Thambipillay ’22 – enFocus | Economics Research

I want to thank the numerous donors and friends of Wabash College whose generous contributions have made internships like mine possible. I’m very grateful to the Wabash College CIBE and Roy Kaplan at Career Services for their help in seeking these wonderful opportunities this summer. Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to my peers and mentors at enFocus and Dr. Saha for providing meaningful and impactful experiences this summer.

I spent a large portion of my summer in South Bend, IN, working as an intern at enFocus, a local non-profit consulting company committed to building innovation in the region. Interns split their work between primary and secondary projects in a 70/30 split. As an industry-side intern, my primary project consisted of data lake development along with data visualization. I spent most of my time creating visualizations in Tableau, and I enjoyed being able to ask the client high-level questions about the desired product while having the freedom to be creative as I developed these automated dashboards. Through my secondary project, I contributed to the development of a program to aid Elkhart Community Schools students amidst a growing era of technology and internet reliance. We performed market and population research to gain a thorough understanding of the underlying problem.

I returned to our beautiful campus for the last four weeks of summer to aid Dr. Sujata Saha in her research on the impact of housing price shocks on different types of consumption. This research work felt familiar as I assisted Dr. Saha in a previous research topic last summer. Like last summer, I enjoyed immersing myself in the literature that I usually wouldn’t find myself reading. In addition to performing a literature review and searching for sources related to the topic in mind, I collected and cleaned data before performing regression analyses.

I could not have asked for a better summer experience. I am incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy the best of both non-profit consulting and economic research. I also made numerous great connections throughout these internships, and I enjoyed experiencing a new city this summer.

Cowley ’24 – Mathematics Research

Gabe Cowley ’24 — This summer I worked on researching Rainbow Numbers (part of Number Theory) with Professor Ansaldi and fellow student Kihyun Kim for 8 weeks. I learned how to create proofs in a research setting and I got to create and prove (or disprove) many hypotheses. I learned personally what it is like to work extensively on one problem, giving me a better idea of what a career in research may look like. I saw what it was like for us could work as a team toward a common goal while each of us still pursued our own individual interests within those goals.

What I especially loved about the research was the process of learning as we went along. To solve one problem or another, I would learn the appropriate mathematics needed, seeing how different fields could be used for the problem. The internship helped me gain comfortability with Mathematica programming and familiarity with Python, having to write programs in one language and use programs in another.

This research experience has been very valuable to me because through it I’ve learned what it is like to do research in pure mathematics, helping to shape my future career goals. I would like to thank those who made this internship possible – the Wabash College Math Department and the Wabash College Career Services for offering this position, those who provided the funds, Professor Ansaldi, and Kihyun Kim.

Didmanidze ’23 – Research Assistant

Dimitri Dimanidze ’23 — This summer, I worked as a research intern assisting professor McCartin-Lim. This was a life-changing experience for which I want to thank Wabash Career services, the Computer science department, and especially Professor McCartin-Lim.

The research was called “Machine learning for proofs”. During the first month of the internship, we explored different paths we could explore. Teaching a machine learning model to prove something or to check a proof is like a big puzzle and many researchers around the world work on solving one piece of it. Therefore, we were looking for a problem we wanted to solve. Throughout this month I read research papers and then discussed the ideas with the professor.

After a month of thinking and gathering tools and ideas, we settled on the task of teaching a transformer model to transform Boolean formulas into conjunctive normal form. The Transformer model is a state of art model in sequence-to-sequence NLP tasks, however, its potential with arithmetic or working with symbolic data has not been fully explored. our work serves as a kind of benchmark for the model, where we explore how well it performs and generalizes on formulas of different sizes. During the second month of the internship, I tinkered with a code of the Transformer model and ran experiments, gathering and discussing the results with the professor.

Joshi ’22 – Tulane Research Assistant

Spandan Joshi ’22 — I would like to start off by thanking G. Michael Dill ’71 and his family as well as Wabash College for making this internship experience possible for me. The internship could not have been financially feasible for me without their help. I would like to thank them for providing many other students like me the opportunity to intern at various places over the years. I would also urge every student reading this to capitalize on the Dill Fund if they have not done it yet. From unpaid internships with non-profit organizations to student-generated research and study programs, the Dill Fund takes care of it all.

