CS&E REU Students Excel at Research Expo

This summer, the Department of Computer Science & Engineering welcomed eight students from peer institutions to the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. The 10-week program focused on human-centered computing for social good in the areas of virtual reality, social and embodied computing, and human-robot interaction. Each project addressed at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal with students presenting their work at the Summer Undergraduate Research Expo (SURE) to cap off the summer.

Organized by Evan Suma-Rosenberg and Lana Yarosh, the REU program fully immersed students in the research experience with weekly research training seminars, invited talks, and professional development workshops. Additionally, some students were paired with undergraduate researchers within the department to further collaboration efforts.

"It was very helpful and encouraging to work with other students from different universities," said Athreyi Badithela, and undergraduate researcher at the University of Minnesota. "It has been great to share different ideas and perspectives. It’s nice to have another undergraduate to work together with on a project. I would love to continue to collaborate with people even after they go back to their respective schools."

Badithela worked alongside REU participant Duc Hoa Nguyen (University of California Los Angeles) in the Robotics: Perception and Manipulation (RPM) Lab under advisor Karthik Desingh

"The students jumped into the project and did really well," said Desingh. "I paired each student with an undergraduate at the U of M that is already doing similar work in the lab. It was a great way to increase collaboration and integrate them into the lab environment. I wish they could stay longer!"

We connected with the REU students during the SURE event to learn more about their experiences over the summer. To learn more about each students research project, visit our 2023 REU website.


Jaiden Barthel poses in front of their poster

Jaiden Barthel - University of Minnesota (transferring in the fall)
Advisor: Evan Suma-Rosenberg
Project Title: AFFIRMING REALITY: Using Virtual Reality Self-Avatars to Mitigate Gender Dysphoria

"I really liked the idea of computing for social good. I thought this project was a great way to apply technology in a positive way. I learned so much this summer working with different people. There was awesome mentorship and so many opportunities to work with my peers. It really opened my eyes to what a graduate degree could do for my career. This program definitely widened my perception about what you can do in this field and has positively influenced my future career path."

Megdalia Bromhal poses in front of their poster

Megdalia Bromhal - University of North Carolina Wilmington
Advisor: Junaed Sattar
Title: Pointing Isn't that Simple: Improving Diver & Robot Interactions in a 3D Underwater Environment

"I’ve always been interested in engineering and robotics. Wilmington does not offer many classes in that space. This was really an opportunity to delve into these topics and learn more about robots and divers. Wilmington is a beach town, so I will be able to implement a lot of what I did here and bring it back home. Everyone was so kind, helpful and patient. It was really a team effort in the lab."

Katherine Hartley poses in front of their poster

Katherine Hartley - University of Florida
Advisor: Victoria Interrante
Title: Acknowledging the Gap Between Real and Virtual Nature

"Before this program, my research experience has been more about the beginning stages and ideation phases. Getting to run through a whole user study and analyze results has been really cool. It’s a full start-to-finish project. I collaborated with a lot of the Ph.D. students and my mentor. It has been really nice to get additional perspectives on what it’s like to do research."

Duc Hoa Nguyen poses in front of their poster

Duc Hoa Nguyen - University of California Los Angeles
Advisor: Karthik Desingh
Title: Generating Precise Grasp Locations and Controlling UR5 Robot Arm for Object Manipulation in Recycling Robotics

"This program has been really great. It is very cool work and I have learned a lot. Before I came here, I had only taken two coding classes and didn’t have much experience. During this project I have learned a lot about Python, C++, and building frameworks. I learned a lot about working on a team in the lab - how to ask the right questions, how to read research papers, how to collaborate effectively."

Ayooluwa Odeyinka poses in front of their poster

Ayooluwa Odeyinka - Williams College
Advisor: Stevie Chancellor 
Title: Communities of Support in YouTube Comments

"I really liked the cohort experience in the REU program. I feel like our group got really close. I did not have a lot of experience with coding coming into the program and Stevie was very patient and helped my debug. That one-on-one help was really special. She did a great job of breaking things down so they make sense. Human-computer interaction is something that I could see myself continue to explore in the future."

Ella Rider poses in front of their poster

Ella Rider - University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Advisor: Lana Yarosh 
Title: VolumiVive: Adding Interactive Elements to 360 Degree Video 

"I came from a very small campus and didn’t have a lot of knowledge about graduate school. It has been a great introduction to research and the possibilities in this field. I have built a lot of great connections. I didn’t have experience with this type of project and this introduced me to virtual reality. I loved the project and I think there would be an opportunity to connect computer science with astronomy, which is my minor at Oshkosh."

Revanth Krishna Senthilkumaran poses in front of their poster

Revanth Krishna Senthilkumaran - Purdue University
Advisor: Karthik Desingh
Title: Training a Mobile Manipulation Agent Towards Furniture Organization 

"I loved this program. I worked on the Spot robot, which has been an inspiration for me for a number of years. This opportunity has been amazing. I feel like I produced something really useful. Overall it was a great learning experience for me. I got to learn from so many different perspectives and improved some of my core skills. This definitely cemented my interest in getting a Ph.D."

Kathleen Shea poses in front of their poster

Kathleen Shea - Colorado College
Advisor: Lana Yarosh 
Title: Technology-Mediated Disclosures for Sensitive Information 

"I’ve had an amazing experience in the REU program. I go to a liberal arts school that does not have as many research opportunities. This summer has really changed my perspective on what you can do with computer science. I wouldn’t have considered graduate school before now, but I’m excited and eager to apply. I have also made a lot of friends which has been a nice plus. We are already making plans to visit each other. I definitely felt important and taken care of in the GroupLens Lab. I had a lot of support and even gave a talk to the whole lab about my work. It was nice to feel respected as an undergraduate."

Learn more about the Department of Computer Science & Engineering's REU projects at the REU website.