Data Science Presentations

The students in Dr. Schellhorn’s Data Science class will be presenting the results from their classification projects next Thursday, April 30, 1:00-3:00, in Carver 231.  Each of the groups investigated a classification problem based on a data set of their choice.  Specifically, each group used at least one classification technique to predict a qualitative response, which is a response with classes like yes/no or green/yellow/red.

You are invited to attend as many of the presentations as your schedule allows (since next week is finals week, we know it will be a busy one).  Each talk will be about 10 minutes long, including questions.

  1. Andy Ardueser, Kelly Brass, Emma Jones – “How Will You Die?”
  2. Scott Henry, Cody Jacobson, Katie Westlund – “Airline Ratings”
  3. Erin Brown, Kelly Bruett, Jess Schultes – “Constructing a Spam Filter for Email”
  4. Louis Joslyn, Tony Saucedo, Demetre Van Arsdale – “Predicting Income”
  5. Miles Kirts, Paul Safford, Nick Yaeger – “All-American Runners”
  6. Sam Schwarz, Courtney Sherwood, Lauren Tirado – “Forest Cover”
  7. Lauren Doocy, Kyle Jensen, Rachel Rice – “Predicting Student Quality of Life at Universities”
  8. Erik Hall, Park Mikels, Ruth Ann Roberts – “NFL Draft Predictions”
  9. Andy Becker, Geoff Converse – “Elementary School Test Scores”


Image source: Figure 10.6 in An Introduction to Statistical Learning with Applications in R by James, Witten, Hastie, and Tibshirani

WLCS Students Shine at Simpson’s Research Symposium

The Department of World Language and Culture Studies is proud that some of its very strongest students came out to represent our department at yesterday’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.

WLCS students presented on cultural topics as diverse as colonial and neocolonial stereotypes of Tahitian women, the role of fashion in the transformation of Eva Perón into a powerful cultural icon in Argentina, and the impact of U.S. “supernationalism” on the German-speaking communities of Iowa during World War I.

We were able to capture some parts of a couple of presentations on video. Enjoy!

Madison Densmore: “Vahine: Images and Origins”

Valerie Goodhue-Nolte: “‘In Their Shoes': The Creation of Evita Through Fashion”

Great job, WLCS presenters. Next step…publication!

Senior Multimedia Journalism majors produce Iowa Watch article on “hidden disabilities”

Simpson’s senior students in Multimedia Journalism have just seen their semester-long work documenting the challenges of Iowa students with ‘hidden disabilities’ published at IowaWatch.Org, the statewide investigative news source. The main story reported and written by Megan Quick, Steffi S. Lee, Kate Hayden and Ben Rodgers just went live, and more reports from the students will be publishing over the next several days at Iowa Watch. Click the link to check the project as it’s revealed!

Hayden, Quick, Rodgers and Lee working with Iowa Watch's Lyle Muller for their project on hidden disabilities on college campuses.

Left to right: Iowa Watch editor Lyle Muller works with Hayden, Quick, Rodgers and Lee for their project on hidden disabilities on college campuses.



Simpson Students Capture Innovation Award for Crime-Fighting App

Simpson College is home of the Student Innovators of the Year in Iowa.

Scott Henry and Thomas Klein captured the Prometheus Award for their work in developing a phone app through the EMERGE@Simpson program.

The Prometheus Awards, described as “Iowa’s premier event for technology,” are sponsored by The Technology Association of Iowa.

The association’s recognition confirms the message that Simpson has been sending to prospective students and anyone interested in technology and entrepreneurship: Why wait until graduation when you can develop your ideas today in a supportive campus setting?

“Our team went up against the best Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI had to offer and won,” said Chris Draper, director of EMERGE@Simpson. “Through EMERGE, I am certain this will be the first of many Simpson teams to compete and win against the best our state has to offer.”

Henry and Klein, along with Henry’s brother, Mike, a Simpson alum, developed the Snitch’n phone app after the idea was proposed by another Simpson student, Emma Negrete.

Snitch’n allows users to scroll through photos of people wanted by police and then send anonymous tips directly to the officer investigating the case.

To read the Des Moines Register’s coverage of the Prometheus Awards:

The Snitch’n phone app also was a finalist for Mobile App of the Year, but that award went to John Deere’s Mobile Data Transfer.

The awards banquet was held April 16 in Des Moines. Representing Simpson were the Henry brothers, Klein, Emma Negrete and her father, John, Draper and Sally Kreamer, director of the Fifth Judicial District’s Department of Correctional Services, which is using the Snitch’n app.

2015 MICS Results

Mark Brodie, Lydia Sinapova and Derek Lyon and 18 students attended the Midwest Instructional Computing Symposium (MICS) on April 10-11. This year’s MICS was held at the University of North Dakota (is that really even in the Midwest?). Despite the best efforts of Minneapolis road construction, rush-hour traffic and snow (!), the 3 vans arrived safely after a 10-hour drive.

In the first session Lydia and Derek gave a tag-team presentation on the undergraduate research in DNA computing which has taken place at Simpson in recent years. Derek explained the intricacies of DNA chemistry to an audience of computer scientists, while Lydia reported the results of student surveys showing which of their skills had been improved by their research experience.

