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Undergraduate News

Spring 2020

Grand Challenge Scholars run "Design-Thinking" Workshop at Sci High

Several Grand Challenge Scholars led a Design-Thinking workshop for high school sophomore students at Sci High, just down the street from Tulane’s campus. Scholars presented the students with a “patient” suffering from a rare, genetic disorder, with a host of symptoms alongside this disease. After being divided into smaller groups, the scholars moderated the design thinking process for the students to address day-to-day issues the patient experiences. The students were then asked to design a prototype device to solve a specific problem for the patient. The workshop ended with student group presentations displaying their products and the process of developing their ideas to the class. Scholars from both the 2020 and 2021 GCSP cohorts worked together to develop the ideas for this workshop.

Distinguished Neuroscientist, Dr. Carol Barnes, Visits Tulane

Dr. Carol Barnes Distinguished Lecture

Dr. Carol Barnes, member of the National Academy of Sciences and former president of the Society for Neuroscience, gave the Second Annual Tulane Brain Institute Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Her talk entitled "Aging, Memory, and the Brain" was given to a packed audience of faculty, staff, students, and members of the community. Earlier in the day, Dr. Barnes talked to students in informal settings where she shared stories about her research and career path. She also encouraged students to follow their own interests, whether it was doing basic laboratory research, pursuing a clinical path to understanding health and disease or flying airplanes (Dr. Barnes shared that she has two pilot licenses!). 

Fall 2019

Four Tulane Undergraduates Attend Naval Academy Conference

From left to right: Jimmy Rogers (senior), Alex Cotran-Lenrow (senior), Melanie Smith (junior), and Nicholas Pellegrini (senior). Photo provided by Jimmy Rogers. 

Four Tulane undergraduates recently attended the 2019 Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference (NASEC) in Annapolis, Maryland. Jimmy Rogers, Alex Cotran-Lenrow, Nicholas Pellegrini, and Melanie Smith were selected to participate in this unique STEM conference. Thanks to funding provided by the Newcomb-Tulane College (NTC) Dean’s Office and the School of Science and Engineering, these Tulanians presented their work to a group of approximately 160 undergraduates, 40 Midshipmen, and professors from various institutions. During their time in Annapolis, the Tulane cohort heard from a Vice Admiral (the USNA Superintendent), a Rear Admiral, an innovator from Lockheed Martin, and many highly accomplished academic researchers from around the US. Because the focus of this year’s NASEC was “Oceans: Exploration, Conservation, and Extreme Events”, the students had the opportunity to attend special lectures and engage in small group discussions centered around the topic. These discussions placed an emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration with the aim of finding solutions to many of the issues that our planet faces and desperately needs solutions to solve, such as climate change, the energy crisis, and ocean pollution. Ultimately, the cohort found the experience to be, as Mr. Rogers stated, “an extremely positive continuation of a unique partnership between Tulane and USNA that must be maintained moving forward”. For additional information on NASEC and how to attend next year’s conference, please visit and contact Associate Dean Beth Wee (   

Girls in STEM at Tulane (GiST) 
208 middle school girls from the New Orleans area learned STEM topics when they attended Girls in STEM at Tulane (GiST) on Sat. Nov. 16, 2019. They were mentored by several SSE undergraduate students (pictured in green shirts below) who volunteered at welcome tables, led workshops, or served as team leaders, guiding the girls during the day. 

Girls in STEM

Girls in STEM
Middle school girls learned about colorblindness, eye tracking, and how to create models of eyes in the workshop The Human Eye.​​​​​​ This workshop was run by undergraduates in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP)

Girls in STEM

Girls in STEM
Tulane student researchers from Dr. Escarra's group ran the workshop Photovoltaics Lab: Power from the Sun! , which demonstrated how electric current travels through photovoltaic solar cells when generated from a lamp.

Virtual Reality in Research with Dean Bordnick
Students in Tulane University’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program were treated to a presentation about virtual reality (VR) by School of Social Work Dean Patrick Bordnick on Monday, November 11. Dean Bordnick’s research utilizes VR for a variety of applications including treatments for addiction, autism, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. He also has collaborations with local artists and Tulane sports teams. In a lively, interactive presentation, Dean Bordnick shared his enthusiasm for VR and its many applications, as well as ways it will be used in the future. Audience members used one of his wireless VR headsets to experience the amazing capacity of this tool in their own virtual reality!

