This article is published in the May 2020 issue.

Education Committee Showcases Stories of Undergraduate Researchers

Since 2018, the CRA Education Committee’s “Undergraduate Research Highlights” series has been showcasing outstanding research done by undergraduate students at universities and colleges across North America. It is one of a number of CRA-E’s activities that foster and recognize talented computing researchers with the goal of increasing the research pipeline, promoting graduate education, and advocating research-based careers.

Each article features the story of a successful undergraduate researcher and offers personal insights into their experiences with finding an advisor, undertaking new research projects, and discovering how research can impact their personal and professional futures. In addition to helping students understand the process of getting involved in research, the articles also serve as a venue for students to pass along advice to others who aspire to become involved in research themselves. Students selected for the research highlights include those receiving recognition in the CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award competition. This series is written and edited by CRA-E Graduate Fellows.

The latest article in the series, “From COMP105 to Programming Languages Research in Haskell,” highlights the work of Tufts University graduate Marilyn Sun, who collaborated with her research advisor Kathleen Fisher, a CRA board member.

“Reflecting on her research experience, Marilyn asserts, “Ask questions! …I always felt I was the most junior and inexperienced”.  She realized that instead of holding in questions, it would have been easier to build her confidence by asking questions as soon as they materialized. Marilyn believes that this kind of advice is important to share with other current and potential undergraduate researchers. Sometimes it’s scary and one does not feel confident, but the rewards are worthwhile.”

New additions to this series are posted regularly on the Conquer website available at We encourage you to share these stories with your students and those considering a research career.