Attention all Utah State University Undergraduate Researchers. Have you dreamed of spending a summer pursuing research in a new place while getting paid? Learn about opportunities and how to apply for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the on-campus NSF Summer Research Opportunity Workshop Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. in Room LSB 231 of the Life Sciences Building. Participation is free.
“We invite all STEM majors from across the university to join us,” said Manuel “Manny” Santana, vice president of undergraduate research involvement on the College of Science’s student-led Science Council. “The NSF REU program is a great opportunity to travel, gain valuable experiences, meet new people, learn about graduate programs and, in some cases, publish research.”
Santana, a 2021 Goldwater Scholar majoring in computational mathematics with a computer science minor, has participated in two REU experiences – one at Michigan State and the other at Emory University in Atlanta – during his undergraduate career. At MSU, he tackled an advanced mathematical equation to improve the efficiency and accuracy of materials transport. At Emory, Santana helped to devise an algorithm to construct clear computed tomography images from portable CT machines, which have become critical tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Use of portable CT machines for lung imaging to minimize travel of infectious patients, especially from rural areas to larger hospital facilities, has become widespread,” he said. “A drawback, however, is it’s not always possible to know if the machines are calibrated correctly. Our algorithm remedied that situation.”
Santana said these opportunities enabled him to work with people from around the world on relevant problems in his field of study, which includes graph and network theory.
“They helped me determine what I want to study in graduate school and allowed me to apply my course knowledge to real-world challenges,” he said. “Additionally, I gained valuable mentors who’ve written letters of recommendation for me, and I’ve had opportunities to publish my work and present at professional conferences – all because of my participation in the REU program.”
Santana teamed with USUSA Science Senator Jonathan Mousley to plan the Dec. 7 workshop. The pair has also enlisted help from their peers in the College of Engineering, the Quinney College of Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, along with USU’s Undergraduate Research Office, to get the word out to Aggies throughout the university.
“I ran for senator on a platform that included encouraging more student participation in research,” said Mousley, an Honors student majoring in mathematics, with a minor mechanical engineering. “Manny, the rest of the Science Council and I have been working hard to let Aggies know about the valuable opportunities available to them. We hope Aggie undergrads from many disciplines and majors will join us.”