Research Opportunities

Summer 2022 opportunities are posted below.
  • Yun Zhou, Assistant Professor

    Quantitative analysis of plant growth and development

    The research project involves the genotyping and phenotyping of different mutant and transgenic plants, through molecular biology and imaging approaches.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Pranay Ranjan, Lead Research Scientist

    Social Science Evaluation of a Farmland Preservation Program

    We are conducting a social science evaluation of the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) – a federal program that helps protect agricultural land from development, and delivers public benefits such as improved environmental and water quality. The Summer Stay Scholar will have the opportunity to report and present survey results and/or be involved with the process of conducting semi-structured interviews with the owners of agricultural land.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Maria Sepulveda, Professor

    Effects of Forever Chemicals on Fish and Amphibians

    The goal of this research project is to evaluate the toxicity of "forever chemicals" (per/polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS) in fish and amphibians. The student will assist with experiments that evaluate toxicity to the nervous system and to the liver. The student will work under the direct supervision of a graduate student and learn several skills including animal husbandry and breeding; animal behavior; and other techniques.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Luiz Brito, Assistant Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Genomics

    Genomics of heat tolerance in pigs

    The success of genomic selection for improved heat tolerance in lactating sows depends on the availability of phenotypes that are heritable, can be measured on a large number of animals and that represent well the behavioral and physiological mechanisms of heat stress response in lactating sows. Defining the optimal phenotypes that can be collected at a cost-effective manner in a large number of animals is a priority for the swine industry in order to fully utilize genomic selection. Therefore, it is of utmost value to investigate the usefulness of phenotypes routinely measured in breeding and commercial pig herds and define novel indicator-traits that might better capture the genetic variability for heat tolerance in lactating sows. These traits and statistical models need to be biologically validated through comprehensive (in-depth) phenotyping of animals with divergent genetic merit for the traits identified. The overall goal of this project is to investigate and biologically validate genomic selection methods and identify novel traits to optimize selection for improving heat tolerance while maintaining or increasing the productivity of lactating sows under heat stress conditions. The Undergraduate students involved in this project will have the opportunity to participate in data collection, data analyses and interpretation, preparation of scientific abstracts, and oral presentations.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Laura Ingwell, Assistant Professor

    Pest monitoring and control for specialty crops

    Research in my lab focuses on developing tools and management strategies for fruit and vegetable growers who have to manage insect pests in their crops. Research experiences in my lab will be centered on pest monitoring/trapping networks to improve timely management decisions, focus on challenges unique to urban agricultural production and controlled environment or protected agriculture. I focus on implementing biological and organic pest management strategies.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Laramy Enders, Assistant Professor

    Using beneficial microbes to protect crops from insect pests

    Microorganisms are essential for plant health because of the many beneficial roles they play, including enhanced growth and protection against stress. For example, root-associated microbes assist plants in acquiring nutrients from the soil and can boost defenses against insect attackers. This research project focuses on understanding how beneficial microbes can improve protection against insect pests and reduce damage to crops (e.g. tomato, wheat). Both laboratory and field/greenhouse experiments will be used to investigate plant-insect-microbe interactions. This project will provide student training in fundamental molecular techniques (e.g. DNA extraction, PCR), plant and insect rearing, experimental design, and basic data science competencies (e.g. data management, intro bioinformatics).

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Jonathan (Alex) Pasternak, Assistant Professor

    Physiology of fetal and neonatal disease resistance and resilience

    Our lab is investigating the physiological mechanisms of disease resistance and resilience in the late gestation fetus and neonate. Undergraduate projects for summer 2022 are available and will involve work on a non-pathogenic porcine model of hypothyroidism. Specific activities will depend on student course schedule and availability, but applicants can expect to be involved in a combination of laboratory techniques (RNA extraction, qPCR, protein quantification, microscopy, image analysis) and animal work (necropsy, sample processing, and husbandry). Students interested in the position are encouraged to contact Dr. Pasternak directly.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Elizabeth Flaherty, Associate Professor

    Evaluating diet of chimpanzees using stable isotope analysis

    Hunting has been considered a male-biased behavior in primates but there is evidence that in savanna chimpanzees, hunting is female-biased. This project will use stable isotope analysis to investigate diet and compare meat consumption between male and female chimpanzees to evaluate long-held assumptions about behavior in this species. The student will work with faculty PIs at Purdue to process and prepare samples in the laboratory for submission to the stable isotope lab.

