MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

Current Research: Project Openings

Below are currently advertised UROP projects available to MIT, CME and cross-registered Wellesley College undergraduates. All projects, regardless of mode (pay, credit, or volunteer) are expected to be worth MIT academic credit and be supervised by MIT faculty. Projects appear on this list in the order they have been received.

These projects do not represent all available UROPs as many faculty do not submit project listings for this site. Rather, they expect interested students to contact them based on their general research to discuss potential UROPs.

Available UROPs

UROP Project listings are posted for approximately one month before they are removed, unless we are asked to re-post.

7/7/14
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering/Institute of Medical Engineering and Sciences
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Lydia Bourouiba

Project title: Interface of fluid dynamics and disease transmission

Project Description: Seeking a motivated and driven UROP student interested in both experimental and mathematical modelling to tackle problems at the interface of fluid dynamics and disease transmission. The goal is to evaluate how fluids and various forms of pathogens could interact to shape disease transmission in various contexts and populations (human, animal, and plant diseases).

Seeking students who are self-motivated, creative, and enthusiastic about 1) problem solving and hands on activities or 2) problem solving and mathematical modeling. Some interest in art and photography, Matlab, latex, and ImageJ are considered to be a plus.

A strong Physics or Math-Physics background and experience or courses in fluid dynamics will be also considered to be assets.

Contact: If interested, please send an updated CV, including list of courses taken and previous projects/UROPs experiences to Prof. Lydia Bourouiba lbouro@mit.edu.


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)
Faculty Supervisors: Raanan Miller and Robert Stoner

Project Title: The role of the MIT Energy Initiative in energy innovation and catalyzing the Kendall Square energy innovation cluster.

Project Description: The MIT Energy Initiative has played a leadership role at MIT linking the Institute’s world-class research capabilities and faculty with key players across the energy innovation spectrum with the goal of improving current energy systems and transforming tomorrow’s global energy marketplace.

In addition to translation of numerous technologies from the lab to application in industry, MITEI’s activities have also lead to the creation of numerous startups including FastCap, Ambri, Sun Catalytix, 24M Technologies, WiTricity and others.

The goal of this project is to trace the path of energy related technologies from concept to commercial deployment, e.g., startups, to understand what resources at MIT (e.g, Deshpande Center, MIT Entrepreneurship Center) and elsewhere that were critical to success, and investigate how the t MITEI and MIT contributed to enhancing the innovation cluster dynamics relate to energy in Kendall Square.

The project will involve data collection; analysis; meetings with numerous stakeholders across MIT and Industry; learning about and augmenting system dynamic and other models. You will be working on the project with supervision from the Faculty Supervisors.

Prerequisites: Start in Fall 2014, commit a year and hopefully work summer 2015, >=10 hours a week, be enthusiastic about energy innovation and want to learn, and willing to work hard.

Contact: Please contact Raanan Miller (ramiller@mit.edu). In the email, indicate what times you’re free to chat/interview if interested (please also send a resume/CV).


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Paula Hammond

Project Title: Development of structured framework hydrogels

Project Description: The student will be working on the synthesis of hydrogels from synthetic polymers that form an α-helical structure and incorporate pendant "click" groups, which enable efficient conjugation of small molecules and bio-polymers. The rigid rod geometry of this polymer as well as the modularity afforded by the click groups enable unique physical properties for new biomaterials.

The student will have the option of being more involved in either the chemical synthesis or the materials engineering portion of the project depending on his/her interest. There will be oppurtunities to learn new skills (or apply already learned skills) in organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, biomaterials, and other related fields.

Prerequisites: The student must be comfortable with organic chemistry and working in a wet lab

Contact: Please contact Wade (wangwade@mit.edu) with your CV/resume, interests, potential start date, and estimated availability.


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Bernhardt L. Trout

Project Title: Polymer Thin Film Formulation toward Continuous Tablet Manufacturing

Project Description:
As part of a $100 million joint project, the thin film formulation plays key role on the success of the Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing in the Norvatis-MIT Center. We optimize drug-loaded and placebo polymer film formulations to meet key properties of tablets.

The main goals of the project:
a) To formulate placebo films meeting thermodynamic and mechanical properties
b) To formulate drug-loaded thin films compatible with targeted release kinetics and good process properties

Responsibilities:
• Carry out experimental studies like release testing, thermo analysis, etc.
• Analyze experimental data.

Key qualifications:
• Highly self-motivated undergraduate students
• Background in chemical engineering, chemistry, mechanical engineering, polymer science and/or related areas required•
• Good communication skills either in English or Chinese
• Commitment at least one semester

Benefits:
• Directly supervised by a Postdoc researcher
• Hone your ability in fundamental research skills

Contact: Please email Dr. Xiang (aishuang@mit.edu) with your CV and a cover letter.


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: Aero/Astro
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Julie Shah

Project Description: We are developing a system that could aid humans in complex planning tasks. The system uses machine learning models to help humans complete their tasks and to provide suggestions to improve the humans' plans. We are seeking a UROP who is independent and has leadership skills to conduct human experiments. The main focus of this UROP position is not coding but instead research and machine learning.

Requirements:
- Leadership to conduct a human experiment
- Interested in human-machine interaction

A plus: Experience with running subject experiments
Some experience with programing, either in python or web programming.

Contact: Interested? Send a resume to Been Kim (beenkim@csail.mit.edu)


8/19/14
Department: Biology/Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Faculty Supervisor: Angelika Amon

Project Title: The role of aneuploidy in cancer development and progression

Project Description: Aneuploidy, or an abnormal number of chromosomes, is found in greater than 90% of human tumors. Yet, how aneuploidy affects tumorigenesis is poorly understood. Our lab is interested in studying the effects of aneuploidy on cell physiology and division. Understanding the ways in which aneuploid cells differ from normal, or euploid, cells will shed light on the biology of cancer and may elucidate genetic pathways that can be targeted to specifically kill aneuploid cells while leaving euploid cells unharmed.

