When I applied to USC, one of the things that got me really excited was all the incredible research that was happening on campus. From politics to environmental studies to engineering, every professor profile I read seemed to hold an incredible, new, innovative piece of work. So this fall, to get my 2nd year at USC started on the right note, I decided to start participating in research!

A type of neural network.

Since then, I’ve been collaborating with Dr. Bartlett Mel in the Laboratory for Neural Computation. I’m doing research in neural networks, specifically in a type of network called a Hopfield network, which specializes in image recognition. Basically, I simulate pixels in images as neurons in the network, and for a given number of neurons, the network can hold a given number of images. A 100-neuron network can hold around 13 images, a 500-neuron network can hold about 65, and a 10,000-neuron network can hold about 1300 images. The goal of my research is to see if we can boost that image-holding capacity from 13% or so to something substantially higher. I remember growing up reading about neural networks and cool research, but I never thought I’d be able to participate in it and contribute. Being at USC, and working in the LNC, has changed that perception.

A Hopfield network

Sound interesting? Awesome! Getting involved is super easy. Professors are always receptive to potential new lab members, and I got involved by sending Dr. Mel a direct email and setting up a quick meeting to decide on a type of project. If you’re curious about research and want to learn more about a particular subject while potentially getting paid, then research is right up your alley. And with so many professors across so many different disciplines studying so many things at USC, there’s bound to be somebody who cares about learning more about the things that you’re curious about. So go out, explore, and find something you’re passionate about. You’ve only got a few years here – build relationships with the amazing professors and make them count!

You can learn more about Dr. Mel and his research here!