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Research Experience for High School Students Can Be a Career Stepping Stone

Summer program participation at SDSC paved the way for current UC San Diego computer science student

Published May 24, 2023

Map of the rate of preprint publications for the top 50 research-producing countries.  Credit: P. Eckmann and A. Bandrowski

By Kimberly Mann Bruch

In the spring of 2019, Peter Eckmann was attending a San Diego high school when his guidance counselor mentioned a program called Research Experience for High School Students (REHS) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego. After some thought, Eckmann applied and was accepted into the program. During this time, he was introduced to Anita Bandrowski, a neuroscientist that is one of the principal investigators in UC San Diego’s FAIR Data Informatics (FDI) Laboratory, which focuses on findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) infrastructure and tools for the biomedical community.

Now Eckmann is a computer science student at UC San Diego, where he continues to work with Bandrowski as a software developer. He has been working on his own project in the lab called PreprintMatch. “We have developed a software tool to match versions of scientific articles that precede formal peer review, called preprints, to their published counterparts,” Eckmann explained.

Eckmann said that these versions are often not linked to each other, so he and Bandrowski developed a text similarity tool to match these two versions of a scientific manuscript across millions of papers.

“With this tool and the data it generated, we analyzed how preprints turn into published papers across different countries,” Eckmann said. “One of the most interesting findings is that low-income countries appear to publish peer-reviewed work following preprint posting much less often than high income countries.”

Eckmann and Bandrowski recently published this work in PLOS One.

“Peter has been working with our lab since his time at SDSC with REHS and has co-authored a number of papers with our team,” Bandrowski said. “He was critical in our work on the automation of paper screening (published in Nature Medicine) as well as several publications such as one we recently published in Nucleic Acids Research.

According to Bandrowski, he also continues to lead his own work in the lab, including a project that involves comparing tools that check for rigor and reproducibility in scientific papers.

Eckmann said that his time at SDSC in the REHS program was a great introduction to academic research and really helped him make the decision to study computer science. His REHS project has been archived and still available for view: REHS Neuroscience Gateway Internship - Electroencephalogram (EEG) testing and design of an algorithm to match preprints with published papers.