In this project, we will be investigating the interactions between oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and the aneuploid state. We will be introducing genetic alterations commonly observed in cancer cells into euploid and aneuploid cells and then analyzing the resultant cell populations. We will attempt to determine whether aneuploidy has a synergistic or antagonistic interaction with these genetic drivers of cancer. As part of this project, the student will learn many common biology lab techniques, including cell culture, microscopy, RNA preps, and more.

Prerequisites: A schedule that allows the student to spend 10 or more hours a week in lab, and an interest in reading and engaging with the primary literature on cancer biology.

Contanct: Interested students should submit a cover letter, CV, and transcript (unofficial is fine) to Jason Sheltzer (sheltzer@mit.edu).


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: Media Lab
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Ramesh Raskar

Project Description: Computer Vision researchers design machines and computer programs that capture and interpret data from our visual world. In this project, potential UROPs will be designing new 3D cameras under guidance (http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/26/MITs-500-dollar-kinect-like-camera-works-in-snow-and-rain/). This is an excellent UROP for junior or senior undergraduate students who are looking to publish their research in top venues and continue to engineering careers.

Prerequisites: PCB layout and elementary circuit design experience. Interest in embedded systems.

About us: We are the Camera Culture group at MIT Media Lab directed by Professor Ramesh Raskar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_9vd4HWlVA).

Contact: To join, please contact Achuta Kadambi (achoo@mit.edu). Depending on progress, funding is available for subsequent terms.


8/19/14
Department: Aero/Astro
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Jonathan How

Project Description: The Aerospace Controls Lab (ACL) is looking for a UROP with immediate availability to aid graduate students with a self-driving vehicle project. Tasks include researching relevant sensor and actuator hardware, installation of hardware on the vehicles, collecting hardware data within the Robotic Operating System (ROS) infrastructure on a Linux architecture, visualizing sensor data in ROS, and a number of other computer simulations and hardware experiments for planning and decision-making algorithms.

Prerequisites:
-experience with robotic sensors and actuators
-general installation skills, electrical wiring and sensor mounting
-experience working with Linux
-valid US driver's license with clean driving record

Preferred Skills:
-programming experience, including familiarity with C/C++ and perhaps python
-experience with ROS

Contact: If interested, please contact justinm@mit.edu


8/19/14
Department: Sloan School of Management
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Andrew W. Lo

Project Title: Preparation of new textbook on quantitative investing

Project Description: We are working to prepare a new graduate-level textbook on quantitative investing and are looking for students to help with data collection and the development of problems and solutions to be included.

Ideal candidates will have a strong math and statistics background, strong programming skills (MATLAB), and an interest in data and quantitative investing.

Contact: Please send statement of interest, unofficial grade transcript, and resume to Jayna Cummings, jcummin@mit.edu


8/19/14
Department: Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Pawan Sinha

Project Title: Experimental Studies of Autism

Project Description: A UROP position is available to help test a novel hypothesis regarding a core impairment in autism. The work will involve collecting and analyzing data from experimental studies with typically developing children as well as those on the autism spectrum. The techniques to be used include electro-encephalography (EEG), eye-tracking and polygraph. Some familiarity with programming and signal processing will be helpful. This project will appeal to those who wish to pursue basic research that has direct relevance to society.

The position will begin in fall, 2014 and can be taken either for credit or pay, 6-10 hours per week. When applying for the position, please indicate any prior research experience, your interest and qualifications, and whether you would like to apply for credit or pay. In order to apply for this position for pay, please contact us by September 15. Research proposals for a paid UROP position will need to be developed and submitted by September 23 through the Simons Center for the Social Brain UROP direct funding mechanism. Applications that are not selected by SCSB will automatically be considered for direct funding through the UROP Office.

Faculty Webpage: (http://web.mit.edu/bcs/sinha/home.html)

Contact: Ms. Annie Cardinaux (anniec@mit.edu)


8/19/14
Department/Lab/Center: Brain and Cognitive Sciences/Linguistics and Philosophy
Faculty Supervisors: Prof. Ken Wexler, Prof. Martin Hackl

Project Description: We investigate the nature of the computational system of human language, by studying immature language in the child (the development of language). The research is interweaving current linguistic theory and empirical work. The current research areas include quantified statements, focus operators, and passive sentences. Your work will involve (i) running experiments with children (mainly 3-6 years old), (ii) data-entering, (iii) and contacting day-cares for cooperation. It might also involve (iv) assistance in experimental design and preparation of experimental materials.
Prerequisites: Having taken 24.900 is preferred but not required. Given that the work is mainly about interaction with children and keeping them engaged in the experiments, you will have to be very good at playing with kids.

UROP's main goals will be: engagement with cutting edge theoretical developments in language acquisition and acquiring hands-on experience with behavioral research with children.

Contact: If you are interested, please email Prof. Wexler (wexler@mit.edu) and Prof. Martin Hackl (hackl@mit.edu), and also CC Ayaka Sugawara (ayakasug@mit.edu) and Leo Rosenstein (leaena@mit.edu) with your resume.
There are a few UROP positions for Fall 2013: Work hours are flexible. There is a possibility of continuing working in the subsequent semester(s).
Applications received by Monday, September 1st will be given full consideration.


8/19/14
Department: Edgerton Center/D-Lab
Faculty Supervisor: Eric Verploegen

Project Title: Energy and electronics curriculum development

Project Description: D-Lab is developing a curriculum intended for teaching the basics of energy and electronics to an international audience with no prerequisite formal education. This work is a part of D-Lab’s Creative Capacity Building program (http://d-lab.mit.edu/creative-capacity-building) that provides an hands-on learning experience to train people how to make technologies that be used alleviate poverty in their communities.

