UC San Diego News Center


Want to Do Undergraduate Research This Summer? Calit2 Can Help

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Nearly 300 University of California, San Diego undergraduates have participated in full-time research opportunities with the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) since 2001 — and it is now recruiting to fill as many as 30 more positions for this summer.

The 2013 Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars program is one of the largest of its kind at UC San Diego. It gives students from any major the opportunity to work daily alongside a faculty member and graduate students in labs across the campus.

“This has been one of our most successful programs because it gives undergrads an early taste of research as a full-time profession,” said Ramesh Rao, director of the UCSD Division of Calit2. “Many of our previous Calit2 Scholars have gone on to graduate school, or directly to research careers in industry, and others have leveraged their summer experience into permanent jobs in Calit2 itself.”

Calit2 is inviting interested students from all majors to attend one of the two information sessions that will take place on Friday, Feb. 15, at noon, or 6 p.m., in the open space on the 5th floor of Atkinson Hall, Calit2’s headquarters building at UC San Diego. It is located on the Engineering Courtyard off Warren Mall.

Students will learn how to design a research proposal with a faculty advisor ahead of the March 11 deadline for applications.

Added Rao, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering: “We strongly encourage students to attend one of the information sessions, because they will be able to speak with Calit2 Scholars from previous years and get tips on how to apply successfully for what has become a highly sought-after summer experience.”

Prior to the March 11 final deadline, applicants must line up a primary advisory from among the nearly 350 UCSD faculty members who are affiliated with Calit2. (A full list of academic participants in the UCSD Division of Calit2, visit the website at

While engineering and computer science majors accounted for most of the winners in the summer program’s early years, since then the institute has made a special effort to broaden the range to include summer scholars from the social sciences, arts and humanities, medicine and other fields. In the past three years, Calit2 Scholars hailed from 27 different majors. In 2012 alone, 13 percent of students worked on projects in the arts and humanities — on topics as diverse as lunar habitation and earth exploration technologies, linguistics and ethnoarchaeology.

Then-junior James Darling, who is majoring in cognitive science and anthropology with a concentration in archaeology, worked in the lab of anthropology professor Tom Levy, who is also an associate director of Calit2’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3). His task: to laser scan a collection of South Indian bronze idols as a first step toward creating a 3D digital database of the 800-year-old artifacts.

Then-sophomore Sam Avery worked in the Atkinson Hall lab of Calit2 research scientist (and UC San Diego alumnus) Albert Yu-Min Lin as part of the institute’s joint Engineers for Exploration program with the National Geographic Society. The aerospace engineering major worked on reducing high-frequency vibrations in multi-rotor model helicopters, to enhance the quality of photos and videos taken by cameras on the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last summer, 30 undergrads were awarded scholarships, which pay a stipend of $3,000 to work for 10 weeks over the summer. Applicants from any year may apply, but seniors must have at least one quarter remaining in Fall 2013 prior to graduation because Calit2 Scholars are required to attend a final research review at the start of the new academic year.

Students choose and work with a faculty advisor to develop a research proposal as part of the application process. Proposals must fit with the mission of Calit2 to conduct research on topics related to technology and how it is transforming a range of applications important to the economy and quality of life in California.

The deadline to apply for this summer is Monday, March 11, 2013. The online application will be available shortly at the program website, The judging committee expects to announce the awards by the end of March in order to help students plan ahead for the summer.

In addition to full-time work in a lab, all scholars are required to attend weekly seminars and presentations, and to participate in a research poster session at the end of the program. Each student gives a presentation on their project at least three times during the program. The presentation sessions allow scholars to update colleagues on their research progress, as well as to gain valuable presentation experience. Weekly sessions also include labs tours, demos, and networking opportunities. The sessions offer insight into academic research and career planning, and the tours and demos expose Calit2 Scholars to the cutting-edge research taking place at Calit2. 

The two information sessions for summer 2013 will take place at noon, and at 6 p.m., both on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Students are asked to register for one of the info session at

Have a question? Contact Amira Noeuv at or call (858) 822-1499.

Related Links

Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program