By Maureen C. Curran
San Diego, CA, May 7, 2010 — Twenty-five University of California, San Diego undergraduates from 15 different majors will be spending the summer of 2010 in faculty labs across campus as Calit2 UCSD Summer Scholars.
They will be working on a wide array of projects, with research topics ranging from low cost solar cells, high order MIMO-OFDM systems, simulators for improving patient safety, cartilage degradation, and sound synthesis, to how society accepts museums and cultures of learning. Other projects involve a variety of cancer-related topics and visualization techniques and tools (both advancing and testing these tools, as well as using them to conduct research from new views and perspectives).
The scholarship program pays undergraduates to work as paid, full-time student researchers for a 10-week period during the summer. The students 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.
"Accessibility is a key aspect of the program," explained Ramesh Rao, director of the UC San Diego division of Calit2. "The professors, the labs, the facilities -- are all open to the students. There are many different approaches to scholarship and it's fascinating to listen to what people do and how they think. This program is designed, in part, to enable students to do that."
Summer scholars also participate in seminars which will help them chart their future path, whether it is graduate school, industry, or the public sector. This includes giving presentations on their work (and learning how to do so) a number of times over the summer.
This is the tenth year of the highly successful program. Including this year's class, 250 undergrads have been Calit2 Summer Scholars. Many have successfully used their experience as a springboard to graduate school, as well as positions in industry.
"I am incredibly humbled and grateful to be part of the Calit2 summer program," said Alexander Vu, a 2010 summer scholar, "Many students whom I respect are Summer Scholar alumni and they have spoken highly about the opportunities that this program offers. I am very excited to meet and potentially collaborate with other student-researchers and learn about other areas of research." Vu is a junior majoring in Human Biology; he will be working in the lab of his faculty advisor Benjamin Yu (School of Medicine, Dermatology) on an "Investigation of Mammalian Organ Development through Global Epigenetic Changes of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and Chromatin using the E1A Oncoprotein."
In keeping with its multidisciplinary nature, Calit2 encourages students from all academic majors to apply. There were 72 applicants from 23 majors this year. This was the highest number of applicants in the history of the program and a very competitive field. The acceptance rate was just 34.7%, leaving out many quality students and projects.
"There were so many excellent applicants this year," Rao noted, "however, we have a limited number of scholarships available. I would like to encourage those who did not receive one this year to try again next year."
Nearly half (12) of this year's scholars are majoring in the biological sciences or bioengineering (biochemistry and cell biology, bioengineering [including, biotechnology, premed], and human biology). Nine are majoring in six different engineering and computer science disciplines (aerospace, chemical, computer engineering, computer science, electrical, and mechanical). An additional five majors are represented: chemical physics, cognitive science, communications, interdisciplinary computing in the arts (music), and sociology. (One student is a double major: bioengineering: premed and biochemistry/cell biology, hence the total of 26.) This year's class has the most first-year students (at four) and the fewest seniors (just one) ever. Four sophomores and 16 juniors round out the group.
Their 24 faculty advisors are from 18 different departments at UC San Diego: eight from life and physical sciences disciplines, including three faculty from the School of Medicine; 10 from engineering and computer science fields at Jacobs School of Engineering, Calit2 and the Center for Advanced Computational Science Engineering; and six from a variety of social sciences and arts disciplines (anthropology, cognitive science, communications, music, psychology, and sociology).
Here are the 2010 Calit2 UCSD Undergraduate Summer Research Scholarship recipients, with their advisors and the titles of their projects.
Summer Scholars Take 'Audio-Visual' Research to the Next Level