Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP)
URAP is a program unique to Roanoke College. Approximately eight new freshman students are identified each year and are invited to join the program. They work as research assistants with a member of the Roanoke College faculty on an original research project of interest to both the URAP scholar and to the faculty mentor. They are awarded a stipend of $2,000 per year, renewable for up to three additional years. In addition to the stipend the URAP scholar becomes a member of a research team working on a project which generally will lead to publication in a professional journal and/or presentation at a professional conference. Read about Danielle Shiley's experience at this link and at this link.
Examples of past URAP Projects:
Synthesis and Characterization of Nanophase Iron Oxides Using Spectroscopic Techniques
Dr. Richard Grant and Dr. Rama Balasubramanian, Physics
The proposed research will be carried out in two stages. First we must understand the corrosion properties of both synthetically produced and naturally weathered oxides and second, develop adherent protective coatings using chemical and surface processing techniques. The experimental techniques used to perform the research will include using the facilities on campus as well as at larger research institutions.
Using the Microsoft Kinect for Balance and Range of Motion Feedback in Physical Therapy
Dr. Durell Bouchard, Computer Science
The Microsoft Kinect motion controller is lots of fun, but it can be used for more than just playing video games. The Kinect can track a person's movement and provide real-time analysis and feedback. The feedback can be particularly useful for a rehabilitation patient performing activities designed to restore balance and range of motion. This project will develop and evaluate software that uses the Kinect to help physical therapists treat patients.
Analysis of PGA Golf Statistics
Dr. Roland Minton, Mathematics
The PGA Tour collects details on every shot recorded, including measuring distance to the inch. The URAP student will learn how to manipulate this data and explore questions of importance to the PGA Tour. Who is the best golfer? Golfers can be ranked by proficiency at individual skills, and they can be ranked overall. Which part of golf is most important? Individual skills can be ranked by correlation to score. Do the pros get "hot" or "cold" for long periods of time? Time series analysis can filter out trends and oscillations in performance. These and many other questions are available for research into a new and potentially revolutionary area of sports analysis.
Astronomical Parenting: Monitoring Teenage Stars
Dr. Matthew C. Fleenor, Physics
How do stable, adult-like stars similar to our Sun form? While stars are in their adolescence, astronomers observe disruptive events that cause variations in stellar brightness. Through long-term engagement with this project, the student-researcher will become familiar with astrophysical principles and observational skills.
Estimating Emotional State Using a Nintendo Wii Remote
Dr. Durell Bouchard, Computer Science
Motion capture provides accurate tracking of motion at a high economic cost as well as a high degree of subject interference from the suit that must be worn. This reduces the practicality for motion analysis applications outside of a laboratory setting. There are, however, much cheaper, less invasive sensors that can be used, such as accelerometers as are found on the Nintendo Wii remote. The goal of this project is to show to what degree it is possible to analyze and describe motion when using these more simple sensors. The URAP student will help test the fidelity of emotional estimation algorithms when using the Nintendo Wii remote as a motion sensor. If the remote proves useful, the student will develop a video game to serve as a testbed to determine the utility of having player emotional state affect game-play.
Developing the New Calculus
Roland B. Minton, Mathematics
In this project, the student will participate in the revision of a calculus textbook. Activities will be chosen to reflect the student's background and interests. The student will compare aspects of the textbook under revision and some of its competitors, focusing on effective examples and exercises. As the project progresses, the student will identify application problems in areas of interest to the student and construct an individual research project.
“If I can help pique my students’ interest in research and scientific careers, I feel that I have done my job as a professor to promote an extended education,” Dr. Balasubramanian says.