Weinberg junior Gabriel Petersen conducts research on data dimension reduction


Courtesy Gabriel Petersen

Weinberg junior Gabriel Petersen. He described his summer research project in the fifth part of a series of student features.

Laurisa Sastoque, Reporter

This article is the fifth in a series featuring Northwestern students and their research projects during the summer of 2020.

An Undergraduate Summer Research Program participant, Weinberg junior Gabriel Petersen is working with mathematics Prof. Antonio Auffinger on his data dimension reduction research at the NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology.

A native of Santa Cruz, Calif., Petersen is majoring in mathematics and is part of the integrated science program. On campus, he is a member of Engineering Without Borders and the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life. He first conducted research during Winter Quarter of his freshman year as an assistant for physics and astronomy Prof. Michelle Driscoll.

Although he had originally planned to study abroad in Germany, due to COVID-19 Petersen decided to participate in the research program instead. He has had the opportunity to learn coding techniques that allow for a simplified analysis of multivariable data.

“I have gotten to tackle interesting questions and learn (methods) that I hadn’t really thought about before” Petersen said. He said there is certain pressure when working with an expert in the field, but favors the learning component.

Petersen said his research has prompted him to engage more with scholarly material: during the first four weeks of his project, he worked his way through a 17-page article, which he said “was definitely a learning experience.”

Petersen highlighted the role of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which offers grants and summer programming related to finding resources and presenting projects. The office also provides year-round advising for students.

Through his research journey, Petersen said he has gained a sense of what a job in STEM academia looks like. He plans to continue his research projects and eventually write a senior thesis in mathematics.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lauraisp405

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