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Dear Fellow Students… a letter from an undergraduate researcher. pdf icon

Alumni | 2006 – 2009 | 2009 – 2010 | 2010 – 2011 | 2011 – 2012 | 2012 – 2013 | 2013 – 2014 | 2014 – 2015 | 2015 – 2016 | 2016 – 2017

Harry Chen
Dr. Harry Chen

’98 Computer Sciences

I did undergraduate research during my Senior year (1998). I joined the LAIT (Laboratory for Advanced Information Technology) research group led by Dr. Finin and Dr. Peng to work on software agents technology. My first assignment was to implement a Java decision tree API for building enterprise software agents. At that time, I was relatively new to Java programming and artificial intelligence. The project was exciting. I became interested in computer science research. Few months before my graduation, Dr. Finin and Dr. Peng encouraged me to stay for the Computer Science graduate program at UMBC and offered me a Graduate Research Assistant position.

UMBC Alumnus helps develop Apple’s latest technology


Tim Courtney
Tim Courtney

’09 Chemical Engineering
URA Scholar, 2008 – 2009

In undergrad at UMBC, I studied the same curriculum that all of you are working on now: learning to size reactors, heat exchangers, seperators etc. We design things according to the book because if it worked once, it should work again. In contrast, my undergraduate research with Dr. Marten gave me a chance to tackle problems that didn’t have an answer yet, and that might not even have a satisfying answer. What I think is so challenging about research is that it’s not good enough to say “it works.” You need to show why it works. That was an exciting challenge for me so I went to grad school to continue working with that kind of problem. My research used computational chemistry, experiments, and characterization to study some very specific problems in reactions of polyols and sugars in zeolite catalysts.

I went to industry after my Ph.D. and the topics of my research disappeared. Instead l came back full circle to those undergrad problems, but with a graduate school twist. A common role (though not the only role) of PhD.s in my company is to figure out how to solve a problem when the textbook or ASPEN answer comes out wrong. I was given two projects – a heat exchanger that wasn’t working to specification (figure out why) and a distillation column reboiler/condenser with some safety concerns (figure out what conditions are safe to operate it under). Neither have anything to do with polyol chemistry on zeolites, but it’s expected that I can use the thought processes I learned in my research at UMBC and in graduate school to further extend our ability to engineer a process.


Jenelle Dowling
Jenélle Dowling

Biological Sciences
URA Scholar, 2006 – 2007

Jenélle has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation, Doctoral Research Fellowship which provides a generous stipend and research support for three years. She worked in the Omland lab group for three years doing fieldwork in Maryland and Mexico. Her URA Research led to a first authored peer-reviewed publication. She is now a PhD student at Cornell University in the department of Neurobiology and Behavior, working at the well-known Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.


Christie Finn
Christie Finn

Music
URA Scholar, 2004 – 2005, 2005 – 2006, 2006 – 2007

While at UMBC, Christie was a URA scholar three consecutive years and since graduation, she has used her research experience to further advance her musical talents and achievements. She went on to win an interpretation prize (twice) at the International Stockhausen Concerts and Courses (Kürten, Germany). She continued her education, obtaining a Masters of Music at Southern Methodist University and currently studies in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music. Christie has performed as a soloist and ensemble member in many countries including Germany, Austria, and Italy and is currently preparing her role in Georges Aperghis’ opera Sextuor with the Hyoid Ensemble in New York City next year.

For more information about Christie and her upcoming performance schedule, please visit: www.ChristieFinn.com.

Read the abstracts from our three-time URA candidate.


DeLeon Gray
DeLeon Gray

’07 Interdisciplinary Studies
McNair Scholar, URA Scholar, 2006 – 2007

While at UMBC, alumnus and McNair Scholar DeLeon Gray studied the psychological foundations of education, as an interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in Psychology. Prior to graduating from UMBC in 2007, he studied under the direction of Dr. Charissa S.L. Cheah (Psychology) and wrote a research paper, “The Role of Social Relationships in the Academic Motivation and Educational Attainment of Adolescent Mothers”. While a doctoral student of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University he received the prestigious Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, administered by the National Academy of Education. Gray used the $25,000 grant as his primary funding source while writing his dissertation, “A New Framework for Conceptualizing School Belonging: The Importance of ‘Fitting In’ and ‘Standing Out’.”

