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Student Experiences: Service, Research, Internships

Randi Williams controlling NASA quadcopters in California


Major: Computer Engineering
 Bowie, Maryland

This past summer, I did research in the robotics section of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in La Canada Flintridge, California. I worked on controlling quadcopters with voice commands and enabling them to speak back to a user.  I have never done robotics or played around in the (surprisingly difficult) field of voice recognition before. In addition to this, I had access to professional and academic resources for furthering my career. Working in a government research lab was a lot of fun and is definitely on my list for post-graduate school plans. The environment at NASA JPL was so incredible that I feel more confident and excited about being a researcher one day.  My favorite moment had to be (The whole summer!), but really, I got to meet Maggie, the Earthbound twin of the Mars rover Curiosity. The only other one is on Mars. MARS!

Amelia Hallworth cloning genes

unnamedMajor: Biology
Hometown: Crofton, Maryland

Over the past two summers I have been involved in the Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program at the Harvard Medical School and the Research Experience for Undergraduates at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. At the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, I was working in Dr. Bart’s lab on cloning a set of interesting genes. At Harvard Medical, I was working in Dr. Bulyk’s lab on protein binding specificity. I learned a variety of lab techniques, but also how to write a scientific paper and give a presentation, how to plan experiments so they fit together time-wise, how to read and critique someone else’s paper, and much more.  The best moments come when an experiment that had been failing for some reason finally works! Doing scientific work alongside graduate students and post docs made me much more confident in my ability to contribute meaningfully to science. I have met colleagues that I probably will stay in contact with for the rest of my career. These REUs also made me sure that I enjoy research enough to want to go to graduate school and get a PhD in microbiology or virology in the context of host-microbe interactions.  

Cheli Arussy engineering at MIT

Major: Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry
 Fairlawn, New Jersey

I have spent the past two summers at MIT.  The first summer I worked in Dr. Bradley Olsen’s lab working on the bioremediation of a common class of chemical warfare agents. This past summer I worked in Dr. Kristala Prather’s lab on optimizing dynamic pathway regulation for glucaric acid in E. coli.  One of the most important lessons I learned is that I can be successful at an institution like MIT, both in my research and in my studies. 11807791_10154087874343032_3650075259377533785_oUMBC has trained me well. I know now that a PhD is definitely the path I want to take, with the future goal of becoming a professor one day. At the end of every summer, many of the summer research programs at MIT have a poster session. This past summer when I presented, I was honored to have both Dr. Olsen and Dr. Prather come support me. Moreover, this experience challenged me to approach research more creatively—nothing is impossible!

Sayre Posey teaching talented youth

Major: History and Education
Hometown: Myersville, Maryland

This past summer, I worked as a Senior Resident Assistant for Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) in Easton, PA. My job was to supervise 20 fantastic RAs and oversee the social, emotional, and physical well-being of students ages 12-17. I organized the operations of the site residential program, which included coordinating daily/weekend activities for 200 campers. The other residential administrators and I made up the best team I’ve ever worked on, and it all came down to trust and communication. I learned a lot about the administrative side of educational organizations, which will be so helpful as I begin my year of student teaching this fall. I grew significantly as a leader and felt confident dealing with high-stress situations. I plan to spend my career as a social studies teacher and all of my experiences working with students, parents, and administrators at CTY will help me in my future.  My favorite moment was when we turned the Quad into a world map and had the students stand based on what state or country the were from. It was incredible to see how far students had come to attend CTY – China, Turkey, the Caribbean, and all across the United States.

Malik Jackson at the National Institute for Science and Technology

My Desk Major: Political Science, Computer Science
 Baltimore, Maryland

Over the summer, I performed research at the National Institute of Science and Technology on a project to improve the accuracy of a machine learning algorithm that classifies scientific journal articles. I spent my summer performing extensive experiments on real-world data using Python code, analyzing experimental results in preparation for a 15 minute lecture about my findings in front of guest researchers and learning about other students’ projects and the work environment of a government research facility.  20150807_143944 (2)In addition to learning a field of computer science entirely new to me in under 3 months, I also learned about some of the fascinating research projects and initiatives in development.  Every one of the students, interns, post docs and guest researchers I met were working on some kind of interesting project that they could speak for hours about. Practically everyday in our office, my coworkers and I also managed to have some of the most hilarious discussions on any number of nerdy computer science subjects.

Alison Mark designing theatre

11953182_1037253972952563_1412136439858773073_nMajor: Mechanical Engineering and Theatre (minor)
Lawrenceville, New Jersey

As the Technical Director for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, half of my days were spent in the office drafting the pieces of the set so that the carpenters knew how to build them. The other days I would be in the theater spaces loading in and putting together the set pieces we had built. I learned more about the ways to construct scenic elements (walls, windows, stairs, topographical grounds, etc) as well as what materials are the best to use for these elements. I also learned how to budget the materials of a show and how to work with the scenic designer to be within this budget. This summer helped me define the role of technical director and confirmed that I want to work in the world of technical theater after college. The festival was a whirlwind of constant theater and I would love to work at a summer theater festival again next year.  My favorite moment of the summer was the first overnight shift I worked (10 pm-12 pm) to load in Paradise Blue. I was working with an amazing crew and there was something surreal about walking out the theater 7 hours into my work day and seeing the sun rise.