Undergraduate Researchers Impress Viterbi Community With CURVE Symposium Posters

Cheyenne Gaima | July 22, 2021

Over 100 USC Viterbi undergraduates present their year-long research projects virtually at the 2021 Viterbi Research Symposium

Undergraduate Hannah Rose and her Ph.D. advisor, Jayson Sia, meet via Zoom to discuss latest research findings.

Undergraduate Hannah Rose and her Ph.D. advisor, Jayson Sia, meet via Zoom to discuss latest research findings. (PHOTO/Hannah Rose)

In the summer of 2020, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering launched the Center for Undergraduate Research in Viterbi Engineering (CURVE) Fellowship in an effort to engage undergraduate students interested in conducting cutting-edge research alongside renowned faculty.

One year later, on May 18, 2021, the inaugural class of CURVE fellows presented their research in a poster-style virtual symposium. Over four hours, guests and students visited various research rooms within the virtual space as fellows presented their posters and answered live questions through video chat.

Among 113 presenters, eight students received prizes for their work.

The CURVE fellows, each supported by a $1250 stipend, range in discipline, year and background. Promoting equity and diversity in the undergraduate research experience was one of the main goals of the CURVE Fellowship.

Assad Oberai, USC Viterbi vice dean for research, said the program allows students to learn the process of creation and discovery early on in their academic careers.

Before CURVE, Hannah Rose, the first-place winner for the ECE department, doubted her ability to contribute to open-ended research questions. With the encouragement and support of her Ph.D. mentor, Jayson Sia, an electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate, Rose excelled in her project and is continuing her work as a researcher this summer.

“The symposium was my first time presenting research,” Rose said, “and I really appreciated the professors and Ph.D. students who listened to my presentation, asked meaningful questions, and provided thought-provoking suggestions.”

Rose’s research symposium poster takes first place for the ECE group (PHOTO/Hannah Rose)

In addition to participating in faculty-led research, CURVE fellows attended professional development workshops and worked closely with Ph.D. mentors during the spring 2021 semester to advance their research skills. As CURVE grows, the program hopes to offer more hands-on research opportunities for engineering students.

“I’ve really appreciated the organized structure of the CURVE program and the network of mentors I’ve been introduced to, all of which have helped enhance this research experience,” Rose said. “I definitely feel more empowered to learn brand new skills.”

Here are the symposium’s first and second place winners, respectively, by department group:

GROUP 1: BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING

Vy Ho

Year: Sophomore:

Major: Biomedical engineering

Lab: Applegate Research Group (Brian Applegate) — Signal Processing for Optical Coherence Tomography Imaging of the Ear

Poster Title: “Algorithm to Segment B-scan Images of the Mouse Cochlea”

Jessica Zhu

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biomedical engineering

Lab: The Irimia Lab (Andrei Irimia) — Brain MRI analysis, connectomics and machine learning for neuroscience knowledge discovery

Poster Title: “Comparison of Fractional Anisotropy Along White Matter Connections in Health vs Mild Traumatic Brain Injury”

GROUP 2: ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

Hannah Rose

Year: Sophomore

Major: Electrical and computer engineering

Lab: Cyber Physical Systems Group (Paul Bogdan) — Covid-19 misinformation, SARS-CoV-2 viral analysis, complex networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence

Poster Title: “A Network Approach to Misinformation Dissemination in News Articles and Tweets”

Yifan Xue

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical engineering

Lab: DesCyPhy Lab (Pierluigi Nuzzo) — Self-Driving Vehicle Testbed

Poster Title: “Efficiency Evaluation of RL Training Models in Quadcopter Attitude Control”

GROUP 3: AEROSPACE AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, ASTRONATICAL ENGINEERING, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

Mohammad Khan

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical engineering

Lab: John McArthur — Value function maximization for waypoint placement

Poster Title: “Intelligent Waypoint Placement for Aircrafts”

Jude Sorkin

Year: Freshman

Major: Aerospace engineering

Lab: Geoffrey Spedding — Virtual Experiments on Low Reynolds Number Wings

Poster Title: “Creating Steady Flow Over Airfoils Using Cheaper Wind Tunnel Alternatives”

GROUP 4: INDUSTRIAL AND SYSTEMS ENGINEERING, COMPUTER SCIENCE

Shuyang Zhang

Year: Junior

Major: Computer science

Lab: IDM Lab (Sven Koenig) — Multi-Agent Path Planning

Poster Title: “ML-Guided Prioritized Planning for Multi-Agent Path Finding”

Wardah Jabeen

Year: Junior

Major: Computer science

Lab: Intelligence and Knowledge Discovery (INK) Lab (Xiang Ren) — Post-hoc Explanation Demo for Deep Learning Models in Natural Language Processing

Poster Title: “How Well Can a Machine Learning Model Do with Continuous Stream of Real Text Data from Various Years?”

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