"I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do research full time this summer. Diving deeper into the world of research allowed me to learn a variety of new technical and professional skills. I worked in the department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, where I continued my project creating a mobile network of internet-connected nuclear radiation detectors. This project will see several applications, like environmental monitoring, emergency response, and anomaly localization. 

My tasks included everything from working with hardware to transmitting, visualizing, and sharing environmental data. I essentially had to build an Internet of Things system of radiation detectors from the ground up. The network I built collects data coming from mobile detectors to update a database and create visualizations in real time as the sensors move to different locations. 

In addition to learning a lot about embedded systems, I also gained many professional skills. My research mentor was on paternity leave for most of this summer, and I was the only other person working at this time. While having limited guidance and so much responsibility seemed scary at first, I soon realized that it gave me freedom to take initiative and push my research in new directions. I learned to be creative when approaching my tasks and problems, which is what research is all about. By the end of the summer I had become a much more diligent and ingenious researcher.  

Having a research experience as immersive as this one was an invaluable opportunity. All the time and effort I put into working in my project paid off in the end, as I was able to build the communication infrastructure in a more effective way than we had initially planned. I’m proud of how much I learned and accomplished, and I’m excited to keep doing research in the future."

-Sabrina Tobar Thommel, MRADS Alumni Scholarship Recipient