A diverse group with a broad range of personal and scientific interests and experiences, this year’s 10 MIT Materials Research Laboratory Summer Scholars include a former U.S. Navy SEAL, an accomplished classical pianist, and a voice actor. Each was selected for a strong undergraduate record in science and technology.
The Summer Scholars, as MRL calls its National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates interns, will be on the MIT campus from June 16-Aug. 10. They were chosen from among 286 applicants.
“I was a Navy SEAL for nine years, in which time I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as serving as a mountaineering instructor in Kodiak, Alaska,” says University of Washington junior Chris Moore. While in Alaska, Moore and two fellow SEAL instructors planned and executed an expedition to the summit of Denali (formerly Mount McKinley).
Clement N. Ekaputra, a Case Western Reserve University junior, plays classical piano and recently performed a concerto as a soloist with the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
When she isn’t pursuing her scientific education, Hunter College physics major Ariane Marchese is a voice actress who volunteers to narrate audiobooks for schools.
While seeking a sharper focus for graduate school research is a common theme for Summer Scholars, this year’s participants are eager learners willing to stretch into new topics and experimental techniques. “I’m really excited to learn from MIT Materials Research Lab faculty and the other talented and diverse interns I’ll be working with,” Marchese says.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez mechanical engineering major Marcos A. Logrono Lopez hopes to pursue research at MIT in the area of microfluidics. “My goal is to understand the behaviors that dominate fluids at the micro scale and implement them into new innovative technologies, such as micropropulsion and microelectromechanical systems,” he says.
“I’m certain that no matter the project I’m assigned to in this internship, I will work passionately and be motivated with the goal of pushing forward the research that takes place at MIT,” Logrono says. “Positivism, humbleness, hard work, respectfulness, and passion for helping others are the fundamental bases of who I am as a person,” he adds.
University of California at Los Angeles junior materials science and engineering major Isabel Albelo hopes the REU experience “will provide me with further clarity as to what I would like to study in graduate school and the field in which I would like to work.” She is currently interested in sustainability, either in the areas of agriculture and food science or renewable energy generation and storage. During the first half of 2018, Albelo studied abroad in Chile despite the difficulty of fitting that experience into an engineering curriculum.
Case Western Reserve University junior Nathan Ewell is most interested in electrochemical engineering and polymer physics. “I am excited to get a feel for what my life will be like as a graduate student in a few years,” he says.
Also interested in polymers and nanomaterials, University of Massachusetts at Amherst chemical engineering major Jared Bowden hopes to work with bioinspired materials. “I am very interested in emulating extremely specialized natural polymers perfected by millions of years of natural selection and applying the benefits of their properties to modern problems,” Bowden says. “I hope to learn new things that I can bring back with me to UMass that will help me in my nanofiber research for my senior thesis.”
Moore, a physics and astronomy major, hopes to conduct optical experimental research in condensed matter, specifically topological defects. “I find the field fascinating, both conceptually and experimentally,” Moore says. “Much of what appeals to me about the research at MIT is how often it creates and broadens new fields of research. This is reflective of the clear experimental direction that I hope to pick up during this experience.”
Melvin Núñez Santiago is majoring in electrical technology with renewable energy at the University Ana G. Mendez at Gurabo in Puerto Rico. Núñez hopes to channel his passion for research and technology development into a summer project related to electronics, power, communications, or energy storage. Marchese, a junior at Hunter College, also expresses interest in energy production and storage, but is interested in all aspects of materials science.
Improving their research and analytical skills is a common goal of this year’s cohort. “By working full-time on a research project with them, I know I will learn a lot about conducting research — about discovering interesting questions and designing methods to solve them,” says Ekaputra, a Case Western Reserve materials science and engineering major.
Dartmouth College junior Carly Tymm says, “I would like to take on a multidisciplinary project at MIT with perspectives from synthetic chemistry, surface science, and bioengineering in the design, synthesis, and analysis of biomaterials. There are many macromolecular solutions to challenges in medicinal materials science that I would like to investigate deeper.” Tymm is a double major in chemistry and biomedical engineering sciences.
Northwestern University junior materials science and engineering major Leah Borgsmiller will be experiencing Massachusetts for the first time, “so I am excited to spend evenings and weekends exploring the Cambridge/Boston area,” she says. She hopes the intensive eight-week program will help her form long-lasting connections to her peers, as well as MIT faculty.
“In this modern world, we are increasingly more dependent on electronics and energy consumption to power our lives, and so being able to contribute to research to make these processes more efficient and environmentally-friendly would be a rewarding experience,” Borgsmiller says.