Computational Science: Not Just for Researchers Anymore

By Jill Thomley and Mary Searcy.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Computational Science started out as a specialized set of tools, techniques, and technologies for researchers. For a long time, it remained outside the awareness of the general public. In recent years, research has resulted in computational practices and applications that increasingly touch our everyday lives (e.g., weather models, television programs, video games, internet marketing, and news reporting) and produced an increased demand for more knowledgeable workers and consumers. Furthermore, this computational science revolution has changed the generalized perceptions of science at all levels of society: the average person, business and industry, and the scientific disciplines themselves.

We will explore the evolution and expansion of United States undergraduate education in response to pressure from these various forces. This process has not been easy due to the inherently interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of computational science. However, increased funding and guidance from national academic organizations have opened doors for computational science education innovations. We will highlight specific projects in the United States, including local, statewide and national initiatives, that are designed primarily to prepare undergraduates with experiences and knowledge they need to join the growing community of individuals at all levels who are using computational science for learning, work, and play as well as traditional research.

Keywords: Computational Science, Education, Undergraduate, University, Knowledge, Perceptions of Science, Nature of Science, Interdisciplinary, Collaborative

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.27-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.697MB).

Dr. Jill Thomley

Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Jill Thomley received a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University in 1990 and went on to earn a M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, USA. After working on a research project for the Veteran’s Administration for three years, where she extensively used the statistics training she received in her B.A. and M.S. programs, she returned to Rensselaer to get a Ph.D. in Decision Sciences with an emphasis in Statistics. At Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, USA, where she is currently employed as an Associate Professor of Statistics, Dr. Thomley is involved with a number of research and consulting projects in several areas of mathematics and science. She has served as an evaluator for several projects funded by the United States Government’s National Science Foundation. Most of these projects are related to science or computational science education.

Dr. Mary Searcy

Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Mary E. Searcy’s education and employment has all been within the United States of America. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics at Garner Webb College in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and her M.S. in Mathematics at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. She went on to complete a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. For three years, she was an Assistant Professor at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant Michigan, where she taught Mathematics and Mathematics Education courses and worked with graduate students in Mathematics Education research. Dr. Searcy continues these responsibilities as an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Over the last 15 years she has worked as an external evaluator for mathematics and computational science education projects funded by both national and state agencies.