Undergraduate Research: Find your Fit!

Texas A&M University provides undergraduate students with valuable opportunities to expand their interests and learn about their intended career fields through participation in the cutting-edge research being conducted by our world-class faculty. We are often asked, “how early can I get started in research?” and the answer is “as early as you like!” The stories shared below come from two students who learned about and began pursuing research opportunities in their first year as Honors Students.

“A couple months after I first began college, I realized that there were a nearly infinite number of paths my life could take, but there was only one path my life will take. This realization was somewhat scary because not only was I continuously learning about myself as a person, but also I knew very little about the industry I was entering. My love for learning turned my attention to research, and through research I found a path in life that I can enthusiastically follow.

“I began research in Dr. Berna Hascakir’s Heavy Oil, Oil shales, Oil sands, & Carbonate Analysis and Recovery Methods (HOCAM) research group in Fall [of my sophomore year]. I started by assisting graduate students in conducting viscosity and density experiments. As I became more comfortable in the lab setting, I focused more on my own experiments and analysis in in-situ combustion. Dr. Hascakir and I eventually narrowed my topic of research to the burning behavior of heavy oil and oil-sand mixtures. My depth of analysis and knowledge of the topic developed, and I published two conference papers with my colleagues and mentor this past summer. I will be presenting both of these papers in Fall 2015, one in Utah and the other in Ecuador.

“This research experience has made an incredible impact on my life. Research gave me something to be passionate about in the industry, and this helped me to focus on my education and future career. The HOCAM research group is a cooperative, supportive, and hard-working set of students. We are constantly challenging ourselves to further our analysis, and with Dr. Hascakir’s guidance, we have conducted significant studies in the field of thermal recovery.” – Kristina Klock

Petroleum engineering majors Kristina Klock '16 and Matthew Williamson '16 in Dr. Berna Hascakir's lab.
Petroleum engineering majors Kristina Klock ’16 and Matthew Williamson ’16 in Dr. Berna Hascakir’s lab.

“My undergraduate research actually began the very first week of my freshman year, when I introduced myself to one of my petroleum professors after class and he invited me to attend his research teams’ weekly meetings. My first semester I was tasked with a lot of test tube cleaning and lab maintenance but I got to be a small part of all the ongoing research our of our lab. My research professor retired later that year and, at his suggestion, I moved to his colleague’s research group.

“Dr. Berna Hascakir took me under her supervision and allowed me to help out on several graduate projects in the fall semester, and then was even willing to give me class credit and compensation for my work in the spring semester. By the end of the semester we had a research abstract that was accepted for a conference presentation in Medellin, Colombia! We finalized the paper that summer and Dr. Hascakir presented it in September of 2014.” – Mathew Williamson

As these anecdotes suggest, finding the right research opportunity requires that you make an effort, but that effort can have life-changing payoff. Don’t miss your opportunity to find the right fit. Mark your calendar to join us for the Undergraduate Research Expo on September 30!



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