Research Opportunities 2017

Please note: if you submit an application it is to the ARISE program, NOT to a specific lab. Applicants express interest in a general area of research (see headers below).  Those students that move through the process after applying, will have the opportunity to focus on placements in a specific set of labs.  However, even if  you are accepted, students are not guaranteed a placement in their first choice lab.

The following are some of the NYU labs that participate in ARISE. Additional labs may be added.
Department of Civil and Urban Engineering

Soil Mechanics Lab
Area of STEM Research: Engineering

Soil MechanicsDr. Magued Iskander’s Soil Mechanics Lab will engage students in research on modeling soil structure-interaction using transparent soils, lasers, and digital image correlation. This research will expose students to the state of the art experimental methods used in civil engineering as well as to the advanced analytical methods that are employed for image analysis.



Center for Urban Intelligent Transportation Systems (CUITS)
Area of STEM Research: Computer and Data Science/Engineering

Soil MechanicsThere are several research labs within the Center for Urban Intelligent Transportation Systems. Dr. Joseph Chow’s Behavioral Urban Informatics, Logistics, and Transport (BUILT) lab is looking to involve students in research in transportation systems and urban mobility. Students will be exposed to computational models to evaluate networks of transportation infrastructure, routing and pricing algorithms of transportation agencies and private service operators (e.g. Uber, Lyft), and simulations of traffic and transit operations under large scale incident scenarios. Students will help test and integrate newly acquired state of the art equipment for CUITS – tablets, wearable sensors, instrumented vehicles, commercial drones, VR devices, and GIS-based video wall interfaces.



Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Offensive Security, Incident Response and Internet Security (OSIRIS) Laboratory
Area of STEM Research: Computer and Data Science

ISISDr. Nasir Memon’s research lab concentrates on cyber-security and biometric security and explores methods to defend against privacy and information leaks. In our experiment, a users’ input will be collected and used to create a unique “biometric thumbprint”. Student researchers will instruct the test subjects about their role and collect data from each user, help gather the full data and analyze the results.



Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications & Distributed Information Systems (CATT)
Areas of STEM Research: Computer and Data Science / Engineering

CATTDr. Shivendra Panwar’s lab focuses on developing the next generation of wireless technologies, including mobile video and handover techniques. Students will assist with collecting and analyzing data to identify the best configurations for mobile video delivery under different conditions. They will also help build a fast handover system using two programmable cellular base stations to aid in the lab’s research.



Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL)

Areas of STEM Research: Computer and Data Science / Engineering

Photo1Juan Pablo Bello leads the music and sound informatics team of Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL), which focuses on endowing computers with listening skills, such as the ability to automatically recognize tonal, rhythmic, structural and emotional information from recorded music, to identify sound sources in urban and natural environments, and to characterize the similarities that exist between recorded sounds and musical pieces. Student researchers will contribute to building, testing and deploying remote acoustic sensors for urban noise monitoring  developing tools for crowdsourced sound annotation; and coding applications for analyzing music and environmental sounds.


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Composite Materials and Mechanics Laboratory
Area of STEM Research: Engineering

CMMLDr. Nikhil Gupta’s Composite Materials and Mechanics Lab will allow students to engage in several research projects related to hollow particle filled lightweight metal matrix composites for automotive applications. Automotive industry increasingly demands fuel-efficient and emission-reducing lightweight materials. The laboratory also works on hollow particle filled polymer matrix composite materials. Other projects are related to additive manufacturing of composite material components using state of the art 3D printers.


Mechatronics Lab
Areas of STEM Research: Engineering / Computer and Data Science

MechatronicsDr. Vikram Kapila’s Mechatronics Lab will engage students in research on the use of mobile devices to produce intuitive and natural interfaces for human robot interaction. This research has applications for children and adults who may have cognitive or physical disabilities, and it can hasten the widespread adoption of robotics in society–in homes, grocery stores, museums, etc.



