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Cultivating smarter data

Research enables students to see their work directly affect real-world challenges. Through her research, mathematics and computer science double major Noemi Glaeser is busy developing mathematical models that use environmental data to help farmers safeguard their crops from specific toxins.

Find your fit

"I chose to become a double major in mathematics and computer science because I love problem solving and abstract thinking. My favorite class so far is Cryptography, which I took my freshman year. It was one of the most challenging classes I have taken, but once I began to develop a better understanding of the subject, I felt a great sense of achievement."

Expand your options

Noemi soon found herself among a team of interdisciplinary professors examining ways to improve staple crops. Not only does her work provide her with a more personalized college experience, but it provides a better understanding of how to apply her knowledge to real-world business problems.

"Our research deals with aflatoxin, a type of toxin that is prevalent in staple crops. The project seeks to decrease the incidence of aflatoxin in corn by developing and testing a mathematical model that utilizes environmental data such as temperature and humidity to predict aflatoxin incident. I collect weather data from sites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, filtering it down to the relevant data points, and creating and evaluating the effectiveness of several models that take in weather data to determine aflatoxin risk."

Discover new approaches

Noemi's research is very data-intensive. The models she creates, using weather data from hundreds of weather stations in the U.S., will be developed into an interactive heat map that will help farmers harvest a greater proportion of their crops.

"This is the first time I have worked with a professor on his research. I learned a lot about myself and even overcame my initial fear of Python and Bash scripting. I also gained crucial skills for graduate school, such as writing the grant proposal that funds this research."

Prepare for the path ahead

To be part of an effort that has long-term implications can be empowering. This project has given Noemi a way to combine her interests in math and computer science and to experience the type of work that she will do as a future graduate student.

"The familiarity of doing research with a mentor is something I will continue to do while pursuing a graduate degree. I have also honed my presenting and writing skills through various symposiums and conferences."