International Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program connects international scholars to Notre Dame faculty

Author: Colleen Wilcox


The International Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (iSURE) program is expanding to include even more university partners around the world. Last spring, Notre Dame International entered into a new partnership with Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune in India. This summer, the first student was invited to participate in the iSURE program on campus.

Rising senior Shivani Kamtikar is a computer science major at Cummins College. She worked with Zhiyong (Johnny) Zhang, associate professor of psychology, and graduate students developing a new model that analyses and predicts social behaviors. As an undergraduate engineering student, she enjoyed the multidisciplinary approach and particularly was interested in the wide variety of computational social science projects available at Notre Dame.

“This approach to research is something that I haven’t done before,” says Kamtikar. “It was incredibly valuable to get hands on experience in the field before applying to grad school.”

A new relationship

The relationship between Notre Dame and Cummins College started in February 2018, when the vice president and associate provost for internationalization at Notre Dame International, Michael Pippenger, made a trip to India. With support from the Mumbai Global Center, Pippenger visited the University’s partner institutions and reached out to new institutions as well.

Pippenger was connected to the rector at Cummins College and took a tour of campus. During this visit, both Pippenger and leadership at Cummins College decided to create a partnership between the two universities, allowing one student to spend the summer at Notre Dame on a fully funded scholarship. Pippenger hopes to continue the relationship and encourage even more students to apply to the iSURE program in 2020.

A record year

Kamtikar is part of the largest iSURE group in program history. This year, the University welcomed 61 participants from institutions in China, India, Mexico, UK, and Ireland. The program was originally created in 2012, with only 12 students from one institution in China. It continues to provide opportunities for international undergraduate and master’s students to participate in engineering, science, and social science research at Notre Dame.

“The iSURE program has served as an avenue for college students worldwide to engage in on-going research projects at Notre Dame,” says Amber Li, academic program director for global engagement programs.

“By having these students on campus for two months in various labs and research groups, iSURE also becomes a platform that showcases Notre Dame’s research rigor to the world and recruits top notch international students to the University’s graduate programs.”

Img 9169iSURE students take several trips to Chicago to visit iconic attractions.

Img 9394Kamtikar spent her summer with faculty and graduate students from the department of psychology conducting research.

A valuable experience

Students participating in the iSURE program gain valuable hands-on research experience and exposure to broader areas of research. Over the summer, students work closely with Notre Dame faculty and graduate students on a variety of ongoing research projects. In the evening, they take part in several events on campus, including scavenger hunts, ice-skating, and star-gazing. They also take trips to Chicago to visit iconic attractions.

“All of the special trips and events made me really feel connected to campus and to a new country,” says Kamtikar.

“Everyone here has been so welcoming – I now feel like I’m part of the Notre Dame community.”

Kamtikar plans to continue working with faculty on campus to assist with various research projects. Once she graduates next fall, she hopes to apply to graduate schools, specifically focusing on computation neuroscience.

Applications for the 2020 program open in December. Learn more about the iSURE program.

Originally published by Colleen Wilcox at on August 01, 2019.