Applied Dynamics & Optimization Lab
Areas of STEM Research: Engineering / Computer and Data Science

ADOLDr. Joo H. Kim’s Applied Dynamics and Optimization Laboratory studies multibody system dynamics, optimization theory and algorithms, motion planning, design, and control, with their applications to mechanical and biological systems. Specific fields of application include robotics, biomechanics, and their intersections. Current research focuses on locomotion, balance, manipulation, energetics, and optimization. Our research aims to bring together both mechanical and biological systems to establish new solutions and approaches for novel mechanical systems that have higher performance and efficiency and therefore consume less energy.

Dynamical Systems Lab
Areas of STEM Research: Engineering / Computer and Data Science

DSLDr. Maurizio Porfiri’s Dynamical Systems Lab focuses on marine robotics and autonomous systems. Among the research projects students may investigate are the energy harvesting capabilities of an active water mill; capturing the mechanical energy of ocean waves and converting it into electrical energy; visualizing the flow of water to predict flooding patterns and the movement of pollution/debris within the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn; conducting a parametric study to investigate the effects of different beam arrangements (the way we fix the motion of the beam), geometrical properties (such as thickness of the beam), and material properties (the beam stiffness) on the vibration characteristics of beams immersed in water; and, designing and fabricating a robotic-fish inspired by the Zebrafish.

Applied Micro-Bioengineering Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences / Engineering

Micro-BioengineeringDr. Weiqiang Chen’s Applied Micro-Bioengineering Lab is mainly focused on interdisciplinary research that leverages engineering advances in biomaterials, microfluidics and advanced manufacturing to create new and better solutions to important problems in fundamental biology, as well as clinical applications in disease diagnosis and treatment. Multiple research projects in the area of biomedical engineering are available for students to work on, including those related to biomedical devices and biomaterials for disease diagnosis and treatment. Research directions include exploring new engineering solutions for emerging problems in cancer biology, systems immunology, and stem cell-based regenerative medicine.


Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering

Protein Engineering & Molecular Design Lab
Areas of STEM Research: Life Sciences / Engineering

Protein Engineering & Molecular Design LabDr. Jin Montclare’s Protein Engineering and Molecular Lab exploits nature’s biosynthetic machinery and evolutionary mechanisms to design new biomaterials and functional proteins. Organophosphates (OPs) are widely adopted in agriculture and military industries. However due to their effect on the environment and public health, the disposal and management of OPs represents a significant challenge. Phosphotriesterase (PTE) enzymes from multiple organisms have been identified and employed as biocatalytic scavengers and deactivators of OPs that perform optimally under physiological temperatures and conditions. We are re-engineering PTEs to improve their stability and extend their half-life to facilitate their use in the field.

Biomolecular Engineering Lab
Areas of STEM Research: Life Sciences / Engineering

Biomolecular EngineeringThe goal of research in Dr. Jin Ryoun Kim’s group is engineering of proteins to solve modern scientific and engineering problems related to protein stability, misfolding, aggregation, and self-assembly. Students will have research opportunities to study proteins with specific focuses on (1) understanding and modulation of protein aggregation implicated in amyloid diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and/or (2) stabilization of biocatalytic enzymes for industrial applications.


Bio-interfacial Engineering and Diagnostics Group
Areas of STEM Research: Life Sciences / Engineering

BiointerfacialDr. Rastislav Levicky’s Bio-interfacial Engineering and Diagnostics Group studies biological interactions. Biomolecular interactions are highly challenging to detect, yet are crucially important for identifying toxicity, medical usefulness, origins of biological material such as from viruses or harmful bacteria, and understanding how the subroutines encoded in DNA get translated to the functioning of living cells. Research in the Levicky group develops devices to measure these interactions. Potential applications range from identification of contaminants in water and food to medical treatments tailored to a patient’s genetic uniqueness, and to discovery of molecular mechanisms behind diseases such as cancer. Students will learn how to track behavior of biologically-important molecules, perform computer-based analysis of data, work to develop better hardware to analyze molecules inside of very small nanoliter volumes, and more.

