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Undergraduate research offers an opportunity to see how complex questions are asked and answered and the process that goes into both. Students also learn that those who do research must share their findings with the world to make it meaningful.

Publishing work and making presentations of research findings helps the world know about your results and helps establish the student’s expertise in the area. 

Student discoveries and inventions have been the subject of new patent applications in the past.  If you think you may have something unique that could be patentable, it would need to be protected prior to any public presentation. Please email OTC@wpi.edu, to discuss this with someone from WPI’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

Publishing Research Findings

As an undergraduate, publishing work in journals is valuable for sharing findings and establishing a reputation as a researcher and capable problem solver.

Where can undergraduates publish their work and how can they get started? An advisor can help students find research journals focused on undergraduate work. These are good starting points and help students work up to publishing in professional journals.

Take a look at peer-reviewed journal articles with WPI undergraduate co-authors at the WPI Undergraduate Research Publication Collection.

Presenting Your Research

Presenting research in a public forum helps others learn about the research and begins to establish the student’s depth of knowledge in the field. 

Where do undergraduates present their work? Conferences and symposia are places where undergraduates can gain presentation experience. Look for undergraduate presentation sessions or try WPI’s on-campus Works in Progress at WPI Symposia. For presentations that require travel, there may be funding available from the hosting conference or your research advisor may have travel funds to support you.  Please check in with the Office of Undergraduate Research by contacting the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies.  Let us know about your presentation and inquire about financial support.

Remember that presentations are professional events, so understanding expectations about posters, attire, and decorum will make students more comfortable and more successful.

You can also present your work remotely on a live platform or with a pre-recorded video, such as the many presentations on the WPI Virtual Undergraduate Research Showcase.  The videos below are taken from the session The Making of a Research Video that was held in fall 2020 (press pause before you go left or right to look at another video).  During this interactive session, 2-minute segments of students' summer research videos were played, followed by a discussion of what went into the making of the videos.  They were joined by members of the Global Lab in the Foisie Innovation Studio who shared additional tips.  For these summer research videos, the students were specifically asked to introduce their research to a high school audience.

You can access the full video here.

See a clip from Ally's summer research video, as well as hear her talk about how she made the recording, including her use of scripting.  The goal of Ally's research project was to develop a set of human-computer interaction best practices for designing user interfaces entirely in a signed language.

 

Ally Salvino '22, Developing and Studying Novel Sign Language Technology

Adrian talks about some of the stylistic choices he made for his video, such as using slides and his color choices.  His research goal was to create a mathematical model that can predict the concentrations of mRNA and protein for an induced gene for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacteria that causes tuberculosis in humans.

 

Adrian Orszulak '22, Understanding the Link Between Gene Expression and Transcription Rate in Mycobacteria tuberculosis

Susanna discusses her use of her iPhone to record her video and how she edited it.  The goal of Susanna's project was to use a sequence alignment tool to understand the single nucleotide polymorphisms in the genes of different fungi to determine why some are multidrug-resistant and others are not.

 

Susanna Oppong '23, Understanding Superbug Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

The goal of Jackie and Maya's summer research was to create more positive health and social outcomes by breaking down isolation through connecting grandfamilies with each other and with necessary resources.  In the video, you can also hear Jackie and Maya talk about the experience of working on a team remotely and their use of animations in their video.

 

Maya Angeles '23 and Jackie Lopez '23, Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Support Vulnerable Populations

Protecting Your Research

Student MQPs and research projects have led to creations or devices that may be patentable.  If you think you may have intellectual property that should be protected, email the Office of Technology Commercialization at OTC@wpi.edu prior to discussing your work publicly.

You can also learn more about the patenting process by taking a look at the videos below from the Patents and Inventions Workshop that was held in fall 2020 (press pause before you go left or right to look at another video).  During this interactive session, audience members heard and saw presentations from the experts in the WPI Office of Technology Commercialization.  Here is a glossary of terms.

You can access the full video here.

During her time in Popovic Labs, Ellen Clarrissimeaux (Mechanical Engineering '20) worked on a project inspired by the Humanoid Walking Robot.  Ellen and her collaborators developed a smaller, more lightweight valve that improves the working of the robot and applied for a patent for their creation.  Hear her talk about their invention and the patenting process.

Todd Keiller and Sarah Mahan from the Office of Technology Commercialization talk about the ins and outs of inventions, patents, and intellectual property.  You will also see some examples of startups resulting from the work that WPI students and faculty do.

 

During the workshop, audience members had the opportunity to participate in an interactive quiz.  This quiz improved understanding of, and opened up discussions about some of the different types of patents: utility patents, design patents, copyrights, and trademarks.  Here is a glossary of terms discussed during the workshop.

Professor Chris Brown of the Mechanical Engineering Department is an active inventor and holds numerous patents.  Hear him discuss his experience with the overall patent process, as well as building intellectual property, creating businesses with products to help people, and working with undergraduate and graduate students.

Professor Emmanuel Agu has also been a very active patenter.  Hear him talk about some of his patents and inventions, including a wound image analysis app and Algogait, which is a Driving Under the Influence prevention tool that utilizes smartphone sensing.  Professor Agu also discusses the importance of starting conversations with the Office of Technology Commercialization early if you think you have something patentable.

Anastasia Karapanagou '19 talks about her experience, including her involvement in I-Corps, a program that provides financial and mentoring support to student and faculty teams who think they have an idea that addresses a market need and has commercial potential.  Anastasia also discusses her participation in Mass Challenge and National I-Corps, as well as starting her own business.