Undergraduate Research Profiles
These students travel far and wide to augment their work in the classroomDecember 1, 2009 | by Jasmine Rangel
• Yee Hoong Chow, a senior from Malaysia majoring in chemical and biological engineering, spent last summer doing research in the laboratories of one of the world's top-ranked universities for engineering and science. The recipient of a 2009 ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship, he worked with researchers from around the globe at L'Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (or EPFL). Among them was Vassily Hatzimanikatis, an expert in computational modeling "who changed the way I look at that subject," Chow said. Chow describes EPFL, with its campus located along Lake Geneva, as a "knowledge-based society in which science is the common language between researchers of different mother tongues. Everyone I met even outside of the lab was in one way or another involved in the field of science." Back in Evanston, Chow continues to do research in the field of computational modeling with Linda Broadbelt, professor of chemical and biological engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
• Sam McAleese has trouble naming his summer destinations in a single breath. In three months, the senior philosophy major at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences visited Peru, Chile, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Tanzania and South Africa. With support from Northwestern and a research travel grant from the Chicago Circumnavigators Club, McAleese studied the ways in which different countries work to preserve and manage their national parks. He hopes to publish his research and to do work with the George Wright Society, an international park employee organization devoted to natural and cultural resource management. The trip also opened him up to a less cluttered way of life. He left his iPod at home -- "I didn't miss it" -- and enjoyed books he brought along. Stolen phones, missed flights and taxi drivers who overcharged him didn't put a dent in his optimism, McAleese says. "I'm able to step back and remember a family in Peru, a grocer in Malaysia and realize that I'm just one part of a much bigger world."
• Marginalized and often unable to communicate with authorities, refugees in Southeast Asia don't always find help. Last summer, Meixi Ng learned firsthand how the United Nations Interagency Project on Human Trafficking (or UNIAP) often finds them. With an Immersion Grant from the Office of the Provost and a Lee F. Anderson Memorial Grant from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Ng interned and did ethnographic field research with UNIAP researchers in Cambodia and Thailand. A senior in social policy at the School of Education and Social Policy and in international studies at Weinberg, Ng said the summer experience "forced me to come to terms with the realities of trafficking and exploitation." Ng is a co-founder of The Amber Initiative, a youth-led organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking. She said her summer experience convinced her that the "fight against human trafficking is something I'm going to dedicate my life to."