Since 2012, Dr. Gray has been an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at North Carolina State University. Dr. Gray also holds an appointment as Mentor Faculty in the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Gray’s research program examines how adolescents and emerging adults perceive and interpret their social encounters in achievement contexts, and whether these mental representations account for their achievement beliefs and behaviors. Currently, his research program is comprised of two components. The first component includes investigations highlighting the role of social identity processes in achievement contexts, particularly in terms of students’ strivings to “stand out” and “fit in” within their peer circles. The second component of Dr. Gray’s research focuses on understanding students’ judgments about socializers (e.g., teachers, parents, and mentors), and students’ interpretations of the messages that these socializers convey about scholastic achievement. Dr. Gray’s research program ultimately will serve as a platform for collaborating with practicing teachers and administrators on initiatives that encourage students to make engaging in scholastic activities a priority.

In summer 2016 Dr. Gray learned that his project, Developmentally Appropriate Strategies for Motivating Students in STEM, will be funded by the National Science Foundation for $1,011,821 over 3 years. The NSF project description can be found here. UMBC Alumna and Meyerhoff-13, Dr. Kyla McMullen (Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Florida), is an advisory board member for the project.

Read his interview with Black Enterprise: BE Modern Man: Meet “The Professor” Dr. DeLeon Gray

Read his undergraduate research abstract here.


Eric Grollman
Dr. Eric Grollman

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Richmond
URA Scholar, 2006 – 2007

Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman’s research interests center on medical sociology and social psychology, with particular attention to race and ethnicity, gender, social class, sexualities, and research methods. Their primary line of research examines the impact of prejudice and discrimination to the health, well-being, and worldviews of marginalized groups. In much of their research, Dr. Grollman focuses on the intersections among systems of oppression (e.g., racism and sexism) to document the experiences and well-being of individuals who belong to multiple marginalized groups (e.g., Black women). Through their teaching, mentorship, community service, and blogging, they look to make their and other scholars’ research accessible and relevant to the broader public. In turn, their research is enhanced by the insights they gain from the lives of students and members of the community. As an intellectual activist, Dr. Grollman writes publicly about discrimination and injustice in academia, primarily on their blog, Conditionally Accepted: http://www.insidehighered.com/users/conditionally-accepted.

Read his undergraduate abstract here.


Lynna Kiere
Lynna Kiere

Biological Sciences
URA Scholar, 2007 – 2008

Lynna has authored two published papers on work related to her URA Research. She is currently in her third semester of the doctoral programs in Biological Sciences at the Institute of Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City (Instituto de Ecología, UNAM) studying mating behavior in the blue-footed booby.

pdf icon Using Color To Define Species Boundaries: Quantitative Analysis in the Orchard Oriole Complex Supports the Recognition of Two Species

pdf icon Discrete Evolutionary Color Changes in Caciques Suggest Different Modes of Carotenoid Evolution Between Closely Related Taxa

Read her undergraduate abstract here.


Areej Kuraishi
Areej Kuraishi

’10 Psychology
URA Scholar, 2009 – 2010

Areej Kuraishi graduated from UMBC May 2010 and will graduate from the Master’s in Professional Studies (MPS) Program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at UMBC-Shady Grove in December 2011. She presented her research on the implications of advancing technology on training and development with a special consideration on outsourced and off-shored jobs at the 32nd Annual IOOB conference in San Diego (March, 2011) and at the UMBC Graduate Research Conference (April, 2011). Her research experience as an undergraduate has played a huge role in all of the graduate opportunities that have followed.

Read more about with Areej here.


