Students from SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) and universities across the United States participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) this summer. SUNY Poly’s SURP provided the 21 students who participated in the program with a unique opportunity to spend 10 weeks conducting hands-on research at SUNY Poly’s Albany and Utica campuses. This innovative, practical experience allowed students to work closely with the college’s world-class faculty.
“Each experience is unique to the student and the faculty,” said Dr. Carolyn Rodak, Chair of the SURP Committee. “Some of our students will spend 10 weeks in the lab and others will spend that time focusing on applied mathematics or network security. Students participating in the SURP program really have a range of diverse projects that they work on over the summer.”
Anthony Cahill is a senior biology major at SUNY Poly, who spent his summer working with Dr. Lauren Endres on culturing human and mouse cells to assess their capacity to respond to, and recover from, oxidative stress-inducing compounds. After graduation, Cahill plans to gain professional experience in a research lab before pursuing a master’s degree.
“The SURP Program is a great way to get experience- going through the scientific process, coming up with a hypothesis, testing it, and evaluating the outcomes. I’ve had a blast in the program and would love to get paid to do this as a career.”
Rachel Utama is student researcher from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She was looking for a summer research opportunity closer to home and applied for a position in Dr. Nathaniel Cady’s nanobio lab at SUNY Poly’s Albany campus. During the SURP program, she worked with researchers on developing a new test for Lyme Disease.
“The current Lyme Disease test consists of two separate tests and is very labor and time intensive. The current tests only catch around 60% of actual positive Lyme cases, so we want to see if we can develop a better test for Lyme.”
Students who participate in the SURP program can receive academic credit or participate as a volunteer, but most student research positions receive a stipend for their work. “The Summer Undergraduate Research Program is funded by the university as well as industrial sponsors,” said Rodak. “This year, we received sponsorship from IBM, TEL, Applied Materials and GlobalFoundries, as well as a few other smaller contributions from local companies.”
Senior nanoscale engineering student Nicholas Repp is a based at SUNY Poly’s Albany campus, and spent his summer working in the lab of Dr. Gregory Denbeaux, Associate Professor of Nanoengineering. Repp’s research focused on the metal deposition process, also known as 3D metal printing.
I’m working on a metal deposition process where we’re using a welder as a power source to power a tungsten electrode inside of a vacuum chamber. We’re using that to get a plasma arc that will melt silver or different materials and then taking them with a nitrogen flow through a nozzle and depositing them onto a silicon wafer.
Pathways to future careers
During their final two days in the SURP program, student researchers are required to present their research to faculty, staff, industrial partners, and members of the general public.
“We hope that our students will certainly learn more about their topic of interest but also about conducting research that may foster an interest in continuing in the research field, or encourage them to continue on to graduate school for a M.S. or Ph.D.” says Rodak. “My hope for our undergraduate researchers is that they just have an experience that informs their future direction and helps them decide on their profession and where they want to go.”
For more information on the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, please visit the program webpage.