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Summer REU Program Provides Valuable Research Experience Even with Artificial Intelligence

Published: 08/13/2019

By: Maria Gebhardt

“I had no idea that I would have a chance to learn about artificial intelligence as a rising college sophomore during this incredible summer experience,” explained Trevon King.

This undergraduate student participated in Auburn University’s 2019 Collaborative Approaches among Scientists and Engineers (CASE) Research Experience Undergraduate (REU) Research Program. Trevon worked with Dr. Christopher Harris, an assistant professor of electrical engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“He worked on neural machine translation, where a deep neural network is used to translate one language into another,” Dr. Harris shared.

Dr. Christopher Harris and Trevon King.

This summer experience provided students with an opportunity to gain hands-on research, work at a R1 research facility and learn directly from faculty that mentored these future leaders.

“Research isn’t about just learning about a specific field,” Dr. Harris added. “Research transcends all disciplines, and provides a critical skill set to analyze, document, and think like a scientist.”

Dr. Cordelia Brown, director of the Engineering Academic Excellence Program at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is proud how the program is not limited to just a specific field. “This unique research experience provides students with a chance to navigate research with active learning in a diverse range of areas from engineering to science,” she explained.

Over the course of 10 weeks, these students are immersed in the fascinating world of research. Each student works in university labs with faculty mentor that provides feedback and advice. The program is a joint effort between the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM).

Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity at COSAM, Dr. Kimberly Mulligan-Guy shared, “This program not only encourage students to explore possible careers in STEM, it helps them find their voice developing soft skills that will help them stand out in future professional settings.”

Dr. Christian Goldsmith, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, works with the program to help students begin to explore research.

“I like to be a mentor in this program because I get to help students learn and conduct research in our university setting,” he shared.

Dr. Vincent Ortiz, the Ruth W. Molette Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry explained that this program not only helps students, but has a much larger effect.

“Cultivating students from all backgrounds directly benefits the future careers of these students,” he said. “It also makes a tremendous impact through the ability to improve standards of health, environmental safety, and our entire economy.” 

Dr. Rita Graze, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, felt that this program gives students a chance to learn responsibility and resilience through working on hands-on projects in a lab.

“Research is crucially important,” shared Dr. Rita Graze. “It is a dynamic process and these students are part of developing new knowledge.”

Student who participated in this program had an opportunity to share their personal reflections during this year’s symposium held in the Student Center Ballroom. Below are some of the ways this program left an impact on their lives and toward their future careers:

 

Keely Coleman

Keely Coleman: “This program helped me to decide to pursue graduate school.”

John Henry Cruz

John Henry Cruz: “It has been a great summer experience and I want to now focus on research.”

Ya’seen Ellison

Ya’seen Ellison: “I developed a newfound respect for research during this program.”

Nadia Fields

Nadia Fields: “I enjoyed making great friends, meeting new people and going outside of my comfort zones.”

Kayla Frazier

Kayla Frazier: “I liked the uniqueness of this program and how it highlights all of the different areas you can go into science.”

Madison Garner

Madison Garner: “This program helped me determine what field I want to pursue.”

Victoria Grase

Victoria Grase: “After this program, I want to conduct more research.”

Quinci Henry

Quinci Henry: “I loved that I had an opportunity to see people like me conducting research, and it encourages me to pursue a career in science and mathematics.”

Trevon King

Trevon King: “I learned so many new things in this program and it was amazing to experience so many new areas of research.”

Jordan McElroy

Jordan McElroy: “Everyone welcomed me with open arms during this REU and this program will always stay with me.”

Ansley Scott

Ansley Scott: “I gained an incredible amount of inorganic chemistry research experience that I would have never received if I were not part of this program.”

Adam Swanier

Adam Swanier: “I could see that my skills developed over this summer, and this program played a pivotal role in my life.”

Eliza White

Eliza White: “I enjoyed research and I am transferring to Auburn University this fall because of the opportunities that exist for me.”

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