Research opportunities for undergraduates

By Douglas Esser
Photos by Marc Studer
The University of Washington Bothell takes pride in providing opportunities for undergraduates to work alongside professors on research. That was evident Thursday at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Practice Fair in the Activities and Recreation Center. Students eyed posters on 50 different projects, inviting them to get started.

Welcome to the Undergraduate Research Fair

“It’s a unique opportunity that’s particularly important in the fall when students are coming to campus, to get to know the depth and breadth of research for them to plug into,” said Carolyn Brennan, left, assistant vice chancellor for research. “Research and teaching. This is what our faculty do so well.”

Carolyn Brennan

Students discover new interests. They gain experience that can lead to scholarships, graduate school and careers.

“That’s why I chose this school — the opportunity to do research and have more contact with professors,” said Jessica Gray, left, a transfer from Shoreline Community College. “I really like the collaborative environment.”

Jessica Gray

Gray (mechanical engineering ’19) was aware of UW Bothell’s reputation for researching 3-D printers to build prosthetic hands.

“That sounds like something I’d like to be involved in. It’s a good cause. I like being able to be creative with a practical application,” Gray said.

A previous fair led Keenan Cain, left, to join the research group led by Rob Turner that is testing how mushroom roots might filter E.coli bacteria from the surface water in the campus wetlands. The mushroom roots cover woodchips placed in barrels through which the water flows.

Keenan Cain

A Running Start transfer from South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Cain (environmental science ’18) is paid for working 5-10 hours a week and also is using the project for independent research credit with Turner. More students are needed.

“We’d like to have as much brain power behind this research as possible,” Cain said.

The experience is worthwhile.

“It’s super helpful because you learn how real research works,” Cain said. “And you get more experience writing papers in the real world. It makes a difference and actually is impactful.”

Affiliate Professor Tyler Folsom, left, is looking for more students to help improve self-driving tricycles. Folsom and Professor Pierre Mourad also are applying the autonomous technology to a solar-pedal-powered vehicle as capstone projects for electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science students.

Tyler Folsom

In addition to the main fair, the UW Bothell Office of Research is holding series of 10 mini fairs through the quarter on specific topics. The next one, “Cybersecurity, Neural Simulation, Internet of Things (IoT), Data Provenance” is 10 a.m. Oct. 18 in UW1-103.

Students also may consult advisers and find research opportunities year-round at UW Bothell and throughout University of Washington facilities. Each spring students present their work at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Practice Symposium.

“Don’t feel intimidated or that ‘I can’t do that,’” says Dawn Moncalieri, program assistant in the office of research. “The faculty want to hear from you.”

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