Mathematics/Computer Science major finishes NSF research

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Mathematics and Computer Science major participates in prestigious research experience

Published: September 14, 2015.

Melanie Harrison, a senior double-major in Mathematics and Computer Science, participated in a 10-week program this summer sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program, one of a number of prestigious REUs (or Research Experiences for Undergraduates) around the country, was called Medix and was held at DePaul University and the University of Chicago. It focused on engaging undergraduates in mathematical research related to the life sciences.

The Tinley Park resident worked with students from around the country on mathematical research related to biomedical issues. The participants attended classes and research symposia at DePaul and at the University of Chicago. They also visited researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and attended workshops on graduate school opportunities.

Harrison worked with a fellow participant on a project about computer-aided diagnosis of temporal subtraction images, a problem in applied mathematics related to biomedical imaging of tissues. Their project was divided into two parts. First, they used 10 different threshold methods to separate light and dark regions of each image. Then they used various machine learning algorithms to classify the identified regions using thresholding over 396 total classifiers.

They ended the summer by submitting two extended abstracts to the SPIE Medical Imaging conference on computer-aided diagnosis. Their papers were "Adaptive Thresholding of Chest Temporal Subtraction Images in Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Pathologic Change" and "A CAD System to Detect Pathologies in Temporal Subtraction Images of Chest Radiographs." One of the projects was more theoretical in nature, and the other was more applied and computer-focused.

"I could go on forever about what I did this summer and would recommend an REU to anyone interested in grad school," Harrison said of the experience.

She is now very focused on attending graduate school and pursing a Ph.D. in mathematics with a focus on abstract algebra and number theory. Participating in this REU played a large part in shaping her future goals.

Lewis University offers a bachelorís degree in Mathematics, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, with concentrations in Cyber Security, Web and Mobile Development, Data Science, and Video Game Development. It also offers minors in Computer Science, Cyber Security Science, Data Science, and Web and Mobile Application Development. At the graduate level, it offers a nationally recognized for a Master of Science in Information Security program, which includes an innovative fast-track that enables students to earn both a bachelorís and a masterís degree in five years. A master's degree in Data Science is also available for students who wish to learn more about Big Data.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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