The afternoon featured the poster session, followed by the robotics competition. Ellie Luebbe presented a poster on “Efficient Path Generation to Maximize Data Collection of Multiple Samples using Fluorescence Spectroscopy”. This work was done with Miles Kirts and Eric Marean. Park Mikels presented a poster on “Algorithmic Elimination of Unwanted DNA Hybridization in Complex DNA Mixtures”, co-authored with Geoff Converse and Dakota Spurrier.

Simpson participated in the robotics contest for the first time. In trials the robot performed admirably, but under the pressure of competition it got over-excited and its shot hit the back of the rim. The team of Nate Hayes, Kendra Klocke, Tony Clark, Josh Sutton, Holly Baiotto and Eric Marean worked hard between rounds cajoling, coaxing and coding to get it to improve, but were terminated. Hasta la vista, baby! Although the robot didn’t place, many valuable (and painful) lessons were learned and it was heard saying “I’ll be back” in an ominous tone.

The programming contest took place after dinner and ran for 3 hours. Six Simpson teams entered. The number of teams has increased steadily from two teams in 2010. Programming contests have become an important element of our program – they generate tremendous interest and excitement among students and provide an invaluable opportunity for improving programming and teamwork skills.

The team of Kendra Klocke, Tony Clark and Thomas Klein won 5th place out of 50 teams total, solving 5 out of 7 problems. This was their best finish at MICS. Since Kendra is graduating, Thomas and Tony plan to hold a hackathon to find a new team-member. Applicants should submit their resumes in binary.

The team of Maddie Thomas, Ellie Luebbe and Park Mikels placed 8th, solving 4 problems. This is an excellent performance – it was only their second time at MICS. They have 2 years of eligibility left and gained valuable experience.

The other four teams each solved 2 problems. These teams were: Jacob Williamson, Scott Henry, and Chris Colohan (23rd), Nate Hayes, Jacob Feld and Evan Kimberlin (27th), Teig Loge, Holly Baiotto, and Eric Marean (29th), and Audrey Lovan and Elisa Wildy (30th) . The last 2 teams were competing for the first time. Given that some teams solve no problems at all, this was an impressive result.

The contest finished near midnight. The students were so mentally exhausted that they went to bed immediately and definitely did not stay up until 3am.

The next morning Maddie Thomas presented her paper “Modeling of Linker Stoichiometry for Optimization of DNA Nanostructure Self-Assembly.” The paper described a project done with Esteban Sierra and Blake Tish in Lydia Sinapova’s Algorithms class. The paper was well received and generated a number of questions. Remarkably, Maddie was participating in a rugby tournament in South Dakota the day after MICS! Hopefully rugby won’t damage any of the brain cells needed for programming.

After traveling back by a different route (longer, but with less traffic, it also took about 10 hours), students and faculty returned to Simpson. Everyone had an enjoyable and productive time and expressed a willingness to return (except the robot).

The problems and solutions from the programming contest are available here.

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Food For Thoughts: Selling Products to American and French Audiences

Professeure Sutton‘s French 111 class has been exploring the topic of food from a comparative perspective, contrasting attitudes towards food in France and the US.

In discussions of books such as Bringing Up Bébé and Almost French, the class has found that the French emphasize quality ingredients and associate food with sociability, community identity, and cultural traditions, while Americans often approach food from a more individualistic perspective, even associating foods with moral qualities like “good” and “bad,” and linking individual food choices to a person’s identity and self-perception.

To finish off their unit about food, students came up with their own commercials for food products, which they acted out for their classmates. Then, the whole class had to guess whether the ads were intended for a French or American audience.

To make their guesses, they relied on cultural clues such as the language used to describe the food, the context in which the food appeared, and the effect that the food seemed to have on the people in the commercial. The results were très amusants!

Have a look at two of the commercials the class made. Can you guess which audience–French or American–each commercial aimed to reach? Prepare to be hungry… and to do some cultural exploration!

Publicité 1:


“Mmm, Perkins – quand tous mes rêves se réalisent!” (Mmm, Perkins – when all my dreams come true!)


Publicité 2:


“Tu le mérites… Les petits caramels ne font jamais mal à personne!” (You deserve it… Little candies never hurt anyone!)

Senior Final Presentations

You are invited to attend the final presentations for our students completing senior capstone courses.  Every student with a mathematics or actuarial science major must complete a semester long undergraduate research project or participate in a mathematical internship.  Come see what our mathematics majors have been researching.

Tuesday, April 28, 8:00-10:00am in Carver 231

  • Jess Schultes – Crop Progress and Condition Report
  • Katie Davis – Link Analysis
  • Courtney Sherwood – Early Detection through Gas Flow Modulation in Chemo-Sensory Systems
  • Libby Gleason – Coalitional Games with Transferrable Payoff
  • Lauren Doocy – Self-Organization in Ballpark Waves

MUMS Is This Weekend

You are invited to attend the 12th annual MUMS conference.  The regional conference will feature numerous contributed talks and poster presentations by undergraduates, as well as two plenary talks by Dr. Simmon Donner.  A complete schedule can be found here.

Simpson College is “très branché”

Professor Sutton’s FREN 111 class just put on the world’s best défilé de mode (fashion show).

The winner for “Fiercest Model” was Robertino. He dominated the catwalk!

Designers Zack and Esteban, of the fashion house Maison Catastrophe, presented their muse as he showed off their creations.

Simpson College est très branché (really cool and with it), n’est-ce pas?

March Math-ness: Predict the Perfect NCAA March Madness Bracket

Learn about the mid-term project in Dr. Schellhorn’s Data Science course: Simpson News Center: March Math-ness