Rossin College bioengineering major Linxi (Poplar) Yang ’22 took top honors at the 2022 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium held Wednesday in Lehigh’s STEPS building. 

Yang successfully presented her research on "Machine Learning Cell Type Classification for Cancer Diagnosis" to a panel of distinguished judges to earn a $2000 conference travel scholarship. She works with Yaling Liu, a professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering and mechanics, on cell-imaging cancer-diagnosis techniques. 

The daylong symposium, in which students from Lehigh and Lafayette College present their engineering research on a wide range of topics and compete for scholarships to attend professional conferences, returned to an in-person format in 2022 after taking place virtually the past two years. 

The event highlights research achievement and group collaboration, celebrates experiential learning, and encourages students to use research to develop critical thinking skills and increase their ability to succeed professionally. 

President Helble speaks at UGRS ceremony“I think you all know through your experience how transformative getting involved in a research project as an undergraduate student can be,” said Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82, who congratulated participants during the symposium’s closing ceremony and described how working with his Lehigh thermodynamics professor shaped his own career. 

Helble stressed that pursuing open-ended questions as individuals or in groups not only teaches students about science and engineering but also enables them “to see the world in a different way” and gives them a personal narrative—”their own unique story”— they can draw from as they launch their careers. 

The award for second place went to Lafayette senior and mechanical engineering major Delainey Mack for “Aerodynamics of Insect Hovering Flight Methods.” Lehigh computer engineering major Alexis Soulias ’23 placed third with “Smart Underwater Sensors and Wireless Communication.” 

Honorable mention was awarded to Lehigh bioengineer Anna Edmundson ’23 and the People’s Choice Award was given to Lafayette senior chemical engineering major Daphna Fertil.

The students were evaluated on the quality of their work, its relevance to engineering, and the quality of their presentations, said Wojciech Z. Misiolek, Loewy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and MSE department chair, who co-founded the event with MSE professor Himanshu Jain, the T.L. Diamond Distinguished Chair in Engineering and Applied Science.

The symposium is endowed by Andrew D. Freed ’83 ’17P, a member of the Lehigh Board of Trustees, in honor of his parents. Now retired, Freed most recently served as CEO of Micro-Coax, a manufacturer of electronic transmission devices based in Pottstown, PA. Freed holds a bachelor's degree in metallurgy and materials engineering from Lehigh and a master's degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

Drew Freed and Zemichael Gebeyehu
Lehigh mechanical engineering major Zemichael Gebeyehu discusses his project "Examining Fluid-Mediated Self-Organization of Two Robotic Fish" with Lehigh trustee Andrew D. Freed ’83 ’17P. (Photos: Christa Neu)

Misiolek described how the event has grown over the years and helped change the misconception that research is primarily the domain of graduate students. 

“The idea was to get more undergraduate involvement,” he said. “Today, our numbers are very impressive."

In closing, Stephen P. DeWeerth, dean of the Rossin College, said that participants represent the best of the undergraduate researchers from both institutions.

“Every year I come to this event, I am truly impressed by the quality of research that our undergraduates are doing at Lehigh and Lafayette,” DeWeerth said. “We hope to see great things as you go forward from here.”

For details on all of the competitors in the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, visit the symposium website.

Lafayette senior mechanical engineering major Delainey Mack placed second for “Aerodynamics of Insect Hovering Flight Methods.” (Photo: Christa Neu)

Steve DeWeerth, Alexis Soulias, Joseph Helble

Rossin College Dean Stephen P. DeWeerth (left) and Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 (right) presented  Lehigh computer engineering major Alexis Soulias ’23 (center) the award for third place for her work on with “Smart Underwater Sensors and Wireless Communication.” (Photo: shotbyasgar)