We are looking for a UROP to conduct research to identify existing educational materials that can inform and/or be adapted for the curriculum D-Lab is developing in this area. This research will be followed by the development of hands-on training modules with the D-Lab team.

Contact: If you would like more information about the project, please contact Eric (ericv@mit.edu) to meet and discuss further. Candidate must have the ability to work independently and think creatively, no prior technical experience needed. This position is for credit only. A minimum of 8 hours per week is expected, work time is highly flexible.


8/19/14
Department: MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT)
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Azra Aksamija

Project Title: Empathy Suits - Wearable Technologies

Project Description: This UROP offers students the opportunity to collaborate in developing and producing various artistic wearable technologies called "Empathy Suits." We are creating culturally-sensitive headgear and wearables with integrated cameras, microphones and GPS trackers. These wearable recording technologies will be used to document storytelling and facilitate cultural encounters between artists and diverse audiences in the Middle East and the United States. The wearables are produced as a part of the multiannual project CULTURUNNERS, a unique collaboration between MIT artists Azra Aksamija, (ACT Assistant Professor) and Peter Schmitt (ACT Affiliate) and artists from the Middle Eastern artist collective "Edge of Arabia," in partnership with the Art Jameel. The core artistic value of this project is in the socio-politics implied by the meeting of artists from different cultures and transformation of stereotypes through the culturally and contextually sensitive wearables and exchange of stories.

CULTURUNNERS is an artistic expedition in search of connections and empathy across cultures. Over the next three years (2014-2017) artists will be invited to explore and communicate interconnected stories between the Middle East and the United States. This project will allow for grassroots encounters which link ideas and people across physical and psychological borders. At the heart of the project will be the development of innovative communications technologies which connect people along the lines of creativity and beyond identities defined by culture, religion, nation, citizenship, social and economic status, profession, gender or age.

The prototypes of "Empathy Suits" that will be produced CULTURUNNERS expedition, which we seek UROP collaborators include:

1. CAPture: A modified baseball cap, with integrated cameras, streaming video from mobile device to a webpage. The goal for this project is to make the live video stream from two cameras (360 camera and a endoscopic camera attached to a baseball cap) visible (and recordable) on a webpage (or you-tube channel). Most likely we would be using an iPhone as a platform. The iPhone camera should be streamed through the data connection onto a webpage where it can be watched and recorded. In addition we would like to explore the possibility of attaching a second camera to the iPhone (USB camera) and streaming it’s content as well. On the server and web page site we need to embed the video stream into an existing web page (or you tube channel).

2. reCORDed: A modified Arabic headgear (Egal), with integrated sound recoding device, streaming sound to a webpage.

We would like to have these two projects developed as soon as possible, so that we can test them during the workshop and a symposium in early October 2014. The project will be featured in various exhibitions and events in the United States and internationally. UROP students will also have an opportunity to exchange creative experiences with artists from MIT and the Middle East.

Required/desired skills:
· Programming streaming application for mobile devices (most likely iPhone)
· Programing for server and web based video streaming (web page provided)
· Web page integration (embedding video stream in web page)
· Implementing functional system

The position is for either Direct Funding or Credit.

Contact: Azra Aksamija (azra@mit.edu)


8/13/14
Department: Biological Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Roger Kamm

Project Title: Shaping intestinal organoids in microfluidic devices

Project Description: Current in vitro models of the intestine mostly consist of 2D mononlayers of cells, which do not retain any of the important structural components of the intestine. The goal of this UROP is to culture 3D intestinal organoids in microfluidic devices to control the shape of the organoids. Because this is a critical step in creating a functional 3D in vitro model of the intestine, you will be working closely with a post-doc mentor.

You will have the option to focus more on the biology of the system or the engineering aspects. On the biology side, you will differentiate human pluripotent stem cells into intestinal organoids and analyze the degree of maturation and complexity of the organoids. On the engineering side, you will design and test new microfluidic devices to control the shape of the organoids and provide biomechanical signals for organoid differentiation.

Contact: If you are interested, please contact Natasha (narora@mit.edu). Include your CV with past research experience, your research interests and goals, and approximately how many hours per week you have available.


8/13/14
Department: Chemical Engineering/Koch Institute
Faculty Supervisor: Joseph Ciolino/Dan Kohane

Project Title: Drug Eluting Contact Lens

Project description: The goal of this project is to create a contact lens for controlled drug delivery of ophthalmic medications. In order to control the release rate, the drug is incorporated in a thin polymer film surrounded by contact lens hydrogel. The drug diffuses through the film and polymer to reach the anterior portion of the eye.

UROP duties will include: casting of drug-polymer films, encapsulation of the films in the contact lens,-maintaining benchtop drug release studies, testing new drugs and polymers (e.g. solubility studies), making buffers and solutions, and other tasks as needed.

Prerequisites: Prior lab experience or coursework (i.e., orgo lab). Ability to work independently. Eight hours minimum per week. Credit only.

Contact: Amy (amyeross@mit.edu) with CV.


8/13/14
Department: Media Arts and Sciences
Faculty Supervisor: Kent Larson

Project Title: Persuasive Urban Mobility - Comparison of Persuasive Strategies to Increase Bike Use

Project Description: The MIT Media Lab' Changing Places Group and the Austrian Institute of Technology are investigating how to increase the number of sustainable transportation trips in cities. Initial efforts focus on a study to evaluate effects of persuasive strategies to increase biking in the Cambridge area. Based on previous findings safety concerns are a main barrier for adapting biking as a regular mode of transportation. Therefore three persuasive strategies that intend to raise the perceived safety of biking will be tested and evaluated in a 3 week study with approximately 80 participants. As part of your UROP, you will learn about behavior change systems and will assist in research with human subjects.