    This experience will occur: June, July

    Bhagyashree Katare, Associate Professor

    Workplace wellness program in rural small businesses

    We will be conducting a field experiment, where we will be providing workplace wellness training to rural small business employees in Indiana. The student will help in contacting and recruiting the rural businesses and conducting surveys of employees. They will also be helping with data consolidation, data cleaning, and data analysis.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Ann Kirchmaier, Associate Professor

    Undergraduate Research Opportunity in Epigenetics

    The student will conduct primary hypothesis-based research, learn to design experiments, and interpret results. The student will utilize genetic, biochemical, or metabolic strategies to assess functions of evolutionarily conserved metabolic enzymes and how their metabolic intermediates influence gene expression using the budding yeast model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Anne Traynor, Associate Professor

    Where are the Freely Associated States students?

    This project is sponsored by the US Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab program ( The goal is to collect data that can be used by US Embassies to 1) Better tailor educational counseling to future US university students from the island nations of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, and 2) Design outreach programs. Working with the project’s faculty mentor and State Department officials, our team of undergraduates and a graduate student facilitator will locate, enumerate, and survey students from Pacific Island nations attending US colleges. We will contact admissions, institutional research, or cultural center offices at US colleges that are expected to enroll notable concentrations of Micronesian students to obtain summary demographic information for their students. With colleges’ permission and assistance, we will survey or interview a small number of Micronesian students from selected schools regarding their college choice process, and their study majors, home visitation, and postgraduation plans.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

  • Vaneet Aggarwal, Associate Professor

    Quantum Machine Learning

    In this project, we aim to consider the use of quantum-inspired networks for improving the performance of machine learning.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Vaneet Aggarwal, Associate Professor

    Applications of Reinforcement Learning

    In this project, we will consider applications of multi-agent reinforcement learning to play games.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Thomas Beechem, Associate Professor

    Polaritonic Energy Transport

    Who we are… Specere is a Latin word that means “to look or behold.” That’s what we do. We look, explore, and examine different ways to (1) move energy with light and (2) get information from light. More specifically, we are a light lab employing infrared physics to create spectroscopic, thermal, and sensing solutions. Research Topic, Polaritonic Energy Transport: We seek to design materials capable of more effectively moving heat at extremely small scales like those in modern microelectronics. Success will enable more efficient data centers, power electronics like those in EV’s, and new computing architectures. What’ You’ll Do: Team members will be responsible for designing and/or testing novel (meta)material stacks capable of maximizing heat transfer using a combination of computational modeling and experimental measurements of optical properties. Direct mentoring from Dr. Beechem will build your skills up in each area such that you will gain proficiency in advanced simulation (COMSOL) and spectroscopic tools (Raman, IR-ellipsometry). In addition, you will have the chance to participate in writing journal articles and pursuing patents based on your work.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Seungjin Kim, Professor, and Head

    Experiments on two-phase flow and reactor safety

    Students will perform experiments in test facilities available at Thermal-hydraulics and Reactor Safety Laboratory ( and learn how to use both fundamental and advanced flow instruments. Students will perform data analysis using the measured data and learn how to write technical reports.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Kendrick Hardaway,

    Environmental impacts of training autonomous vehicles

    The project will consist of measuring the environmental impact of training autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles are expected to contribute to reducing environmental impacts in transportation primarily through efficiency gains and enhanced sharing. However, autonomous vehicles have not yet been fully deployed because they require further training on various roads and to handle various circumstances. The training could take several more decades. Aspects of autonomous vehicle training worth noting for emissions and energy consumption involve the mileage generated for public on-road training, the energy needed for simulation training, and testing site construction, but other significant sources of emissions and resource use in the training process could be identified. Thus far, environmental impact calculations have neglected the energy use and emissions of training autonomous vehicles. By measuring the training contributions to the environmental issue, the environmental impact of autonomous vehicles can be represented more holistically. A holistic view can provide better estimates for the role autonomous vehicles may play in addressing environmental issues.

    This experience will occur: June, July, August

    Hua Cai, Associate Professor

    Exploring the “secret sauce” of shared mobility systems

    Shared micro-mobility systems (e.g., bikeshare, e-scooter share, and shared e-bikes) have been in rapid development in many cities. Over a thousand systems have been launched globally and more have been planned. While some of the systems are very successful and keep expanding with more stations, bikes/scooters, and users, some have failed and been terminated. This project aims to conduct a large-scale global analysis on what factors contribute to the success or failure of shared micro-mobility systems, considering the demographic, culture, built environment, existing transportation infrastructure, and system design and operation factors. Students will be involved in data collection, pre-processing data into structured formats, and data analysis to build data-driven models to identify the key factors for successfully shared mobility systems and inform the future development of sustainable transportation systems.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Guillermo Paniagua, Professor

    Revolutionary turbine-based systems

    This project aims to develop radical new turbine concepts for clean propulsion while addressing fundamental problems of fluid mechanics. Performing detailed experimental measurements in such small turbines is a challenging task that requires thousands of sensors with minimal size, high-frequency response, and minimal flow distortion. In order to achieve an accurate estimation of all the performance figures of merit of a novel turbine, it is necessary to accompany the experimental results with computational analysis.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Greg Shaver, Undergraduate Research Assistantship

