Ryan Caginalp: Effects of Radiation on Memory


Hello! I am Ryan Caginalp, a rising sophomore pursuing a major in Computer Engineering. I am 17 years old, and my hobbies include astrophotography, tennis, and golf. I was born in Pittsburgh, and have been living here ever since. I was home schooled, so I was able to progress through my curriculum at an accelerated pace, and I ended up taking courses at Pitt informally when I was 10 years old, and thus built up a decent repertoire of courses in Math, Physics, and Computer Science. I officially applied to Pitt Engineering in the spring of 2020, and got accepted into the class of 2024. I also started doing research with Prof. Alex Jones in the summer of 2020, which has been a fascinating experience, and one that I hope will continue throughout my time here at Pitt.

As stated in the title, my project is concerned with how radiation affects memory. In particular, we wish to identify weak “cells” using certain methods, and then see if these weak cells are more susceptible to radiation. If they are, then we want to know whether we can just protect these cells instead of the entire memory system, thus saving a lot of money. Additionally, we will investigate whether these cells have some sort of correlation, which would lead to more efficient protection.  Traditionally, special radiation-protected memory for the entire memory system has been needed, but this is very costly, and we wish to reduce these costs by using more advanced protection schemes, such as the one outlined earlier. If successful, this would primarily impact space satellites, since they have to deal with a significant amount of radiation.

In terms of professional goals, I hope to go to graduate school after I finish my degree here at Pitt. I’m not too sure about what to do after that, but I would probably look for a non-academic job. I’m hoping that the Brackenridge will provide plenty of interesting experiences that would prepare me for a future job. I’m also looking forward to learning about other people’s projects, and experiencing new, unconsidered ideas. The workshops sound interesting, and I look forward to going to them. In particular, the “Applying to Graduate School” workshop seems like it would be very helpful, since, as mentioned earlier, I plan on going to graduate school. Overall, I think that the Brackenridge will be an eye-opening experience, and one that I will thoroughly enjoy.

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