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It’s one community for Kearns summer researchers

July 28, 2017
group of students pose for a photo a Frontier Field, with Kodak tower and Rochester skyline in backgroundUndergraduate students participating in summer research programs run by the University's David T. Kearns Center take a break from their work to enjoy a Red Wings game and see more of downtown Rochester. (University photo / Michael Droel)

Summer of Research: Our latest Newscenter series showcases a cross-section of summer research conducted by undergraduates at Rochester and beyond.

Eunice Noel spends her days at Goergen Hall researching corneal cross-linking. She spends her evenings in Gilbert Hall, cooking dishes like teriyaki chicken and Cajun alfredo pasta—and making friends.

“I end up talking to anyone who walks into the kitchen,” the Miami native and University of Florida rising senior says. “It’s a great way to meet people.”

Noel is one of 61 undergraduate students from 14 universities conducting research as part of four summer programs run by the David T. Kearns Center. These include the Xerox Engineering Research Fellows, Ronald E. McNair Scholars, and two new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) that bring female and underrepresented minority students to Rochester from universities such as Mississippi State, the University of Maryland, Rutgers, and the University of Michigan.

In their labs, Noel and other Kearns Center summer researchers work among one another as well as Rochester faculty and graduate students. In their dorm, they live among one another, forming tight friendships that will be vital as they move on to graduate school and professional careers.

Connecting personally, networking professionally

The students have been randomly paired with their roommates—regardless of research interest or college affiliation. Noel’s roommate is Rochester biomedical engineering major Penelope Subervi ’19, who is from New York City. “It’s a flashback, like freshmen year all over again,” Subervi says. “Fortunately, Eunice and I get along great and hang out a lot.”

The students are assigned, Harry Potter-style, to “houses” (supervised by a Kearns staff member) that compete against each other in community-building events. They compete on everything from which house is the most punctual to classes and events, to who plans the most social events and posts the most group photos on social media.

Penelope Subervi and Eunice Noel.

Roommates Penelope Subervi ’19 (left) and Eunice Noel. (University photo / Jim Mandelaro)

Noel says her experience in Gilbert Hall has made it easier to expand her network beyond her lab partners. “You may work with just a few students in the same lab, so having the opportunity to see people in the dorm hallways, kitchen, and even the bathroom while brushing your teeth is a great way to get a conversation in.”

Beth Olivares, director of the Kearns Center, says she’s pleased by what she’s seen. “They go out to breakfast, the movies, go-karting, or meet up for lunch at the food trucks here on Tasty Tuesdays,” she says. “It’s been great.”


Exploring a new university—and a new city

Stephon Hamill, assistant director at the Kearns Center, sees an added benefit of the social aspects of summer research:

“Some of the students who don’t go here can learn about the University from a student who does, or who’s from Rochester,” he says.

Take, for example, Wes Smith and Moses Bug. They’re dormmates as well as lab partners in the REU program titled Computational Methods for Understanding Music, Media, and Minds. Smith grew up in Rochester and will be a junior this fall at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Bug is a rising senior at Brandeis University near Boston.

Moses Bug and Wes Smith

Lab partners Moses Bug (left) and Wes Smith. Smith grew up in Rochester and attends college in Scotland. This summer he introduced Brandeis University student Bug to his hometown. (University photo / Jim Mandelaro)

They both love rap music, which they listen to while in the lab working on their project, “Reconstruction of Live Performances.” In their free time, Smith introduces Bug to different neighborhoods in Rochester, and to the local cuisine.

“I introduced Moses to his first garbage plate,” Smith says, referring to the iconic Rochester dish that features meat, home fries, macaroni salad, and bread. “I love it,” says Bug, a Philadelphia native. “I’ve already had three.”

Noel, too, knew little about Rochester—the city or the university—before embarking on this summer adventure. “It’s a little colder here, and more quiet,” the Miami native says. “Lots of nature. I like it.”

She and some of her new friends have visited the Memorial Art Gallery, a few other museums, and a cozy bistro on University Avenue called Starry Nites Café. “It reminded me of the show Friends,” she says. “I was like, ‘OK, Rochester!’”

Kearns Center has a field day

Students, pre-college students, faculty, and staff participating in summer programs through the David T. Kearns Center took a break from campus and headed to Genesee Valley Park for the annual Kearns Center field day.

one student addresses large crowd with a bull horn

NOW HEAR THIS: Faculty, college, and pre-college students participate in the Kearns Center Field Day activities at Genesee Valley Park. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

students jumping rope

DOUBLE DUTCH: Upward Bound staffer Jordan Landfair (left) and REU participant Michael Reid ’20 show the rest of the field day participants how it’s done. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

two students with hula hoops

FOR A SPIN: McNair scholars Famous Clark ’19 (left) and Kim Sitthisack ’17 try their hand at hula hooping. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

two students on cell phones

CHECKING IN: Upward Bound high school juniors Brianna Foster (left) and Jyaira Johnson record and share the field day fun. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

large group of students playing rock paper scissors

SCISSORS CUT PAPER: Field day activities included an epic rock-paper-scissors tournament. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)


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