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.


KimberlyKimberly

Moving into the Realm of Privacy and Security


Kimberly is in her final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Washington (UW), where she double majors in Computer Engineering and Mathematics. Within UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, she has been working with Professors Franziska Roesner and Tadayoshi Kohno on problems related to privacy and security, in particular, to identify and address the risks that future computer systems might raise before they become pervasive.

Using Exploration as a Catalyst Toward Research-Definition


Andriy Mulyar, a proponent of supportive research environments, is currently  pursuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). His research journey began during his senior year in high school where he participated in a natural language processing project under Dr. Bridget McInnes through an outreach program coordinated by the Computer Science program at Andriy’s high school (CIT at Deep Run High School). The experience ignited an intrigue in machine learning which Andriy began to further explore in college.

Finding Passion in Computer Science through Research


Being a Hispanic woman in a STEM field presents different obstacles for many young women. At times, this means inability to find belonging, purpose, or passion in a discipline. In particular, this rings true within the bouts of undergraduate research. Sheila has broken down those barriers by diving in head first into an array of research activities. Sheila leveraged a positive meeting with two graduate students who were excited about their research in physics, which resulted in her exploration of research opportunities in computer science. Oftentimes, positive role models or helpful examples can trigger one’s shift into new pursuits.

Leveraging an Inviting Undergraduate Research Community


Many graduate students do not have extensive undergraduate research experience and undergraduate students may find it difficult to identify research opportunities. Yet Eric found a welcoming community of researchers at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering. He recalls: “We [Faculty] worked together to select future research topics that I wanted to explore, including embodiment design in interactive robots, adaptive models for attention acquisition, and embodied gestures.” These opportunities are not very common among undergraduates at other schools and institutions, but Eric has taken advantage and began to develop his research profile.

Andy Rosales-EliasAndy Rosales-Elias

Achieving Self-Recognition through Image Recognition


As a first-generation, Latino college student, Andy Rosales-Elias defies the standard image of a computer science researcher. At a two-week science and math program preceding his first year at UC Santa Barbara, Andy recalls: “I remember one night hearing a cohort member talking on the phone to his parent, who was a professor at another university, about his research problem, and I couldn’t help but think that I was somehow inferior and had a huge disadvantage in terms of pre-existing knowledge and resources.”