NME students showcase findings at UW Undergraduate Research Symposium

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Each year, nearly 1,000 undergraduates pack Mary Gates Hall to present research talks and posters at the Annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium. This year several rooms were dedicated to nanotechnology research, where 27 seniors in the Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering undergraduate option program showcased projects completed in UW research labs over the previous year.

F2013 Undergraduate Research Symposiumrom tailoring the surface properties of nanoparticles for biomedical applications to controlling nanowire morphology to improve the efficiency of organic photovoltaic devices, NME students made real contributions to challenging technical problems in UW research groups, while gaining valuable research experience to prepare them for future careers in industry and academia.

Convinced that nanoscience was the key to the future of cutting-edge materials, MSE student Natalie Larson joined the NME program as a sophomore and sought a research project that would help her understand the nanoscale aspects of materials science and engineering.

Working in the lab of MSE Professor Brian Flinn in collaboration with researchers at Boeing, Natalie investigated the effects of an epoxy's elastic modulus on the sensitivity of a damage-sensing probe for use in aerospace composites. Her experience over the course of two years served as a launching point for a future research career. "My work with Boeing gave me experience networking, working with scientists in industry, asking questions"¦ I learned not only what to ask and when to ask it, but also when to abandon a particular approach."

She presented her research at several conferences and will return to Boeing this summer for an internship before starting graduate school in the MSE Department at UC Santa Barbara. "The NME program provided a great incentive to do research," she observed, adding "students should not be afraid to approach professors and ask how they can participate.”

NME 2013 Poster WinnersNatalie was one of three winners of awards were given for best NME posters in the areas of Nanoscale Multiphase and Interfacial Engineering, Biomolecular & Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, and Advances in Nanoscale and Molecular Characterization.

This year's winners, BioE student Eric Do, MSE student Natalie Larson, and ChemE student Curtis Whittle were presented with an award certificate by NME Director René Overney and invited to make a formal presentation in the NME spring seminar course taught by Mechanical Engineering Professor Jaehyun Chung. "I was very impressed at the high quality research and sincere endeavor in interdisciplinary areas," he reflects, "and it was great fun to see the students grow as experts in their fields."