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Summertime and isotopes, mechanical engineering, bioinformatics, machine learning

Emhyr Subramanian on a hike in the Rocky Mountains with glaciers in the background. Photo courtesy of Emhyr Subramanian.

Summer is full of making new friends, staying up late, and doing science! That’s what several Broadcom MASTERS 2016 finalists experienced this summer at STEM-themed camps and internships. These middle school students hiked in the Rocky Mountains, researched at university labs, created cellphone microscopes, and more. 

Several Broadcom MASTERS 2016 finalists were awarded these summer experiences as a result of their research and teamwork. Read on to see what they did this summer.

Emhyr Subramanian spent time at the Mountain Research Experience run by the University of Colorado Boulder, a one-week camp in the Rocky Mountains. The camp is located in an active research station, run by undergraduates, post-doc students, and scientists.

“We lived at 9,500 feet and frequently hiked past 12,000 feet, once to the Arapaho Glacier overlook,” Emhyr said. “We studied the mountainous ecosystem.”

He went geocaching in the wilderness and made cellphone microscopes out of dollar store laser pointers and poster putty.

This was an excellent real-world application of the statistics course I’m taking this summer using Broadcom MASTERS funding.

Emhyr enjoyed a study on stable isotopes he did at the camp. “Just by identifying isotopic concentrations and ratios, you can find what an organism ate, prove how the increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere is caused by greenhouse gas emissions by humans, study where all the water in a stream comes from, and much more,” he said.

“We also conducted statistical analysis on the size of organisms at different altitudes. This was an excellent real-world application of the statistics course I’m taking this summer using Broadcom MASTERS funding.”

Brendan Crotty went to the University of Kansas’ Engineering High School Project Discovery summer camp, a week-long, intensive experience for high school students where he was able to learn more about mechanical engineering.

Brendan loved getting an up-close view of the university classrooms and labs. He toured battery, drone-building, and formula car labs. “We saw the raw materials and machines they used to make them,” he said. “They had a full-size lab with manufacturing, materials, and different elements used to make different batteries.”

One of the hands-on project challenges involved building bridges using KNEX. “My bridge was able to hold more than 100 pounds, setting a record for that activity!” Brendan said.

Touring labs and attending lectures showed Brendan that “mechanical engineering isn’t just mechanical,” he said. “You can do a lot of different things with it, like programming, electronics, or robotics.”

Ananya Ganesh spent her summer shadowing a graduate student at Jefferson University bioinformatics lab in Philadelphia where she studied the effects of drugs on liver cells.

“It was a great experience to understand how a college research experience works,” she said. “I learned how to run different statistical analyses and extract information from genome databases.”

I have started to expect more of myself. My own bar has been raised!

Her internship covered the intersections of biology and technology. “This isn’t something that is taught in schools, and I’m grateful to Broadcom MASTERS for this opportunity,” Ananya said. “I have started to expect more of myself. My own bar has been raised!”

Cynthia Chen also interned this summer. She worked as a research intern at a radiology/imaging lab at Stanford University, with a postdoctoral scholar as her mentor.

She worked on projects ranging from generating heat maps to predicting diabetes blood glucose levels for pre-diabetic patients. Each project involved applying machine learning to biology.

“I was constantly writing a lot of code to accomplish my objectives,” Cynthia said. “My mentor helped me whenever I encountered any problems, such as bugs in my code. The internship was very challenging at times, but I learned so much while I was there!”