REU at 25: Distinguished Alums

For more than 25 years, hundreds of Duke Engineering students have spent their summers in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Here are what some did—and are doing now.

Derek Braun

Derek Braun

REU year: 1995 (from Gallaudet University)

Mentor: Monty Reichert and graduate student Adam Sharkawy

Project summary: Research and set up an assay for quantitating the collagen content in fibrotic tissue samples

Currently: Professor of biology and director of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at Gallaudet University

Impact of REU experience: “It helped my self-confidence as a scientist. It taught me that the daily routine of science is about solving ad-hoc problems. It helped me understand the research laboratory environment, the working schedule, and the professional codes of conduct. It gave me a taste of what it'd be like to go to a different university, with its own culture, and in a different city.”

Chris Tralie

Chris Tralie

REU year: 2009 (from Princeton University)

Mentor: Matt Reynolds

Project title: “Robotic Navigation with RFID Waypoints”

Currently: PhD student at Duke Engineering and winner of an NSF Graduate Fellowship

Impact of REU experience: “The REU experience was the push I needed to go forward with applying to graduate school.  Before that, I likely would have gravitated towards industry, which in hindsight isn't as good of a fit for me as my current environment as a PhD student. I discovered that summer that I like working on problems that only have very general guidelines, where there is a lot of space for the creative process and initiative. “

Daniel Lundberg

Daniel Lundberg

REU year: 2001 (from Gallaudet University, Washington, DC)

Mentor: Fan Yuan

Project summary: Tested polymers of different viscosities for drug delivery in tumors

Currently: Associate professor of chemistry at Gallaudet University

Impact of REU experience: “The REU experience helped develop my research skills, which was beneficial in my research career and also for my teaching career where I advise students on research.”

Edwina Jones

Edwina Jones

REU year: 2010 (from Vanderbilt University)

Mentor: Jeffrey Scruggs, former assistant professor in the Department Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project title: “Earthquake Response Reduction with Electromechanical Transduction Networks”

Currently:  Just received her masters in mechanical engineering from Duke in 2013 and is exploring job opportunities

Impact of REU experience: “This experience caused me to think more about how what I do affects others. I want to have a career that benefits the community: one that does work that improves the quality of life for people.”

Raymond Merritt

Raymond Merritt

REU year: 1999 (from Gallaudet University)

Mentor: George Truskey

Project summary: Imaging actin filaments in mammalian endothelial cells using confocal and TIRF microscopes

Currently: Associate professor of biology at Gallaudet University

Impact of REU experience: “Not only did Duke University's REU program offer me a deeper understanding of real basic and applied research, I was first exposed to cutting-edge high resolution microscopes beyond the compound light microscope seen in my undergraduate laboratories. I fell in love with cell biology and molecular genetics. I have been studying mammalian cells and mammalian genes since then.”


Tyrone PorterTyrone Porter

REU year: 1994 (from Prairie View A&M University, Texas)

Mentor: Patrick Wolf

Project summary: Designing, building, and testing transformers for a data acquisition system that Dr. Wolf was using for cardiovascular experiments

Currently: Associate professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University

Impact of REU experience: “Dr. Wolf exposed me to the diversity of BME research, and I was hooked.”

Celanese Bozeman


Celanese Bozeman

REU year: 2008 (from Shaw University)

Mentor: Dan Sorin

Project summary: Create a simulator (computer engineering project)

Currently: Working in the cyber security/IT security field with numerous government agencies

Impact of REU experience: “It was a great opportunity to meet other individuals with different backgrounds, learn from their experiences, and acquire knowledge and be challenged. The experience assisted with my analytical thinking, confidence and, overall, my personal growth.”


Rod HewlinRodward Hewlin, Jr.

REU year: 2006 (from NC A&T State University)

Mentor: Benjamin Yellen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science

Project title: “Characterization of Microbeads for Bio-Analytical Devices”

Currently: Pursuing PhD in mechanical engineering in the area of hemodynamics at North Carolina A&T State University

Impact of REU experience: “The experience that I had in the REU program helped me to become a better student and develop a passion for research. I learned that a good researcher is vigilant about the results they obtain experimentally and theoretically. “

Patrick Conway

Year: 2004 and 2005 (from Gallaudet University, Washington, DC)

Mentor: Patrick Wolf

Project summary: Assisted Dr. Wolf with his neurotelemetry project

Currently: Working toward a PhD focused on computational protein structure prediction in David Baker's lab at the University of Washington

Impact of REU experience: “It was really valuable to see how the classroom material connected to hands-on applications and to see what a career in academic research would be like.”