    Low CO2 Commercial Vehicle Engine Systems

    High-efficiency, low CO2 natural gas and diesel engine research focused on understanding how variable valve actuation (VVA) can improve the gas exchange and combustion in advanced IC engines used to move freight, people, and farm.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Denny Yu, Assistant Professor

    Sensing-based modeling of human performance in high-stress environments

    This project focuses on computer vision and sensor-based techniques to understand human performance in healthcare. Such sensor-based metrics could be used for effective performance assessment in environments such as the operating room to improve patient safety.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Chris Williams, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering

    Experimental Research in Reinforced/Prestressed Concrete

    The research is focused on the design and behavior of reinforced concrete structures. The opportunity will provide a student with exposure to hands-on research activities within a large structural testing lab. The student should be willing to help fabricate and test large reinforced concrete specimens and/or prepare such specimens for testing. The need may also arise for reviewing data or other computer work.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Caitlin Proctor, Assistant Professor

    Biofilm Detachment from Pipes

    Biofilm can form on most surfaces, including inside pipes delivering drinking water. While these biofilms are often harmless, they can contain pathogens harmful to human health. In this project, the participant will work alongside a graduate student to quantify and model detachment dynamics in small diameter pipes.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Caitlin Proctor, Assistant Professor

    Biofilm Growth and Detachment in Drinking Water Pipes

    The pipes that deliver your drinking water play host to a vibrant and diverse ecosystem and most of the resident bacteria live on biofilms along pipe walls. In this project, you will explore the dynamics of biofilm growth and detachment using a variety of microbiological tools.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Abolfazl Hashemi, Assistant Professor

    AI for Inference Tasks using RNA Sequencing Data

    This project aims to develop novel artificial intelligence (AI) frameworks for inference tasks involving RNA sequence data such as the reconstruction of viral populations and study of genetic variations, provide actionable insight about the genetic signatures, and release open-source software based on the developed frameworks.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Zoe Taylor, Associate Professor

    Purdue Puentes Project

    The Purdue Puentes Project(PPP) is a research study focused on Latino youth in farmworker and agricultural families in Indiana led by Dr. Zoe Taylor (HDFS) and Dr. Yumary Ruiz (Public Health). This ongoing longitudinal project is examining youth’s mental and physical health, adjustment, challenges, and resilience. Students will gain research experience working as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Summer research opportunities include data collection with youth across Indiana (surveys and qualitative interviews) as well as organizational and lab tasks such as transcribing interviews, recruitment, and phone calls. Spanish speakers are especially welcome to apply.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Zoe Taylor, Associate Professor

    Resilient Families Lab

    Dr. Taylor (Human Development and Family Studies) is accepting students to work with the Resilient Families Lab on projects relating to strengths and resilience in vulnerable and underrepresented families. She currently has two projects: 1) Puentes Project--which is an ongoing project collecting data with Latinx youth in farmworker and agricultural families, and 2) Strengths in Single Mothers Project--a three-wave project of single mothers and their children. Students will have the opportunity to participate in numerous research activities such as data collection, transcribing and coding interviews, and data analysis.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Stewart Chang Alexander, Associate Professor

    Adolescent Sexual Minority Needs in Rural Indiana

    We will be conducting a series of focus groups (with adolescent young men, parents, and providers) to better understand the needs of SMS men in rural Indiana. This work will inform future rural health outreach in Indiana to young MSM adolescents.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

    Stewart Chang Alexander, Associate Professor

    Loneliness in palliative Care

    Study to examine the expressions of loneliness ( such as social isolation, existential loneliness, etc) During palliative care Consultations. Will listen to and code all expressions of loneliness in real-life palliative care conversations.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

    Randolph Hubach, Associate Professor, Public Health

    Sexual Health Research Lab

    The Sexual Health Research Lab is a collaborative group of scholars from across disciplines working to advance sexual health and address sexuality-related health disparities. Student scholars will assist with our NIH-funded mHealth intervention working with rural American Indian men and rural sexual minority men. Students will be able to assist with qualitative and quantitative data analysis, manuscript development, and the development of reports to be disseminated to the funder, stakeholders, and community organizations.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Mark Wilson, Clinical Assistant Professor