Tahira Mahdi
Tahira Mahdi

Psychology
URA Scholar, 2009 – 2010

Tahira Mahdi graduated from UMBC in 2010 with a degree in Psychology. She is now a Meyerhoff Fellow, starting UMBC’s HSP doctoral program in Clinical/Community and Applied Social Psychology this fall! Her research interest in need for cognition and my background in community service are the perfect foundation for her new work in Dr. Ken Maton’s lab.

Read more on Tahira’s research.


Jennifer Montooth and Levar Burton
Jennifer Montooth

’16 History
URCAD Scholar 2016

Jenn’s research on Asa Philip Randolph and his efforts to integrate the armed forces began during her senior year at UMBC. She went on to present her research at the Association of the Study of African American Life and History Conference and The Council of History Education Conference. She is currently in her last year of graduate school at UMBC for Historical Studies. In addition, she has worked on the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising Archive Project for the Maryland Historical Society and recently began interning for the National Action Network in Washington, DC. After graduate school, she hopes to continue her research in a Ph.D. program to write a book on Civil Rights leaders in the 1970s.

The picture is Jennifer Montooth with actor, Lavar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in Roots and starred in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge. The picture was taken at the screening of the new Roots at the White House.


 
Kevin O'malley
Kevin O’Malley

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
URA Scholar, 2009 – 2010

Since graduating I traveled in Ecuador and Peru for two months. I currently work as an instructor with Trellis Services, where I help an autistic boy develop life-skills. I have become involved with Montgomery Hospice, and following training I will volunteer by visiting hospice patients (I will start that in October). I have also become a emergency room medical scribe with Emergency Medical Scribe Systems at the Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie. I am currently training for this position and will start in a few weeks. My application to medical school is going well. It’s too early for me to expect an acceptance, but I have high-hopes for the rest of the year.

Read more about Kevin here.


 
David Sweigert
David Sweigert

Physics and Mathematics
URA Scholar, 2011 – 2012

In summer 2013, I started at Cornell University in their Physics Ph.D. program. I passed my qualifying exam and joined a research group working on the so-called Muon g-2 experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago. This is a particle physics experiment like those that I worked on during my summer internships abroad. The Muon g-2 experiment is trying to measure an intrinsic property of the muon which is a fundamental particle (much like the electron). There were some exciting results from a similar experiment a few years ago, so everyone is anxious to see what we find out. Overall, my plan is to continue working towards a Ph.D. in High Energy Physics and, hopefully, then work in academia or in a national lab in the long term.

Read more about his undergraduate research.


Danielle Viens-Payne
Danielle Viens-Payne

Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication
URCAD Scholar, 2009 – 2010

Danielle Viens-Payne graduated from UMBC in December of 2010, and am now a first-year graduate student in UMBC’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program. She currently has two part-time jobs: She works as an Administrative Assistant in the enrollment department of a virtual (and national) public school called Connections Academy and she also works as a Program Coordinator for U.S. Hispanic Youth Entrepreneur Education (USHYEE) Student Chapters, where I work with and mentor Hispanic youth in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), both companies she works for are related to the education field, and they are both non-profit organizations. She plans to get her MPP and hopefully a Ph.D. in Education Policy.

Here is an interview with Danielle.


Ryan Wentworth
Ryan Wentworth

’12 Financial Economics
URA Scholar, 2011 – 2012

After graduating from UMBC in May of 2012, Ryan began working in Morgan Stanley in their Operations office in Baltimore. After spending six months at Morgan Stanley learning all about post-trade support, Ryan transitioned into a client-facing role, where he now works as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch also in Baltimore. As a URA scholar, Ryan conducted research on specific aspects of client portfolio management. In his new role, Ryan will be able to directly apply his research in his everyday functions as he works to manage client’s portfolios to help them achieve their goals.

Here is an interview with Ryan.

Dear Fellow Students… a letter from an undergraduate researcher. pdf icon

Alumni | 2006 – 2009 | 2009 – 2010 | 2010 – 2011 | 2011 – 2012 | 2012 – 2013 | 2013 – 2014 | 2014 – 2015 | 2015 – 2016 | 2016 – 2017