Prerequisite and Requirements: Candidates must have an interest in sustainable transportation and incentive strategies. Strong candidates are accustomed to interact with study participants and have first experiences with quantitative and qualitative analysis of data.

About us: http://cp.media.mit.edu/

Contact: Please email Sandra Richter who is leading the research study in September (srichter@mit.edu). Include "UROP application" and your name in the title of the email. Send an attached resume, hours per week desired, and four possible meeting times (30 min) for the nearest week that you can interview. Also include a link to any relevant projects you have worked on.


8/13/14
Department: Biological Engineering/Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Daniel Anderson

Project Title: Development of novel siRNA-targeting ligand conjugate therapeutics

Project Description: In brief: Drug delivery lab looking for a highly-motivated undergraduate to aid in the development of a novel class of drugs to treat previously untreatable diseases with new targeted therapies.

siRNA is a nucleic acid therapeutic that can knock down any gene in a specific manner. It has the potential to change the way disease is treated. However, getting these nucleic acids into the correct cells is still a major challenge. Currently, siRNA therapeutics in clinical trials only target liver hepatocytes. Recent advances in RNA stabilization have made targeted siRNA-ligand conjugate delivery systems clinically viable. One such conjugate (for a fatal genetic liver disease) is already in clinical trials. We are developing novel techniques to deliver siRNA to target brain cancers, metastasis of other cancers, kidney, muscle, and other tissues. Success in this endeavor will result in new classes of medicines for cancers and genetic diseases previously considered untreatable. We are looking for 1-2 highly motivated undergraduate researchers to help with this project.

The undergraduate researcher(s) selected for this project will work closely with a graduate student in the testing and development of these delivery agents. This UROP will involve performing in vitro cell culture, RNA quantification, PCR, and also some organic synthesis, depending on background. You will work with an interdisciplinary team of experts and learn a great deal from this opportunity. Good performance and continuation in this UROP (1 year or more) may result in authorship in high-profile papers as well as great reference letters from Professors Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson.

Prerequisites:
General laboratory experience (either molecular biology or organic chemistry) is preferred. Ability to perform simple dilution (e.g. 10x to 1x) and unit conversion (e.g. grams to nanograms, moles to grams, etc.) calculations is required. Passion for learning, willingness to read literature, and ability to work independently are also required. Anticipated workload is from 5-15 hours depending on candidate availability.

Location: Laboratories of Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Contact: Please send your CV to tamhok@mit.edu.


8/13/14
Department: Anthropology (21A)
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Graham Jones

Project Description: As part of a NSF-funded research project on the cultural impact of online education, we are seeking students to work with our team analyzing computer-mediated forms of language and social interaction. Students will analyze transcripts of online conversations according to the framework we have developed, and help to refine that framework. Students will be trained in software tools for qualitative data. No previous experience in this area is required, but preference will be given to students some coursework in Anthropology, CMS, or Linguistics.

Contact: Professor Graham Jones (gmj@mit.edu) in the Anthropology Program.


8/13/14
Department of Biological Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Peter Dedon

Project description: The department of Biological Engineering is in the midst of setting up a new MITx class, 20.207x – Biotechnologies of infectious diseases and is seeking 1 UROP student. 20.207x is an upper-level undergraduate and graduate course that integrates biology, chemistry and engineering in understanding modern approaches to studying infectious disease and developing new therapeutics and diagnostics for microbial pathogens. This UROP will assist a team of professors and a postdoc in developing 20.207x into a world-class course to be launched on the EdX platform Spring 2015. Tasks for the UROP student will include, but are not limited to, designing online graphics for the course, scripting the video sessions, uploading course sections onto the EdX platform and assisting in general curriculum development of the course.

Prerequisites: The ideal candidate should at least have basic knowledge of Chemistry, Biology, and Math and have some web design and programming experience. Familiarity with the EdX platform will be a huge plus. The highly creative UROP should be willing to stay for the 2014-2015 academic year and will work closely with a postdoc on the course development team. This is a paid position.

Contact: Please email Joy Pang ypang@mit.edu with a resume and short paragraph describing background and interest in the project.


8/11/14
Department/Lab/Center: HST, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia

Project Title: 3D Liver Tissue Engineering

Project Description: The Bhatia lab is looking for an undergraduate student to help advance our work in 3D tissue engineering and disease modeling. You will be working under the guidance of a graduate student in the lab, Arnav Chhabra. The project is focused on engineering 3D tissue microsystems that are capable of recapitulating complex organ pathophysiology and combines working with cells, biomaterials and engineering design principles. Techniques used in the project include mammalian tissue culture, fluorescence microscopy, microfluidic device engineering and molecular biology techniques. Previous experience in a laboratory class or laboratory setting is required; experience outside a course setting is preferred.

Prerequisites: For this project, previous wet lab experience is preferred and an interest in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and/or complex organ systems is expected. Schedule is flexible; a 10 hour per week commitment is expected. Participation can be compensated via academic credit.

Contact: If interested, please email your CV/resume to Arnav Chhabra (arnav@mit.edu) and include a short paragraph about yourself, your previous lab experience and future interests. Also indicate the hours per week you have available and your potential start date.


8/11/14
Department: Anthropology (21A)
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Graham Jones

Project Description: As part of a NSF-funded research project on the cultural impact of online education, we are seeking a programmer with the following skills: python, statistical analysis experience, ability to manipulate large unstructured data sets into sets digestible by researchers, some web experience related to presenting aggregate data sets.

In particular, the student’s responsibilities will include processing MOOC course forums by converting unstructured data sets into text documents formatted according to researcher specifications.

