The College supports student engagement in faculty directed research and creative activity through a new Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program.
Fifteen juniors and seniors from psychology, chemistry, new media, computer science, political science, and mathematics were awarded fellowships during the 2011-2012 academic year.
CLAS is the first College at UMaine to offer undergraduate fellowships and students said they were proud to receive the competitive awards and excited to be able to pursue their research with financial support.
The fellowships provide each student with a $1,500 stipend and additional funding up to $1,100 to cover costs associated with the project.
Sarah Nichols, a new media major who graduated in 2012, helped create a website for the Swan’s Island Memory Project in which residents were compiling interviews of people who had grown up on the island as a way to rebuild the historical collection that had been lost when the public library burned in 2008. Collaborating with Steven Landry, a 2012 graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, Sarah helped build an online archival library so the interviews could be showcased.
“We designed a new, easy-to-use interface so viewers could read these amazing stories and gain an understanding about the history of the island,” she said. “Residents were very appreciative and said the new website sparked a lot of interest in the project.”
Through her research, Emma Strubell, a computer science major who graduated in 2012, gained a better understanding of how a certain type of Internet worm attacks vulnerable machines. Aiming to help curb or prevent future Internet worm epidemics, Strubell said, “By performing scans of machines on the Internet we learned that the worms tend to attack computers running certain Internet software that are near other machines running the same software. We found that this clustering is what allows these worms to spread so quickly.”
Pursuing an MS/Ph.D. program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst this fall, she said her undergraduate research experience “helped demonstrate to graduate schools that I was doing exceptional work worth funding.”
For his research, computer science major Jonathan Cole ’14 set out to understand more about how age-related macular degeneration affects people’s ability to drive. He created a driving simulator that produced some of the effects of the disease such as blurry vision, tunnel vision, and advanced loss of contrast sensitivity. “I created the groundwork that allows for much more detailed experimentation,” said Cole who works at the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction Lab which is working to develop new methods to enhance a person’s navigational ability.
“We’ll likely be expanding on my simulator in the future,” he said. “I’m proud that I created something of this scale almost entirely on my own.”