Camarillo, Calif., Feb. 10, 2015— Research she conducted as an undergraduate has earned CSU Channel Islands (CI) graduate student Dana Cochran a coveted spot in the 2015 “Posters on the Hill” event in Washington D.C.
“Posters on the Hill” is sponsored each spring by the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, D.C.
Cochran, 24, is among 60 chosen from more than 500 applicants from colleges and universities around the nation who will present their research to members of the U.S. Congress on April 22 and 23.
“This event is intended to help members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact,” reads a passage on the Council’s web site.
Cochran, of Simi Valley, used her mathematical skills to begin developing an automated diagnostic tool for physicians using brain scans to detect schizophrenia.
“Studies have shown that the shape of a part of the brain called the ‘corpus callosum’ will vary according to whether you have a disease,” Cochran explained.
Cochran said her goal was to build a database that would allow doctors to input the scans and find out whether the mathematical coordinates on the shape of the corpus callosum indicate the possibility of schizophrenia.
Cochran’s mentor, CI Associate Professor of Mathematics, Kathryn Leonard, Ph.D., said she saw potential in Cochran after watching Cochran ease through linear algebra classes during her sophomore year.
“That’s when students transition from computation to abstract thought,” Leonard said. “It’s something most students struggle with, so I asked her to join my research group the following year.”
Cochran had always been fascinated with anatomy and physiology, so she was a good fit for Leonard’s research into applying mathematics to brain imagery.
Cochran is currently working toward her master’s degree in mathematics at CI with hopes of someday teaching.
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