Darin Butz Foundation Research Scholars – Summer 2018

Junior, Engineering Physics

Xiuting (Amy) Wu, a junior in the Department of Physics in the College of Engineering, started her time at Illinois as an undeclared student in the Division of General Studies. In her sophomore year, she decided to apply to transfer to the Engineering Physics program. Amy was excited to pursue a degree in Engineering Physics as she expressed that she “is loving physics, how it stretched her to grow and learn, and is hungry for more information.”

In 2016-2017, Amy worked as a student lecture preparation technician in the Department of Physics. She set up physics demonstrations and trained students to handle laboratory equipment inside the demonstration room.

Amy enjoys being in engineering physics and wanted to explore ways of providing support to undeclared students. She is involved in outreach activities to better serve these students. Currently, she is a member of the Society for Underrepresented Physics Students. She builds connections with the various cultural houses across campus and shares valuable information to members of the society. Amy is also a member of Raising International Scholars Online and creates lesson plans for high school students in Cambodia as well as teaches them English. Amy is also a James Scholar.

As Darin Butz Research Scholar, Amy will be working with Prof. Vidya Madhavan. Her research project is entitled, Majorana Fermions in Thin Film Heterostructures. Amy will be observing proximity-induced superconductivity in topological insulators to study Majorana physics using scanning tunneling microscopy.


Sophomore, Electrical Engineering

Alyssa Licudine, a rising sophomore in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, graduated at the top of her class in high school. She likes learning how to connect computers and setting them up.

In her spare time, Alyssa serves as the webmaster for Illini Fighting Alzheimer’s and is also a member of the fundraising committee. She helps propose and organize fundraising events that benefit Alzheimer’s research.

Currently, Alyssa is the workshop coordinator for the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) at Illinois. She creates, organizes, and runs workshops for BMES members to expand their technical skills. She helped launch and manages the society’s YouTube channel which features a growing library of tutorials with topics that span from programming languages and hardware assembly to poster presentations and campus resources. She was also the team leader for the BMES Engineering Open House project on using an EEG headset for home automation and vehicle control. She delegated tasks and oversaw the work of a team with various technical backgrounds.

As a Darin Butz Research Scholar, Alyssa will be working with Prof. Stephen Boppart. Her research project is entitled, Enhancing Spatial Control of Optogenetic Stimulation and Imaging with an Optical Fiber Bundle System. Her research heavily relies on computation for data collection and image processing. She will use graphical programming and develop machine vision applications.


Senior, Electrical Engineering

Annika Dugad is a rising senior in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is considering pursuing a dual degree with Engineering Physics. She is consistently in the College of Engineering Dean’s List since her first year at Illinois, and she is the recipient of the John Deere Scholarship.

She has also been active in Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering (WECE). Having been WECE vice president and corporate liaison, Annika was responsible for organizing events with companies and for securing sponsorships for WECE. As the society’s webmaster, she built a new website from scratch utilizing HTML/CSS, JQuery, PHP, and responsive web design.

Annika worked as a full stack development and platform engineering intern at the Capital One Illinois Digital Campus Lab. Her work involved creating a web application for internal applications, and designing and setting up the PostgreSQL database. She also created and tested fault-tolerant cloud architecture, and built and conducted resiliency tests.

As Darin Butz Research Scholar, Annika will be working with Prof. Paul Kwiat. Her research project is entitled, Utilizing the Pound-Drever-Hall Technique to Improve the Precision of Interferometric Weak Measurements. She has been an undergraduate researcher in the Kwiat Quantum Information Group this past year. Her research involves designing a self-aligning interferometer system and analyzing interference images.

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