Category Archives: Student Program

Honors Student Council: Building Community

Honors Student Council (HSC) is charged with hosting events that unite the community of honors students at Texas A&M University. HSC also advocates for honors students’ concerns to the Honors and Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee (HURAC), the committee that shapes honors education at Texas A&M. Each semester, Honors Student Council hosts dozens of events for honors students, including socials, academic events, and special-topic panels. Recently, HSC has also found service opportunities to unite honors students. In the post below, junior Spanish and psychology double-major, and 2015-16 Honors Student Council President Joshua Fuller details the work that HSC has done over the past year.

By: Joshua Fuller ’17

In the past year, Honors Student Council has hosted dozens of events for the honors population at A&M, uniting the community through shared experiences. While the events traditionally focus in 3 key areas — socials, academic events, and special-topic panels — HSC has recently added service as another way to unite honors students. Below is a list of some example events we have put on over the past year:

Socials: HSC sees socials as a relaxed way to bring honors students together to participate in a relaxing and fun experience. HSC has hosted a “cool down” for finals event before finals May and a “warm up” for finals event in December. At the “cool down,” students watched a demonstration from the physics department where a student mad ice cream using liquid nitrogen, and then they ate the ice cream he created (as well as some pre-Blue-Bell famine ice cream). At the “warm up,” students made s’mores and drank hot cocoa while warming up around the fire in Tweener — the area between the Lechner and McFadden honors dorms. HSC also hosted 2 tailgates during football season that united honors students and their families over good old fashioned barbeque and sweet tea. Due to us being in an election year, HSC has additionally hosted “Presidential Bingo,” a fun night where we watched the debate and played bingo based off of what candidates said. In the coming semester, we hope to host a “Drunk Goggles MarioKart” event that warns about the dangers of drunk driving in a fun setting, more presidential bingo, and a bowling social at the Grand Station arcade.

Honors Student Council would not let a few clouds nor rain dampen their Aggie Spirit before the Auburn football game outside of Kyle Field in Spence Park during one of the HSC Tailgates. (November 7th, 2015)
Honors Student Council would not let a few clouds nor rain dampen their Aggie Spirit before the Auburn football game outside of Kyle Field in Spence Park during one of the HSC Tailgates. (November 7th, 2015)

Academics: HSC prides itself on uniting honors students through interdisciplinary learning opportunities. One of the most common HSC events is our “Donuts and Discussion” series. At a “Donuts and Discussion,” a distinguished undergraduate researcher, such as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, comes and talks to students about their research while students enjoy Shipley’s donuts and juice. Topics have ranged from research about enhancing radiology techniques, to the removal of an invasive species of fish in Belize, to archeological digs in the Middle East. Speakers also tell students how to get involved with research at A&M. We will have more “Donuts and Discussions” in the spring. Additionally, we plan on hosting a practice poster session for the individuals who plan to present at Student Research Week in late March, as well as anyone interested in learning about research.

Honors Students attend a watch party for the GOP Presidential Debate held in the lobby of Henderson Hall (September 16th, 2015)
Honors Students attend a watch party for the GOP Presidential Debate held in the lobby of Henderson Hall (September 16, 2015)

Special Topics Panels: In the fall of 2014, HSC hosted a panel entitled “Women in STEM: Overcoming Sexual Discrimination Barriers to Excel in Traditionally Male-Dominated Fields.” At the panel, 6 distinguished STEM professors spoke about their experiences being a woman in STEM, a traditionally male-dominated field, and how overcoming sexual barriers was (and is) difficult for them. The faculty inspired the audience by their resilience and reminded us that we all need to do our part to end sexual discrimination.

Dr. Datta (far left) addresses a question to the Women in STEM Panel, (left to right) Dr. Welch, Dr. Geller, Dr. Amato, and Dr. Pietrantonio.
Dr. Datta (far left) addresses a question to the Women in STEM Panel, (left to right) Dr. Welch, Dr. Geller, Dr. Amato, and Dr. Pietrantonio.
Students listen to Dr. Nancy Amato, Panelist: Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen, Dr. Suma Datta, Dr. Sue Geller, Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio, and Dr. Jennifer Welch take part in the Women in Stem panel. (October 29, 2014)
Students listen to Dr. Nancy Amato, Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen, Dr. Suma Datta, Dr. Sue Geller, Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio, and Dr. Jennifer Welch take part in the Women in Stem panel. (October 29, 2014)

Following in the footsteps of “Women in STEM,” HSC hosted another panel event in the fall of 2015 about the culture of mental health among honors students. Entitled “”Breaking the Silence: Mental Health Stigma in the Honors Community,” the panel was moderated by Dr. Maggie Gartner, the director of the Texas A&M Student Counseling Services, and featured 5 honors students and an one former honors student who live with mental health issues like anxiety disorders, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The panel’s diverse background of experiences and accomplishments, ranging from receiving prestigious national fellowships to participating in specialized internships, demonstrated that you can be successful while battling a mental illness or mental distress. This challenged the misconception that mental health struggles and success are dichotomous. The panel ignited an important discussion about how we treat mental health in the honors community, as well as provided important resources like the counseling center to students. HSC will likely host another large panel in the spring, potentially initiating a series relating to mental and physical health.

