UCI SURF-IT Students Delve into Summer Research

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

Baumer and Kaufman
Graduate student Eric Baumer shares
a light moment with SURF-IT fellow
Sam Kaufman.
Tang IM-SURE mentor introducing self
Biomedical Engineering Prof. Bill Tang,
an IM-SURE mentor, introduces
himself to students.

Irvine, Calif., July 5, 2007 -- For many college students, summer means lazy days with friends, barbecues, beach outings and road trips.

For 30 diligent UCI undergraduates, however, summer means 40 hours-per-week of hands-on research in campus labs under the watchful eyes of faculty mentors.

The students, who are participating in two summer research programs, assembled the last week in June to meet each other, as well as program administrators and faculty mentors, before diving into their 10 weeks of research.

Seven of the students are SURF-IT (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology) participants, while the other 23 are affiliated with the IM-SURE (Integrated Micro/Nano Summer Undergraduate Research Experience). Both groups are using the summer to expand their research experience in fully immersive environments.

SURF-IT is sponsored jointly by Calit2@UCI and the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. This is the program’s third year; it focuses on research in telecommunications and information technology systems. IM-SURE, funded by UROP and the National Science Foundation, hones in on cutting-edge micro/nanotechnology research and applications.

Li, Dennin and Shokair
Li, Prof. Michael Dennin and Shokair
Mumm and students
Prof. Dan Mumm and students
Shokair, Kaidi He
Shokair gets to know student Kaidi He.

Students in both programs chose specific projects to investigate, from “Artificial Worlds and Gaming Capital” to “Digital Media in Teaching and Learning Activities,” and from “Carbon Nanotube Electronics” to “Cell Migration in Microfluidic Devices.” Participants also attend a range of seminars and workshops that provide opportunities to build knowledge and enhance dialogue.

The programs kicked off simultaneously June 25 with a lunchtime orientation session in the Calit2@UCI Building. Over pizza, salad, fruit and cookies, students introduced themselves and met their mentors.

Calit2 Director G.P. Li welcomed the students and Assistant Director for Research Stuart Ross acquainted them with Calit2’s mission, goals and multidisciplinary research areas.

UROP Director Said Shokair urged all the students to get passionate about their research and not to be afraid to ask questions. He also asked each faculty mentor to give the students advice about how to approach the summer. “Talk to each other,” “learn something new that has nothing to do with your project,” and “don’t forget to have fun,” they were told.

Shokair distributed the students’ first stipend checks, reminding participants that their second checks would come only after they had received satisfactory mid-program reviews from their mentors.

After becoming acquainted with program guidelines, students toured the building, in which the majority of them will work. Both programs conclude Sept. 1.