Polypilot product mascot

Introducing PolyPilot:

Our AI-Powered Mentorship Program

Start your trial today

Learn More
profile picture

Natalie R

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Duke University


Electrical engineering - applied physics. Specifically electromagnetic wave-matter interactions and nanotechnology


I am currently an experimental research scientist studying electromagnetic wave (light) matter interactions. I create small devices that can manipulate the light in new and exciting ways. I begin by first designing a geometric structure and testing it with simulations. Once I find an ideal structure, I make it in a clean room nanofabrication facility. Lastly, I test the device in an optical setup and study the response. The applications of these devices include sensors, detectors, absorbers, and imagers. I additionally have research experience in the optoelectronic design of a novel low-cost medical device. When I'm not working in the lab, I spend all of my time outdoors! I have run a number of half marathons and recently signed up to race in my first triathlon. I am a certified group fitness instructor and spend my free type studying exercise physiology and nutrition.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

From the lab to the field: nanophotonic biosensors

This project intersects two interesting fields of work: biological sensors and physics. The student will research and learn about the latest nanophotonic biosensor technology: learning how they operate, identify the platform's strength and weaknesses, and assessing the technology's readiness level to be deployed in the medical field. The student will learn how to read and understand academic research papers, think critically about the work in the paper, and develop the skills needed to form a opinion on the work. The project could culminate in an essay, or if the student is inspired, a proposal prototype that could address the limitations of the latest nanophotonic biosensor devices.

Coding skills


Teaching experience

During graduate school, I held a teaching assistantship (TA) for over 2 years. I mentored undergraduate students for a course called "fields and waves" which was an introductory course into electromagnetic theory. I was responsible for leading ressitation sessions, creating and grading quizzes, and hosting office hours to help students with the topics covered in class. I also was a TA for a research course in which I mentored undergraduate students for a biomedical engineering course. I showed the students how to conduct experiments, analyze data, and synthesize findings into publications.


Work experience

Duke University (2018 - Current)
Research assistant


George Washington University
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Electrical engineering
Duke University
MS Master of Science (2020)
Electrical engineering
Duke University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy

Interested in working with expert mentors like Natalie?

Apply now