The student will develop new approaches to statistically analyzing this kind of qualitative data that will guide the team’s analysis and sampling, and which may ultimately be useful to other MOOC researchers, staff, and instructors.

Contact: This position will be supervised by Professor Graham Jones (gmj@mit.edu) in the Anthropology Program.


8/11/14
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Nicholas Fang

Project Description: We are looking for one student to develop a droplet delivery mechanism for digital projection 3D printing system. The motivation of this ongoing project is to reduce significant amount of material waste while maintaining rapid multi-material 3D fabrication capability.

This project will involve building of a material transport system, optics assembly and alignment as well as editing control programs. The UROPs will primarily work on mechanical component design and manufacture, mechanical-electric assembly and testing, and design to enhance the performance and reliability of the system.

Prerequisites: We are looking for students with experience of mechanical design, programming skills in Labview, and hands-on skills in machining (mill, lather, CNC, Injection molding, etc.),and laser cutting. Experience of 3D printing is a plus. We expect the project to start as soon as possible.

Contact: Interested students are asked to email Prof. Nicholas Fang (nicfang@mit.edu) or Dr. Kevin Ge (geq@mit.edu) with your CV.


8/11/14
Department: Biology, Chemistry
Faculty Supervisor: Barbara Imperiali

Project title: Development of small molecule inhibitors of carbohydrate acetyl transferases from human pathogens: new tools to investigate the roles of protein glycosylation in bacterial virulence

Project description: The study of microbial pathogens has demonstrated the prevalence of highly modified saccharides as constituents of bacterial N- and O-linked glycoproteins, which interact with the infected host and are intimately associated with the virulence of many medically significant Gram-negative bacteria, including N. meningitides, N. gonorrhoeae, and C. jejuni. Therefore, small molecule inhibitors of bacterial glycosylation may suppress pathogenic virulence. As the targeted pathways are not essential for survival, this tactic will likely evade the rapid resistance development which plagues current antibiotics and potentially introduce new therapeutic approaches to address infectious diseases.

We are currently pursuing a structure-based approach, using X-ray co-crystal (inhibitor bound to protein) data, to improve inhibitor potency and efficacy.

The student will perform organic synthesis to make new structural analogs and evaluate these compounds for their ability to inhibit the activity of the C. jejuni PglD acetyl transferase enzyme. Besides synthesis and in vitro assays, there is the option to learn protein expression and purification, enzymatic carbohydrate synthesis, X-ray crystallography, and other biochemistry techniques. If interested, the student can also learn some Maestro and Pymol basics.

Prerequisites: Basic organic synthesis skills required; 5.36 module 6, 5.37 module 7 OR previous laboratory experience. Strong preference for students who can commit to at least 10 hours per week for at least two semesters, starting as soon as possible. Open to a longer-term commitment.

Contact: Please send an email with a CV/resume, schedule availability, and potential start date to Joris De Schutter, Postdoctoral Fellow, jwds@mit.edu.


8/6/14
Department: Media Arts and Sciences
Faculty Supervisor: Hugh Herr

Project Title: Data Collection and Safety Systems for Exoskeleton Research

Project Description: As our exoskeletons become more powerful, safety is an increasingly important factor in our research process. Your main objective will be to evaluate our data collection systems, perform a risk analysis, design a risk mitigation strategy, and implement parts of that strategy. This implementation will require some electrical engineering work and some basic mechanical design/fabrication. Solutions could potentially be useful to other research groups in this field.
Currently, we use motion capturing cameras, force plate equipped treadmills, and COSMED CO2 instruments to record human metabolic rate and walking dynamics. This data is used to train computer simulations of walking and to analyze controllers for existing exoskeletons. As part of your UROP, you will learn how to run our motion capture system and will assist in research with human subjects.

Prerequisite and Requirements: Candidates must have completed a course in circuit theory. Strong candidates will have experience in robotics, Matlab, mechanical design, and machine shop.

About us: http://biomech.media.mit.edu

Contact: Please email (mfurtney@mit.edu). Include "UROP application" and your name in the title of the email. Send an attached resume, list of relevant coursework or unofficial transcript, hours per week desired, and four possible meeting times (30 min) for the nearest week that you can interview. Also include a link to any relevant projects you have worked on.


8/6/14
Department/Lab/Center: HST, Biological Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Sangeeta Bhatia

Project Title: Responsive Nanoparticle Sensors of Enzymatic Activity

Project Description: We engineer nanosystems that respond to protease activity as direct measurements of proteases in vivo and in vitro. Proteases are crucial to an incredible amount of physiological and pathological processes (such as fibrosis, cancer metastasis, thrombosis). We are currently working on some exciting developments to optimize these sensors by making them responsive to external triggers, designing better systems for use in vivo, and developing a pipeline for highly specific tumor gradation (distinguishing between benign cancers and aggressive, metastatic cancers). Check out: http://lmrt.mit.edu/research/tumor-interrogate.html for some descriptions of our work in this area.

You’ll be able to learn numerous lab techniques (in vitro and in vivo) as well get experience with project and experimental design. Ideally, you would be able to work on a project independently.

Prerequisites: Start in Fall 2014, commit a year and hopefully work summer 2015 (longer if you like it), >=10 hours a week in lab, be enthusiastic about proteases/enzymes and want to learn, and willing to work hard.

Contact: Please contact Jaideep Dudani, jdudani@mit.edu. In the email, indicate what times you’re free to chat/interview if interested as well (also send a resume/CV).


