Roger Life Stories

Roger Life: Jellyfish Research Prepares RWU Senior for Ph.D. Program

By Anna Cohen
Malaika Cordeiro in the lab
Malaika Cordeiro in 2018, the summer after her freshman year.

Senior Marine Biology major Malaika Cordeiro '21, from Skokie, Ill., will be attending California Institute of Technology in the fall to begin a Ph.D. program in Bioengineering. She will be inserting small robots into jellyfish and studying their effects to benefit the U.S. Navy and the field of Aerospace Engineering. At RWU, Cordeiro worked with Associate Professor of Environmental Science Sean Colin on his research on quantifying the hydrodynamics of jellyfish swimming. 

A Driving Interest in How Things Work: "I always loved jellyfish. In my free time, I'll go down to the docks and look for jellyfish. They're really fascinating. I've always  enjoyed building things and putting things together, so incorporating engineering into jellyfish is really cool to me. It all comes down to my interest in how things work. In order to put the robots in, you have to know pretty well how jellyfish move and swim. You make sure that you're not putting the electronics in a part that will cause the jellyfish to swim worse or get injured, and I've always been interested in how things move."

Malaika holds a jellyfish in a jar
Malaika Cordeiro collects jellyfish on the docks. 

Research As An Undergraduate: "I'm currently doing research with Professor Sean Colin. We're looking at a specific kind of jellyfish. When these jellyfish are swimming, they create currents in the water that bring food towards them. We're looking at the speed of the currents they create, compared across species. We study the fluid mechanics and how atoms move through water."

RWU Professors Inspire Deeper Exploration: "My professors have been phenomenal. The only reason I minored in Physics and Math is because of my professors. I took Physics One and loved my professor so much that I wanted to keep doing it. The same thing happened when I took Calculus, I really loved my professor and decided to go for a minor. Having really great professors inspired me to work harder." 

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