Uncovering Answers in the Rainforest

in NEWS, Students

Kangping Hu (ECE 13)
Kangping Hu (ECE ’13)

Speaking up about research interests during freshman year might make students a little nervous, but doing so could also take them deep into a Puerto Rican rainforest and provide additional opportunities throughout their undergraduate career.

This was and is the case for Kangping Hu (ECE ’13), who presented his Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) poster paper, “Mode Conversion of NAU Launched Whistler Wave Over Arecibo, Puerto Rico,” in October at the George Sherman Union (GSU). His research took first place out of 219 participants at the 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Hu’s work explores the effects of wave-particle interactions in the ionosphere. The ionosphere has become increasingly important as the use of wireless communications rises, because certain ionospheres’ density irregularities can result in signal distortion.

By studying this, Hu says he hopes to “investigate the spectral broadening effects in the ionosphere for communications and remote sensing purposes.”

Hu took advantage of having Professor Min-Chang Lee (ECE) as his advisor soon after he came to BU. Grants Lee received even funded some of Hu’s research with him over the last three summers.

“I have been tutoring Kangping in his research over the past three years, beginning his freshman year in 2009, with my other undergraduate and graduate students,” said Lee. “He is both intelligent and a hard worker.”

Over his last winter and summer breaks, Hu flew to Puerto Rico to conduct research in the rainforest at the Arecibo Observatory, home of the world’s largest radio telescope.

“We did the research in the observatory using a dish that was in the heart of the jungle,” said Hu. “We spent a week there setting up experiments in the middle of the night from 8 p.m. ’til 5 a.m. in order to remove the sun as a variable.”

His work didn’t end after the information was collected. Last summer, Hu analyzed the data during the UROP summer research session. “With this analysis, we made more developments for the presentation,” he explained.

He is currently applying his accumulated research to write his Senior Honors thesis. After graduation, Hu plans to continue his academic career and get a graduate degree in electrical engineering.

-Sneha Dasgupta (COM ’13)