$4,000 Co-Op Scholarships Pay 200 Students for Research, Internships, and Study Abroad

Biomedical engineering major Madison Merrill learns cell-culture techniques in her summer co-op with chemical engineering research scientist Prokash Paul
Biomedical engineering major Madison Merrill learns cell-culture techniques in her summer co-op with chemical engineering research scientist Prokash Paul.

By Katharine Webster

Every year, more than 200 first-year students receive merit-based, $4,000 Co-op Scholarships in their acceptance packages. The scholarships pay them to do research with a faculty member, intern at a community agency or study abroad. “It’s a wonderful, hands-on learning opportunity for these highly motivated students,” says Julie Chen, vice chancellor for research and innovation. 

The scholarships often lead to ongoing research jobs, paid positions at community organizations and professional co-op opportunities. For Honors College students, it connects them with faculty mentors, who frequently become their honors capstone advisers.

This year’s scholars have interned at the Natick Army Labs and Zoo New England. They’ve traveled to Europe, South America and Australia. And they’ve done research with faculty in science, psychology, health sciences and engineering. Here’s what a few of them are up to.

Mike Hanna poses in front of the Boston police department

Mike Hanna – Policing and Politics

Mike Hanna is helping to process firearms licenses in the licensing unit of the Boston Police. The political science major also gets to check out other units – and listen in when elected officials visit. “There’s an upcoming mayoral election in Boston and I’m learning how that can affect everything in city government,” he says. Detective Lt. Jack McDonough, his supervisor, has nothing but praise for his UML summer interns (Mike’s brother Jack Hanna ’17 was the first, in 2014): “They’re awesome – they’re educated, motivated, wonderful young people.”
Biology major Sean Cloran poses in front of the Andes

Sean Cloran – Environmental Study in Peru

Biology major Sean Cloran works as a lifeguard every summer, so he used his Co-op Scholarship to study abroad and do research in Peru over spring semester. He studied Spanish, tropical ecology and conservation science in the Andes, then mapped sources of water pollution in the Amazon watershed. “I already knew I wanted to go into ecological restoration,” he says. “But this made me want to work in sustainable development, too, and decrease the socioeconomic gap between the global north and the global south.”
Ania Burgess helps Assistant Professor Christopher Hansen design a self-healing outer shell for a vessel to carry astronauts into deep space

Ania Burgess – Next-generation Space Travel

Ania Burgess is helping Asst. Prof. Christopher Hansen design a self-healing outer shell for a vessel to carry astronauts into deep space. The mechanical engineering major is trying to get a 3-D printer to make a honeycomb structure with a finicky, but promising, new plastic. “I want to work in aerospace engineering, and NASA-funded research is the best place to start,” she says. “Normally, it’s hard to find a summer research job after only one year of college, so the Co-op Scholarship was a big factor in my deciding to come to UMass Lowell.”
Biomedical engineering major Madison Merrill in a lab

Madison Merrill – Drug Testing Techniques

Biomedical engineering major Madison Merrill says she’s already ahead in her studies because she’s learned two engineering computer programs and cell-culture techniques in her summer co-op with chemical engineering research scientist Prokash Paul and Assoc. Prof. Seongkyu Yoon. Their project: coming up with standards for the FDA to use when approving generic versions of long-acting injectable drugs. “I also went to the 2017 Biomanufacturing Summit in Boston,” she says. “That was amazing.”
Kayla and Nik at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub

Kaylaundra Washington and Nik Chaudhary – Surrounded by Startups

Business major Nik Chaudhary works mornings at the Innovation Hub, UML’s business incubator, helping with social media marketing. Kaylaundra Washington, a psychology major and business minor, takes over in the afternoon. Both attend iHub workshops and mingle with young entrepreneurs. “It’s a good opportunity, since I’m not sure what I want to do, being surrounded by all these startups,” Chaudhary says. Adds Washington, “I just love the atmosphere here. People are always willing to answer questions.”
Corrina Quaglietta, a nursing student, and Benjamin Rafla, an electrical and computer engineering major, at a restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain

Corrina Quaglietta and Ben Rafla – Basking in Spanish Culture

Corrina Quaglietta, a nursing student, struck a deal with her parents: She could use her Co-op Scholarship to study abroad if she got good grades freshman year. She earned a 4.0 GPA. “I was gunning for this,” she says. As an electrical and computer engineering major, Benjamin Rafla wanted a change of pace. “I always wanted to travel to Europe and open myself up to another culture,” he says. Both chose the honors study abroad program in San Sebastian, Spain, a major foodie destination. Pintxos, anyone?
Brianna holding a crayfish in a net over a fish tank

Brianna Sorensen – Teaching Robotics and “You Code Girl!”

Brianna Sorensen wasn’t excited about any of the community placements on offer for Co-op Scholars, so she created her own with help from two service-learning coordinators. The math major, who’s also in the UTeach program, worked for the Lowell public schools this summer, teaching summer camps in robotics, circuitry and computer coding for girls and assembling science kits for teachers that included live crayfish. “Because UMass Lowell paid me, I could do so much more for other people,” she says.
Katia and Danielle presenting their poster at a research symposium

Danielle Poublon and Katia Dellaporta – Yoga and Bone Health Research

Nursing student Katia Dellaporta and business major Danielle Poublon worked with Asst. Prof. of Physical Therapy SoJung Kim on research into the effects of yoga on bone health in women. “I learned how to set up a study and use the machines for weekly testing,” Dellaporta says. Poublon got valuable marketing experience, helping to recruit study participants and designing the website where they log their activity. “The website’s my baby!” she says. Bonus: They’ve learned how to do sun salutations.
Liono and Matt, mechanical engineering students at the Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology with the CubeSat satellite

Liono Kou and Matt Linnehan – SPACE HAUC Satellite Design

Two mechanical engineering students are working this summer at the Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology on SPACE HAUC (pronounced “space hawk”), helping to design a CubeSat satellite that can take pictures of the sun. Matt Linnehan is working on attitude and control, “so that when the satellite enters orbit, we can de-tumble it and face it to the sun.” Liono Kou is working on thermal control. “This allows me to directly apply my classroom learning to a project,” Kou says.