It Pays to Be Curious: Hopkins rewards undergraduates with grants for research.

Fall 2005

In March, Samuel Hahn ’05 presented his research on electrical changes in the heart as part of the 12th annual Provost’s Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA) program. PURA grants of up to $3,000 are funded by a donation from the Hodson Trust. Last year PURA grants supported the original research of 45 Johns Hopkins undergraduates.

Among other PURA projects by Whiting School students were:

• Designing a flexible robotic antenna inspired by how a cockroach uses its antennae to


navigate by touch. Owen Loh ’05 (left), a Mechanical Engineering major who enjoys combining biology and robotics, recently has been working on a more advanced version of the antenna, with six strain gauges embedded in cast urethane, then encased in a clear plastic sheath. Now being tested, by graduate student Brett Kutscher (center), it could lead to a new generation of robots that could more easily move through dark and hazardous locations, such as smoke-filled rooms strewn with debris. In April, Loh traveled to Barcelona, Spain, where Noah J. Cowan, (right), assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, presented the team’s work at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Loh is listed as second author on the paper.

• Studying in detail 19th-century American iron truss bridges. The work required


Christina Terpeluk ’05, a Civil Engineering major, to run 21st-century computer programs as well as pore through fragile 19th-century manuscripts trying to determine whether the bridges can be considered structural art. She later compared them with bridges in the British Isles while interning in a London engineering firm. Sanjay R. Arwade, assistant professor of Civil Engineering, is her faculty research sponsor.

For more on the PURA projects, visit /07pura01.html.