By Maureen C. Curran
San Diego, CA, February 24, 2009 — There will be two information sessions this week about the 2009 Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Scholarship Program at UC San Diego. The program pays undergraduates to work as full-time researchers for the summer in faculty labs across the campus. The sessions will take place at 2 p.m. both Thursday and Friday, February 26 and 27, in room 4004 of Atkinson Hall.
The scholarship is an opportunity for undergraduates to do real research work over the summer and make a contribution to the research of their faculty advisor's lab, or work on a project of their own, the kind of hands-on research that is usually reserved for graduate students and senior researchers. This is the ninth year of the highly successful program.
In keeping with Calit2's multidisciplinary thrust, students from all academic majors are encouraged to apply. Last year's summer scholar projects represented a wide diversity of research subjects, 19 different broad scientific disciplines in all. Applicants must be registered undergraduates during spring quarter, 2009, (incoming students this fall are also eligible).
Students choose and work with a faculty advisor to develop a research proposal as part of the application process. The deadline to apply for this summer is Friday, March 13, 2009. The online application will be open shortly. The committee expects to announce their decisions shortly thereafter, to help students plan for the summer.
Research proposals must fit with the mission of Calit2, which means that they should be directed in some manner towards research regarding telecommunications and information technology, as well as how new advances will transform a range of applications important to the economy and citizens' quality of life.
Scholarship awardees will work closely with their faculty advisor as paid, full-time student researchers over a 10-week period during the summer of 2009. The scholarship amount of $3000 will be paid in two installments of $1500 each. The current economic circumstances also limit the number of scholarships available this year to 25.
To enhance the research experience for the scholars, the faculty committee has designed weekly sessions which include seminars, building tours and presentations. Each student gives a presentation on their project at least three times during the program. All awardees are required to attend the weekly seminars and presentations and participate in the poster session at the end of the program (usually Welcome Week of Fall quarter).
Research presentation sessions allow scholars to give updates on their project, as well as gain presentation experience. The seminars offer insight into a number of aspects of academic research and career planning. The building tours enable the summer scholars to witness the cutting edge research taking place at Calit2.
"The presentations are a key element of the whole program," says Jürgen Schulze, a Calit2 project scientist, "Even though they're done with power point and orally, they require the same rigor in picking out what to present and how to present it as when you write a scientific publication. In essence, it's the same thing in the professional research arena as what the scholars do for their weekly presentation sessions."
The scholars also appreciate having the chance to hear about other students' projects. "It was really interesting to see people's presentations," said 2008 summer scholar Anna Ostberg, "and to appreciate what other people are so enthusiastic about."
2008 summer scholar Anand Patel agrees. "The best thing about this program is interacting with other students who are doing various research in different areas," he said, "this was really beneficial to me, because I got to see what other undergrads were doing, not just those in my field." Patel, a computer science major, worked with Vineet Bafna, assistant professor of computer science engineering, on "Modeling Fragmentation Patterns of ECD/ETD Mass Spectrometers."
Many students receive recognition for their work, such as being an author on a paper or conference poster. Gia DiNicola, a 2006 Calit2 scholarship recipient, worked on developing a Virtual CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Clinic. A poster on her project was nominated for a best poster award (in the overall competition -- not just the student competition) at the 2006 American College of Medical Informatics Annual Symposium, one of the top meetings in the field.
Since it's inception, nearly 200 students have participated in the program and many have successfully used their experience as summer scholars as springboards to graduate school, as well as positions in industry. Many students continue their research after the summer, staying on in their advisor's lab. Such as Anna Ostberg, Mabel Chang and Toshiro Yamada from last year.
After last summer, Ostberg continued to work with her faculty advisor, Bill Griswold, a professor of computer science and engineering. Her project on interacting with large public displays was highlighted in the story "Summer Scholars Take 'Audio-Visual' Research to the Next Level" (link below).
First-year student Mabel Chang worked with Jürgen Schulze and Calit2's Visualization Group; she continued working on 3-D modeling projects during her sophomore year. A description of her work last summer can be also be found in the "Audio-Visual" story link below. Toshiro Yamada's work with Peter Otto, a professor of music and Calit2's director of Sonic Arts is also discussed in the story. He too continues to work with Otto.
A number of students have gone on to become staff researchers at Calit2 after graduation. Summer scholars-turned-Calit2-staffers include:
▪ Electrical engineering student Javier Rodriguez Molina, a Calit2 Scholar in 2005. After graduating, Rodriguez joined Calit2 as a full-time researcher. He currently runs a series of projects as well as the day-to-day operations of Calit2's Circuits Lab. Last fall, he completed his masters in electrical engineering; and
▪ Philip Weber, now part of Calit2's Visualization group on a full-time basis. As a Calit2 Scholar in 2006, Weber worked with the institute's Director of Visualization, advisor Tom DeFanti, on pattern recognition in multiple dataset representations, and developed the application to display multispectral images of Leonardo da Vinci's "Adoration of the Magi" in an immersive virtual-reality environment.
For more information on the 2009 program, contact Lynda Tran, the program coordinator, at 858.822.3307 or lytran(at)ucsd.edu. More information on the program in general as well as past students and projects, can be found in the links below.