News from the WPI Office of Undergraduate Research - August 13


Undergraduate Research

Featured Showcase Projects

With so many great projects to see at the Virtual Research Showcase, and not nearly enough time to see them all in one sitting, this newsletter will showcase a few featured projects each week.

The Effects of Stress Stimuli on Caenorhabdidtis elegans Mechanosensory Neurons - Biochemistry

The goal of this project was to determine the changes in neuronal response to stress throughout each stage of the C. elegans life cycle. Worms with green fluorescent protein tagged to the pmec-4 gene were imaged before and after stress stimulus to determine changes in morphology and activity.  See, hear, & read more...



Students: Delainey O'Connor
Major: Biochemistry
Advisors: Prof. Suzanne Scarlata





Analyzing the Economic Impact of Inefficient Left Turns - Economic Science

The goal of this project is to research the efficiency of left hand turns in urban areas and to try and determine possible solutions to the inefficiency of left turns. I first conducted a series of observations to determine how inefficient left turns were at various types of intersections (four-way stops, those with a stoplight, and those whose stoplights provide a free left turn). After observing the differences in the different intersections, I extrapolated the data to see the overall impact that inefficient left-turns have on the US economy. I then tried to determine if there was a more efficient alternative to the inefficient left turns.  See, hear, & read more...



Students:  Stephen Wood
Majors:  Economic Science
Advisors:  Prof. Gbetonmasse Somasse




Development of Bioinspired Exosuit Actuated with Hydro Muscles and Novel Compact Robotic Flow Control Valve - Mechanical Engineering, Robotics Engineering

The biologically inspired, wearable, exo-muscular suit has been proposed as a cost-effective, fluidly actuated device for lower-limb physical therapy as well as for assistance with activities of daily living. The results from testing suggested a necessity for more advanced fluid flow management support system in the form of affordable, lightweight, and compact valves suitable for robotics applications. To meet these metrics and fulfil the requirements of the exosuits fluid flow management system the Compact Robotic Flow Control Valve was designed, manufactured, and tested. The CRFC Valve is lighter, more compact, more controllable, and less expensive than any other similar valve currently on the market.  See, hear, & read more...




Students: Ellen Clarrissimeaux and Julia D'Agostino
Majors: Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Engineering
Advisor: Prof. Marko Popovic






Summer Professional Development Series of Undergraduates (SPuDS)

Throughout the month of July, students in the SPuDS Program had the opportunity to hear from several more faculty members about their personal and professional paths - Andrea Arnold, Kathy Chen, Jeannine Coburn, Jennifer de Winter, and Robert Krueger - and continued to present their work and participate in hands-on professional development workshops.

In week four of the SPuDS Program, Prof. Adrienne Hall-Phillips from the Foisie Business School led the session Telling Your Story: Resume, Social Media & Networking focused on helping students market themselves to potential employers.  She discussed the importance of having an up-to-date resume that showcases the relevant skills and emphasizes why the student is a good fit for the specific position/company.  Students also learned about the role of social media in the hiring process, and the need to keep one's media presence appropriate and relevant.  Finally, students had the opportunity to work on crafting their own elevator pitch, and got feedback from one another and from Prof. Hall-Phillips.

Dr. Rory Flinn, Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies at WPI, ran the session What is Graduate School and How Do I Get There and Beyond? focused on teaching students the value of a graduate degree and the steps that can be taken to apply to and finance graduate programs.  He also discussed the importance of developing S.M.A.R.T. goals as part of an Individual Development Plan in order to create a set of achievable and realistic goals that can help students get to where they want to be.  Students enjoyed interacting with Dr. Flinn and engaging in discussions about career paths and setting achievable goals.

Rebekah Campo, Advisor for Academic Support and Fellowship Opportunities, led the session Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunities.  Students were encouraged to do some self-reflection about their passions and interests and to get started on preparing themselves to apply for scholarships and fellowships.  Ms. Campo talked about tips for strengthening the application, and the requirements of some of the most widely recognized fellowship and scholarship programs.  Ms. Campo also talked with students about the role of mentorship in the application process and the importance of letters of recommendation.

Continuing on the topic of finances, students heard from Mike Ahern, Director of Academic & Corporate Engagement at WPI, in the last week of the SPuDS Program.  He led the presentation, Financial Literacy, in which he shared with students a "wealth" of knowledge on finances and how to achieve financial stability.  He emphasized saving, planning, and discussed taxes and several tools that are available online that students can use.  The students also got an Excel sheet that Mr. Ahern used throughout the presentation that allowed for the adjustment of investing and saving parameters in order to generate long term financial forecasts.

Read more about the June SPuDS sessions in last month's newsletter here-Ally Salvino '22

Thanks to the EREE Program Sponsors

The Office of Undergraduate Research would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the sponsors of the Early Research Experience in E-term (EREE) Program: the WPI Women's Impact Network, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the Department of Social Sciences & Policy Studies, and the Institute for Science, Technology, and Development at WPI.

This newsletter is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research at WPI.  Please contact Prof. Suzanne Weekes, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, ad interim at if you have any questions or undergraduate research highlights.