IN LSAMP Scholars Pivot Their Skill Set to Thrive in Tovar Lab: Elysa Thompson

In part two of our series, Elysa Thompson was interviewed to learn more about the IN LSAMP Scholar’s experience in Dr. Tovar’s lab at IUPUI. She is researching computational fluid dynamics for model-based tissue engineering design using finite element analysis (FEA).

Dr. Tovar discusses his faculty mentor relationship with students and how they’ve adapted with COVID-19.  “My research group is my extended family and the IN LSAMP students that have joined my lab have fit right in.

They have the traits of an excellent researcher: they are intellectually curious, hardworking, resourceful, focused, and rigorous. They adapt quickly to challenges and changes in direction of the work.

Dr. Andres Tovar, IN LSAMP Faculty Mentor, Summer 2020

Elysa, started her work in additive manufacturing last year when my laboratory was open. Once the university closed, she quickly transitioned into computer-based research and focused on simulation. Soon, she will be an expert in multi-physics simulation including heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics.”

Thompson reflects strengths that match well to her research in Dr. Tovar’s lab, “Taking an initiative and being willing to fail is key. It is important to be resourceful also. The research has a lot of interconnectivity with other fields such as medical.”

Taking the time to understand how the research all connects promotes a greater appreciation for what is being accomplished.

Elysa Thompson, IN LSAMP IUPUI Scholar, Summer 2020

Professional development as a scholar has helped her succeed, “I am thankful for this past year that has allowed me to establish relationships with people that have guided me through the process of building my professional resume and portfolio. Attending the LSMRCE conference in October, numerous networking events hosted by the school, and working alongside peers and faculty have all prepared me to have the needed mentality to conquer this summer. IN LSAMP has been a motivator in my journey. This summer with IN LSAMP has ensured I continue the journey of learning what I want for myself academically and career wise. Without the relationships I have built during the academic year, my summer would not be nearly as productive.”

Thompson shares her feelings about the network she created among IN LSAMP and her STEM network, “I am extremely thankful for LSAMP. The network of people I have built and the support they all provide has been a needed boost in my journey to my career. IN LSAMP in my eyes is hard work, support, opportunities, and much more. The extent of the alliance is a strength that promotes those to pursue their dreams, including my own. “

Thompson plans to continue her research with Dr. Tovar in the academic year and after graduation she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in a field related to renewable energy. Learn more about Elysa’s journey at her ePortfolio

Balancing Mentorship with Agility and Resilience

Dr. Andres Tovar embarked on his second summer as a faculty mentor with IN LSAMP. This year’s research had a distinctly different look but the passion and leadership provided still resonated with our IN LSAMP scholars working in Dr. Tovar’s lab. Read this series to learn more about Dr. Tovar’s research and the two IN LSAMP Scholars working with him this summer, Eric Raymond and Elysa Thompson.

Providing quality faculty mentors for IN LSAMP Scholars is our priority. Understanding the bond formed between research, lab networks, and faculty mentors will guide a scholar’s career is the catalyst that motivates us to seek strong partnerships to guide this journey. Fortunately, we’ve connected with Dr. Tovar. He is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. Additionally, he is a leader in the Indianapolis community as evidenced by his election to serve as the Education & Student Relationships Chair, Excellente Executive Board of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Indiana Professional Chapter. 

This summer we share a series providing insight into what makes a successful internship, student experience reflections, and how resilience and leadership have led to successful outcomes in new frontiers. We invite you to follow along with us and learn more about the unique experience of the scholars and their research qualities that shone when spotlighted. Dr. Tovar begins the journey by sharing his top three things to remember when preparing for the pace of summer research.

Students who want to pursue a research experience should understand three things:

  • First, be fast. Summer is short, and you need to produce something useful before the academic year begins.
  • Second, be good. Your work needs to be thorough, rigorous, and organized. The data or results that you produce should be useful beyond the summer research experience.
  • Third, be nice. During this experience, students interact with other students (undergraduate, master, and doctoral) and they may become excellent professional connections in the future. 

Successful faculty mentor relationships start with communication and goal setting. Dr. Tovar provides an overview of how they set the path for a successful collaboration from day one.

The students and the mentor agree on the scope of the research, the methods to be utilized, the way data will be managed, and expectations regarding publications, deliverable, and timelines. This is continuously revised and addressed during weekly meetings. Generally, students devote most of the first weeks to literature review and training in the research methods. This includes modeling and coding. By the end of the first half of the program preliminary results are produced and evaluated. The bulk of the research and reporting (technical paper preparation) happens in the second half.

 His advice for students wanting to pursue a summer internship.

