SURE Program: Rebecca Gio

Previous College: Citrus College

Transfer Year: 2020

Major: Computer Science

CPP Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hao Ji

Student Quote: “The SURE program provided excellent opportunities to meet and talk with other students who were also experiencing similar struggles with their research. Listening and being able to talk with other students about our struggles helped me realize that I was not alone in how I felt.”

This year’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program had the pleasure of mentoring Citrus College student Rebecca Gio as she began her journey of research. Rebecca was one of fifteen students handpicked from a pool of applicants to join this summer’s 2020 SURE Cohort. The SURE program partners with community colleges and their STEM students for an 8-week program where they participate in high-level faculty-mentored research projects. Students who participate in SURE also have the opportunity to present their culminating research projects at the annual Cal Poly Pomona Creative Activities & Research Symposium (CPP CARS).

Being a computer science major, Rebecca has developed an interest in artificial intelligence. Because of this, Rebecca’s goal throughout her time in the program was to explore her interest and utilize this time to gain experience within her field. Rebecca’s research project was titled: “Synthetic Data Generation for Deep Learning-Based Object Detection.” In this project, she was investigating the use of synthetic data to lower the cost of preparing labeled data for training deep learning models. In particular, an automated pipeline was designed to generate a large dataset of labeled images using realistic 3D models of real-world objects and train deep learning models for object detection tasks. Rebecca also mentioned that her project proposes a deep neural network that is trained with both synthetic and photorealistic synthetic data that can detect objects more efficiently. Rebecca’s project was guided by one of Cal Poly Pomona’s Computer Science Department faculty mentors, Dr. Hao Ji.

Although her project was a success, Rebecca exclaimed that she struggled tremendously throughout the whole program. Rebecca, like many, was completely new to the research realm before the summer program began. She had no experience with any of the software or programming languages that she needed to use for her research. However, with some motivation and determination, Rebecca conquered her struggles by utilizing the support of her mentor and fellow SURE students, and by quickly becoming good friends with Google search.

The SURE program allowed Rebecca to work with other students who were also experiencing similar struggles with their research. She said, “Listening and being able to talk with other students about our struggles helped me realize that I was not alone in how I felt. The support we received on how to write a research paper, how to present, etc. are skills that I will take with me even beyond this summer.”

Rebecca emphasized that the myth that you need to be an A student in order to participate in research is not true at all. In the beginning of her community college journey at Citrus, she had a 0.7 GPA and was placed on academic probation three times. However, with an adjusted mindset and the proper support from faculty and programs, Rebecca was able to change her academics around and obtained a final total GPA of 3.35! Rebecca’s academic journey has truly been remarkable.

Rebecca stated: “To anyone going through something similar, trust me, I know it feels like the world is falling. But looking at all the trips and bumps, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I learned how to get up when I fall, find people who will support me, and reach for whatever I want no matter my circumstance.”

At the end of the SURE program, Rebecca took away three research skills: communication, leadership, and determination. From these skills, Rebecca has built confidence as a student, researcher, and employee. Moreover, Rebecca has learned and grown immensely; her accomplishments embody what the SURE program is all about.

This Fall 2020, Rebecca joins Cal Poly Pomona as a transfer student in Computer Science. The Office of Undergraduate Research would like to congratulate Rebecca on all of her accomplishments thus far. We wish you the best of luck at Cal Poly Pomona! Your determination and achievements will lead you to greatness in the future ahead.

Advice to Students

“Ask questions. If you don’t have enough experience, don’t think that you are not eligible. If you communicate and are not afraid to ask questions, you will do very well even if you don’t have any experience in what you want to do research in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; your team and faculty mentor are there to support you!”

Article courtesy of Dr. Winny Dong and Cal Poly Pomona

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Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.