UCI?s SURF-IT Students Show Off at Poster Session

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

Michael Brown
 Michael Brown

-- Fourteen UCI undergraduate researchers showed off their accomplishments and honed their presentation skills at a poster session and reception marking the end of the first SURF-IT (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology) program. For students who had never participated in a poster session, the event proved to be a good learning experience.

“I was a little intimidated at first,” admitted Michael Brown, a fourth-year Earth systems science major and SURF-IT research fellow. “I thought it was going to be kind of scary, but everyone I talked to had good questions and I was actually able to answer them all. I feel a little more confident now.”

The students enjoyed the friendly and easy-going atmosphere that permeated the event, which was hosted by Stu Ross, assistant director of research development for Calit2, and Said Shokair, director of UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

“Overall, the poster session was nice because it was informal and yet very informative about the projects,” said Cathryn O’Neill, a fourth-year biological sciences major and SURF-IT research fellow. “A lot of people came who were interested in what all of us had been doing the entire summer.”

Vahe Gabuchian
Alan Paradiso
 Left: Vahe Gabuchian talks with Calit2 Director Albert Yee
Right: Alan Paradiso answers Said Shokair's questions

As UCI’s inaugural group of Calit2 undergraduate researchers, the SURF-IT students were paired with faculty mentors to conduct research in IT-related projects ranging from investigations into microfluidic devices, biomemetic polymer modules and fingerprint data collection and analysis. The poster session represented the culmination of 10 weeks of full-time work.

At the event, Shokair presented each student with a certificate commemorating the completion of the program and gave each one a chance to talk about his/her summer research experience. All of the students were upbeat about their SURF-IT experience; some even made unexpected discoveries unrelated to their research.

“My mentor is more than a mentor; he’s also a good friend,” disclosed Vahe Gabuchian, a third-year mechanical engineering and chemistry double major and SURF-IT research fellow.

the SURF-IT students
 From left to right: Alan Paradiso,
Bobak Mosadegh, Cathryn O'Neill,
Madelyn Luttgen and Marco Huang
are excited about free Calit2 pens

All parties agreed that the poster session was a success.

“I think it went very well and I felt that the students were very excited,” Shokair said. “It’s interesting because the students have brought things to a close, but they know they still need to do more. It’s energizing because now they’re going to be thinking about how they’re going to carry this experience into the future with more research.”

And, hopefully, with many more poster sessions to come.

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