Scientific visualization and computation research opportunities are always available! The process I suggest following involves first producing a proposal for a project that you'd like to do. Get buy-in from me and the group. Then do the work.
Producing the proposal is the tricky part, of course. Here's what goes into a proposal and some thoughts on how to create one:
With some thoughts on your goals and some concrete specific ideas for projects, come talk to me. This is an ideal time to interactively converge on something we're both excited about. E-mail me with some times you are available and we'll set up a time to meet.
3) A work plan that describes the things that you will do to address your goals and the research problem/area.
4) A schedule, with concrete, quantifiable milestones every 1-2 weeks. Such a milestone might be "finish first draft of the related work section of final report." A schedule item like "read some papers" is not a milestone, is not concrete, and is not quantifiable.
5) Evaluation criteria. How will you define success? This should include not only evaluation of the research itself, but also of how well your goals were met. This evaluation will be the basis for a grade, if appropriate, so think of it as the "your grade will be based on ..." part of a syllabus. At the end of the project we will look back together at the project and determine what worked and what didn't in the context of these criteria and your goals.
The proposal is usually 2-4 pages. I prefer short and pithy, thanks! Expect to iterate on it 2-4 times before everyone is happy with it. Proposals that have not had their first iteration complete several weeks before they need to be finished are almost never successful. So start at least 3-4 weeks before it's due. If you want to do an independent study or reading and research project, the proposal must be completed BEFORE CLASSES START. No proposal, no class.
There are several <a href="http://www.cs.brown.edu/~dhl/advising"> examples of proposals </a> off my home page.