Undergraduate Summer Research Program Fosters Student Innovation

The 2014 NYU School of Engineering Undergraduate Summer Research Program marked eight years this summer in providing a unique research opportunity for School of Engineering, NYU College of Arts and Science, and NYU Abu Dhabi students alike. In this program, participants are offered something beyond the traditional classroom experience by getting the chance to work alongside faculty mentors on cutting-edge research projects.

Leona Manandhar-Sasaki, a rising senior receiving her B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, did research on the project entitled DNA Surface Hybridization Thermodynamics. Having worked under Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Associate Professor Rastislav Levicky and mentored by Chemical Engineering PhD candidate Hao-Chun Chiang, Leona helped develop the most effective route (using an electrochemical method) to reduce complications introduced by molecular crowding and interactions and ultimately advance fundamental studies of DNA surface hybridization.

In terms of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Alaina Herkelman, a 2015 B.S. candidate, has performed research for the Depth-Sensing Camera as Feedback for Robotic Manipulator project with Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Farshad Khorrami. In their work, a depth-sensing camera was used to provide measurements for a robotic manipulator (an arm-like mechanism that consists of a series of segments) in the form of three-dimensional coordinates of the end effector. With camera access to depth information, Herkelman ultimately helped achieve a higher-level of positioning accuracy of robotic manipulators and eliminated the need for estimation. (Both Leona and Alaina were also Thompson-Bartlett Fellows.)

The School of Engineering’s faculty participation in the summer program is continually essential to its success, along with generous alumni donations. Professor Erich Kunhardt and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs Kurt Becker have played a vital role in the program’s initiative since its inception. Furthermore, Sara-Lee Ramsawak seamlessly coordinated this year’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program.

In addition to the work accomplished in the laboratory, students attended seminars emphasizing topics such as entrepreneurship and participated in the Undergraduate Summer Research Presentations and Luncheon on August 6, 2014. Here, a select number of the students presented their summer-long endeavors and findings to other members of the research cohort.  This wrap-up event is exposure for undergraduate researchers and allows them to show off the skills they have honed throughout the summer, as well as discover the diversity within STEM by learning about what fellow classmates have achieved.

To discover more about this summer’s researchers, see the 2014 Summer Research Program Undergraduate Abstracts here.