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UH Engineering Students Conducting Research in Germany

By Mallory Chesser
April 18, 2018 

For many new college students, the concept of research is not on their radar. Or if it is, it’s something reserved for graduate students and mad scientists. The Office of Undergraduate Research, housed in the Honors College, is seeking to change all this by exposing students of every major to the wealth of undergraduate research opportunities available, at home and overseas. And thanks to the German Academic Exchange Service’s Research Internships in Science and Engineering program—more commonly known as DAAD RISE—two University of Houston engineering undergraduates will be conducting research in Germany this summer. 

Taylor HedtkeTayler Hedtke is a junior chemical engineering student and is in the Honors College. Last summer, she conducted research at Colorado School of Mines on the removal of water contaminants using ceramic membranes and activated carbon. Hedtke is currently conducting research at UH to determine the effects on microbial growth of antiscalant additives in water filtration systems. This summer she will be at the University of Kaiserslautern conducting research on molecular modeling and simulations. Hedtke is also involved in STEM outreach activities through the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is a teaching assistant for freshmen honors engineering courses. 

Reed MasekReed Masek is a sophomore physics major and Honors College student. He currently performs research at UH as a member of NASA's High Altitude Student Payload (HASP) program to study cosmic rays and their influence on stratospheric extremophiles. In early March, he received an internship from the DAAD RISE program, through which he will be spending the summer in Germany working with a doctoral student to create a hybrid DAQ for a hybrid scintillation and radio detector.   

A third recipient, junior physics major Alejandro Ramirez, declined his offer in favor of a Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, where he will work on particle physics. 

The DAAD RISE program offers summer research opportunities at German universities in the fields of natural science, engineering, and life sciences. Applicants must be full-time enrolled students in a STEM major. The ideal candidate has performed well in the classroom, has conducted research previously, and wants to gain more research experience in an international setting. Internship recipients also receive stipends from the DAAD to assist with living expenses while abroad. 

Although this is the first year that the University has actively encouraged students to apply for DAAD RISE, it has already seen three successful applicants. The University’s robust and varied science programs make UH students excellent candidates for such research internships, which for Hedtke and Masek are a continuation of the work they have started at UH. 

“The DAAD RISE scholarship is an incredible opportunity to broaden the scope of my research while gaining insight into the international research community,” says Hedtke. “My work in Germany will be delving into theoretical aspects that bridge the gap between my courses and my previous research that emphasized hands-on work with physical systems. The theory of interactions on the molecular level is foundational to my project and has major implications for my undergraduate major, chemical engineering, and my intended graduate studies in environmental engineering.” 

While looking forward to the opportunity to continue his work on radiation sensors, Masek is especially excited to begin collecting stamps on his passport: “To this day, I have never left the United States. I hoped that applying to an internship abroad would allow me to kill two birds with one stone—to begin my travels around the world and to supplement my college career.” 

Because of these dual benefits, a RISE internship is an excellent opportunity for STEM students to incorporate experiential learning into their degree plan, without delaying graduation. The DAAD will begin accepting applications to next summer’s RISE Germany program in November 2018. For more information, contact Dr. Ben Rayder at