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Computer Science Students Selected for Interdisciplinary Research Experiences in Computational Biology

Prepared by Dr. Deborah Knox, March 31, 2016

Two Computer Science students have been selected for participation in undergraduate research programs this summer. Angela Huang (Class of 2017) will be in St. Louis, Missouri and Elisa Idrobo (Class of 2018) will head to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program. Both programs will provide mentorship as the students conduct independent research guided by university faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral students. Each student will also participate in career development workshops, and will engage in social, intellectual, and cultural experiences while exploring her host city.

Angela Huang (Class of 2017)

Angela Huang has been selected as an Amgen Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, where she plans to participate in research supporting algorithm development in computational biology.  This is not the first REU experience for Angela, who is currently a junior.  During Summer 2015, she participated in an REU at Louisiana State University, focusing her research on “Computational Forensics: Creating a Digital Environment for Facial Synthesis and Reconstruction” during Summer 2015.

Angela shares, “I applied to this Amgen program because of its focus on biomedical research. As a computer science major, I have come to appreciate how interdisciplinary this field can be. It’s exciting to be able to apply what I have learned in my courses to open problems in domains that can benefit from improved computational techniques. Biology is an excellent example of such a domain.  I plan to apply to graduate school for computer science, with a focus in the area of computational biology. I am positive that this summer experience will be a wonderful learning opportunity that will help prepare me for my future goals.”

Elisa Idrobo (Class of 2018)

Elisa Idrobo is looking forward to TECBio REU at the University of Pittsburgh this summer.  The TECBio program focuses on the “simulation and visualization of biological systems at multiple scales.”  Elisa will be mentored by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University professors, and anticipates working on an interdisciplinary project such as exploring algorithms for drug discovery, the use of machine learning to predict protein-protein interaction, or computer simulations of biological systems.  There will be weekly seminars and a journal club for REU students to analyze and present current research articles.  Last summer, Elisa participated in an interdisciplinary research project, “Detecting Calling Male Frogs Above the Background Chorus Noise”, where she created a Java based simulation of a model in the TCNJ Mentored Undergraduate Summer Experience (MUSE) research program in 2015.

Elisa is seeking connections between fields: “I’m interested in biology and want to explore how  it can be related to computer science. This summer I hope to gain more experience in doing research and have a better idea of whether I want to continue on to grad school after graduation.”

Congratulations to Angela and Elisa for being selected to participate in these summer REU opportunities!