    Understanding Pilots’ Physiological Arousal and Stress

    While flying in the sky is thrilling and exciting as a student pilot, it also leads to physiological arousal and stress due to flying a plane through life risk situations, involving maneuvers, weather, etc. during training. Therefore, researchers have tried to assess student pilots’ stress using flight simulators. However, while a flight simulator can be helpful to get some insights about physiological arousal and stress of student pilots that controlled environment fails to capture various spontaneous factors that happen while flying in the air. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct a study to get an assessment about student pilots’ physiological arousal and stress which is incurred due to real flight in the sky. Due to the advantage to have an active aviation program at Purdue University, we are working with our aviation safety collaborators to collect student pilots’ physiological arousal and stress due to flying in the sky. We will use a Powerlab 26T sensor suite with 3 lead ECG and cardiac microphone sensors to collect physiological data from pilots and Powerlab labchart software to analyze the data. However, considering the onboard safety while flying and to minimize student pilots’ distraction, we plan to mount the sensors on the student pilots before and after flying. So, this first phase of research will focus on flying itself along with different flying routines/scripts (e.g., maneuvers, long route) to get some insights into physiological arousal and stress. We will also account for external factors like weather, wind, time, etc. based on their availability to get further insight. This study has a long-term implication. Findings from this work will not only help the student pilots to cope with stress and manage their health but will also help the professional pilots and astronauts; ultimately, this will significantly contribute to aviation and passenger safety and has a huge economic impact.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Lucrecia Mena Meléndez, Post-Doctoral Research Associate

    Purdue Puentes Project: Mental & Physical Health in Latinx Migrant Farmworker Youth

    The Purdue Puentes Project (PPP) is a research study focused on Latino youth and mothers in farmworker families in Indiana. This five-year study is led by Dr. Yumary Ruiz (Dept. of Public Health) and Dr. Zoe Taylor (Dept. of Human Dev. & Family Studies) funded by the National Institute of Minority Health Disparities. We are collecting data with youth and their mothers that focuses on mental and physical health, adjustment, and resilience. We are looking for research assistants for the summer and would like for you to consider working on our team! Research Assistants may receive research credits, internship experience, and/or volunteer hours. Research assistants will help with data collection (such as administering surveys), conduct one-on-one interviews with youth participants, assist with recruitment, and other tasks.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Kristine Marceau, Assistant Professor

    Biobehavioral Development Lab The Biobehavioral Development Laboratory is dedicated to understanding how genetic influences, prenatal environments, hormones, and family environments together shape children’s and adolescents’ behavior. With Dr. Kristine Marceau (HDFS), students will become involved in research involving human genetics, the stress response and neuroendocrine changes at puberty, and how the family environment both before and after birth can work together with and even change biological influences on child and adolescent development. As a student in the BDL, you can expect to read research articles and write summaries of findings, creating graphical descriptions of research findings or research-based information, and be trained in and conduct data management, statistical description of data, and data analysis. There may also be opportunities for data collection. You will gain research experience for your vita or resume, opportunities for student-led research (e.g., for the Purdue Undergraduate Research and Poster Symposium), graduate application mentoring, a letter of recommendation for graduate school, and opportunities for joining team presentations at national and international conferences (e.g., Society for Research in Child Development). Tasks for Summer 2022 are likely to include data documentation and basic statistical analysis of adolescent behavioral and hormone data.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Jonathon Day, Associate Professor

    Sustainable Tourism Development Project

    Students will be gathering information on effective sustainable tourism strategies in destinations and businesses. The project is building a set of cases studies to highlight solutions to a range of challenges facing tourism businesses and organizations when implementing sustainability.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Franki Kung, Assistant Professor

    Managing Conflicts and Goals

    At the Conflict and Mindset Collaboratory, we conduct research to help people and organizations effectively manage: a) Culture and Diversity (e.g., immigrants, diversity policies, cultural mindset); b) Conflict Resolution (e.g., negotiation, feedback effectiveness); and c) Multiple Goals (e.g., self-regulation, goal conflicts). Students will have opportunities to participate in one of the above three lines of research. We design the lab experience to prepare our undergraduate research assistants for graduate school and jobs in the fields of I-O and social psychology, management, human resource, and organizational behavior. Junior research assistants will have opportunities to - conduct online surveys, field studies, and behavioral experiments - perform qualitative analysis (e.g., picture coding and linguistic analysis) - participate and present in lab meetings - attend research training workshops (e.g. literature review, survey design, data analysis) Senior research assistants (who already have 1+ year research experience) will have the opportunities to - coordinate participant recruitment and lab schedule - conduct micro-training sessions - develop their own research ideas and design studies - present findings in regional conferences

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Erin Hennes, Assistant Professor

    Social Cognition of Social Justice Lab

    We study how resistance to social change leads to cognitive and motivated biases in the processing of information about the status quo, particularly in the context of environmental sustainability and racial and gender inequality. We also conduct research to develop and examine the efficacy (and potential unintended consequences) of interventions that highlight status-quo injustices.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Erin Hennes, Assistant Professor

    The SuperPower Project

    Research with the SuperPower Project focuses on the development of new methods for supporting scientific best practices, with a focus on sample size determination. Lab members are engaged in a number of research projects related to statistical software development, data simulation, meta-analysis, machine learning, and human-computer interaction.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Dennis Savaiano, Meredith Professor

