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Mentor: Dr. Wayne Barkhouse
Expected Graduation Date: May 2012
Hello, my name is John Neis and I am currently a senior at the University of North Dakota. I am a physics major, and in specific a computational physics major. Before coming to the University of North Dakota I received my Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Lake Region State College in my home town of Devils Lake, ND. Following graduation from UND, I plan to continue my education and eventually achieve my goal of having a doctorate degree in physics. In my graduate studies I hope to work with projects involving new types of alternative energies or projects that deal with the concept of quantum computing and the successful creation of the quantum computer itself. My current research consists of modifying a program that catalogs galaxies by their shape. It is written in an old computer language, considered by some to be a dead computer language, and as a result I have had to learn the language by myself as I go along. In the very little free time I have I enjoy spending time with friends, volunteering, working on cars and motorcycles, playing pool, photography, and working on various projects.
In order to catalog galaxies more efficiently, Roberto Abraham (University of Toronto) created a galaxy morphology program that analyzes FITS images taken directly from large observatories and uses intricate code to calculate the asymmetry and central concentration of the galaxy. These values indicate the type of galaxy present in the FITS image. However, the program was only able to analyze images of one galaxy at a time, which is very time consuming. The research consisted of learning and using the fortran programming language to modify the existing astromophology program to accept images of multiple galaxies; catalog their position, central concentration, and asymmetry; and write those results out to a file. This file will later be used for cataloging information about galaxy clusters.