Matt Neal secures NSF Grant
How much food will be needed to feed the world when the population reaches 9 billion people? What are the most important predictors of automobile accidents? How can police reports be used to anticipate domestic violence?
This semester our junior and senior mathematics students are working in teams to solve these important questions using techniques from Data Analytics, which is a new major at Denison. These problems come straight from analytics researchers in industry, who work closely with the students. The “food need” problem comes from Nicolas Covey at Nielsen, working in conjunction with the World Food Programme. The “auto accident” problem comes from Barnaby Nardella at Safe Auto. Finally, the “police report” problem comes from Professor Larry Sherman at The University of Cambridge working in conjunction with the Northern Territory Police Department in Australia.
The class is instructed by Dr. Matt Neal, who won a grant from the NSF funded PIC Math program (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences). PIC Math prepares mathematical sciences students for life after Denison by engaging them in research problems that come directly from business, industry, or government. This kind of high impact teaching and learning practice has been shown in the pedagogical literature to improve students abilities in problem solving, critical thinking, independent thinking, and communicating.
Each week our students present their progress, sometimes with their industrial contacts present either physically or virtually. At the end of the semester, our students will write a final report and produce a video presentation of their solutions. One such solution will be submitted to be part of a national competition with colleges across the country. This team will then present their work at the Mathfest conference, a national venue for the presentation of undergraduate research.