    Lactose digestion: Can a bifidus probiotic improve tolerance

    Work with the Clinical Research Center to recruit, enroll and manage subjects who are part of a clinical trial to determine if probiotic bifidus bacteria can improve lactose digestion and tolerance.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

    Chelsea Song, Assistant Professor

    Recruitment and Selection

    Our research projects aim to develop fair and effective personnel selection (hiring) systems. Ongoing projects focus on: - Fairness and validity of machine learning applications in recruitment and selection - Personality, vocational interests, work values and how they influence performance and satisfaction towards work These topics aim to answer questions such as what predicts workplace outcome (e.g., personality, vocational interests), how to measure them (e.g., psychometrics), and how to make decisions (e.g., diversity in hiring, multiple-objective optimization).

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Carolyn McCormick, Assistant Professor

    Measurement, Autism, and Child Development Lab

    The MAC Lab uses multiple methodological approaches to better understand the lived experiences of children and families impacted by autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Student members of the lab have the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of tasks, including literature review, data collection, data processing, presentation, and engagement activities with the community.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Carlyn Kimiecik, Graduate Student Staff/Ruiz Lab Supervisor

    Public Health Community-Based Research

    The student will be supervised and work closely with a graduate student and be mentored by Dr. Yumary Ruiz to carry out public health research in the area of health disparities and positive youth development with a particular focus on the vulnerable. This student will engage in community-based research in order to better understand how individual, social, and environmental factors impact the health of youth. Research activities will focus on both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and include opportunities to conduct literature reviews. Additionally, this student will be trained and have the responsibility of recruiting/consenting study participants, collecting, transcribing, and entering data, and assisting in preparing research reports, presentations, and articles. The student selected will also participate in research team meetings and have the opportunity to learn alongside and collaborate with a team of researchers.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Arielle Borovsky, Associate Professor

    Using novel methods to measure early language skills before school entry

    Take part in a research project using a variety of technological approaches to measure early language skills in children under the age of three. Research assistants are matched with tasks that help to develop their individual skills and interests. Some available tasks include: interacting with caregivers and their young children to support research recruitment and data collection, designing eye-tracking experiments, developing an app to measure early language skills. Our lab involves a team of researchers with a range of backgrounds and skills. We have had prior success in working with undergraduate students from a range of fields including BME, PSYC, SLHS, HDFS, BIO.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Amanda Seidl, Research Assistant Purdue Infant Speech Lab

    Infant Vocal Maturity Coding

    Infants with neurogenetic disorders often go on to present with delays or disorders in speech and language later in development. In this study, we explore early speech production (e.g., babbling) in infancy to look for early predictors of delays and disorders. You will learn to code infants' vocal maturity through listening to recordings of infant vocalizations gathered through day-long recordings from wearable devices (small recorders in a pocket of a vest infant volunteers wear).

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

    Alvin Kao, Assistant Professor

    Within-day repeatability of exercise-induced enhancements in brain function, cognitive performance, and academic skills in children

    The Physical Activity and NeuroCognitive Health (PANCH) lab are conducting a research project funded by Spencer Foundation to investigate how exercise can be strategically used to temporarily enhance children’s cognition. Specifically, this project includes two laboratory visits. The visit includes collecting data about child participants’ demographic information, physical activity experiences (i.e., sport, exercise), and physical abilities such as motor competence and aerobic fitness. On visit 2, child participants complete two sessions of 20-min aerobic exercise, with the two exercise sessions being separated by a 1-hour break. Before and after each aerobic exercise session, child participants complete a series of cognitive tasks while their brain activation is recorded using an electroencephalogram (EEG) system. The goal of this project is to determine the best practice method to integrate exercise into children’s daily life such as school days to boost their brain and cognitive function that is fundamental for learning.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Susie Swithers, Professor of Psychological Sciences

    Dietary effects on neuroinflammation and behavior

    Assist with research in rats that explores the effects of diets high in fat and sugar on learning and memory tasks and changes in protein expression in the brain.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Zach Warner, Assistant Professor of Political Science

    Democracy in plain sight: Statutory election forms and the quality of democracy worldwide

    Democracy is difficult. Running elections is challenging, particularly in developing countries where bureaucratic capacity is low. To help ensure free and fair elections, many countries have started using paper forms, which are manually filled out at each polling station, to record official vote tallies. Millions of such forms exist for hundreds of countries, but scholars have only just begun to study them. We do not know when and where to expect irregularities on such forms -- such as incorrect vote counts, missing official stamps, and so on -- and whether they reflect simple administrative slip-ups or more malicious behavior such as outright voter fraud. In this project, I am collecting all of these "statutory forms" and using computational techniques to analyze them. Using deep neural networks, I identify irregularities on these forms and correlate them to polling station-level vote outcomes (such as turnout or vote percentages). My goal is to quantify the quality of elections in democracies around the world and to develop strategies to improve them. In this project, you will assist me in collecting and analyzing this data. You will learn how to scrape data from websites, manage big data, and use machine learning tools. You will develop skills in Python and data science broadly (e.g., version control using GitHub). And you will learn about the nitty-gritty of how elections work in developing democracies.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Ximena Bernal, Associate Professor

