Computer Science Department Launches Research Academy

Continuing its strong tradition of supporting undergraduate research, the Rutgers University–Camden Department of Computer Science has launched the Computer Science Research Academy this fall.

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Pictured (left to right) are computer science majors James Kelley and Tony Lane are students, students in the new Computer Science Research Academy, with their faculty mentor, Desmond Lun

If accepted into the program, undergraduate students are eligible to receive research grants, funded by various departments and faculty at Rutgers–Camden, with the requirement that they work 8 to 10 hours per week for the computer science department. The students will then present their findings at a research showcase in the spring.

The Computer Science Research Academy is a wonderful opportunity for students to get started on research early in their undergraduate studies, says the program’s director, Rajiv Gandhi, an associate professor of computer science at Rutgers–Camden.

“It will allow the students to delve deeper into a subject of their interest and work closely with the faculty in the Computer Science department,” says Gandhi. “Research experience will help the students stand out, especially when they are applying for graduate school.”

The program arose out of a presentation that Gandhi had given in November 2013, called “From Potential to Promise: Developing Scholars, One Eureka Moment at a Time.” The talk featured the stories of current students and alumni, including Bradford Greening CCAS ’09; Brian Brubach CCAS ’14; and Robert MacDavid CCAS ’14, who worked closely with Gandhi on various research projects and went on to achieve great success. Greening earned a doctorate and began a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brubach published a single-authored research paper, and MacDavid began graduate work at Princeton University.

Inspired by the presentation, Gandhi’s Rutgers–Camden colleagues, Michael Palis, a professor of computer science, and Desmond Lun, an associate professor of computer science and chair of the department, joined him in creating an official program dedicated to undergraduate research.

Beginning this semester, eight Rutgers–Camden students applied and were accepted to the program.

Among the first projects, James Kelley (CCAS ’15), a computer science major and biology minor, is working with Lun on a project called “Metabolic Optimization and Simulation Tool.” For more on Kelley’s research, check out the story on NewsNow.

According to Kelley, he knew that the research academy would be a great way to prepare for his ultimate goal of earning a Ph.D. in computer science.

For Hoon Oh, a computer science major at Rutgers–Camden, the academy was the ideal forum to pursue his interest in research.

“I like spending time thinking about problems, coming up with new algorithms, or trying to better analyze algorithms,” says Oh, who is currently studying a problem called “Telephone Radio Broadcast” with Gandhi and Guy Kortsarz, a professor of computer science at Rutgers–Camden. “The Computer Science Research Academy provides an opportunity for students to learn and challenge themselves with harder and more specific problems in their area of interest.”

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