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Xavier Magazine | October 17, 2017

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Glued to His Seat

Mehrdad Safavian, a junior majoring in computer science with a minor in biology, natural sciences and mathematics, spent his summer participating in a rather unusual research project. Safavian worked with Dr. Peter N. Steinmetz in the brain-modeling laboratory at the University of Minnesota.

“The program that I participated in is computational neuroscience,” Safavian says. “We worked on spike sorting methods, in which we used different algorithms to separate noise from spikes. The data were collected from electrodes connected to the brains of patients with pharmacologically intractable epilepsy to localize the seizure onset focus.”

Safavian’s work was part of the University of Minnesota’s undergraduate life science summer research program. The program attracted Safavian because of the opportunity to work in the front line of research and science with some of the top scientists with advanced tools and technologies. He has found his summer in Minnesota a positive experience.

“I have learned a lot in science and I have experienced how the research process works,” he says. “Also, working along side some hard-working scientists has taught me a lot, and I have picked up some of their hard-working habits.”

Connecting undergraduates with faculty research is one of the primary missions of the university, which ranks third among the nation’s public research universities, according to a new study by “The Center” at the University of Florida. The report on the top American research universities ranks public and private universities based on scoring within the top 25 on nine measures, including the strength of the faculty, research program and private support. Minnesota ranks in the top 25 on eight of the nine measures. The only other public research universities that score as well as in the study are the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley.

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