Prime 2007 Students Begin International Summer Research Adventures

By Maureen Curran

Bill Clabby and students
Bill Clabby (blue shirt, second from left) discusses the cultural aspects of the experience with the students at orientation.

San Diego, CA, June 27, 2007 -- Fifteen UCSD undergraduates embarked on summer research adventures last Sunday, June 24, as part of the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) program. Against the backdrop of living abroad in another culture, they will be full-time researchers, working closely with mentors at both their host institutions across the Pacific Rim and back at UCSD.

PRIME is a unique program which provides undergraduates with full-time summer research experiences in internationally collaborative settings; they spend nine weeks in one of four Pacific Rim host cities: Osaka (Japan), Hsinchu (Taiwan), Beijing (China) and Melbourne (Australia).

"We are immersing the students in both scientific research and a new culture because we are providing them with experiential training in both the conduct of research and in the international global workplace," said Gabriele Wienhausen, the director of PRIME and the founding provost of UCSD's Sixth College. The aim of PRIME is to give the students a wider view of the world and their place in it.

Taiwan Group
Samson Hang and Ya 'Betsy' Kao are doing research at the National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Bill Clabby, who does cultural competency training for PRIME explained, "If we want our students to be effective collaborators in the future, and all science and engineering is very collaborative and very international, they need to know the context in which they can be most effective at doing that." Clabby was the director of the Opportunities Abroad Program at UCSD for 17 years before leaving recently to join a private-sector study abroad provider. He continued: "My goal is for them to connect with the place and be transformed by it."

Structural engineering major Samson Hang is excited about going to live and work in Taiwan, "I'm looking forward to everything: the culture, what life is like locally, the research, traveling around, getting to know the place." He will be working at the National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Details on each student's plans is available on the PRIME website: please click here.

Bioengineering Pre-med major Young Chun is equally enthusiastic and looking forward to an extraordinary summer at the Cybermedia Center at Osaka University: "The really incredible opportunity is that in Osaka, they have the world's biggest ultra-high voltage electron microscope, nearly two stories high," she said, "which I'll be using to shoot a series of tomographic images to build 3-D models of myocytes."

Melbourne Group
(left to right) Michelle Di Fiore, Stephany Chang, Saleh Amirriazi, Elisabeth Kain and Heather Griffith
are doing research at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

She continued: "I'll also be reconnecting the relationship between Osaka University and UCSD's NCMIR group. So it's going to be really exciting for me." The students provide an important glue between their host and home mentors and institutions, enhancing collaborative possibilities beyond the duration of a specific experiences or subprojects. NCMIR is the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at UCSD.

Founded in 2004, the program has admitted 51 students, including this year's class of 15, which is the largest yet. Each year has seen changes and additions to improve and grow the program. This year students will be equipped to record their research and cultural adventures on video. "They will be able to capture their experiences in the moment, in their own words," noted Peter Arzberger, a PRIME program coinvestigator and Calit2-affiliated researcher, "Multimedia resources will be a great addition. The videos will give future students direct insight into what can be gained by the program, as well as get a better feel for the research and the research environments. The videos will also be materials which help prepare students for their cultural training."

PRIME has three program coinvestigators: Wienhausen, PRIME's director and principal investigator (PI); Arzberger, who is also the director of the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR); and Linda Feldman, senior analyst with UCSD´s Academic Internship Program.

The host organizations -- Osaka University in Japan, the National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) in Taiwan, Monash University in Australia and the Computer Networking Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CNIC, CAS) in China -- are participants in the Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly (PRAGMA) collaborative program, a Calit2 partner. Arzberger is the PI of the NSF PRAGMA
award which funds UCSD researchers participating in PRAGMA.

The PRIME program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF, INT 0407508), with additional support from Calit2.

Osaka Group Beijing Group
(left to right) Young Chun, Ava Pierce, Ellen Tsai and David Jackson (not shown) are doing research at Osaka University in Japan.
(left to right) Alex Liu, Hsing Pao, Ryan Ferrell and Lynn Greiner are doing research at the Computer Networking Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CNIC, CAS) in Beijing, China.

Related Links
PRIME 2007 Students
Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly (PRAGMA)
Computer Network Information Center (CNIC, Beijing, China)
Cybermedia Center at Osaka University (Japan)
Monash University (Melbourne, Australia)
National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC, Hsinchu, Taiwan)