    Neuroethology of eavesdropping in frog-biting mosquitoes

    This research project examines the challenge of sound localization by small organisms using flagellar ears by investigating a frog-biting mosquitoes. In this mosquito species, females are interspecific eavesdroppers specialized in using frog calls to obtain blood meals to support egg production. We integrate multiple levels of analysis (ethological, acoustical, biomechanical, and neurophysiological) to comprehensively investigate sound localization in the context of eavesdropping behavior.

    This experience will occur: June, July

    Greg Michalski,

    Research in Air Quality

    Exploring the emission sources and chemistry that result in poor air quality using chemical analysis, computer modeling, and sensor development.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Daniel Cziczo, Professor

    Mass Spectrometry of Atmospheric Particles

    This research project will involve laboratory work where small particles mimicking those found in the atmosphere will be made and investigated. The data will be compared to information collected during flights onboard a NASA research aircraft.

    This experience will occur: July, August

    Catherine Searle, Associate Professor

    Freshwater disease ecology

    The Searle lab studies the ecology of infectious disease in freshwater systems. During the summer, we will be conducting several projects including 1. field surveys of amphibian disease in local wetlands, 2. laboratory experiments testing the effects of abiotic stress on amphibian susceptibility to disease, and 3. evolution of zooplankton in response to disease. Students will work closely with the Searle lab’s technician and/or graduate students to help with these ongoing projects and potentially complete their own, independent project. Exact projects will be determined based on the interests of the student and timing of the student’s classes.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Jessica Fortin, Assistant Professor

    Drug discovery in human and/or veterinary medicine

    Dr. Fortin Drug Discovery Lab focuses on the preparation of small drug-like molecules to stop the clumping of prone-to-aggregate proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Isabelle Vanhaezebrouck, Clinical associate Teacher radiation Oncology

    Retrospective study on dogs brain tumors treated with different radiation techniques

    Radiation therapy practice has evolved with very conformal techniques within the past 15 years: Techniques such as Intensity-modulated radiation therapy and stereotactic radiation allow to target precisely the tumor while reducing the exposure of critical structures. Purdue U, College of Veterinary medicine has experienced this evolution for brain tumors such as meningioma, glioma, or choroid plexus tumor. For a single institution, does this technical progress translate to a clinical benefit for our small animal patients? Did we improve survival, disease-free interval, and quality of life over those years? Radiation data from patients treated for brain tumors will be retrieved and analyzed depending on different techniques

    This experience will occur: July, August

    GuangJun Zhang, Associate Professor

    Zebrafish genetic research on cancer and embryonic development

    Our research is focusing on human cancer driver gene discovery and vertebrate embryogenesis using zebrafish models. We use a variety of tools such as CRISPR and transposon-based transgenesis for our research. Students will not only gain some experience with modern molecular and cellular biology but also learn the zebrafish model for studying human diseases.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Adam Kimbrough, Assistant Professor

    Neural circuits of opioid addiction

    We will be seeking to identify how the brain responds to oxycodone use to lead to opioid dependence. We will look to identify key neural pathways involved in the development and maintenance of opioid dependence.

    This experience will occur: May, June, August

  • Zahra Tehrani, Clinical Assistant Professor

    Protein Design with Foldit

    This research experience tackles one of the grand challenges of biology - the protein folding problem. How does a protein’s amino acid sequence dictate its three-dimensional structure? Scientists want to design a new protein that can bind to the coronavirus more tightly than the human receptor protein to block coronavirus-human cell interaction. Novel binder proteins have been predicted by a unique computer algorithm (called Rosetta) to bind to the coronavirus spike protein; however, their three-dimensional shapes and binding efficacies are unclear. They are enlisting the help of citizen scientists using the online game Foldit. Foldit integrates the power of artificial intelligence and human puzzle-solving skills to identify the most stable folded structure of hypothetical proteins. The undergraduate researcher will be introduced to the mechanics of the Foldit software to fold and design novel proteins that may bind to the coronavirus. Thus far, over 33 designs from Foldit players have been empirically tested in the laboratory by researchers at the University of Washington.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

