University of Wyoming juniors Matthew Fournier, a zoology/psychology and biology student from Cheyenne, and Christopher MacLellan, mathematics and computer science, Gilbert, Ariz., are conducting research work this summer at two prestigious institutions.
The two UW honor students, both members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, landed competitive national internships.
Fournier is working at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Amgen Scholars Program. MacLellan was accepted into the NASA Space Grant Program and is assigned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Fournier will focus on two key aspects of visual cognition -- learning and recognition. The research influences the clinical and computational understanding of visual recognition and could one day result in computers that read and understand in a human fashion, he says.
MacLellan will develop software for the "Pluto" rover, which will regulate the movement of the motors onboard the exploration robot. The technology will be used in the development of all future planetary rover software and will be applicable even to robots already in space.
They say UW has given them a competitive edge by providing individual research experiences outside the classroom.
MacLellan has prior experience in the Wyoming Cryptography Cohort, a National Science Foundation-funded research program led by Siguna Mueller, UW Department of Mathematics assistant professor.
"In this program, I gained experience in working in a highly technical group setting, translating group ideas into working computer programs," he says.
For the past year, Fournier has worked in the UW neuroscience program directed by Professor Francis Flynn. He investigated the neural and hormonal mechanisms involved in the regulation of fluid balance.
"I have gained experience with immunohistochemical technique and microscope imaging and how the results can be applied to the overall goals of the laboratory," Fournier says.