Before NC State, I worked as Undergraduate Research Assistant in CIRDLES (Cyber Infrastructure Research and Development Lab for the Earth Sciences). The lab's Principal Investigator, as well as my mentor, is Dr. James F. Bowring. CIRDLES is a National Science Foundation-funded lab located at the College of Charleston that combines the efforts of software engineers with earth scientists doing geochronology (the science of dating rocks, fossils and other sedimentary items). CIRDLES personnel design and implement software and systems that serve as the cyber infrastructure for geochronology.
The flagship CIRDLES software is called U-Pb_Redux, an open source Java application that performs full Uranium (U) and Lead (Pb) data reduction, including the propagation of measurement uncertainties using dynamic visualizations of the data. To determine the age of rocks, scientists use a mass spectrometer to collect information about radioactive isotopes, such as Uranium (U) and Lead (Pb). Once collected and organized, the data is ready for U_Pb-Redux. My main project was to develop and implement a robust Java Library that is capable of rendering images of mathematical expressions using MathML and/or LaTeX. MathML (Mathematical Markup Language) is a markup language, similar to XML and HTML, used to express the structure as well as the content of mathematical equations (Content and Presentation MathML). Along with help from Dr. Bowring and the other members of the lab, we were able to develop a functioning library that is capable of rendering images of mathematical equations created/stored/produced bye the geochemists using the software through the use of XHTML, MathML, and a web browser. The library meets basic functionality requirements, although there are still strides to be made (more functionality, possibly better interfaces, etc.). The project is still a work a progress and research continues at the College of Charleston.