Summer Scholars Introduction: Natalie Wilkson, Phillip Barbolla, and Benjamin Walker

by gabrielson on September 5, 2015

The Summer Scholars program enrolled thirteen students for 2015. Three of them are Natalie Wilkson, Phillip Barbolla, and Benjamin Walker.


Natalie Wilkson

Natalie Wilkson is a senior at Roanoke College majoring in Math and Computer Science. She is planning on going to graduate school after graduation. She is the current president of Mu Beta Psi, the national honorary musical fraternity, the vice president of RCSCACM, the computer science club, a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, and is in the mathematics honorary society. Natalie has a strong interest in music and computer science and loves when the two combine together.

Natalie’s project is titled: “Optical Music Recognition using Hidden Markov Models”. In her project, Natalie will be using optical music recognition (OMR), a program similar to Optical character recognition (OCR) that converts images of text to actual text documents. OMR has often showed poor performance in comparison to OCR, however, there are algorithms that show promise for OMR. One of those algorithms is HMM which Natalie will use to see if HMM improves the performance of OMR.

phillip barbolla

Phillip Barbolla

Phillip Barbolla is a senior and mathematics major in the Honors program, attending Roanoke College as a Bittle scholar. He is pursuing a psychology minor and neuroscience concentration. Phillip is also active in several clubs and activities such as Habitat for Humanity, Roanoke College Student Chapter of the Mathematical Association of America, and the national mathematics honors society. He has also worked as a calculus teaching assistant and served on the Honors executive board. In his spare time Phillip enjoys hiking, purchasing nerdy apparel from the internet, and getting a little too competitive while watching Jeopardy.

Phillip’s project is titled: “Optimizing Course Offerings with Genetic Algorithms and Particle Swarm Optimization”. Phillip will apply genetic algorithms and particle swarm optimization to the problem of scheduling. By doing so, Phillip hopes to develop a system that can minimize potential conflicts in MCSP department course offerings, adaptable to other departments and institutions.

Ben Walker summer scholar pic

Benjamin Walker

Ben Walker is a senior at Roanoke College majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Native to the Roanoke area, Ben decided to go to Roanoke College as a pre-med student. Ben got involved in research under Dr. Lassiter his freshmen year and continues to do so now. Ben enjoys his research with Dr. Lassiter and believes that doing research will help him with linking academic work and real world applications. On his free time, Ben enjoys playing sports with his friends or tutoring students.

Ben’s project is titled: “Effects of Atrazine on the Development of Craniofacial Cartilage, Skull Sutures, and the Heart in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)”. In his project, Ben will be handling atrazine, an herbicide that has been stated to effect developing organisms. In order to test this hypothesis, Ben will be treating zebrafish embryos with different concentrations of atrazine and examining developmental defects it causes in the zebrafish.

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