Fellowships and Opportunities


Sarah Troise–NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Name: Sarah Anne Troise

Class Year: 2019

Hometown: Lexington VA

Major(s): Engineering, Computer Science

Project Summary: In 2017, I earned a position working for the Southern California Earthquake Center as a part of the 2017 Undergraduate Studies in Earthquake Information Technology (USEIT) internship program, I worked with collaborative groups to tackle unsolved problems in earthquake information technology presented in the form of a Grand Challenge. That year’s Grand Challenge focused on earthquake forecasting, looking at specific scenarios of Southern San Andreas earthquakes and the aftershock sequences they might produce. As a member of the USEIT High Performance Computing (HPC) Team, I was challenged to simulate long catalogs of California’s seismic activity on a supercomputer. As a team we used a physics-based earthquake simulator, the Rate-State earthQuake Simulator (RSQSim).

In 2018, I was awarded a position as a part of NC State University’s Science of Software program which is a National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates. The Science of Software site is an immersive research program working data science and software engineering. My summer project centered around software engineering education and how to automatically assess and support collaboration, process, and help-seeking efforts by students. We accomplished this by using data science to evaluate the processes that students use when working on teams and the effectiveness of collaboration on student teams. Using this data, we want to compare the newest offering of the junior level software engineering class with the prior versions of the course in order to determine if the changes were effective.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? The 2017 research project brought together people from over five different scientific disciplines, W&L prepared me to be able to thrive in such an academically diverse group and be able to bring people together for one common goal.

Too, for the 2018 project, Washington and Lee’s vigorous Computer Science exposed me to all of the skills that I will be using this summer, making me one of the most prepared students. Also, W&L has helped to improve my critical thinking skills so that I can actively participate in discussion about future direction of this research.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I applied to the 2017 program because I was interested in the pursing research where I would be able to use my computing skills to advance science in way that has a direct impact on people. I chose this opportunity because hazards preparedness is an interest of mine and coming from the east coast earthquakes were something new and exciting.

I applied to the 2018 program because I was interested in the pursing teaching after graduate school and this opportunity would give me an interesting look at higher level education.


Post-graduation Plans: I plan to pursue a PhD in Environmental/Civil Engineering in hopes of being a university professor.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? These two opportunities will be ways to experience research as a professional at a large research institution. The insights gained through these experience will help guide my decision about graduate school as I explore schools and their programs.

Extracurricular Involvement:

WITS, Engineering Chair & CS Chair, President; Sigma Pi Sigma, President; Computer Science Lab Assistant; FYOC Get Downtown Chair; Jewelers Assistant at Hamric and Sheridan; University Ambassadors

Off-campus Experience:

Spring Term aboard in Geneva, Switzerland studying particle physics.

Research Experience:

W&L Summer Research Scholar, Summer 2016 research with Dr. Helmuth on Genetic Programming

Fall 2016–present Research with Dr. D’Alessandro in the high strength concrete lab

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