Former CReSIS REU students honored at 2014 ADMI Conference


By Elise Reuter
Spring 2014

Two former CReSIS undergraduate student researchers, Maya Smith and Ricky Dixon, attended the ADMI Symposium on April 3. The program, hosted by the Association of Computer and Information Science Engineering Departments at Minority Institutions, a CReSIS partner, brings students from across the country together to present their research.

Smith, a junior from Winston-Salem State University, won first place overall for her presentation titled “Analysis Functionality to enhance MATLAB default interpolation schema using mGstat.” Smith worked on the project with CReSIS at the University of Kansas, where she used a function in MATLAB to display a variogram that will serve as a visual aid for researchers.

Maya Smith

ADMI President Dr. Rebecca Caldwell presents an award to Maya Smith (pictured left) for her research presentation on producing variograms using MATLAB. Smith won first place overall of the oral presentations. Courtesy of Maya Smith.

“Researchers in Antarctica or Greenland have plots and numbers of the glacier, but don’t remember what it looks like,” Smith said. “This way, they can see the depth and model of what the glacier looks like.”

Smith plans to add to her research by expanding it to other programming languages, such as Python, and getting the program to run faster. Smith also hopes to apply this experience to her major in information technology and the computer science work she conducts on the side. She says her research with CReSIS helped prepare her for this experience:

“It’s one of those places that has broadened my horizons to research, and I think that’s why I keep coming back,” Smith said.

Dixon, another former REU student, gave a poster presentation at the conference on the effectiveness and application of Common Core Standards in the classroom. Dixon’s research was titled “Using Common Core State Standards of Seventh Grade Mathematics in the Application of NXT LEGO robotics for CReSIS Middle School Students.”

Ricky Dixon, a junior at Mississippi Valley State University, gives a poster presentation on the effectiveness of Common Core Standards for seventh grade mathematics. Courtesy of Kevin Jones with the Center for Remote Sensing Education and Research of Elizabeth City State University.

Dixon used LEGO robotics to teach the scientific and mathematic concepts under the Common Core standards to junior high students. The students played an active role in designing, building, and then programming the robots. According to his research, the students were successful, improving by an average of 38 percent.

CReSIS Education Program Manager Dr. Darnell Johnson helped Dixon pick the research topic during his summer 2013 research program. Dixon was thrilled when he found out he was accepted to the 2014 ADMI Symposium later that year.
“I had already gone one time,” Dixon said. “I wanted to present this year, so I was happy I got accepted.”

Dixon, a junior from Mississippi Valley State University, is studying mathematics education and hopes to apply this information to classrooms in the future.

“I would like to teach at the middle school level,” Dixon said.

Dixon plans to pursue a M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics after graduating next year.