April 15, 2011
Senior Emma Muir won’t graduate until May but she already has a career in digital image processing and worked on an undergraduate team of three to develop a prototype for studying new ultrasound technology. Yet she calls her fellow researcher and younger brother, Sam, “the smart one.”
“He skipped a year, so we’re both graduating next month, but I like to point out that I was here first,” said Emma Muir. “He’s the copycat.”
The opportunity to work on research projects with faculty and fellow undergraduates – senior Jacob Sandlund is the third member of “Team Ultra” – was the reason the Muirs chose Bradley and its electrical engineering program.
“When I first toured campus, I saw some of the posters for the senior capstone projects and it was a factor in our choice to come here,” said Sam Muir. “We really liked the idea of having a comprehensive project at the end of four years of work.”
Team Ultra's was one of 80 presentations of student research and faculty/student collaboration on display April 15 in the Renaissance Coliseum as part of Bradley’s 19th annual Student Scholarship Exposition. The event was a culmination of Bradley’s recognition of national Undergraduate Research Week, during which the University highlights ongoing, innovative student research and creative production on campus.
“At Bradley, we highly value student research, creative production and especially faculty/student collaboration,” said Kim Willis, interim director of the Office of Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development. “That’s where our students get the opportunity to apply the methods and theories they learn in the classroom. It prepares them for their careers or for graduate school.”
The keynote speaker at last Friday’s event knows first-hand the influence undergraduate research can have on young scholars. As a freshman at Yale, Dr. Isabel Cárdenas-Navia began a 15-year career as a cancer researcher. Now an outreach coordinator for the Office of Naval STEM Coordination, Cárdenas-Navia promotes student research at university campuses around the country.
“I felt my mentor’s passion for her subject and her passion about mentoring and getting me involved in her cancer research,” Cárdenas-Navia said. “It transformed me. I wanted to be an expert, too, and I could see myself following in her footsteps.”
Dr. José Sánchez, who served as one of Team Ultra’s faculty mentors, said collaborating with students on research projects is just as rewarding for the faculty member.
“Watching the students make the transformation from not knowing much about a subject to creating a potentially patentable instrument is very gratifying,” Sanchez said.
The expo showcased the research of about 150 undergraduate and graduate students. The top projects in six different academic categories were recognized during an awards ceremony.