The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) program allows students to explore research through a 12 to 16 week project supervised by research faculty.
Although she was confident and hopeful applying for an IUSRA, Shriya Agrawal was thrilled when she was accepted into the program. Working in Dr. Joshua Brinkerhoff’s UBC-Okanagan Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Agrawal investigated the impact of environmentally-friendlier and cheaper fuel alternatives in the marine, transportation, and aviation industries.
“I have been contemplating a Master’s degree in the field, and this experience provided me with a hands-on opportunity to explore what real research is all about,” says Agrawal. She pointed to both her supervisor and a PhD candidate in the lab, Kasper Petersen, for providing guidance and support during her research.
“The imposter’s syndrome I experienced every now and then, especially going into the work term, quickly disappeared due to the humility I was shown by Dr. Brinkerhoff and Kasper. They were enthusiastic, motivational, supportive and also incredibly knowledgeable, helping me through a lot of the technical difficulties and lack of understanding I faced in the lab.”
As a result of Agrawal’s contributions, the researchers were able to develop simulations that were 110-times faster than previous versions enabling industries to accurately predict the scope of spills, and providing an important tool for clean-up crews.
“Shriya was an indispensable member of our team, and really epitomized the important role that IUSRA researchers can play in innovative research,” explains Brinkerhoff.
During her work term, Agrawal increased her understanding of computational fluid dynamics, and gained confidence in her ability to communicate in a professional capacity. “The most important thing the experience taught me was that, no matter how scary it may seem or how little I might know, if I simply follow my interest and curiosity, great things happen.”
Every year, undergraduate students (both domestic and international) are invited to apply for URSA and IUSRA. The program allows students who are eligible to work in Canada, and returning to their studies the following term, to participate in paid research during the summer.