Math Majors Receive Summer Research Awards

September 9, 2019

Two undergraduate students in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science received research funding for summer 2019. Senior Seychelle Khan and junior Danielle Solomon – both Mathematics majors – participated in undergraduate summer research programs that enhanced their skills and experience in their field.  

Seychelle Khan

Seychelle Khan

Seychelle was accepted to the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program (FUSRP) in Toronto, Canada. From July 1 to August 29, Seychelle stayed at the University of Toronto’s Woodsworth College and participated in a project on “Image Guided Radiation Therapy Net (IGRTnet)” with Dr. Douglas Moseley of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. She also received travel reimbursement of $550 and $1,800 of per diem expenses.

The application for FUSRP is open to undergraduate students around the world studying mathematics and related disciplines. Seychelle was chosen for the program based on merit and academic excellence, through a competitive assessment and review process.

As part of her research project, Seychelle used machine learning to examine computed tomography (CT) scans of cancer patients and determine the locations of tumors in preparation for radiation therapy. With the help of machine learning, Seychelle and her research group created a network to figure out whether the tumor location was correctly matched and wrote a computer program to make tumors more easily identifiable on the CT scan images.

“The experience developed my interest in medical physics and showed me the important of programming and machine learning,” she said.

A double major in Mathematics and Physics and an international student from Trinidad, Seychelle is vice president of Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society, and secretary of Pi Mu Epsilon, the Math Honor Society. In addition to her work with Assistant Professor Raeann Kyriakou, Ph.D., on Sonia Kovalevsky Day and the history of women in mathematics, Seychelle has worked with Professor Mikhail Ostrovskii, Ph.D., on a Graduate Admissions Assistance Program (GAAP)-funded summer research project in 2018. Their research, which they presented on Research Day 2019, examined transportation cost and space.

Danielle Solomon

Danielle Solomon

Danielle was accepted to a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. For 10 weeks during the summer, she collaborated on a project that used artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify significant data points in a colon cancer data set.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the NSF. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.

For the first five weeks of the program, participants focused on the mathematical theory behind their research projects. For the second half, the program’s eight participants – selected from around the United States – worked in groups with a mentor on their research projects. Danielle’s project was led by Dr. Kumer Das of Lamar University. The program also featured weekly guest speakers who shared their expertise in various areas of mathematics.

“The speakers showed me that there are many different paths to take in math, and it was great to see each one,” she said.

Danielle, who grew up in Uniondale, NY, has been drawn to mathematics since her high school statistics course. “You use statistics in every area,” she said. “The numbers tell a story.”

She chose St. John’s because of the individualized attention afforded to each student in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. She has a double minor in business and music. In summer 2018, Danielle took a statistics course at Columbia University. For fall 2019, she is studying abroad in Italy through the Rome semester program. Danielle is also a member of the Math Club and a math tutor in the University Learning Commons.