Flow Chemistry with Microsystems Laboratory
Areas of STEM Research: Life Sciences / Engineering

MMRLDr. Ryan Hartman’s laboratory investigates flow chemistry with microsystems using catalysis and reaction engineering principles.  Our contributions impact the design of processes and systems, ranging from the molecular-to-the-macro- length scales.  Continuous-flow manufacturing, flow chemistry, microchemical systems, and molecular management are major themes of our laboratory.  Applied mathematics are essential in each area in order to derive predictive models that impact society.  The ARISE program provides K-12 students the opportunity to engage in research related to the above-mentioned themes.


Multifunctional Material Systems Laboratory

Area of STEM Research: Engineering

ARISE lab 1

Dr. Miguel Modestino’s  Multifunctional Material Systems Laboratory investigates materials that use renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to drive chemical reactions. These types of materials are often found in widely used energy storage and conversion technologies such as batteries and fuel cells. Students involved in projects will be exposed to cutting-edge energy research tools, will be able to design and develop new prototypes of energy reactors using 3D printers, and will learned how chemical engineers can accelerate the transition towards a clean-energy world.


Department of Biology

Developmental Genomics Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Developmental GenomicsDr. Christine Rushlow’s Developmental Genomics Lab studies how an organism develops from a fertilized egg into an adult. We use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system because flies have a short generation time, they are easy to keep in bottles in the lab, and we can do many types of experiments with them. We study mutant flies to figure out how fly embryos develop. For example, some mutants do not form nervous systems, and thus they cannot move or eat, and they die. We ask questions like – what went wrong in that mutant during its development to give such a dramatic defect? We identify the mutant gene responsible for the defect, and then study how the gene normally works during development. We study the protein the gene makes, where is it active, and how it interacts with other proteins to produce a nervous system with the right number of nerves in the right place. Currently we are working on a gene called Zelda, which is a master regulator of genes necessary for many different processes in the young embryo, including nervous system development. Our goal is to identify all the genes Zelda regulates, and determine how they work together in a network to make an embryo with all its proper structures. ARISE students will perform many different techniques including how to synthesize RNA from DNA, prepare fly embryos for hybridization experiments, and examine embryos under the microscope. Students will learn how to analyze and interpret data, and how to assemble their data into a report.

The Systems Proteomics Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Systems Proteomics LabWhat do you do when you feel stressed? That is the fundamental question asked ask every day in Dr. Christine Vogel’s lab, but they do not ask people, they ask cells – cells from humans or microbes, such as baker’s yeast. Why would cells get stressed? Every day, the cells in our body, or yeasts growing in a flask, as subjected to many changes in the environment: heat or cold, abundance of food or lack thereof, chemicals, sunshine, or even X-rays. All these environmental factors can change the cells, their shapes, their genetic material, or the protein molecules that are the little workhorses inside a cell which fulfill all the cellular functions. These changes stress the cells, they deviate from their normal behavior. If the cellular proteins become damaged during stress and the cell cannot repair them anymore, highly detrimental processes can take place. In worst case, the damaged proteins may form clumps (so-called aggregates) in our cells which can lead to many human diseases, for example those affecting the nervous system such Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease). For that reason, many labs as well as ours study the cellular response to environmental stresses. We use modern techniques to analyze thousands of proteins simultaneously, and we follow their journey from being synthesized within the cell, being damaged, being repaired, or being sent to the degradation machinery. We aim to understand these different processes and how they may communicate with each other during the stress response. Once we understand this intricate network of regulatory processes, we will be able to modify it – and eventually help the cells (and the human body) to better cope with stress.

Chromosome Inheritance Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Chromosome inheritanceDr. Andreas Hochwagen’s research aims to discover the genetic pathways that enable sexually reproducing organisms to pass their genes on to the next generation. This research is performed in the single-celled baker’s yeast to take advantage of the fast growth and comparatively simple genome organization of this organism. Students will gain exposure to state-of-the-art methods of genetics research and will learn to perform fluorescence microscopy of chromosomes.


Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Li_lab_image (1)Dr. Fei Li and his colleagues are interested in epigenetics, a field studying heritable changes in phenotype that occur without changes in DNA sequence. Epigenetic information, stored in the form of histone modifications and DNA methylation, constitute a second layer of regulatory information important for many cellular processes, such as gene expression regulation, chromatin organization, and genome stability. We are particularly focusing on epigenetic regulation of heterochromatin and centromere in the model eukaryotic organism fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe). We take advantage of powerful experimental approaches available in fission yeast, including genetics, cell biology, biochemistry and genomics, to understand the fundamental principles of epigenetic regulation.

Chromatin Genomics Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Li_lab_image (1)In humans and other eukaryotes, genomic DNA is tightly packaged to fit inside a small nucleus. This packaging is accomplished by a set of evolutionarily conserved proteins that bind to and form a protein-DNA structure called chromatin. Dr. Sevinc Ercan’s lab studies how chromatin structure regulates gene expression. They focus on a particular family of protein complexes called condensins, which are essential for chromosome condensation in all species examined so far. To understand condensin mechanisms, Ercan lab primarily uses C. elegans, a small nematode worm as an experimental model. Students will be integrated into an ongoing project in the lab, which typically involves molecular cloning, genetics and genome editing in C. elegans.


Department of Anthropology
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Li_lab_image (1)

Dr. Todd Disotell’s Molecular Primatology Laboratory investigates primate and human evolution using standard and newly emerging techniques of molecular analyses and data analysis including DNA extraction, PCR amplification, DNA sequencing, and data analysis. These techniques can be used to characterize a species’ population size or reproductive behavior and to infer phylogenetic (evolutionary) relationships between species. His research group has contributed to clarifying the primate evolutionary tree including Old World monkeys and apes (including humans) as well as New World monkeys, lemurs, and lorises. The lab has also used molecular phylogenetics to trace disease transmission and evolution among primate species, including diseases that affect humans such as HIV and malaria. In his laboratory and in the field, lab members extract DNA from a variety of sources–hair, saliva, blood (including that found in biting insects), and feces. His lab’s research has led to the identification of new species and subspecies of primates based on genetic analysis. He and his research group have also helped to develop new techniques of molecular analyses that can be applied to a wide variety of species.


Hominin Skeletal Morphology Lab
Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Li_lab_image (1)Dr. Scott Williams’ Evolutionary Morphology Lab in the Department of Anthropology at NYU focuses on lvisualization and quantification of bony morphology. In particular, Dr. Williams and his students study the skeletons of living primates in order to understand how fossil primates behaved and interacted with their environments. We use laser surface and computed tomography scanning technologies as well as traditional morphometric techniques to measure bones and fossils and compare them to known animals. Our focus is on human evolution, so much of what we dedicate our studies to are the fossilized remains of hominins—members of the human lineage that are now extinct—along with modern humans and living apes, including gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. Lab members have been involved in the study of two newly discovered species of early hominin, Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi.




Area of STEM Research: Life Sciences

Bz12JvbIYAA8oQw.jpg-largeDr. James Higham‘s Primate Hormones and Behavior (PHaB) Lab, an enzyme immuno-assay laboratory, measures primate hormonal and immunological analytes, often measured as metabolites from excreta (feces and urine). The lab’s overall goal is to study genetical, morphological, physiological and behavioral aspects of primate reproductive strategies as shaped by sexual selection. Following Darwin, the research is structured around two related processes: the ways in which individuals compete with members of the same sex both directly and indirectly over reproductive opportunities (intra-sexual selection); and the ways in which individuals attract members of the opposite sex (inter-sexual selection). The methods used in the lab include techniques from ethology, physical anthropology, evolutionary biology, computer vision and machine learning, experimental and comparative psychology, endocrinology and immunology, and quantitative and functional genetics.