Computational Science Coursework and Internships:

Applying Mathematics and Computer Science to Important Scientific Problems


Angela Shiflet

Wofford College

Spartanburg, South Carolina


Many significant scientific research questions are interdisciplinary in nature, involving biological and/or physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science in an area called "computational science"; and much scientific investigation now involves computing as well as theory and experiment. Consequently, a critical need exists for scientists to know how to use computation in their work. With an appropriate foundation in mathematics and computer science, science majors can perform meaningful interdisciplinary research in internships, graduate school, and post-graduate positions. Internships involving computation in the sciences can expose undergraduates to many new ideas, techniques, and applications that can greatly enhance their knowledge, make their classroom education more meaningful, involve them in research on significant scientific problems, and expand their opportunities. Working at various laboratories, students have applied techniques of modeling and simulation to significant scientific problems, such as determining biochemical pathways associated with vascular disease, correlating birth defects to diet, discovering heart mechanics in order to treat cardiac disease, tracking asteroids, and developing strategies to combat Chagas disease. Besides citing particular student experiences, this talk will include coursework and internship recommendations from "Undergraduate Computational Science and Engineering Education," a report from a Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Working Group of which Dr. Shiflet is a member.