2)Honor Student Council provided a student panel to discuss and bring awareness to Mental Health issues on college campuses, looking primarily at high achieving-high ability student mental health on the Texas A&M University campus. (October 30th, 2015)
Honors Student Council provided a student panel to discuss and bring awareness to Mental Health issues on college campuses, looking primarily at high achieving-high ability student mental health on the Texas A&M University campus. (October 30, 2015)

Service: Beginning in the fall of 2015, HSC has started to arrange service opportunities for honors students in the Bryan/College Station community. VP of Activities, Alyssa Salisbury, has been working with local schools to arrange tutoring opportunities for honors students that will hopefully begin this spring. VP of Academics and Special Events, Mita Coker, arranged several opportunities to volunteer with the Bryan animal shelter. We will be continuing our work with the animal shelter in the spring, including hopefully having a puppy-petting station on campus and an adoption center during parents weekend in April.

In addition to the events listed above, HSC is also responsible for advocating for honors students concerns to HURAC. Thanks to your feedback, within the past year there was a change from an honors “credits” system to an honors “points” system. Essentially, this gives more flexibility in reaching the required 30 “hours/credits” needed to get the University Honors distinction. This flexibility allows for some points to be earned from honors extracurricular activities, such as being an executive in Honors Student Council, as well as points from high-impact experiences, like study abroad and internships.

If you have any questions, ideas for events, or want to learn more about Honors Student Council, you may email us at

Honors Student Council is able to provide enriching events and serve as advocates for Honors Students’ interests because of the generous support from the Association of Former Students. We are very grateful for their ongoing support!


Student Research Week 2014 – Leave Your Mark

By Hayley Cox


The 17th annual Student Research Week (SRW), a student run event on the Texas A&M campus, was a success in showcasing undergraduate research throughout the last week of March. This event illuminates the outstanding research undertaken by Texas A&M graduate and undergraduate students, allowing students to receive feedback from their peers as well as experts in their respective fields of research.

“Student Research Week 2014 is a platform for showcasing outstanding research undertaken by graduate and undergraduate students of Texas A&M University. This week long celebration of presenting innovative ideas is our initiative to inculcate the spirit of research amongst the present generation. The event offers an opportunity to meet stalwarts in the respective fields of research, interact with them and receive valuable feedback from them and their peers.” (

This year’s SRW theme “Leave Your Mark” encouraged students to bring as much to the table as possible during their careers at Texas A&M, and to leave a legacy that will be remembered.

First place winner in the Earth Sciences category of the SRW oral presentations, Dillon Amaya, presented the research he did this past summer at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Amaya, also an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, looked at the different impacts El Niño and Modoki El Niño have on tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures. Amaya said, “I’m honored to have been chosen for this award.” He said, “Student Research Week was a great opportunity to improve my scientific communication skills and I would encourage others to participate in the future.”

First place winner in the Math category of the SRW oral presentations, William Linz,  University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar (UGRS) presented his project of enumerating derangements on a Ferrers Board. Linz explained, “Simply put, for a set of objects, a permutation is an ordering of that set of objects. Given a permutation of those objects, a derangement from that permutation is another ordering of those objects which has no object in the same place as in the given permutation. For example, if {1, 2, 3} is a given set of objects, and 1 2 3 is the initial permutation, then the derangements from the permutation 1 2 3 are 2 3 1 and 3 1 2. A Ferrers Board is a grid (or chessboard) of some particular size (for our purpose, the size of the permutation) with a section missing.” This research has applications in theoretical computer science and mathematical biology.

The University Honors Student and Scholar said, “I was thrilled to be named an award winner, as it was my first time giving a public presentation over my research.” He said, “I’d like to thank my research mentor Dr. Catherine Yan for all the help she has provided me.”

Second place winner in the Psychology category of the SRW oral presentations, Samantha Guz, worked with Dr. Rispoli and Jennifer Ninci on her presentation in Educational Psychology. Guz, a University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar, studied learning and communication processes in preschoolers with an autism spectrum diagnosis. Guz said, “My success at Student Research Week can be accredited to fantastic mentorship and guidance from the Undergraduate Research Scholars program, as well as Dr. Rispoli and her research team in Educational Psychology.”

