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Project Descriptions 2018

Location Analysis of Down Syndrome Specialty Care Facilities- Dr. Heidi Berger

This project focuses on analyzing access to health care for individuals with Down syndrome.  Currently, there are 58 Down Syndrome specialty clinics across the country in 32 different states.  It is estimated that 4-5% of eligible patients are enrolled in specialty clinics.  We want to better understand the value added for participation in this coordinated care setting.

In Summer 2016, Bryan Summer research students approached this question nationwide, identifying large-scale regions of inaccessibility and proposing new clinic locations. We seek to improve upon these findings by increasing granularity. Our current study will center on Massachusetts and use two different angles of analysis.

First, we will work with Dr. Brian Skotko, a medical geneticist and co-director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Anne Kohler, a graduate student in medical anthropology at the University of Connecticut, to analyze a survey that studies the impacts of Down syndrome specialty clinics on patients and families in Massachusetts.

From there, we will model the supply and demand of Down syndrome specialty clinics in Massachusetts.  The aim is to maximize participation in these coordinated care settings.  We will use an optimization technique to identify the optimal number and location of facilities that maximize participation.

A Shot in the Dark: Putting Dark Matter to the Test- Dr. Nicolas Rey-Le Lorier

 In this project, you will review the various different models of dark matter particles dreamt up
by physicists over the decades and develop a computer package capable of systematically evaluating how these models compare to all the available experimental evidence. In the current state of affairs this must be done on a case-by-case basis: anyone who comes up with a new idea for a dark matter model is forced to scan the literature and do a piece-by-piece match-up of their candidate with the various experimental results. You will streamline and centralize the process, allowing researchers to rapidly produce accurate and up-to-date predictions with a minimum amount of input. This project will involve:
Mathematical analysis of astronomical, cosmological, and collider phenomenons. You will learn
to use analytical and mathematical methods to quantitatively model and predict the behavior of different
types of particles. This part of the project involves solving the various differential equations that control
the population of dark matter particles in the universe, the formation of galaxies, the annihilation of dark
matter particles in the sky and the production of dark matter particles at collider experiments.
Statistical comparison of model prediction and observed data. Your program will use the predictions of the various models and compare them with experimental results to produce quantitative estimates
of the validity of the different dark matter hypotheses.
Designing and Implementing the Computer Program. You will prepare a computer program which
researchers will be able to use, with only a small amount of preparation, to rapidly test a wide range of dark matter models. This program will need to be as user-friendly as possible and should be able to accommodate a very wide range of possible dark matter candidates.
This project offers a great opportunity to learn and practice various skills and methods in mathematical
physics, data analysis, and scientific computer modeling, while also providing an introduction into the active field of dark matter research. Some prior familiarity with differential calculus and with mathematical computing is preferable, but no physics experience is required.