UHP Student Profile: Ray Lauffer

May 22, 2020
Ray Lauffer

By Isabelle Snyder, UHP Communications Intern

Ray Lauffer is a third-year student in the University Honors Program. Hailing from Wisconsin, Ray betrayed his home state alliance in order to study here at the University of Minnesota, where he's pursuing a degree in Computer Science and minors in both Spanish and Environmental Studies.

Growing up, Ray and his family travelled all over, inside and out of the U.S. So it is no wonder Ray continued the family tradition when given the opportunity to study abroad in college. To fulfill his Spanish minor requirements, Ray chose to study in Toledo, Spain. Taking advantage of his time abroad, he visited popular destinations such as Córdoba in Andalusia, the Alhambra, and the Basilica in Barcelona. Ray’s favorite place, however, was Malaga, Spain, with its nightlife, beaches, and quiet coast town qualities.

In Toledo, Ray lived in the dorms with many Japanese and Puerto Rican students. Spending so much time with Puerto Rican students gave him the chance to candidly practice and actively improve his Spanish-speaking skills. On top of that, all of Ray’s professors and classes were taught exclusively in Spanish, providing him with the full-immersion experience expected when working toward fluency abroad.

Following his study abroad term in Toledo, Ray spent 6 weeks backpacking throughout Europe. In that time, he hit 15 countries: Spain, Portugal, France, Monaco, Italy, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark twice!

Then came the return to reality and to the pursuit of his studies here at the University of Minnesota, where exciting things are happening for Ray. Currently, he is the principal investigator leading a project in the Interactive Visualization Lab under the direction of Professor Daniel Keefe. They are studying the effects of dynamic warming technology in virtual reality and how such technology could help treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons and is caused by the reduced level of sunlight beginning in the fall and continuing through the winter months. In the context of Minnesota’s own harsh and enduring winter, this kind of treatment could be incredibly impactful. After the review and publication of their study, Ray is planning on using his research experience for his honors thesis.

Each student’s undergraduate Honors experience is unique. Ray’s experience highlights his passions and professional pursuits. With his enriched individual perspective, bolstered by research, extracurriculars, and exposure to cultures abroad, Ray is well-equipped to overcome whatever challenges may lie ahead in his undergraduate career and beyond.