I interned as a research assistant under Dr. Bilon Khambu at the Tulane University School of Medicine’s Liver Pathology lab. I remember walking into the lab on my first day wide-eyed and oblivious to what was going on, and frankly, a little intimidated by the white coats and all the equipment I knew nothing about. My project emphasized on identifying novel hepatic factors in the liver that are observed at the time of liver injury development. I examined proteins from liver samples of different mice models (differing by genetic model or diet or both) and looked for the varying levels of different proteins observed. Unfortunately, I was not able to identify any of the peculiar proteins I had observed due to a shortage of staff at my workplace which deemed the proteomic analysis part unviable. However, I made significant progress on the project and collected a good amount of quality data and trends that I could always go back to build upon and analyse.

All in all, the internship has served as a great opportunity for me to get familiar around a typical lab setting. I now have ample experience with basic and intermediate lab skills such as SDS gel preparation, CBB staining, Western blot analysis, operating machines for protein estimation and western blot imagery, mice handling, etc. These skills will certainly help me out a lot in the future if I decide to resume working in a lab setting. I also had a great time working with fellow interns from other institutions and made meaningful connections in the process.

Koers ’23 – Chemistry Research

Alexander Koers ’23 — This summer was my second working with Dr. Paul Schmitt in his lab researching agrochemical applications of second harmonic generation microscopy. In English, we are using an experimental microscopy technique for testing fungicidal additives. This has been an amazing opportunity for me to learn practical lab skills, as well as getting hands on experience in what it means to conduct academic research. The day-to-day duties of research are hard to appreciate until you go and do it. I want to pursue a doctorate in Chemistry. Having research opportunities with potential of publishing before I graduate will be instrumental when I begin filling out graduate program applications next spring.

My job this summer primarily involved the brand-new liquid chromatography single quadrupole mass spectrometer that the Chemistry department purchased in 2020. With the help of Dr. Schmitt, we designed a set of methods that we programed into the driver software to get specific data regarding the absorption effectiveness of our compound of interest. We are working with a fungicide that only functions once processed within the mitochondria of plant cells. To test the effectiveness of several additives whose job is to assist the active ingredient with entering the plant, supplied by our sponsor Corteva Agriscience, we grew young wheatgrass plants and treated them with our fungicide mixture. We would then wait from 2-72 hours then freeze the plants in liquid nitrogen, grind them into a powder, then extract the soluble compounds into a mobile phase and inject that into our mass spectrometer. This instrument would then tell us the concentration of our selected compounds over time, which can be integrated to show us relative concentrations of the target compounds at given timepoints. When all timepoints are taken together we can easily determine effectiveness of selected additives.

I would like to thank the Wabash Chemistry department for creating the internship programs they have, as the accessibility of student research provided to us is unrivaled at other institutions. As well I would like to thank my lab partners, Eric Green ’24 and Alex Litts ‘24 who were instrumental in our lab’s great successes this summer. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Paul Schmitt for making this summer possible. His leadership and genuine passion for the research at hand were vital to creating a productive and fun working environment.

High ’23 – French Research

Michael High ’23 — I’d like to thank the generous donors for making possible the incredible internship I was able to experience this summer.  I worked as a research intern for the French Department at Wabash College under Dr. Karen Quandt, on a digital humanities research project in French environmental literature. I also want to thank Wabash College and especially Dr. Quandt for the chance to grow and develop my skillset through this virtual opportunity. 

The work for this digital humanities project was focused in mainly two areas; the research on French environmental literature, and the development of a website which would display the literature and research.  The large majority of research on environmental literature has been devoted to North American writings, which is hardly surprising considering the large environmentalist movements in North America.  Because of this, environmental literature from other areas and cultures can often be overlooked.  The aim our project is to bring French environmental literature into focus, in a meaningful and efficient manner.  A website offers a user more tools to explore the literature and find a deeper understanding. 

The web development section focused on learning HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and JavaScript.  I also investigated other technologies like React, Bootstrap, and several Google plug-ins, including the Google My Maps feature which allowed for vague areas as well as specific locations related to the authors or the literature to be displayed in a user-friendly manner.  Version control was handled with GitHub and the website will be hosted with Google Firebase. 

Powell ’22 – Physics Research

Caleb Powell ’22 — This Summer I worked with the Physics Department doing research modeling the growth of “underwater icicles” known as Brinicles. This research gave me the opportunity to not only grow my knowledge in Physics, but also develop important skills in computer science through the use of the Python programming language. I am very thankful to Wabash College for funding this experience and especially thankful to Dr. Nathan Tompkins for providing me guidance this summer.

Brinicles, which were first discovered in the 1960’s, are downward-growing hollow tubes of ice that form when extremely cold and salty water (Brine) descend beneath developing sea ice, freezing the water surrounding it. Although we have known about their existence since the 60’s, the formation of a brinicle was first filmed in 2011. Our goal in this internship was to be the first to model this growth using point models in python. Despite our internship only being 6 weeks long, we achieved great results that match experimental growth research done in recent years.

