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Rensselaer Research Review Spring 2007 * Feature Articles Awards & Grants Recent Patents Accolades
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* Kirsten Todd
Kirsten Todd, Class of ’10
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Kirsten Todd
Sophomore
Dual Major:
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Kirsten Todd started research with a part-time job to gain some experience and to have something to do over the summer. But she soon found it much more interesting than she first thought it would be. 

She works with Sang-Kee Eah, Assistant Professor of Physics, whom she credits with good mentoring.

“Dr. Eah who took the time to answer my questions and sometimes to throw them back at me to figure out myself.”

Research wasn’t quite what she expected.

“There is a lot more waiting and mistakes and frustration than I thought at first,” she said. “My research requires me to wait for drops of liquid to evaporate before I can analyze the results. It took nearly the whole summer for us to get our first results. I have learned that research is a mixture of times of great excitement and also of times of long waiting.”

She’s been frustrated countless number of times when a drop of liquid refused to stay where it was needed. “But,” she explains, “But no matter how tiresome those drops of liquid can be, I think that the rewards of research far outstrip the frustrations and I am very glad to have had this opportunity. I never dreamed I would be able to have these opportunities as an undergraduate.”

But one of her favorite rewards is the chance to use specialized instruments. “I have had opportunities to see and even use some amazingly powerful microscopes to look at my projects. I get to see nanoparticles up close and use large neat instruments to observe some of their behavior.”

She also enjoys the creative aspect to research. “I have learned how to toss around thoughts and theories with fellow students in the lab and to be creative in implementing new designs for the experiments,” she said.

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* Ashely Thomas
Ashley Thomas, Class of ’08
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Ashley Thomas
Senior
Major: Mathematics
 

Her sophomore year, Ashley Thomas was accepted to the Accelerated B.S./Ph.D. Program within the School of Science, joining an elite field of students who earn both their B.S. and Ph.D. at Rensselaer in only seven years.

These students begin research as undergraduates, and by the time they earn their B.S., they have been performing research for two years.

Thomas chose to work with Dr. Joyce McLaughlin in the Inverse Problems Center in the math department. She said, “My research is in the field of elastography, a non-invasive method of imaging tissue elasticity.”

She finds this work exciting because, “It seeks to improve current methods of diagnosing serious medical conditions like cancer. I am using the things I’ve learned to produce a result that is significant in the real world, and this is very encouraging.”

Thomas enjoys the traveling opportunities research has given her. “I recently gave a poster presentation at the International Elasticity Conference in New Mexico,” she said. “And the conference gave me the opportunity to see what other people around the world are doing. It is amazing how much work is being done even within such a specific topic.”

She also says she’s gaining skills that will serve her in any career that she chooses.

“Research has given me the opportunity to learn how to write scientific material, and to present and explain my work to others,” she said.

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