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Undergrads Hold Poster Session on July 31

Students from REU 2014

Students from REU 2014

A group of brilliant undergraduate researchers, working on cutting-edge summer projects, will present a poster session on Friday, July 31, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All the students are participating in various programs under the umbrella of the Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The poster session is free and open to the public.

Examples of the exciting and topical research on display will include: a habitat-use analysis of breeding bald eagles near current wind energy facilities; a revolutionary new app for android phones designed to help visually impaired people navigate unfamiliar indoor environments; an assessment of vhf nanotags and their impact on the nesting behavior and breeding success of terns in the northwest Atlantic region; a study of biomaterials for use in large-scale wind turbine blades; and research on new polymer materials for fabricating high-performance thermoelectric devices. See further examples of summer REU research projects

All the posters will be on display for visitors, and the student researchers will be available to explain each project in understandable language for nonscientists. These projects are good examples of all the research being done by these undergrads from across the UMass Amherst campus and around the country. These students perform independent research under the mentorship of faculty and graduate students, participate in seminars and professional development activities, and present their research to a broad scientific and engineering community.

The REU programs participating in the poster session include: the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Sciences Wind Energy Program; the Collaborative Undergraduate Research in Engineering (CURE) Program; the Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE) Program; the 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) in Nanoscale Science & Engineering; and the Biological and Soft Matter Research Traineeship (B-SMaRT) Program.

This summer for the first time, the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Sciences are hosting an NSF-funded REU program focusing on wind energy. Students are exploring research in a wide range of wind energy topics, including engineering, wildlife ecology, and policy. Students participating in this program come from colleges across the United States, including North Carolina A & T, Smith College, Springfield Technical Community College, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Macalester College, Hampden-Sydney College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. See sample projects [pdf].

Another NSF-backed REU program, operated by CURE, offers an opportunity for summer research to a diverse group of 10 high-performing students with backgrounds in chemistry, physics, materials science, or chemical engineering. Each of CURE's fundamental science research projects strives toward breakthrough technologies for tomorrow's clean energy solutions, including in-depth research on fuel cells and batteries, photovoltaic devices, and the chemical and biological conversion of biomass to liquid transportation cellulosic biofuels. View CURE website

Yet another NSF-funded REU program, run by ICE, has hosted more than 80 summer undergraduate researchers since 2007 who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in bioengineering or biological sciences. The undergrads undertake interdisciplinary projects in the fields of engineering, biochemistry, biology, physics, polymer science, and plant biology. “This is the first training program at the university designed specifically to address the interface between engineering and the life sciences,” says ICE Director Susan Roberts of the Chemical Engineering Department. “Essentially, cellular engineering is applied to cellular and molecular biology.” View ICE website

By comparison, the SURE program offers an NSF-funded REU program in nanoscale device development at UMass Amherst. SURE students work on real cutting-edge research projects with faculty mentors and graduate student lab mates as they build their scientific foundation for the future. Undergraduate majors in chemical engineering, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and industrial engineering, physics, and polymer science and engineering are recommended for the program. See SURE Projects

Another group of undergraduates is working this summer on the NSF-funded B-SMaRT REU program, whose PI is Physics Professor Jennifer Ross. Biological and soft materials make up most of the world around us, from plastic sheets and our human skin to snow piles and cells. Students from Springfield Technical Community College, UMass, and across the country perform summer research with UMass Physics Department faculty in both experimental and theoretical aspects of soft and biological materials. The program will endeavor to engage students in the fundamental aspects of physics through these interesting, yet accessible physical problems of the everyday world. View B-SMaRT website

All the REU students will be on hand to explain their projects, answer questions, and interact with visitors.