8/6/14
Department: Urban Studies and Planning
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. P. Christopher Zegras

Project Description: Help us improve Flocktracker (flocktracker.mit.edu), a tool that brings traditional surveying into the 21st century with geospatial tracking and automated data entry. Hours are flexible, though we do ask for a larger commitment early on (late August, and early in the semester), with greater flexibility as the semester progresses. The UROP will have the opportunity to participate in a multi-disciplinary team of academics (from MIT and abroad) and programmers (from Mexico and also now graduated) to help realize a functional interface that enables the monitoring and live analysis of project data, revisit the original tool, help design and test a field research experiment, and create new toolkits to expand functionality. Part of helping to improve the application will involve brain storming and deploying small research projects that can demonstrate new use cases or limitations with the current design. Through these initiatives, the UROP has the opportunity to demonstrate and assist in making critical design decisions.

In addition to collaborating on future research initiatives that use this tool, the UROP will assist in the development of a database to enable the transfer of Flocktracker from Google Fusion Tables. In this capacity the UROP will assist current researchers in strategizing between relational and document-oriented databases.

Contact: For more details on requirements and commitment, please contact Kuan Butts (kuanb@mit.edu)


8/4/14
Department: Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Kay Tye

Project Title: Dissecting neural circuits involved in aversive motivation

Project Descriptions: The Tye Lab (Course 9, BCS) is focused on using state-of-the art neuroscience tools to dissect various brain circuits that are implicated in neuropsychological diseases (i.e., anxiety, depression, autism). Specifically, this project is interested in uncovering the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in aversive motivation.

Responsibilities: Seeking a highly motivated individual with an interest in neuroscience. Students with previous experience in neuroscience, psychology, or biology are preferred. Students wishing to gain an in depth research experience that plan to stay involved for more than 1 semester will be favored. MATLAB skills are a plus. 1 position available starting in during the fall term.

Responsibilities will include (but are not limited to) electrode fabrication, histology, and behavioral analyses.

Contact: Please contact Caitlin Vander Weele, caitvw@mit.edu and attach your CV and timeline.


8/4/14
Department: HST, Koch Institute
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia

Project Title: 3D liver tissue models and liver regeneration

Project Description: The Bhatia lab is currently looking for a motivated undergraduate to pursue research in liver regeneration and developing 3D liver tissue models. You will be working under the guidance of a postdoc in the lab, Arnout Schepers. The project is mainly focused on tissue engineering and combines working with cells, biomaterials and design. Techniques used in the project include mammalian tissue culture, fluorescence microscopy, device engineering and cloning and other molecular biology techniques. Previous experience in a laboratory class or laboratory setting is required; experience outside a course setting is preferred.

If interested, please email your CV/resume and a short paragraph about yourself, your lab experience and future interests. Also indicate the hours per week you have available and your potential start date.

Prerequisites: Previous wet lab experience in either lab or course setting. Schedule is flexible; a 10 hour per week commitment is expected. Participation can be compensated via academic credit.

Contact: Please contact Arnout Schepers, arnouts@mit.edu


8/1/14
Department: Economics
Faculty supervisor: Prof. Robert Pindyck

Project Title: The Economics of Potential Global Catastrophes

Project Description: I am looking for one or two students to help with research related to the economics of catastrophes, including possible catastrophic climate change, and such events as nuclear terrorism or a mega-virus. I am concerned with the economic and policy implications of multiple sources of uncertainty, and with the statistical characterization of low-probability outcomes. What is the “willingness to pay” to avert such events, and which events should be the primary focus of policy. I also address the macroeconomic and financial implications of possible global catastrophes. (For more information, go to my website and download “Uncertain Outcomes and Climate Change Policy,” “The Climate Policy Dilemma,” and “Averting Catastrophes: The Strange Economics of Scylla and Charybdis.”)

This work will involve a detailed literature review of the likelihoods, potential impacts, and costs of averting various types of catastrophes. It may also involve programming in MATLAB and some statistical analysis. Candidates should have a good background in economics. A working knowledge of MATLAB is also a plus. They should also be able to work independently.

Contact: If you are interested, please send a resume and transcript to: Professor Robert Pindyck, Sloan School of Management, Room E62-522, rpindyck@mit.edu

 


7/31/14
Department: Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty supervisor: Prof. Antoine Allanore

Project Title: Development of a new type of mineral fertilizer

Project description: We are recruiting up to two students to work in the laboratories headed by Prof. Antoine Allanore within the department of Materials Science and Engineering. We work in collaboration with a mining company with the ultimate goal to provide local sources of fertilizers to agriculture-intensive countries in the southern hemisphere. More specifically:

1) One candidate will be involved in the design, realization and testing of a new type of fertilizer material by working with a high-temperature and high-pressure reactor. Mineral sources abundantly available in the Southern hemisphere will be used as a starting material and various type of processing used.

2) One candidate will be involved in the characterization of the materials synthesized above. X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques with interpretation and analysis of crystal structures and morphological features will be an important part of this project. However, use of additional techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-rays Photoelectronic Spectrocopy (XPS) are highly envisaged depending on the interest of the student.

Students from Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and possibly Mechanical Engineering (with prior chemistry experience) are welcome to apply. This UROP will be paid or used for credits depending on the student choice.

Contact: Interested candidates please send a CV and a short cover letter expressing your interest for one of the position to both Dr. Davide Ciceri (ciceri@mit.edu) and Dr. Carole Gadois (cgadois@mit.edu). Make sure to include in the correspondence also Prof. Antoine Allanore by adding him in CC: allanore@mit.edu.


7/31/14
Department: Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty supervisor: Prof. Antoine Allanore

Project Title: Development of a microfluidic device for soil science

Project description: We are recruiting up to two students to work in the laboratories headed by Prof. Antoine Allanore within the department of Materials Science and Engineering. We work in collaboration with a mining company with the ultimate goal to provide local sources of fertilizers to agriculture-intensive countries in the southern hemisphere. Specifically, the candidate will be involved in the design, realization and testing of a microfluidic device to study the dissolution rates of mineral sources. This UROP project is suited for motivated and committed students willing to learn and explore science at the intersection of materials science, chemistry and microfluidics. The student will be involved in the use of analytical techniques such as Raman spectroscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), thin-section microscopy, X-Rays Diffraction spectroscopy (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). This project can be easily modulated towards the interests of the student with the possibility to focus more on theoretical (microfluidic design and data modelling), experimental (device construction and chemical analysis) or both aspects.

