The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program includes a research internship that takes place during the first summer break. It gives scholars the occasion to dive in-depth in an area of interest with the support of an academic supervisor during eight weeks in an EPFL lab or a partner institution.
By the end of this first-hand experience, scholars will have gained a deeper understanding of a scientific subject, and gotten a first taste of research. They will have developed competences that will be useful throughout their academic journey and in their future careers.
2023 Scholars’ research posters
In addition to the poster, the research experience concludes with the exercise of writing a research report, which is published on the Laidlaw Scholars Network.
Bridging my studies to real world applications
I am passionate about soft robotics. Therefore, the Center for Artificial Muscles was a natural choice of lab for me. I was able to meet with the group prior to summer and I discussed with my supervisor-to-be who proposed me three projects I could work on. I decided to work on the project that explores the implementation of an artificial muscle to reanimate the eyebrows of patients suffering from facial paralysis.
Seeing how concrete my studies can become is very rewarding and knowing that my research can solve real problems and make a significant contribution to society is very meaningful. This experience was challenging yet rewarding and as a continuity of my Laidlaw program for the second summer, I am currently looking for an institution that would support my interests in improving medical innovations to benefit patients with paralysis or neurodegenerative diseases.
My first research work resulting in a publication
Working in the Urban and Regional Planning Community Laboratory was my first research experience. I chose to work within this group because I am very interested in sustainable development and human vocation projects. The purpose of my studies was to assess the accuracy of remote sensing algorithms in informal settlements such as cities in Sub-Saharan Africa that are experiencing significant demographic and spatial expansion.
This project has been a truly enriching experience. I was able to put into practice my knowledge, especially in programming, and I greatly extended my understanding of remote sensing algorithms and their applications. I met wonderful individuals in the lab who quickly became friends and I received unwavering guidance and mentorship from my supervisor. I very much enjoyed this collaborative environment and I am all the more grateful that my work was recognized by the lab who proposed me to continue working with them in order to officially publish my research in the upcoming months!
Working in a lab is nothing like what I knew
I joined the Center for Artificial Muscles on a project aiming to improve dielectric artificial muscles, by using technologies like compliant mechanisms. As a student who is used to working on complex projects for my courses and different EPFL associations like the Spacecraft team and Xplore, I thought that the working methods in a lab would not be new for me. To my greatest surprise, I had to completely review my methodology and mindset!
Unlike the projects I worked on so far, I was not rushed to finalize my work with strict deadlines but I was rather encouraged to strive for excellence by deepening my understanding in order to excel in my tasks and outcomes. I had to cope with a slower pace and to be patient. I understood many new concepts and theories. I also learnt to master many useful tools for soft robotics and biomedical engineering but my greatest learning was about my soft skills: how to be rigorous and resilient, how to deal with a high amount of information, how to interact with others and how to effectively communicate.
Following the research internship, all scholars will present their research work during a research symposium opened to EPFL professors, lab mentors, the Laidlaw program stakeholders and the general public.
Each Laidlaw participant will showcase their scientific work. This event aims to highlight the scholars’ research and give them the floor to present it. They will also get the opportunity to discover the projects of their peers in other fields. The next event will take place on Thursday September 19th, 2024.
Laidlaw Scholars can choose and work in around 500 EPFL labs and research groups in disciplines ranging from mathematics, physics or chemistry to life sciences, architecture or engineering. Research opportunites are also available at our partner institutions. We thank them for their support and collaboration.
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Located in Villigen (AG), the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland, conducting cutting-edge research in four main fields: future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. PSI develops, builds and operates complex large research facilities. Every year, more than 2500 scientists from Switzerland and around the world come to PSI to use its unique facilities to carry out experiments that are not possible anywhere else.