Button Menu

Sam Showalter '18 Awarded Summer Fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Sam Showalter '18 Awarded Summer Fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

March 1, 2018

DePauw University senior Samuel Showalter is the recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He will be working in the laboratory of Scott Glancy, a researcher at NIST in Boulder, Colorado on a project entitled, "The Characterization of Quantum Computers".

A description of the project notes, "The development of experimental quantum computers is rapidly accelerating, with increasing numbers of quantum bits and operations with higher fidelities. However, characterization of these devices is a challenging statistical problem. We are developing algorithms and writing software to characterize the quantum bits and logic operations in quantum experiments at NIST. This will be a good opportunity to gain practical programming experience and learn both quantum theory and statistics."

The SURF program is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission. Since 1993, SURF students from across the nation have had the opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting edge technology in one of the world's leading research organizations and home to three Nobel Prize winners.

Over the course of 11 weeks, SURF students contribute to the ongoing research of one of the seven NIST facilities. U.S. colleges or universities (not individual students) must submit applications for participation in the SURF Program.

Showalter, a Rector Scholar and double major in mathematics and economics and a minor in computer science, has been involved in multiple student organizations, serving as president of DePauw's Data Science Group and the DePauw Investment Group. In a letter of recommendation for the fellowship, it was noted, "[W]hile Sam has only completed a minor in computer science, I am convinced that he has taught himself more material than most of our majors."

Showalter plans to build on his multiple research experiences in algorithms and machine learning and applied work in data analytics, where he's developed experience in a wide range of programming and modeling tools. The summer experience promises to improve his ability to address complex and relevant problems through his work in data science, machine learning and applied statistics.

According to Kate Knaul, associate dean of undergraduate research and fellowships at DePauw, "Sam is a wonderful example of the adaptability and innovation of a liberal arts educational experience -- his innate ease with people and unending curiosity has allowed him to make connections between his mathematics and economics interests, but more importantly see the need to have a strong computer science background. His ability to make connections, ask questions and see where there’s a need to be fulfilled make him an excellent candidate for this research experience."