Graduate Division

Where Are They Now: Sumner Norman

Section 1

Where Are They Now: Pasha Ameli

If you attended graduate school at UCI recently, chances are, you probably know Sumner Norman. He’s been named an NSF fellow, an ARCS scholar, a Public Impact fellow, a member of the UCI Cycling team, and even UCI’s Commencement Speaker for the class of 2017. He accomplished all of this while earning his PhD in mechanical engineering from UCI in 2017, as his research focuses on developing robotic technology that aids stroke victims. It’s the leading cause of disability in the United States. He’s now a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech.

UCI Graduate Division got the pleasure of meeting with Sumner to find out what he’s been doing since graduation.

UCI GD: How have things been since graduation? How has your research progressed at Caltech?

Sumner: It’s been really great. I’m still furthering my research and looking to give movement back to those who have lost it. My research focuses on stroke victims and how with the help of robotics, we can help them regain movement. We’ve made a lot of progress and it’s great to see how far we’ve come.

UCI GD: Why did you decide to come to UCI to pursue your graduate education?

Sumner: There were a lot of different reasons. UCI is a great university with wonderful programs first and foremost but living in California also wasn’t bad either. I knew a few peers who also went there and had great things to say, so actually looking back it was a pretty easy decision.

UCI GD: Besides the academics, what was your favorite part about your time in Irvine?

Sumner: The people at UCI are just so great. I felt like had such awesome support, not only from faculty and staff, but my peers as well. From what I experienced, it was a very positive environment and people there really wanted you to succeed. I’ll always cherish the relationships I made there.

UCI GD: If you had to give an incoming graduate student one piece of advice, what would it be?

Sumner: I think it would be take advantage of your resources and don’t give up. I guess that’s two things. I had a wonderful graduate school experience, but it’s so easy to get discouraged during graduate school. It’s a difficult thing. If everyone could do it, they would. With that being said, there are so many resources available to help you get through it. Whether it’s your advisor, the GPSRC, the counseling center, there’s help for you along the way.

UCI GD: When you’re not knee deep in your research, what do you like to do for fun?

Sumner: I like to read and ride my bike. I always love learning, no matter what the subject matter. Riding my bike is great exercise and the perfect way for me to deal with stress. I don’t get out as often as I’d like to anymore, but there are so many great places to ride that I’d still like to explore.

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