By Maureen C. Curran
San Diego, CA, July 14, 2006 -- The Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program at UCSD is underway as students dive into their 10 weeks of hands-on research. In its sixth year, the program has 25 scholars this summer, its largest class ever. They represent 14 majors from across the UCSD campus.
This unique program provides undergraduate awardees with an opportunity to work closely with a faculty advisor as paid, full-time student researchers, doing real research work. More than two dozen advisors are participating.
"Accessibility is the key aspect of the program," explains Ramesh Rao, director of the UCSD division of Calit2. "The professors, the labs, the facilities -- are all open to the students. These opportunities are the key to what the students will be doing in the future." The students agree.
"It a great opportunity to figure out what kind of research I want to be doing later," says Mulloy Morrow, an Engineering Physics and Visual Arts double major, who will be working with faculty advisors Ken Zeger and Nuno Vasconcelos of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department.
At the kickoff meeting held on June 28, the students were welcomed to Calit2 by Rao and Larry Smarr, the director of Calit2. Smarr recounted the history and background of Calit2, noting that the "summer scholar program spotlights the innovation of Calit2."
Students were provided with an overview of the program and what is expected of them. Logistics and questions were handled by Calit2 staffer Rachel Audino, who moderated the informal session, with help from fellow coordinators Megan Laver and Ginny Scott. The meeting included food (always popular with students) and a variety of icebreakers, including a Calit2 version of Jeopardy (courtesy of Calit2 staffer Lynda Tran).
Calit2 and its exciting environment is one of the main reasons why Michele Merler chose UCSD as an exchange student from the University of Trento in Italy. "I will be able to get an insight into the many research directions in Calit2," he says, "so that I will be able to understand what is at the forefront in the telecommunications engineering field." He is interested in computer vision and will be working with Serge Belongie of the Computer Science department on the development of a mobile vision assistant for the grocery store environment, which will be integrated into Calit2´s MOZI project.
All of the projects reflect the innovative, multidisciplinary philosophy of Calit2, none more so than Trisha Marie Berry's, "Nanotechnology and Art." She will be working in the intersection between science and art. Working with faculty adviser Ricardo Dominguez of the Visual Arts department, she will be conducting "some of the most unconventional research that I have ever done" and is very excited about working in such a "conducive environment." Trisha sums up her excitement: "Using the lab and my sketchbook as a playground, I plan on playing until I lose my breath."
A new factor in the program this year is Atkinson Hall, the new home of Calit2 UCSD which officially opened in October of 2005. Researchers from 41 different departments across campus are conducting exciting and innovative research in the building. Special floor by floor tours will be available to the summer scholars. Included in these tours will be the clean rooms, circuit labs, visualizations spaces, visual arts spaces and much more.
Beyond going on the tour, Rao encouraged the students to engage with all researchers in the building. He told the students: "You have a ticket into the system -- you do not have to wait on protocol." Many plan on doing just that.
Michael Kelly is excited about his "Ubiquitous Presenter Project" as well as the "great opportunities to meet people." Being in Atkinson Hall will be quite useful, he explains: "it is a good excuse to hang around the building and ask people questions." Michael will be working with faculty advisers Bill Griswold and Beth Simon of the Computer and Science Engineering department.
The opportunities provided by the program have proven to have a strong positive impact on students and their post graduation paths, with many finding it invaluable. Regardless of their future field and path, the scholarship program is designed to provide the students a full overview of the research environment. During summer they will attend a series of lunch-time seminars provided by Calit2 covering a variety of topics important to research in all disciplines as well as information on both academia and industry.
The scholars will also informally present their research during the 10 weeks. At the end of the summer, a poster session is held providing a showcase for the students to present their work.
The Calit2 Student Programs Subcommittee Members are committee chair Trey Ideker (assistant professor in Bioengineering), Pankaj Das (adjunct professor in ECE), Bill Hodgkiss (associate director of the UCSD Division of Calit2 and professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and adjunct professor in ECE), Gert Lanckriet (assistant professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Barbara Sawrey (vice-chair in Chemistry/Biochemistry).
The 2006 recipients of the Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program at UCSD, with their majors and faculty advisers:
UCSD Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Announced