  • Matthew Lanham, Clinical Assistant Professor

    Designing Analytics Solutions to Solve the Right Business Objective

    Many business problems can be framed into analytics problems that necessitate a combination of descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive analytics methods. Last summer my undergraduate summer stay scholarship student worked on a research project titled “A Two-Stage Analytics Approach to Improving Window Manufacturing Process Settings” focused on integrating predictive analytics with prescriptive analytics to support a window manufacturing process where she presented her work at the Purdue Undergraduate Research Expo (; In this study, we will explore alternative design formulations that could lead to potentially better decision support. For example, formulating and solving the optimization problem (prescriptive analytics) with the uncertain parameters (predictive analytics) in a single-step rather than as a two-stage problem. We will first focus on using parametric linear regression-type formulations and then extend this to a more sophisticated decision tree-type formulation. The student is expected to have excelled in MGMT 306 Management Science or alternative optimization course, have taken MGMT 473 Data Mining or MGMT 474 Predictive Analytics, and have a working knowledge of a programming language such as R or Python. You will work directly with the professor each week and have a poster of your work you can present at the Fall Purdue Undergraduate Research Expo by the end of the summer. Email: Prof. Matthew Lanham,

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Yi Gao, Associate Professor

    A longitudinal analysis of US air travel consumer reports

    This project aims to analyze, and visualize US Air Travel Consumer Reports during 1998-2021. Students are expected to convert, clean, and process data provided by the US Department of Transportation. The faculty advisor will assist and instruct students on necessary skills if needed.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July

    William Hutzel, Professor

    Biofiltration for Improving Indoor Air Quality

    The Purdue Biowall is a patented plant-based filtration system to improve indoor air quality in homes. Research and development on this product are taking place in our Applied Energy Laboratory and in a nearby research home. We hope to expand this research to include biofiltration in zero gravity environments to support U.S. goals for space exploration. Students from a variety of disciplines, from Technology to Horticulture, are sought to continue progress on this work.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Tianyi Li, Assistant Professor

    Crowd-AI Collaboration on Road Quality Monitoring and Analysis

    In the research project, we will develop a user-centric road quality monitoring system by applying a data-informed crowdsourcing approach to assess pavement quality and driving comfortability using data collected through sensors included in smartphones. The system will aggregate mobile sensing data from road users in real-time to compute corresponding road quality metrics and provide richer and more effective road monitoring capability.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Sudip Vhaduri, Assistant Professor

    Processing and Characterization of Different Types of Cough Sounds

    Different respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and coronavirus-caused diseases, e.g., COVID-19, SARS, and MARS, have some common symptoms, such as coughs and breathlessness. However, survey-based traditional approaches, such as the Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ), Cough-Specific Quality-of-Life Questionnaire (CQLQ), and COPD Assessment Test (CAT) used for disease assessment often suffers from recall burden, human errors, and biases. With the advancement of smartphone sensing and artificial intelligence (AI), we can detect coughing patterns from smartphone microphone audio signals. Thereby, this smartphone sensing can help us to automate the disease symptom reporting process and enhance patient-physician communication. Therefore, it is important to assess different types of coughs obtained from healthy people as well as patients with different respiratory diseases, such as COPD and COVID-19. Working with an interdisciplinary research team, in this project, students will first process cough audio recordings obtained from different sources and then, they will visualize and compute different properties of those cough sounds. During this project, student researchers will be closely guided in every step, including problem formulation, data processing and characterizations, statistical analysis and data visualization, and interpretation of findings. Thereby, participating in this project, our student researchers will achieve technical expertise to solve real-world problems.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Sudip Vhaduri, Assistant Professor

    Soft-Biometric-based IoT Authentication

    With the emergence of the internet of things (IoT) and recent advancement of smart sensing technology, smartphones and wearables, such as Fitbits, are packed with a range of sensors that can help to keep track of our health and fitness, unlock cars and homes, validate and complete financial transactions, among several other services. Often these services are delivered based on users’ personal information. However, due to size and computing limitations, traditional authentications using face recognition, irish scan, and electrocardiography (ECG) signals are not convenient for market wearables. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a user authentication that can validate a user utilizing the user’s less informative coarse-grained data collected by personal devices, such as smartphones and wearables, and a multi-modal data fusion technique. Working with an interdisciplinary research team, in this project, students will first process various types of data, e.g., heart rate, gait, breathing sounds obtained from smartphones and Fitbits. Then, students will visualize and compute different features. Finally, students will develop machine learning models to authenticate a user. During this project, student researchers will be closely guided in every step, including problem formulation, data processing and characterizations, statistical analysis and data visualization, machine learning model development, and interpretation of findings. Thereby, participating in this project, our student researchers will achieve technical expertise to solve real-world problems.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Sudip Vhaduri, Assistant Professor

