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Undergraduate Researchers
Where Are They Now?

Alumni | 2006 - 2009 | 2009 - 2010 | 2010 - 2011 | 2011 - 2012 | 2012 - 2013 | 2013 - 2014 | 2014 - 2015
Dr. Harry Chen

Dr. Harry Chen, '98 Computer Sciences

I did undergraduate research during my Senior year (1998). I joined the LAIT (Laboratory for Advanced Information Technology) research group led by Dr. Finin and Dr. Peng to work on software agents technology. My first assignment was to implement a Java decision tree API for building enterprise software agents. At that time, I was relatively new to Java programming and artificial intelligence. The project was exciting. I became interested in computer science research. Few months before my graduation, Dr. Finin and Dr. Peng encouraged me to stay for the Computer Science graduate program at UMBC and offered me a Graduate Research Assistant position.

UMBC Alumnus helps develop Apple’s latest technology

Jenélle Dowling, Biological Sciences

URA Scholar, 2006 - 2007

Jenélle has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation, Doctoral Research Fellowship which provides a generous stipend and research support for three years. She worked in the Omland lab group for three years doing fieldwork in Maryland and Mexico. Her URA Research led to a first authored peer-reviewed publication. She is now a PhD student at Cornell University in the department of Neurobiology and Behavior, working at the well-known Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Christie Finn, Music

URA Scholar, 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007

While at UMBC, Christie was a URA scholar three consecutive years and since graduation, she has used her research experience to further advance her musical talents and achievements.   She went on to win an interpretation prize (twice)  at the International Stockhausen Concerts and  Courses (Kürten, Germany). She continued her  education, obtaining a Masters of Music at

Southern Methodist University and currently studies in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music. Christie has performed as a soloist and ensemble member in many countries including Germany, Austria, and Italy and is currently preparing her role in Georges Aperghis’ opera Sextuor with the Hyoid Ensemble in New York City next year. For more information about Christie and her upcoming performance schedule please visit

DeLeon Gray

DeLeon Gray, '07 Interdisciplinary Studies

McNair Scholar, URA Scholar, 2006-2007

While at UMBC, alumnus and McNair Scholar DeLeon Gray studied the psychological foundations of education, as an interdisciplinary studies major with a concentration in Psychology. Prior to graduating from UMBC in 2007, he studied under the direction of his mentor, Dr. Charissa S.L. Cheah (Psychology), and wrote a research paper entitled, "The Role of Social Relationships in the Academic Motivation and Educational Attainment of Adolescent Mothers". Now a doctoral student of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University, he is continuing to investigate questions that have evolved and matured from his days as an undergraduate researcher at UMBC. He has just received the prestigious Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, administered by the National Academy of Education. Gray will use the $25,000 grant as his primary funding source while writing his dissertation, "A New Framework for Conceptualizing School Belonging: The Importance of 'Fitting In' and 'Standing Out'." He is studying how a student's balance between fitting in and standing out contributes to their positive self-perceptions, emotions, and outlook on academics.

He is a graduate of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies) and The Ohio State University (M.A., Quantitative Research, Evaluation, and Measurement; Ph.D., Educational Psychology). Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Dr. Gray also holds an appointment as Mentor Faculty in the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Eric Grollman, Sociology

URA Scholar, 2006 - 2007

Eric's paper with mentor Dr. Ilsa Lottes building on his URA Research has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Sexual Health article, "Conceptualization and Assesment of Homonegatitvity" is in Vol. 22(4) pp. 219 - 234.

He has another article with three fellow graduate students under review. The article discusses framing effects on support for legalizing same-sex marriage. He is now a PhD student in Sociology at Indiana University. He has also received a 3-year Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.

Lynna Kiere, Biological Sciences

URA Scholar, 2007 - 2008

Lynna has authored two published papers on work related to her URA Research. She is currently in her third semester of the doctoral programs in Biological Sciences at the Institute of Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City (Instituto de Ecología, UNAM) studying mating behavior in the blue-footed booby.

Using Color To Define Species Boundaries: Quantitative Analysis in the Orchard Oriole Complex Supports the Recognition of Two Species

Discrete Evolutionary Color Changes in Caciques Suggest Different Modes of Carotenoid Evolution Between Closely Related Taxa

Areej Kuraishi

Areej Kuraishi '10 psychology

URA Scholar, 2009 - 2010

Areej Kuraishi graduated from UMBC May 2010 and will graduate from the Master's in Professional Studies (MPS) Program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at UMBC-Shady Grove in December 2011. She presented her research on the implications of advancing technology on training and development with a special consideration on outsourced and off-shored jobs at the 32nd Annual IOOB conference in San Diego (March, 2011) and at the UMBC Graduate Research Conference (April, 2011). Her research experience as an undergraduate has played a huge role in all of the graduate opportunities that have followed.

Here is an interview with Areej.

Tahira Mahdi

Tahira Mahdi, Psychology

URA Scholar, 2009 - 2010

Tahira Mahdi graduated from UMBC in 2010 with a degree in Psychology. She is now a Meyerhoff Fellow, starting UMBC's HSP doctoral program in Clinical/Community and Applied Social Psychology this fall! Her research interest in need for cognition and my background in community service are the perfect foundation for her new work in Dr. Ken Maton’s lab.

Read more on Tahira's research.

Kevin O'Malley

Kevin O'Malley, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

URA Scholar, 2009 - 2010

Since graduating I traveled in Ecuador and Peru for two months. I currently work as an instructor with Trellis Services, where I help an autistic boy develop life-skills. I have become involved with Montgomery Hospice, and following training I will volunteer by visiting hospice patients (I will start that in October). I have also become a emergency room medical scribe with Emergency Medical Scribe Systems at the Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie. I am currently training for this position and will start in a few weeks.

My application to medical school is going well. It's too early for me to expect an acceptance, but I have high-hopes for the rest of the year.

Read more on Kevin's research.

Danielle Viens-Payne

Danielle Viens-Payne,

Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

URCAD Scholar, 2009 - 2010

Danielle Viens-Payne graduated from UMBC in December of 2010, and am now a first-year graduate student in UMBC's Master of Public Policy (MPP) program. She currently has two part-time jobs: She works as an Administrative Assistant in the enrollment department of a virtual (and national) public school called Connections Academy and she also works as a Program Coordinator for U.S. Hispanic Youth Entrepreneur Education (USHYEE) Student Chapters, where I work with and mentor Hispanic youth in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), both companies she works for are related to the education field, and they are both non-profit organizations. She plans to get her MPP and hopefully a Ph.D. in Education Policy.

Here is an interview with Danielle.

Ryan Wentworth

Ryan Wentworth, '12 Financial Economics

URA Scholar, 2011 - 2012

After graduating from UMBC in May of 2012, Ryan began working in Morgan Stanley in their Operations office in Baltimore. After spending six months at Morgan Stanley learning all about post-trade support, Ryan transitioned into a client-facing role, where he now works as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch also in Baltimore. As a URA scholar, Ryan conducted research on specific aspects of client portfolio management. In his new role, Ryan will be able to directly apply his research in his everyday functions as he works to manage client's portfolios to help them achieve their goals.

Here is an interview with Ryan.

Alumni | 2006 - 2009 | 2009 - 2010 | 2010 - 2011 | 2011 - 2012 | 2012 - 2013 | 2013 - 2014