Although my internship was classified as remote, I had the opportunity to work on campus and practice my presentation skills with the Math Department research interns as well this summer. I am very thankful to have this opportunity to be productive and advance my knowledge this summer.

Naylor ’24 – Psychology Research

Alex Naylor ’24 — My Name’s Alex Naylor and this summer I was given the amazing opportunity to work under Professor Gunther to aid in her research in color vision with my Colleague Isaac Temores. In our internship the main goal was to test subjects in a variety of different conditions varying in the stimulus and the background noise. Our tests looked to see if gratings (processed in the cortex) better reveal the non-cardinal mechanisms that Professor Gunther hypotheses are in the cortex. My internship consisted of three main facets. The first being taking the tests themselves and collecting my personal data. The second, running tests on both Isaac and other summer interns and the third conducting research to better understand the visual system as a whole specifically in color perception.

Throughout the internship we reviewed articles concerning our topics broadening our understanding as well as discussing ethics with the other Psych interns. Each day was a new learning experience giving me many new skills I will be able to use in further studies. Toward the end of the research Isaac and I began prep work for the Optical Society of America conference in Seattle this Fall by creating our poster and writing the abstract that will be used on the conference’s website.

I would first like to thank Wabash for the opportunity to stay on campus and use their facilities for my internship. Especially as a Freshman I would have not had an opportunity like this at a bigger university. I would also like to thank the National Science Foundation for the grant that funded my internship as well as Isaac for being a great colleague to work with and learn from. I would especially like to thank Professor Gunther for giving me the opportunity to be her intern not only mentoring me in the field of color vision but also Psych and the college experience as a whole.

Lillis ’22 – Mathematics Research

William Lillis ’22 — First, I want to thank the generous donors for funding my incredible internship. This summer, I worked as a research intern for the Mathematics Department at Wabash College under Dr. Zachary Gates. I want to thank Wabash College and especially Dr. Zachary Gates for this chance to work, learn, and develop my skillset through this virtual opportunity. 

The research for this internship focused on combinatorial game theory, a branch of mathematics. My research group specifically worked with the Make-A-Cycle and Avoid-A-Cycle games. These are two-player games played on various graphs, where the object of the game is to either be the first to create a cycle or avoid doing so within the starting positions. Some of the games included the Dihedral, Tunnel, Generalized Petersen, and a few other one-offs. The primary goal of this research was to prove whether Player 1 or Player 2 was guaranteed to win on a given graph, for a given game, from a given starting position by figuring out a specific optimal strategy. These strategies assured a win not only on once but preferably on a family of graphs. 

While it is viable to find these winning strategies by hand for minor instances, as graphs grow larger and become more interconnected in some cases, it becomes more difficult and extremely tedious to complete this process. Because of this difficulty, I coded a computer program that generates the graphs to arbitrary size and then plays on them optimally, deciding which player is guaranteed to win via optimal play. This code and its results could be used either directly for results or to help build intuition and spot patterns to make conclusions about games played on large graphs.

Rector ’22 – Research Assistant

Tyler Rector ’22 — This summer, I had an awesome experience working as a research assistant for Professor Morton. I want to thank Wabash college and the members of the Wabash Center for allowing me the opportunity to have a hand in selecting works for the upcoming art exhibition.

The Wabash Center supports students and faculty whose interests are focused primarily on theology and religion. The center is not only a resource to Wabash College but colleges across the nation. They engage in improving classroom skills, best teaching practices, and support to student learning. In addition, the center aids incoming faculty taking on doctoral programs that require hours of heavy research. They connect members with resources that help in teaching and higher education learning. Using workshops, colloquies, consultations, and leadership work, members have numerous tools at their disposal to enhance their teaching/learning practices.

The director, Lynne Westfield, worked alongside Professor Morton and me to select works from Wabash’s permanent art collection. The chosen work best reflects the centers’ mission and overall desired work environment. Most of my job was to research the selected works to find information about the artist and the work itself. The research will be reflected on labels that will be hung next to the works inside the Wabash Center. I have also been working on physical handouts for the exhibition, as we cannot possibly fit all the research on a small wall label. The wall label will work as a short description: Title, artist name, association number, and year the work was made and given to Wabash. The before-mentioned handout will dive into the works meaning as well as a short artist biography. I learned a great deal about the process of curating an exhibition as well as skills such as framing and label making. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition completed and opened to the public coming this fall.

1 2 3