New Grants Fund Student Research Opportunities

The School of Engineering received three new grants from the National Science Foundation that will enable undergraduate students from across the globe to engage in exciting summer research at the Storrs campus. The grants were provided by NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, which funds undergraduate summer research at designated university programs nationwide, affording students valuable exposure to the academic research environment and motivating them to consider graduate study in technical fields. Interested students are encouraged to apply now.

Each REU student is immersed in a faculty laboratory, where she/he works closely with participating faculty and graduate students on exciting investigations.  In addition to a stipend, many REU students also receive assistance with housing and travel. UConn benefits, too, through the opportunity to engage with bright undergraduates from primarily other institutions and to encourage these outstanding students to consider pursuing their graduate degrees at UConn.

The 2012 REU grants, each three years in duration, focus on:

Bio-Grid Initiatives (Drs. Chun-Hsi Huang and Reda Ammar of Computer Science & Engineering): This REU will include seminars introducing participants (5 each summer) to concepts involving modern computing infrastructures, related information technology, as well as research work in life-science disciplines that rely on or benefit from such infrastructures. Participating REU students will be able to choose from among projects focusing on: modern information infrastructure, protein function studies, genomic knowledge inference, ethical and legal issues of biomedical/health information sharing, case studies centering on the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) and Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN), and other topics. Dr. Huang previously won REU funding for a successful Bio-Grid program in 2008.

Cyber-Aquatic Systems (CAS) (Drs. Jun-Hong Cui of Computer Science & Engineering and Shengli Zhou of Electrical & Computer Engineering): This REU, in association with the Underwater Sensor Network Lab at UConn, will enable interested students to participate in exciting research involving cyber-aquatic sensing, monitoring and communications technologies. Students will be able to choose from among five focal areas: underwater acoustic communications and networking, power harvesting, underwater sensing, underwater robotics, or cyber control. Cyber-aquatic technologies hold promise for enabling us to densely deploy static and mobile systems in an underwater environment, thereby transforming the means by which we observe and understand the sparsely sampled oceans, estuaries, lakes and rivers.

The Bio-Grid Initiatives and Cyber-Aquatic Systems programs will share a common website and coordinate certain activities under the umbrella name of REU Site: Cyber-enabled Systems for Undergraduate Research and Education: Bio-Grid and Cyber Aquatic Systems (CAS). A total of 10 undergraduate students (five per track) per year will engage in this 10-week summer program. Each student will receive a $5,000 stipend and a $600 travel allowance; housing and meals will be provided.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Through Academic-Industrial Partnerships (Drs. Jeffrey McCutcheon of Chemical, Materials & Biomolecular Engineering and Richard Dino of Management): In this REU, students will engage in an innovation-oriented independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member and an industry mentor, and also participate in a business-oriented seminar series. A particular recruiting focus will target Historic Women’s Colleges, including Smith College, a partner on the project. For additional details, please visit the REU website. Student participants will receive a 5,000 stipend, and housing and travel expenses will be covered. Interested students will be able to choose from among a variety of industry projects:

  • Composites for Biomedical Applications; Teleflex Medical
  • Forward Osmosis for Desalination and Water Reuse; Oasys Water
  • Reaction Networks for Zeolites to Model Fluid Catalytic Cracking Kinetics; W.R., Grace and Co.
  • Thermally Integrated Water-Gas Shift Reactors; FuelCell Energy
  • Transformative Research in Solar Energy Harvesting; Scitech Solar
  • 100% Utilization of Brown Grease for Biodiesel Production; Bridgeport Biodiesel
  • Functionalized Nanostructured Carbons for Energy Conversion and Storage; Physical Sciences, Inc.
  • Photo-initiated Chemical Vapor Deposition of Hydrogels; GVD Corporation
  • Physical Properties and Transport in Pentablock Ionomers; Kraton Polymers LLC
  • Development of Advanced Fire-retardant Nanomaterials; United Technologies Research Center

In addition to the three new REUs, the School of Engineering has three ongoing sites:

Trustable Computing Systems Security Research and Education (Dr. John Chandy of Electrical & Computer Engineering): Enables students to conduct in-depth study in areas such as data encryption, authentication, trustworthiness and hardware security.

Engineering Next Generation Energy Processes and Systems (Drs. Kevin Murphy and Michael Renfro of Mechanical Engineering): Affords students an opportunity for research involving the development of innovative methods for energy generation. For details, please see this flier.

Collaborative Research: International REU Program in Smart Structures (Dr. Richard Christenson of Civil & Environmental Engineering): Provides students an opportunity for research at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) in the areas of structural health monitoring and structural control of civil structures.


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