CRA-E’s “Undergraduate Research Highlights” series showcases outstanding research done by undergraduate students at universities and colleges across North America.  It is one of a number of CRA-E’s activities that foster and recognize  talented computing researchers with the goal of increasing the research pipeline, promoting graduate education, and advocating research-based careers.

Each article features the story of a successful undergraduate researcher and offers personal insights into their experiences with finding an advisor, undertaking new research projects, and discovering how research can impact their personal and professional futures. In addition to helping students understand the process of getting involved in research, the articles also serve as a venue for students to pass along advice to others who aspire to become involved in research themselves. Students selected for the research highlights include those receiving recognition in the CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award competition.

This series is written and edited by CRA-E Graduate Fellows.


Supported Research Experiences Cultivating Confidence in Computing


This Q&A highlight features McKenna Lewis, recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 2021 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers award program. McKenna is a computer science major and currently works as an undergraduate researcher in the UCSD School of Medicine. In McKenna’s interview, she shares how she has benefited from showing resilience through faltering confidence and how supportive research programs and mentors helped her succeed. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Protecting Internet Infrastructure from Earthquakes


This month’s research highlight showcases Juno Mayer, an honorable mention recipient in the 2021 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers award program. Juno graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in Computer & Information Science and minors in Mathematics and Music Technology. He now works as a software engineer at Zais Group, a credit management firm based in New Jersey. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Demystifying Robot Plans, Discovering Her Own


This Q&A highlight features Ellie Mamantov, recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 2021 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers award program. Ellie graduated from Carleton College in June 2021 with a double major in computer science and psychology. She is now a computer science PhD student at Yale University. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Engaging in Research Through Researching Disengagement


Curious about summer opportunities in computer science, Courtney Miller learned about Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) in her first year at the New College of Florida. Having assisted in clinical trials in high school, she was eager to give research in computer science a try. “I really enjoyed that experience, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try out academic research.”