    Spatio-Temporal Distribution of Pollution Hotspots Around Purdue University

    During the outbreak of COVID-19, many of us started jogging outdoors instead of using treadmills in gymnasiums. While jogging we go through different intersections and depending on crowd density around the intersections, we are exposed to different types of pollution ranging from air pollution to sound pollution. Therefore, avoiding such polluted intersections could be healthy while jogging. In this project, we want to find out hotspots of different types of pollution around the Purdue West Lafayette campus. We will use Thermo Scientific MIE pDR 1500 and OPC N3 instruments to capture particulate matter air pollution data and Quest 2900 sound level meter to capture noise level data. Our student researchers will visit different intersections around the campus during different times of the day and days of the week to collect the time and geography varying pollution data. We will also collect the number of vehicles and people passing through the intersections within a certain time period. Once we collect the data, we will perform statistical analysis to compare the spatio-temporal distribution of pollutants across those intersections. Next, we will develop a Google Map visualization of the hotspots around the WL campus. Findings from this study and data analysis will help us to get some insights into the pollution hotspots and to design jogging trails that will reduce people’s exposure to pollution. Our findings can be also useful to assess people’s moods while stuck in an intersection and assess people’s awareness of pollution. This can further guide the city planners to find alternate solutions, e.g., plant more trees around the polluted intersections, or build bridges above the crowded intersections. We will meet regularly and work with the two undergraduate student researchers in every step, including sensor setup, data collection, statistical analysis, data visualization, and interpretation of findings. Thereby, participating in this project, our student researchers will be able to solve a real-world problem and will get a clear idea of how their scientific discovery contributes to the Purdue WL community.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Rua Williams, Assistant Professor

    Metacognitive skill development for children and youth through digital and robotic experiences

    Many people have difficulty regulating "executive function". Executive functions are cognitive processes that govern goal setting and task completion. Metacognition is the explicit set of skills and strategies we use to work through problems. Strong metacognitive skills can support people who struggle with executive function. In this project, student-researchers will develop a game-like experience for mobile devices that can educate young people about what executive functions are, what they feel like, and how developing your own metacognitive strategies can help.

    This experience will occur: June, July, August

    Jiansong Zhang, Research Intern

    Intelligent Natural Language System for Construction Applications

    Our AutoIC lab ( will need students interested in natural language processing and proficient in Python or Java programming language to help in the development of intelligent natural language systems for interacting with building information modeling (BIM) platforms for construction (e.g., skyscrapers, bridges) applications.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Garam Kim, Assistant Professor

    Recycling of fiber reinforced polymer composite

    The usage of fiber-reinforced composite material in various industries had increased significantly due to its advantages in physical and mechanical properties. The sustainability of composites material still needs to be solved since the effective way of recycling fiber-reinforced composites has not been addressed. In Composite Manufacturing and Research Center (CMSC) at Purdue University, the student will explore different methods of recycling fiber-reinforced composites and investigate the efficiency and potential applications of each method. The physical and mechanical properties of recycled composites will be studied by fabricating test specimens, testing, and analyzing the data.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Farid Breidi, Assistant Professor

    Design of Mixed Reality Interactive Modules

    This project requires the student to create a 3D model of mechanical components, simulate the operation of these components, and import them into a mixed reality environment. The student is expected to have a background in mechanical engineering or a closely related field.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Farid Breidi, Assistant Professor

    Digital Hydraulic Test Stand with Integrated Controls

    The student is expected to work on setting up a digital hydraulics test stand with embedded controls and data acquisition. The student will be using Matlab, Labview, and NI Veristand to control the stand. Experience in using controllers and data acquisition is needed. The student should have a background in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering or a closely related field.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

    Anne Lucietto, Associate Professor

    Study of Differences and Perceptions of STEM Students as Related to Math Anxiety and Intuition

    As an engineering technology and STEM education researcher, I have a number of projects that require basic review, and comparisons using a spreadsheet or similar method. The work is basic but provides us with a better understanding of the differences and perceptions of STEM students in various fields and in some work comparisons to their colleagues in engineering. The data is already gathered, but help is needed to graph, and review averages, etc. The results of this research will appear in a variety of journal papers, based upon the participation of the undergraduate student they will be given credit for their work in these documents.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

  • Angie Welshimer, Lead Administrative Assistant

    Research Assistant

    The Research Assistant for the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is responsible for assisting with evaluation research on undergraduate research experience (URE) activities, the OUR office, and the assessment of participants involved with URE activities across campus. Responsibilities: 1. Work closely with the research team to collect and analyze assessment data. 2. Conduct basic and intermediate statistical analyses. 3. Assist in researching UREs and related topics, and prepare reports of findings. 4. Other duties to be assigned by the Director, in addition to assisting with general office tasks. Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: 1. Experience carrying out qualitative and quantitative analyses with data sets from education, psychology, communication, or other behavioral science research or assessment 2. Excellent oral and written communication skills 3. Initiative, creativity, flexibility, and ability to work both independently and as part of a multi‐disciplinary team.

    This experience will occur: May, June, July, August

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2016 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of the Provost

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact Office of the Provost at