The opportunity to perform research is one of the hallmarks of a student’s undergraduate academic experience, and a computer science major at Rutgers University–Camden will spend her summer doing just that.
Katherine Scola, a Marlton resident and graduate of Paul VI High School, has been accepted to a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Maryland, where she will work with faculty and a team of college students from across the country on approximation algorithms.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” says Scola, a junior who is majoring in both computer science and applied mathematics at Rutgers–Camden.
Scola didn’t have much familiarity with computer science before coming to Rutgers–Camden, but was soon drawn to the multidisciplinary approach toward problem solving techniques used in the field.
“I originally thought computer science was only about programming, and I like programming, but I started to realize that there is this whole other part of computer science that deals with theory and algorithms,” Scola says. “It’s a nice blend of computer science and math and I really like that about the subject.”
The Combinatorial Algorithms Applied Research program at the University of Maryland is a 10-week research program funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to expose undergraduate students to applied research projects in need of a design of new algorithms. Scola is the second Rutgers University–Camden student to participate in the University of Maryland REU program and the only Rutgers representative this year.
Scola is a member of Rutgers–Camden’s Honors College and she mentors other undergraduate students in the Q-STEP program, which seeks to increase the numbers of successful graduates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields by enhancing their quantitative skills.
“It’s a good resource that helped me out as a younger student,” Scola says of the Q-STEP program. “It’s always good to meet students majoring in other fields and it’s helpful because a lot of our work is multidisciplinary.”
Scola hopes to continue to participate in more research projects after her summer research experience and is planning to pursue her doctoral degree in computer science after she graduates from Rutgers–Camden next year.
“My original goal when I came to Rutgers was to be a math teacher and to mentor other students,” Scola says. “Rutgers–Camden has provided me with great experiences and it’s a small, close-knit community that has given me that opportunity.”