Summer research program makes undergraduates hot for knowledge

It may be summertime, but the living isn’t easy for the 80 students involved in the 10-week summer research program that began in June. They are working hard to conduct research, learn from their peers and professors, and prepare for life after Poly, whether it will be employment or graduate school.

The program is composed of two parts: the initiative that Dean of Undergraduate Academics Iraj Kalkhoran titles “Poly Thinking;” and an initiative of the Othmer Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, the “Othmer Summer Fellows.” Together, these initiatives involve 27 faculty members and the 80 students. The undergraduates either volunteer or get paid with faculty grants or university funding.

The students in the program participate in biweekly lunches, where they develop the ability to describe their research to non-specialists and to think across disciplines. Some lunchtime presentations have been devoted to the graduate school application process and strategies for seeking post-graduation employment. On Monday afternoons in July and August, seminars are held in which faculty members discuss their research with students enrolled in the program. The seminar series kicked off on July 9 with Provost Erich Kunhardt’s sneak preview of his upcoming paper on “The Idea of the University.”

“This program is a truly transformational activity for Poly,” said Mary Cowman, director of the Othmer Institute. “Summer research experiences help students get better jobs after graduation, or entry into great graduate schools, based on their experience and accomplishments.”

“The genesis of the program is keeping students engaged and involved throughout the summer,” said Kalkhoran. “To be a vibrant intellectual community, we need to have our students involved in something worthwhile, using their classroom learning to conduct cutting-edge research alongside our research faculty.”

At the end of the summer, in conjunction with the fall commencement, the students will provide a poster presentation summarizing their research results.

The following faculty members particpated in the program:

Chemical and Biological Engineering

  • Professor and Department HeadJovanMijovic
  • Associate Professor Mary Cowman
  • Assistant Professor Jin Ryoun Kim
  • Assistant Professor Rastislav Levicky
  • Assistant Professor Stavroula Sofou

Chemical and Biological Science

  • Professor and Department HeadBruceGaretz
  • Professor Richard Gross
  • Assistant Professor Jin Montclare

Civil Engineering

  • Associate Professor Masoud Ghandehari
  • Associate Professor Magued Iskander

Computer and Information Science

  • Professor Phyllis Frankl
  • Professor Nasir Memon
  • Professor Keith Ross
  • Associate Professor Torsten Suel
  • Associate Professor Joel Wein

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Professor and Department HeadJonathanChao
  • Professor Shivendra Panwar
  • Professor Yao Wang

Humanities and Social Science

Lecturer Carl Skelton


  • Professor Yisong Yang

Mechanical Engineeering

  • Professor Volcan M. Otugen
  • Professor Michael  Plesniak
  • Assistant Professor Nikhil Gupta
  • Associate Professor Vikram Kapila
  • Assistant Professor Maurizio Porfiri


  • University Professor Stephen Arnold
  • Lecturer David Mugglin
  • Lecturer Vladmir Tsifrinovich