Be proactive. Take the initiative and talk to your mentors, advisors, or student offices. Actively look for opportunities such as IN LSAMP. Be responsible for giving the first step. Such research experience may have a profound impact in your future.

 Read more about Dr. Tovar’s research and keep up on his latest discoveries @ProfAndresTovar or connect with him on Linkedin – 

Watch for part two, Scholars Pivot their Skill Set to Thrive in Tovar Lab, where we introduce IN LSAMP Scholars, Eric Raymond and Elysa Thompson.

Exploring Internships Leads to Success for Isaiah Makonnen with FAIT Fellowship

Isaiah Makonnen, IN LSAMP IU Bloomington scholar, was selected as one of fifteen fellows for the prestigious U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship program. He shares his exciting journey and advice for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree.

The 2021 Summer Internship at Washington D.C. next summer will give me a chance to work in the offices of the U.S. Department of State. This will help me see what I can bring to the table and what skills I can refine before my next internship, which would be international and take place at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Being able to serve my country abroad and knowing what I am doing is making a change in the world, especially in regards to advocating diplomacy.

I learned about the FAIT Fellowship from looking up and searching for student opportunities that apply to my graduate program in Information Systems. FAIT was one of the first opportunities to pop up, and not only did it apply to what I will be doing in Grad school, but it also had opportunities to travel abroad and work in different roles with specializations.


Being a part of the IN LSAMP Summer program in 2019 was an incredible experience that made me rethink what I wanted in my career. I was able to work in the Vehicular Autonomous Intelligence Lab (VAIL) and be mentored by a couple of Ph.D. students during my research.

That experience gave me the opportunity to work in a lab within the Intelligent Systems and Engineering department, under phenomenal mentors, that otherwise I would have never had the chance to learn from, and work with. It made me want to pursue a master’s degree and refine my skills in programming as well as adding a Business background to my repertoire to truly make myself stand out as an IT Professional.

IUanyWare gave me first-hand experience in working at a professional space where certain expectations needed to be upheld. As an intern, I had a wide range of roles and duties which included developing and documenting support adoption guidelines to the service, as well as help the IUanyWare team with tickets, coordinate testing, and general use of the infrastructure and platform. I can’t mention enough how valuable this experience was, and I was only their first intern.


I have a couple of mentors and role models. My sister, Edna Makonnen who sets the standard of my family and really pushed me to be the best version of myself. She always tells me I can do anything, I set my mind to. It sounds cliché, but she is right. Being a first generation college student in the Midwest, you feel like your options are limited, but she was the first person I truly believed when she said I can do anything.

LOVE YOU GRANDMA!!! This is for you!!

Photo 1: Aster Abitow (L), Isaiah Makonnen (C), Edna Makonnen (R)
Photo 2: Family
Photo 3: Philip Makonnen (L), Aster Abitow (L), Edna Makonnen (LL), David Makonnen (R), & Isaiah Makonnen (LR)

IU Groups is not only a phenomenal program, but it’s a family. I have met lifetime friends in the Groups Scholars Program and it is one of the biggest factors of my success and how I prepared for this fellowship. I want to give a sincere thank you to all of the Groups faculty, and staff who have prepared me for opportunities like this.

Stephanie Cox was instrumental in my success. She was my manager and the person who hired me for my internship role at IUanyWare. The tools and skills that internship role gave me were amazing and something I will take forward with me for the rest of my career. Stephanie is also someone I look up to in regards to a successful career in IT, she has done it all, and gave me the chance to be a part of her wonderful IUanyWare team. I still talk with everyone on the team, including Stephanie. Asking questions about career paths, life, tech, etc.

Shared wisdom for students

Do your research and find the right program for you that fits a specialization or focus that will benefit your career in the long run after you graduate. I know that seems obvious, but some people go through the process of going to grad school and obtaining a graduate degree, just to say they have it.

Start your applications early and revise, revise, revise!!

Have confidence in yourself. I felt that I disqualified myself from other opportunities because I didn’t think I was qualified enough to apply for a certain internship, or scholarship.

Have confidence in yourself, keep applying, and keep working!

iupui lockup
iub lockup
iun lockup
bsu lockup
ivy tech lockup
iusb lockup

Assessment Institute in Indianapolis

We would like to extend to you and your colleagues an invitation to join us for the 2021 Assessment Institute, held virtually, October 24-27, 2021. We are pleased to offer complimentary registration to attend the virtual Assessment Institute to all member of the higher education community,

This is our way of supporting colleagues who are facing travel-related concerns or restrictions and resource constraints in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on registering for the Assessment Institute click here.