional printing. This model will eventually form the basis for a larger sculpture that will be housed in the mathematics library at SIU.

Faculty: Alan Schoen, Professor Emeritus and Gregory Budzban, Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics.

Students in the Apollonia research group

Visualization in Mathematics

Brad Dragun, Freshman, Mathematics.
Rebekah Durig, Senior, Mathematics.
Thomas Finkenkeller, Senior, Physics.
Seth Lawrence, Senior, Physics.
Aaron Zolotor, Senior, Physics.

The research team produces graphical simulations of abstract math concepts using C++ and the Processing open-source programming language. Processing is a graphics based programming environment that is well-suited for a wide range of activities such as making digital art, interactive animations, or educational graphs. This research project involves the visualization of complex mathematical data, specifically the apollonian gasket, a fractal generated from triples of circles where each circle is tangent to the other two. Students are also mapping the harmonic evolution of states of a graph. Using these tools, students are making new observations and discoveries.

Faculty and mentor: Jersey Kocik, Professor, and Ethan Lightfoot, Graduate Masters, Department of Mathematics.

Mathematical modeling of sports performance

Mathematical Modeling of Effective Sports Performance

Chen Li, Junior, Accounting.
Nicole Staples, Senior, Mathematics.

This project involves using data visualization and statistics to identify a more accurate categorization of players in the game of basketball. Traditionally, players are categorized into five basic positions but this may not be the best way to produce a successful team. Staples and Li want to show that there are several more identifiable positions into which they fall. The two groups they have chosen to analyze are the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams of the NCAA Missouri Valley Conference. Separating the men and women into two different groups, Staples and Li normalized nine basic statistics based on time played. They then found a Euclidean distance between each player using their nine normalized statistics as individual feature vectors. The distances between the players help Staples and Li to identify natural groupings that occur based on statistics alone and not the generally accepted basketball positions. Utilizing a program called X-dimensional Data Analysis Tool, or XDAT, a parallel-coordinates data visualization software package, Staples and Li hope to show statistical and visual evidence of the existence of these unidentified positions. 

Faculty: Gregory Budzban, Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics.