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Undergraduate Research in Computer Science


Research Presentations

The Computer Science department strongly supports Simpson’s commitment to undergraduate research.We believe that undergraduate research is a valuable experience for all students – it broadens their horizons and enhances the sound understanding of what is taught in the classroom. By doing undergraduate research projects, students can find out whether they have a passion for research and whether they should pursue a graduate degree. In some classes, including CMSC 250, Introduction to the Design and Analysis of Algorithms, and CMSC 310, Artificial Intelligence, students are required to complete a research project. Other students have done research projects as independent study, or a capstone experience, or just for the fun of it (not for credit).

Usually, a research project has the following tasks: choose a topic, find an interesting problem, investigate and compare existing solutions, look for directions for improvements, propose modifications, implement a solution and describe the research in a paper. Students may work individually or in teams. At the end of the semester, the research projects are presented in class. Students with outstanding work present at the Computer Science seminar and at Simpson’s Undergraduate Symposium. Some students have published and presented their work at regional or national forums, e.g. the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium, the CCSC Central Planes Conference, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. One student presented his work in Washington, DC at the “Posters on the Hill” event, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Outstanding Student Research



  • Zach Huebener and Kylie van Houten presented their paper comparing different methods of finding patterns in DNA strands at Simpson’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Adam Smith, Joell Gawarecki, Jarin van Maanen and Linsey William and Kylie van Houten presented their paper on a genetic algorithm for DNA tile assembly at Simpson’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Blake Mikels presented his research using data mining for stock market prediction at Simpson’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • At the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium (MICS 2012) at UNI 2 papers were presented. Adam Smith and Joel Gawarecki presented “Optimization of Tile Sets for DNA Self-Assembly”, co-authored with Linsey Williams and Jaris Van Maanen. Zach Huebener presented “Three Approaches to Solving the Motif-Finding Problem”, co-authored with Kylie Van Houten.


    • Adam Smith presented his paper on using genetic algorithms for protein prediction at Simpson’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
    • Chris Wiegert, Ethan Eller and Bob Trimble presented their iPhone programming projects at Simpson’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.


    • Carl Davidson presented his poster on gene regulatory networks at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.