Students discovered wider world of research in innovative Photonics summer program

By Danny Giancioppo

Leaving your hometown, home state, even home country can be trying for any college student. From unpacking, to socializing, to getting to know a brand-new city, it can be an overstimulating experience. Many new and returning students at Boston University have and continue to face this head-on as the fall semester begins, and despite the maneuverability of BU’s campus, it can still be an overwhelming feat. In the case of five students from the Photonics Center’s summer 2022 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, it was equal parts scary and informative. 

At the Boston University Photonics Center, undergraduates from across the country can visit for a summer program known as the NSF (National Science Foundation) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, in which students can learn firsthand the new and advancing avenues of STEM research fields among distinguished professors, graduate students, and laboratories. In some cases, following the completion of the program, REUs pursue the opportunity to join Boston University as full-time students.

Mark Lucas (ENG/BME), Karina Mendoza (CAS/Neuroscience), and Destiny Kanu (ENG/ME) are each transferring from their previous undergraduate institutions to Boston University this fall, following last year’s experience. In addition, Anna Vena (ENG/BME) will be returning to pursue her master’s degree, and Nolan Vild (ENG/ECE) will be pursuing his PhD. 

For Mark Lucas, it felt like a natural fit. “As a kid,” Lucas said, “I always really enjoyed learning about technology and science in general, but I also had a passion for biology.” While he attained his associate degree in engineering studies at Middle Georgia State, he knew he wanted to go further, and access even greater resources in the field of BME. When he applied to three REU programs around the country, Boston University was one he thought he’d never get into. As it happened, it was the one program that accepted him. 

“When I got to BU, I had never worked in a research lab, ever,” said Lucas. “The experience broadened my understanding of biomedical engineering and gave me a better idea what my place in it was.” 

Read the full story on the BU Photonics Center news page.