Research opportunities for undergraduates

By Keiana Hadjireza
New memory devices, cochlear implants, sexual violence in India and household air pollution all show the range of research at the University of Washington Bothell and the opportunities for students to perform high-level work as undergraduates.

Dozens of UW Bothell students were among the 1,200 students from all three UW campuses who presented posters at the May 19 Undergraduate Research Symposium in Mary Gates Hall in Seattle.

(David Ryder photo)

Here are some of the UW Bothell presenters, their faculty mentors and projects:

Tanya KumarTanya Kumar, junior, law, economics and public policy
Faculty mentor: Lauren Lichty
Implicit social dynamics regarding sexual violence in India and analysis of communal agencies and their responses to providing space of survival 

Identifying as an Indian woman, minoring in gender, women and sexuality studies (GWSS) and in human rights, Kumar researched the treatment and protection of women subject to sexual violence in India. 

“I know that globally, India seems very up to par with its legal and moral standards of protecting and empowering women, but it is extremely different in the lived experience,” Kumar said.

After researching literature, Kumar traveled to India where she visited three nongovernmental organizations working on related moral and legal issues.

The first woman of color to serve as the student body president at UW Bothell, Kumar also was awarded a Founder's Fellow Undergraduate Research Scholarship.  She plans to present her work at more conferences on women’s rights and south Asian advocacy.  

Federico PastorisFederico Pastoris, junior, global studies
Faculty mentor: Benjamin Gardner
Household air pollution and its repercussions on health in developing countries

Interested in the correlation between household air pollution and respiratory infections in developing countries, Pastoris began independent research with the support of Gardner, the co-director of the UW Bothell Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy. 

“The critical thinking that I've been able to explore with my mentor not only made me a more intellectually aware researcher, but it also gave me a much clearer picture of what my future life and career could look like,” said Pastoris. 

Pastoris interned at Global Good-Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue company that approaches major global issues through technological research and innovation. He conducted a field study in Nicaragua where he presented his research to a nongovernmental organization.

“UW Bothell helps to generate a greater level of confidence in the matter of how students perceive their research topic and their research abilities,” said Pastoris. He hopes to continue with work that can have a global impact. 

Dinh LamDinh Lam, senior, electrical engineering
Faculty mentor: Seungkeun Choi
A multilevel resistive memory device based on Molybdenum Oxide 

With an interest in chemistry, Lam joined Choi’s research on resistive random access memory (RRAM). This technology is designed to improve the way computers store data by having a cell remember its resistive state rather than storing charge. The research aims to economically fabricate the device and integrate it into modern technology. 

Lam hopes to continue his research in this area and work in a career where he can combine chemistry and electrical engineering. 

Fatima Zolfaghar, Kaibao Nie, Ni NguyenNi Nguyen and Fatima Zolfaghar, seniors, electrical engineering
Faculty mentor: Kaibao Nie
Pitch pattern discrimination in cochlear implant patients and normal hearing listeners

Zolfaghar and Nguyen worked together on testing cochlear implant patients and collecting data with a computer program that observes pitch coding. Their investigation will help explore the limits of implants and help improve their capability with future modifications. 

Nie’s research “matches my personal interest in biomedical engineering and sciences,” said Nguyen, who is interning at a biomedical company. 

UW Bothell gives students opportunities for relationships with professors where opportunities for research will more likely arise, Nguyen said. 

"The smaller class sizes at UW Bothell gave me a chance to talk to Dr. Nie and work with him on research that is going to help me in my future endeavors" said Zolfaghar. 

Both Nguyen and Zolfaghar plan to continue working on their research.