Summer events

September 20, 2019

This summer our REU students participated in a number of activities that included research seminars from all Engineering departments within Pratt, professional development workshops, as well as social gatherings that promoted interactions with current graduate students and other members of the Duke community.  

Seminar by Dr. Alexandra Badea- Reverse Engineer the Brain
During Dr. Badea’s seminar, students learned about modeling the brain. Various types of imaging such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Brain Segmentation, and Voxel Based Statistics are used to detect connectivity, microstructural properties, and more. Current issues to address in this field include resolution, sample size, and dimensional reduction.

Workshop: Documenting Your Research and Persistence in Research by Dr. Johnna Frierson
Dr. Frierson led an interactive discussion with students about research documentation strategies; these strategies can be implemented not only during the REU program but also in graduate school and other future research pursuits. Students brainstormed a list of important information to keep track of and organize, including decisions, results, materials, references, procedures, and objectives. At the end of the workshop, students read a few case studies which addressed how to deal with overwhelming and frustrating research-related situations.

Seminar by Dr. Guohao Lan: Efficient & Intelligent Mobile Sensing
Dr. Lan, a member of Dr. Maria Gorlatova’s Intelligent Internet of Things Lab, presented about mobile sensing. Intelligent mobile sensing consists of three main parts: the sensor, processor, and radio. One current challenge in this field is energy efficiency. To increase energy efficiency, sensors can be eliminated in favor of analyzing the energy generation data directly. For example, machine learning models trained with energy generation data, similar to accelerometer data, can identify human gait of specific users.

Workshop: Life After PhD by Jen Agor, Assistant Director, Career Services
Dr. Agor’s workshop discussed how PhD students can best prepare for a career. Students were encouraged to network by forming a personal board of directors, staying active on LinkedIn, and asking mentors and alumni about their career path. PhD graduates have many transferable skills, and these should be effectively conveyed on a resume. Lastly, students asked about various topics including PhD internships and the purpose of a postdoc.

Social: Trivia Night and Italian Dinner
The Graduate School hosted REU for the Grand Challenges and other REU students for a fun social event. REU for the Grand Challenges students divided into two teams to answer trivia questions about Duke, history, sports, and more. Students interested in Graduate School were encouraged to visit Dean Alan Kendrick for more information and a fee waiver.

Workshop: Graduate School 101/Equity and Inclusion in STEM
Six PhD students from STEM disciplines participated on the “Graduate School 101/Equity and Inclusion in STEM” Panel. The panelists discussed why they decided to come to Duke, the admissions process, the GRE, and more. REU students asked questions about pursuing graduate studies in a different field than their undergraduate degree, application essays, and graduate student workload.

Workshop: Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose Workshop – Dr. Michelle M. Campbell, Graduate Communications and Intercultural Programs Team
The Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose Workshop taught students about an important element of the graduate school application process. Students listed the ideal qualities of an undergraduate, masters, and PhD student, learned how to reach out to potential graduate schools before applying, and read example personal statement guidelines. Dr. Campbell encouraged applicants to thoroughly review department websites before tailoring the personal statement to each particular school.

Workshop: How to Prepare a Poster Presentation – Dr. Carmen Rawls
The Poster Presentation Workshop highlighted the importance of communicating research. Students viewed example posters and discussed potential improvements. Overall, Dr. Rawls encouraged students to emphasize big picture understanding and their individual contribution during the poster competition.

Seminar by Prof. Adrienne Stiff-Roberts
During Dr. Stiff-Roberts seminar, the students learned about recent research efforts within the Electrical Engineering fields to develop devices that would make solar energy more economical and efficient. Dr. Stiff-Roberts' research include the synthesis of multi-component and hybrid (organic-inorganic) materials using a novel approach for organic-based thin film deposition that combines solution and vacuum-processing. Known as emulsion-based, resonant infrared matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE), this technique offers a completely new way to integrate novel functions into organic-based films and devices that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve otherwise. Research efforts include materials synthesis and characterization to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of thin-film growth using RIR-MAPLE, as well as device fabrication and characterization for a broad range of applications (especially optoelectronic and energy devices).

Durham Bulls game
The students enjoyed an evening of baseball and fireworks during a visit to the Durham Bulls park.

REU Symposium
All REU students presented their research projects during our end-of-program REU Symposium Showcase. During the event, each student discussed their research projects with members of the Duke community through poster presentations.