2023 REU Maurissa Higgins Shares Her Experience at the March 2024 APS Conference

Written by Maurissa Higgins

Maurissa Higgins at APS Conference

University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2023 NSF Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program allowed me the opportunity to grow my research skills and interpersonal connections. Over the ten weeks, I worked closely with Dr. Yogesh Vohra and Matthew Clay under the Department of Physics. During this time, I learned a great deal about condensed matter research and the common techniques used in modern research. I then applied what I learned in several ways throughout the summer, including analyzing X-Ray Diffraction data taken at the Argonne National Laboratory and taking Neutron Diffraction data at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

After the summer concluded, I expressed interest to Dr. Vohra and Matthew in presenting our results at a national conference, which led me to the APS March 2024 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I participated in a poster expo. During the expo, I had the opportunity to talk about our work with other undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs, and career professionals. Attendees possessed a range of understanding in condensed matter research, giving me the opportunity to practice presenting the research to a diverse audience.

In addition to presenting my own work, I also had the opportunity to hear about other ongoing projects and to discuss modern problems in physics. One of the most memorable discussions I participated in was “Addressing Misinformation about Science: Moving from Correction to Connection,” where I discussed strategies in communicating about misinformation with both people working inside and outside of science fields. One unique project I had the opportunity to hear about and which I would be interested in pursuing in the future was research being conducted on clouds and hazes and molecules in exoplanet atmospheres with a focus of applications to understanding the development of our own atmosphere.

In the past few months, I’ve learned about my own interests and strengths and have grown my research and interpersonal skills thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Summer REU. I can’t wait to see how these experiences will change and impact my future in physics.

2022 REU Kayla Hardrick: Recipient of Strada HBCU Scholarship

The Strada Education Network initiated the Strada HBCU Initiative in 2022 to focus on the next generation of leaders.  This is a highly selective program that provides an academic scholarship, leadership development, academic support and critical social engagement resulting in positive secondary learning opportunities that lead to a meaningful career pathway for Strada Scholar. 


The first cohort of Scholars was selected at Miles College in the fall of 2023.  Under the leadership of three advisors (Dr. Esther Suswam, Mr. Keith McKendall and Dr. Steven E. Hairston) each of the students will undertake and participate in mentoring, career coaching and other work-based learning experiences. 

The three inaugural Strada Scholars and their program area of study are Dariya Jones (Chemistry), Kayla Hardrick (Biology) and Abigail Boudreaux (Biology).  In addition to academic scholarship support and programming, each scholar has access to a stipend to assist them with career or graduates school preparation

The Miles College Strada Scholars are committed to initiating a community service project in the spring of 2024 to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Founding of Miles College.  

Details provided by Kayla Hardrick

Congratulations to 2022 REU Kayla Hardrick. Kayla’s REU mentor was Dr. Pengfei Wang, Professor of Chemistry.

2023 REU Has Come and Gone

Meet our 2023 Summer REU participants: (front l-r): Oscar Allen, Taylor Brown, Edwina Brown, Maurissa Higgins, Jadyn Parker, Jada Paige, Karim Haddad

(Back row l-r): David Heson, Lea Hebert, Sophia Cornelius, Isaiah Bastien, Victor Cordero, Isaac Mendez, Mikhail Guchkov, Wesley Sutton, Jonathan Perkins

Another successful Summer REU program has come and gone. It was our pleasure to host this exceptional group of students from across the country.

You can check out the slideshow of the REUs in action in their research labs.

We look forward to next year’s program. Application for Summer 2024 will be available online December 1, 2023.

2022 Summer Expo Winners

Join us in congratulating our 2022 Research Experiences for Undergraduates Summer Expo winners.

Hugh Graham

2nd Place – Engineering
Hugh is a student at the University of the South

Aniket Pant

1st Place – Physical and Applied Sciences
Aniket attends Georgia Tech

Carolina Amezaga

2nd Place – Physical and Applied Science
Carolina is a student at Auburn University

Claurissa Desilma

Claurissa Desilma

3rd Place – Works in Progress
Claurissa attends Florida Memorial University

REU Alumni Update: Aaditya Rau

Congratulations to 2019 REU, Aaditya Rau who graduated Spring 2022 from Johns Hopkins University. Aaditya graduated with a double major in the fields of Engineering Mechanics and Applied Mathematics & Statistics and a minor in Mathematics. He will be attending graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA under the Computational Science and Engineering program with a home department in Aeronautics/Astronautics.

In addition, since his time here at UAB, he received the Goldwater Scholarship in 2021, and just received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) to fund my graduate study.

Congratulations to Aaditya and we wish him the very best.