Computer Science Research Story: Lauren Fogel


Lauren Fogel

Computer Science & Software Engineering

What research did you complete and who did you complete it with?

I completed research on mass spectrometry-based natural products drug interactions in the lab of Dr. Angela Calderon, a professor in the Harrison College of Pharmacy at Auburn. Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique used to identify known and unknown compounds.

There seem to be a variety of ways to seek and secure research positions. How did you find this opportunity? Are there resources you found particularly helpful?

Through the CSSE-undergraduate mailing list, Dr. Calderon reached out looking for a research assistant and I responded to her message. Although each major gets a lot of e-mails every day, I recommend looking through them because there are so many great opportunities.

Tell us about your research experience. What types of tasks and projects did you engage in? Was there a particular part of the experience you learned the most from?

The most valuable part of my research experience has been exposure to an area very different from my major of computer science. I mostly help with data analysis of data generated by mass spectrometry. Another big part of my position is searching for and learning about new software tools that could be used for enhanced data analysis. I have also helped with the development of an automation tool that speeds up the process of identifying bioactivity in compounds. Additionally, I’ve worked with graduate and undergraduate students on scientific papers and posters. One thing that has surprised me is how much I have learned from researching other tools used for data analysis. This has shown me a variety of software applications in many different disciplines.

In what ways did this research experience help you prepare for your next steps after Auburn?

I am currently planning to go to graduate school, and research is a required part of the program. Learning how a research lab runs has been so valuable. Having exposure to an area more in the realm of chemistry and biology has been beneficial, as I plan to get my master’s in bioinformatics, which combines the fields of computer science and biology.

In what ways did your coursework or other experiences at Auburn prepare you for your research? Are there specific topics or skills you learned from classes that you put into practice?

In my computer science classes, having to adapt to various types of software required for my class assignments has prepared me for learning different types of analysis software quickly. A statistics class is also part of the computer science curriculum. Having knowledge of statistics has been important so I can better understand statistical analysis performed on the data generated in the lab. My freshman year I took general chemistry as my science sequence, and it’s been useful having basic chemistry knowledge as well.

Do you have any advice for other students looking for research experience like yours?

If you find research that interests you and want to get involved, reach out to the principal investigator! PIs frequently need students to work in their lab. Don’t be afraid going into a position even if you have little background or experience. Put in time and effort to get the most out of your research experience, and hopefully you’ll find an area you are passionate about.