This UROP will be paid or used for credits depending on the student choice.

Contact: Interested candidates please send a CV and a short cover letter expressing your interest to both Dr. Davide Ciceri (ciceri@mit.edu) and Prof. Antoine Allanore (allanore@mit.edu).


7/31/14
Department: Chemical Engineering / Koch Institute
Faculty Supervisor: Daniel Anderson

Project Title: Passive and Active Delivery of RNA Therapeutics

Project Description: RNA (siRNA, mRNA, etc.) have therapeutic applications to treat a wide variety of diseases but cannot readily cross the cell membrane to reach their site of action. To deliver RNA in vitro and in vivo, RNA can be encapsulated into nanoparticles (passive delivery) or directed to specific cell types with targeting ligands (active delivery). This project will explore and develop both types of delivery systems.

This project will involve the UROP student learning and performing the following experiments, among others: in vitro cell culture, RNA characterization/purification, nanoparticle characterization/purification, gel electrophoresis, basic chemical reactions.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with chemistry, biology and basic lab calculations (unit conversions, dilutions, etc.); ability to troubleshoot; independent worker; willing to read literature. Interest in potentially working for more than 1 semester is a plus. I cannot offer funding.

Contact: Please contact Kevin Kauffman (kjkauffm@mit.edu) with a CV.


7/28/14
Department: Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC)
Faculty Supervisor: Leslie Bromberg

Project Title: Engine-based chemical reactors for distributed manufacturing of liquid fuels

Project Description: The goal of the project is to develop technologies that will permit small scale manufacturing of liquid fuels (for transportation and cooking). The project uses conventional engines as chemical reactors. We are investigating the possibility of using mass-produced units (engines) in small scale to compete against technologies that so far are economic only in large scale. The work is mostly experimental at MIT's Sloan Automotive Laboratory, but there is the possibility of doing substantial modeling if there is interest. Some mechanical and/or electrical experience needed, some programming experience helpful.

Contact: Leslie Bromberg (brom@psfc.mit.edu)


7/22/14
Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Patrick Doyle

Project Title: Development of Cell-Mimicking Synthetic Hydrogel Microparticles

Project Description:
We use stop-flow lithography (SFL) to fabricate biocompatible and responsive microparticles with independent control over size, shape, material chemistry, and surface functionality. We are investigating the use of these particles for applications in bioassays and drug delivery, as well as to study interactions between synthetic particles and biological environments. We are also interested in self-assembling particles of different shapes into mesoscale structures capable of bearing mechanical stress. The student will have the opportunity to design, synthesize, and characterize particles, study their flow behavior in microfluidic channels and microvascular networks, and investigate particle-cell interactions.

Requirements:
Engineering student with prior laboratory experience, interested in research. Available to start Fall 2014 for credit or pay (willing to commit at least 10 hours a week).

Contact: Please email Lilian Hsiao (lchsiao@MIT.EDU) and Lynna Chen (lynna@mit.edu) with your CV


7/22/14
Department/Lab/Center: Sloan School of Management
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Andrew W. Lo

Project Title: Developing a financial software tool to measure and monitor systemic risk

Project Description: The MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering (LFE) and the Consortium for Systemic Risk Analytics (CSRA) are jointly working on a “systemic risk dashboard” to produce and publish live financial analytics for risk management. The goal is to provide real-time assessment of the systemic risk in the market. Building upon prior research, we are working to create a framework to monitor the financial system using real-time data aggregation and analysis. The main purpose of our framework will be to measure attributes at periodic intervals, and outputting a measurement of risk.

The dashboard has a classic 3-tier client server architecture; technologies currently in use include: Heroku platform, PostGreSQL, Python, and JavaScript (with Bootstrap framework).

Responsibilities: Develop software; work closely with project manager to understand the project requirements and priorities; able to devote an average of 10 hours per week and to participate in weekly status meetings (1 hour).

Preferred skills/knowledge: Background in computer science/programming; working knowledge of finance and financial concepts; strong analytical skills; familiarity with Github or another source control system a plus.

Contact: Please send statement of interest, unofficial grade transcript, and resume to Jayna Cummings, jcummin@mit.edu.


7/16/14
Fall 2014
Department/Lab/Center: Sloan School of Management
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Juan Pablo Vielma

Project Title: JuMP: software for modeling optimization problems in Julia

Project Description: From combinatorial problems like the traveling salesman and airline scheduling to convex model fitting in machine learning and statistics mathematical optimization is a broad field with many applications. JuMP, written in the numerical computing language Julia, is an open-source software package designed to make it easy for users to express such optimization problems using a natural, mathematical syntax. Both Julia and JuMP began development at MIT and have a growing user base in both research and courses at MIT and internationally. The goal of this project is to further the development of JuMP. Multiple UROP positions are available, and depending on your interests there are projects oriented towards usability (documentation, user interfaces), theory (algorithms, formulations), and implementation (benchmarking, improving data structures, interfacing with existing optimization codes).

Prerequisites: Familiarity with mathematical optimization at the level of 15.053 or 15.058. Strong programming and/or writing skills. Experience with Julia is helpful but not required.

