Monday, April 4, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Cycielya

For the last two years as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, I have worked under the guidance of professor Chris Kauffman, developing an educational game that models interactions between the HIV virons and human cellular structures. The finished product will become a teaching resource in college classrooms, as well as tool for research on optimal teaching strategies and methods.

When I originally began work on this project, my involvement was mostly through accomplishing small-scale development goals and familiarizing myself with the source code of the program. As I have gained a deeper understanding of the structure of the program, I have moved to a more active role on the project, participating in the high-level architectural design decisions, as well as specific implementation details for multiple levels of gameplay.

My weekly work generally includes several hours of reading and modifying the program’s source code, and sometimes meeting with professor Kauffman to discuss short- and long-term development goals. While I may not be directly interacting with any active research, the program I am helping to build will, upon completion, become a research tool as well as a functional resource for education about HIV, AIDS, and medical processes that may help fight them.

Becoming an Undergraduate Research Assistant through OSCAR has enabled me to impactfully contribute to research efforts while applying the computer skills I intend to use as a major part of my future career. The freedom to independently make decisions regarding my research project, and to learn from my mistakes with the guidance of a faculty mentor, has strengthened my ability to think creatively and proactively about problems I face.