Friday, December 4, 2009

Undergraduate Research Profiles

Sharon Makava started at Brown as an engineer with health-related interests. Her initial interests led her to biomedical engineering, but she is now pursuing Chemical and Biochemical Engineering degree. Her interactions with her former concentration advisor, Professor Tripathi, led her to her current work in his lab. She is working on K103N mutation in the HIV virus with graduate student Kenny Morabito. They are working to isolate and amplify the mutation at low sample concentrations. The end goal is to develop a test diagnostic which will allow doctors to look for a drug resistance amongst their patients. Her current research will give her a strong foundation to pursue industry or academic directions in the future, but for now she says “she can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Eli Fine understands the importance of being aware of your intentions when you speak. He gained this appreciation through a linguistics class he took as part of Brown's open curriculum elective options. He has not only gained a greater appreciation for the scientific world, but also anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. His collaborative spirit fits well with the interdisciplinary group of mathematicians, engineers and biologists he researches with in his multiple research projects at Brown.
Carmichael Ong is an intricate mix of biologist, biochemist, and bioengineer. He has the network to prove it. Carmichael has worked on two large interdisciplinary research projects at Brown in his undergraduate career. He believes that the intimate atmosphere within Brown Engineering and the approachable faculty are major benefits to his future. He plans to continue as a researcher in his future career either in industry or academia. Regardless of which direction he chooses, he will understand how to network with top rate researchers in an interdisciplinary setting because of his experience at Brown.
Ben Howard understands what it would take to be a Mythbuster on the Discovery Channel. He understands engineering and science principles and appreciates photography and video production. As a cinematographer for BTV (Brown’s Television Station) he produces his own tv show. Beyond just being inspired to record the world around him in unique ways, Ben is a design-oriented engineer. He found his way to Professor Breuer’s lab after having him for Thermodynamics class. His summer work extended into a larger research project to create a prototype that can create liquid droplets out of oil – a humidifier of sorts for oil. In Breuer’s lab, they have learned to use photography to study the aerodynamics of bat flight. They can record two flash photographs and record the velocity based on the distance the droplets have traveled around the bat’s wings. Most of the science is stumped on how bats accomplish their flight patterns. The Mythbusters wouldn’t even be able to figure it out, but Ben and other Brown engineers will eventually.
Juri Minxha works at the interface between engineering and neuroscience. He came to Brown uncertain of what he hoped to accomplish during his four years here. He found that the introductory engineering courses gave him a chance to test drive all of the related engineering fields. He also used the open curriculum to his advantage and took neuroscience courses. This background led him to Professor Palmore’s lab where he works at the interface of electrical engineering and neuroscience. He understands the importance of this research and hopes to continue his scholarship in a graduate program.

Many of our students are awarded annually with Halpin awards for their interdisciplinary research. To read more about the Halpin awards and the students profiled, click here.