Contact: Please contact Azadeh Mirbod, amirbod@mit.edu


7/7/14
Department: Health Sciences and Technology (HST)
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Ali Khademhosseini

Project Title: Google Glass Assisted Biomedical Data Acquisition and Analysis

Project Description:
The past decade has witnessed rapid development and expansion on the use of smart, compact, and portable electronic devices such as iPhone and touchpads. These devices enable wireless telecommunications among remote parties, and have thus been exploited for their potential in a wide spectrum of biomedical applications, from bench-top image and signal processing, to point-of-care diagnosis and surgical aids. However, one critical limitation on such applications is the required use of touch/gesture-based control. One promising solution, the wearable Google Glass, perfectly solves such issue by packing together a voice-controlled computing system with imaging and videotaping capabilities. Together with the on-screen display and wireless features the Glass becomes a powerful tool, allowing data acquisition/processing, and wireless communication with remote parties, all in a hands-free manner. As a pioneer in testing the Google Glass, our lab seeks to develop various functions for it based on our own research, including, but not limited to, miniature microscope for monitoring cell behavior in a microfluidic bioreactor, organ-on-a-chip platforms with continual electrochemical sensing of secreted biomarkers, and a smart wound dressing system. We have a dynamic and multi-disciplinary team trying to tackle these issues. Join us and a set of Google Glass will be provided to you for the research work.

Prerequisite and Requirements:
The candidate(s) should hold strong background in programming, specifically, JAVA and Android Development Tools (ADT) for Android operating systems, and/or Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE) Xcode and Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS, and LabVIEW. Experience in MATLAB and other languages will be additional advantages.

Contact:
Interested applicants should send your CV/resume to Shrike Zhang (yszhang@mit.edu), with a brief statement on your background skills that particularly fit our requirements and your overall expectations. Please also include your availability in conducting the researches.


7/7/14
Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Klavs Jensen

Project Title: Catalytic hydrogenation in continuous flow system for pharmaceutical application and mass transfer study

Project Description: With continuous flow system, pharmaceutical processes can reach a new level of productivity. Many leading companies in the pharmaceutical industry are currently leveraging the potential of continuous production and are introducing continuous manufacturing into their facilities.

This project is funded by Novartis. The goal of this research project is to explore the catalytic hydrogenation performance, mass transfer and heat transfer in a micro-scale packed bed reactor and then scale-up. Currently, ?-methylstyrene hydrogenation is used as a model reaction to examine the mass transfer rate in the gas-liquid-sold three phase reactor in a co-current up-flow mode. The next step is to further study the mass transfer behavior of packed-bed reactor in different operation mode (e.g. down-flow), under various flow conditions, and with different packing materials. On top of the mass transfer study, a self-designed pharmaceutically relevant substrate will be applied for the selective hydrogenation study. Student will be expected to prepare chemical components, flow system operation, chemical analytics, and perform general cleaning and maintenance tasks. Student will get direct hands-on mentoring. A great opportunity to gain familiarity with chemical processes, chemical engineering fundamentals and chemical laboratory experience.

Prerequisites: Student with engineering or science major is required. Chemical engineering major is preferred. Student should be self-motivated, willing to commit time for lab-work and interested in research. Lab experience is a plus. Commitment to both Summer and Fall is welcome and preferred.

Contact: Please email Dr. Cuixian(Trisha) Yang (yangcx@mit.edu) with questions or to request a brief interview if interested.


7/7/14
Fall 2014
Department: Sloan School of Management
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Christian Catalini

Project Title: Big Data Research on Crowdfunding and Entrepreneurship

Project Description: The recent rise of crowdfunding - raising capital from many people through online platforms – poses a number of interesting questions for the economics of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as for social welfare. In this research project, we are collecting and analyzing quantitative data on crowdfunding to examine a range of issues, including the role of human capital in driving entrepreneurial experimentation, the influence of geography and spatial proximity on funding activities, what are the characteristics of projects that get funded as opposed to those that don’t get funded, and more.

If you are interested in getting hands-on experience in economics research and data analysis as well as to understand the dynamics of crowdfunding and entrepreneurship, this would be a great learning opportunity.

Specifically, we have two types of UROP positions:

Position #1: Candidates with a Mechanical Engineering background whose responsibility would be to (a) assist in data collection and analysis; (b) review crowdfunding projects for their technical feasibility. Though programming knowledge is not needed, candidates with programming skills in scripting languages (such as Python) and machine learning would be given priority.

Position #2: Candidates with strong programming skills in scripting languages (such as Python), machine learning, knowledge of intermediate statistics (e.g., regression analysis), and experience with statistical tools (such as STATA or R). Responsibility for this position include (a) writing code to collect data from a variety of sources; (b) managing and analyzing data using statistical software.

Even if the candidates don’t have all the requisite skill sets, but are motivated and willing to learn, do feel free to get in touch with us.

Contact: Please email Arvind Karunakaran (arvindk@mit.edu) and Cc: Christian Catalini (catalini@mit.edu) with your resume/CV. Also, please include your availability to meet.


7/7/14
Department/Lab/Center: Media Lab
Faculty Supervisor: Prof. Cynthia Breazeal

Project Title: Evaluating social robots as learning companions.

Project Description: Social robots are used as learning/teaching companions for young children. We develop social robots that can play and collaborate with children to teach language skills or programming. For this project, we seek someone to develop, run, and analyze user studies with preschool-age children that evaluate these robots.

We are seeking a motivated, hard-working summer UROP who would like to understand how technology can impact children's early education.

The project will include developing study protocols, preparing study materials, recruiting subjects, running experiments with children and robots (data collection), and data organization and analysis. This is an opportunity to learn about research in human-robot interaction. You'll gain experience running user studies and prototyping experimental designs.

Prerequisites:
- Must be comfortable working with young children
- Knowledge in cognitive science or psychology, and a love of technology
- Must be comfortable using technology - running studies requires handling robots

About us: More about the Personal Robots Group at the media lab can be found at: http://robotic.media.mit.edu

Contact: To join, please contact Michal Gordon (michalg@mit.edu).

 

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