Annual SSE Homecoming Tailgating
SSE was well represented in tailgating village before the Tulane vs. Tulsa game on Saturday, November 2nd. Current students, alumni, Board of Advisors members, faculty, and staff enjoyed free food, free beverages, and great company on the beautiful sunny fall day! Dean Foster's dog, Brie, even made an appearance in her Tulane sweater. SSE Student Government and Science and Engineering Honors Society members staffed the swag sales table, generating funds to support their programming throughout the year. Roll Wave! 

SSE Homecoming 2019

Alumni Career Panel
In collaboration with Hire Tulane, SSE  hosted a Career Panel with four of our alumni on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. The panel members were Ryan Burks (MS, Civil and Environmental Engineering), Bryan Grace (PhD, Earth and Environmental Science), Molly Maleckar (BSE, PhD, Biomedical Engineering), and Makenna Moore (BS, MS, Neuroscience). The speakers discussed a variety of topics to help students prepare for their careers, including “best practices” for finding and being successful in internships and jobs, skills/traits that employers look for in their hires, suggestions they received along the way, their thoughts on the future of technology and the work force, and other helpful advice. Dr. Beth Wee moderated the panel, and representatives from Hire Tulane and Newcomb Tulane College Academic Advising were in the audience. Following the panel, the audience members had a chance to network with the speakers. 

Tulane Alumni Ryan Burks, Bryan Grace, Makenna Moore, and Molly Maleckar share their advice with audience members at the SSE Alumni Career Panel.

Graduate School Advice
Undergraduate students interested in learning more about graduate school were treated to an interactive panel discussion with faculty and graduate students on Monday, October 7, 2019. This event was co-sponsored by SSE and Women+ in Science and Engineering (WISE), an SSE graduate student organization. Panel members included Drs. Dorothy Cheruiyot (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Gary Dohanich (Psychology/Neuroscience), Cynthia Ebinger (Earth and Environmental Science), Courtney Kearney (Library) and Diyar Talbayev (Physics and Engineering Physics), as well as Chemical Engineering graduate student, Amy Goodson. The speakers shared their own experiences of pursuing graduate training, highlighting the challenges and joys of the process. Audience members learned about what Graduate Admissions committees look for in their best applicants, how to be successful during graduate school, and how the panel members utilized their graduate training. WISE members shared a Graduate School Preparation and Admissions Timeline, which is helpful for anyone considering graduate school. 
WISE has a mentorship program for undergrads to be mentored by graduate students.  

For more information about WISE, send an email to, facebook: and instagram:

WISE organizers Erin Knutson and Sally Merritt give an overview of important steps in the graduate school application process.

SSE Undergraduate students listen to advice from graduate student organizers, Erin Knutson and Sally Merritt prior to the panel discussion. 

SSE Open House for New Students and their Parents
SSE hosted an open house for first year students and their parents on Thursday, August 22, 2019. After getting their snowballs or king cake or other food items, the attendees went to different classrooms in Boggs and met faculty to learn about different majors and other opportunities at Tulane.

Summer 2019

Tulane student shows ‘Right Stuff’ at NASA Glenn Research Center competition
Meghan Bush, an engineering physics senior at Tulane University, interned in the Photovoltaic and Electrochemical Systems Branch, at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland this summer. As part of her program, Bush won the first GlennTalks Live competition, sponsored by Glenn’s Office of Education.
Competing with over 200 interns, Bush won for her project "Characterizing Photovoltaics in a Near-Space Environment." A panel of NASA professionals based their decision on “who could best demonstrate confidence and ability to communicate the background and significance of their summer project and its relevance to NASA’s mission.”

Tulane Undergraduate Research in Neuroscience (TURN) summer program
This summer, Neuroscience majors who are working in research laboratories on the uptown and downtown campuses met weekly to give oral presentations and discuss their research. On Thursday, August 1, 2019, TURN held its culminating poster session in Tulane's Lavin-Bernick Center. The summer research participants presented posters about their summer research projects to the Tulane Neuroscience community. Dr. Katie Black, Professor of Practice in Neuroscience, directed the program this summer.

Tulane science in Stockholm!
Twenty-five Tulane students, a staff member from Tulane's Office of Study Abroad, and two SSE faculty members spent four weeks together in Stockholm, Sweden this summer. Each student took two courses, taught by Drs. Donata Henry, Beth Wee, and/or a faculty member from the host institution DIS. When not in class or on class-related field trips, the students explored Stockholm and surrounds including the Nobel Museum, Vasa Museum, and Abba Museum! A day trip to Uppsala gave everyone a chance to learn about Carl Linneas, the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalized binomial nomenclature, as well as the Museum of Medical History. Stockholm is famous for its many islands, wooded areas, old town (Gamla Stan), and the wonderful tradition of "fika."