Hands of Mounika Kakarla holding a medical device.

Q&A with faculty mentor Kenan Song

Kenan Song, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has been a faculty mentor in the FURI and MORE programs for five years. Song’s research interests include advanced composite materials and advanced manufacturing. He enjoys including students from a variety of backgrounds in his research and encourages other faculty members to be open to undergraduate and graduate students who may end up being excellent doctoral candidates.

Learn more about the student projects for which Song is a mentor

What made you want to get involved as a FURI and MORE mentor?

Education and inclusion. Undergraduate and master’s students should get resources for research experience, especially those students from underrepresented groups.

What is your favorite part about seeing your students conduct research?

I enjoy our weekly meetings when our research is not going as expected and we brainstorm for a plan B. 

How have your student researchers had an effect on your research? Have they come up with any research surprises or proposed new directions for your lab?

Yes, some of the FURI and MORE students support our doctoral research. And some master’s students are self-initiated and do research relevant to their work or family business, which can be inspiring for us to collaborate with local businesses.

Dr. Song has been very supportive throughout the pandemic and attends to each person’s interests in the lab with utmost care and respect. If my research goals were different, I would love to do a PhD under him. He is such a supportive mentor!

Mounika Kakarla Materials science and engineering MORE student

What have you gained from being a FURI and MORE mentor? How has the experience been rewarding for you?

I understand more about how diverse students’ backgrounds can be and it helps me be considerate of my students in class and improve my teaching skills. Seeing more and more students find jobs based on their research experience makes me have a sense of achievement. 

What advice would you give to students who might be interested in participating in FURI or MORE?

My advice is to slow down. Many students are ambitious, but considering the short term of one or two semesters, we will start with small projects.

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