FUSE allows students to explore research

Taylor Harrison

The Faculty Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) program is giving students the chance to work on their own research.

FUSE funds students and allows them to work with a faculty member as their mentor.

Once they’re done, students get the chance to submit a research proposal for the opportunity to get their full project funded.

Gordon Baylis, vice president for Research, said he wants research to be centered on the students.

Students who work on FUSE projects are required to sign up for UC 400, rather than attending class.

“FUSE — doing the research — is the class,” Baylis said.

FUSE will give away grants totaling $500,000 in the program’s first year.

The grants will be given to 100 students, 53 of which have already received them. Applications for the program need to be submitted to a faculty mentor by Oct. 22.

Alice Byrne, a New York City post-baccalaureate student, is one of the recipients of the FUSE grant. Byrne is currently working with her faculty mentor, Hemali Rathnayake, on using organic substances to create a solar panel that could be used to gather sun rays and create energy.

The solar panel would be smaller and less rigid than the widely used large solar panels that are on the roofs of buildings.

“We’re talking about something that’s very flexible,” Byrne said.

Byrne also said the device is so tiny that it is almost transparent. It could potentially be used in private homes instead of just commercial buildings.

“It could be put onto your window, and most people won’t even realize that you’ve got solar panels on your home, but you’ve got them all over your windows,” Byrne said.

The device would be an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity.

“Being environmentally friendly is definitely something that I keep at the forefront of my mind,” Byrne said.

Louisville junior Lauren French was also awarded a FUSE grant. French, along with her faculty mentor, Liza Kelly, attended a music program in Liberty, Mo., over the summer.

French also learned the way that different music can affect different parts of a person’s energy. She also got the chance to perform at the program.

“The basic idea behind it is that it puts student research firmly and squarely in the hands of students,” Baylis said.