Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science Research Scholars

The Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science Research Scholars (MapCores) program is a special program for women. The program started with the incoming students in the fall of 2009. In December 2009, the College of Saint Benedict was given a grant by the National Science Foundation which is supporting the MapCores classes that began at the College of Saint Benedict  in 2010 and 2011.

Curricular Program

Women in the MapCores program will go through a program that starts with a special science-focused Honors First-Year Seminar, continues in the sophomore year with a Problem Solving Seminar, then a Research Seminar in the junior year, and finally a Senior Research Project in the senior year. Participants will also have access to summer research opportunities on and off campus.

First Year Seminar (FYS)

MapCores participants will be enrolled in a special section of FYS for students in this program, taught by members of the Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics departments. The students will primarily read materials about science, including the philosophy of science and science policy. Women in MapCores will be introduced to scientific literature, will evaluate and discuss scientific arguments, and will conduct a library research project in one of the MapCores fields.

This FYS program will create a supportive learning community and introduce the participants to scientific research in a way they would not obtain otherwise from courses. The instructor for this course will also be the students' first academic advisor so the students will have an immediate connection to their academic departments in their first year.

Problem Solving Seminar

Each semester of their sophomore year students will take a one credit class in which they will be divided into small, interdisciplinary groups and given mathematical or scientific problems to solve. Example problems could include:

  • programming robots to follow mazes;
  • examining chaos theory from the calculus perspective and writing short computer programs demonstrating chaos;
  • studying Global Positioning Systems (GPS), taking some GPS measurements and manually duplicating the calculations done by the GPS devices.

Research Seminar

Each semester of their junior year students will take a one credit class in which the students will work small research problems in groups. Some of these problems may build on the problems from the previous year. Example topics include:

  • testing several options for parallelizing the solution of a system of differential equations on a Linux cluster;
  • applying chaos theory to population growth in local ecosystems;
  • or using variations in GPS measurements to study changes in the ionosphere.

Senior Research Project

MapCores participants will do a year long research project or senior thesis. Students in the program will meet weekly to present ideas, brainstorm and present partial results. All of our students will present their work on the CSB/SJU Scholarship and Creativity Day, an annual one-day festival of creativity at which students in all disciplines present the results of their research projects to the wider CSB/SJU academic community.

Program Requirements

To remain in this program, students must:

  1. be enrolled full-time at the College of Saint Benedict;
  2. enroll in and complete the courses required by this program;
  3. make satisfactory progress toward a major in mathematics, computer sciences, physics, applied physics, or numerical computation;
  4. take at least one course in one of the other MapCores disciplines;
  5. and make satisfactory progress towards their degree.

Contact Information

For further information on this program see our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact:


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0965705.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.