Michael Williams

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I am currently conducting research in the Microsystems Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. My advisor is Professor Andrei Shkel. The focus of the lab's research is Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS). My project deals with the development of a MEMS based biotelemetry system. Our goal with this project is to develop an implantable sensor that will be able to characterize longitudinal muscle contractions within the human esophagus.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?
I first became involved in research at the beginning of my junior year through the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate program. I needed to find a faculty mentor in order to be a part of the program so I began evaluating faculty profiles. At the time my research interests consisted of semiconductor devices and nanotechnology. Professor Shkel's research interests seemed very similar to my own, so I contacted him.
3. How has research enhanced you education?
Research has given me the opportunity to learn several things outside of the classroom. The field of MEMS is a multidisciplinary field, which has allowed me to learn a lot about many topics that I never would have had the opportunity to encounter in my program of study. Throughout the duration of my research I have been able to explore different disciplines within science and engineering. I have also been able to gain more insight into these different disciplines and the ways in which they relate to one another. Through research I have been able to explore my different interests, which has put me in a better position to decide on a future career.
4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
One of my favorite experiences with research was the first time that I presented my work, which was during the McNair Symposium. There is a gratifying feeling that goes along with seeing all of your hard work come together and being able to present that work to others. When I first began working on the project I was a little overwhelmed by some of the tasks that I needed to complete, especially since the topics involved in my research are different from the topics covered in my undergraduate major. However, through hard work and perseverance I was able to develop important skills and make a lot of progress with the project.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?
After obtaining my Bachelor of Science degree, I plan to enter a graduate program in Electrical Engineering. During graduate school I plan to focus on the study of microelectronics or MEMS. My involvement in research has been beneficial to me in several ways. I have been able to identify specific areas of interest and explore those interests. I have also gained a lot of experience in working in a laboratory environment and developing the skills needed to be productive and successful as researcher.
6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
My advice would be to evaluate their interests and identify a field that they would like to learn more about. Next, find a faculty mentor with similar research interests and contact them. Students interested in research should also look into undergraduate research programs and summer research programs. Becoming involved in an undergraduate research program can be a very rewarding experience.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '03 Jana Remy
Nov. '03 Jacqueline Chattopadhyay
Oct. '03 Anshuman Chadha
Sep. '03 Ted K. Yanagihara
Aug. '03 Stephanie Domzalski
Jul. '03 Susan Milden
Jun. '03 Mai Nguyen
May '03 Chris Smith
Apr. '03 Erin Ramsey
Mar. '03 Michael Williams
Feb. '03 Emily Slusser
Jan. '03 Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad
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