Each of the 10 categories that students presented in  during Student Research Week 2014 awarded first and second place prizes for the top poster and oral presentation.  Out of these 40 awards, 23 went to students who are members of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Fourteen students winning these prizes are University Honors Students, and four prize-winners currently participate in their respective study’s departmental honors program. The first and second place winners in the Earth Science oral category, Dillon Amaya and Matthew McMahon are both Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. McMahon is also a University Honors Student. What a great showing for Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR)!

In competition with around 300 contenders, members of Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) took over 70% of the undergraduate prizes. See the list below for details on SRW 2014 undergraduate prize-winners:

1st Sherwin Chiu (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Chris Akers (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Austin Schneider (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)
2nd Alyssa Shyan Rosas

1st Aaron Griffin (University Honors, University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Amrita Sherlekar

1st Ramsey Yusuf
2nd Kaylee Davis (University Honors, University Scholar,  and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Earth Sciences:
1st Dillon Joseph Amaya (Undergraduate Research Ambassador)
2nd Matthew McMahon (Undergraduate Research Ambassador and University Honors)

1st Kathryn Westerman
2nd Kathleen McDaniel (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Robert Tyler (Undergraduate Research Scholar from TAMUG) Tim Kroeger (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Hari Shrestha
2nd Lauralee Mariel Valverde (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Amie Maree Klein
2nd Rachel Guess (University Honors)

1st Edwin Mathew Savio
2nd Jessica Justice (Undergraduate Research Scholar) and Conor Irwin (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Jacquelyn Sariah Hill (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Alexandra Frenzel

1st Mikayla Paige Hall (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Saad Dawoodi (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st William Linz (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Ryan Olivieri (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Tyler Jered Biehle (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Ruiz Akpan

1st Keith Krenek (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Jason Szafron (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Zachary Andrew Steelman (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Emily Veerkamp (University Honors)

Plant Science:
1st Konni Kelso (Departmental Honors)
2nd Vincent Provasek (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Anna Kathryn Blick
2nd Kerstin Alander

1st Taylor Vestal (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)
2nd Samantha Rachel Guz (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

1st Esteffania Adriana Lezama
2nd Victoria Kimmel (University Honors)

Melbern G. Glasscock Humanities Award:
Esteffania Adriana Lezama

Sigma Xi Theme Award:
1st Edwin Mathew Savio
2nd Hari Shrestha

Sigma Xi interdisciplinary Award:
1st Victoria Kimmel (University Honors)
2nd Taylor Vestal (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) is extremely proud of its students, as well as all of those who participated in Student Research Week. Way to Leave Your Mark!

A Big Thanks to the Association of Former Students!

By Hayley Cox


The Texas A&M University Association of Former Students (AFS) is a major contributor not only to the University as a whole, but specifically to Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR). AFS has been an essential contributor to National Fellowship applicants, Student Research Week, Honors courses, and HUR’s annual event which celebrates graduating seniors. AFS funding has been used to prepare students for National Fellowship applications such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. This funding will also be used this spring in order to support Student Research Week, in which over 300 undergraduates present their research and scholarly works. Finally, this year AFS funding will be used to support over 1500 students who are enrolled in more than 300 Honors courses taught by faculty, and to recognize the accomplishments of Honors graduates and Undergraduate Research Scholars. These students will be recognized at an HUR event in May that celebrates approximately 400 graduating seniors.

Over the years, AFS has also contributed to Honors and Undergraduate Research via the Honors Housing Community, the Honors Student Council, the University Scholars Program, and the annual Faculty Social.

Abigail Graves, Honors Housing Community Coordinator
Abigail Graves, Honors Housing Community Coordinator
The Honors Housing Community (HHC), under Program Coordinator Abigail Graves, has undergone a lot of changes recently. Graves said, “One of the biggest changes we’ve (HHC) made is combining an academic curriculum with a social structure. Students are assigned “families” now, in which there are activities and information is presented about resources and opportunities on campus.” She said, “Our objective is not to produce students that have all the answers, but who have questions. Being an educated individual is about constantly creating our individual process through which we interpret and operate in the world.”

See some photos from our Honors Housing Community “DORMAL” !

Austin Ford, Honors Student Council Staff Advisor
Austin Ford, Honors Student Council Staff Advisor
The Honors Student Council (HSC) represents and leads Honors students at Texas A&M and serves as a connection between the students and faculty, administration, and governing bodies. Throughout each year HSC holds events for Honors students such as discussions, seminars, and socials. HSC President Kathryn Kudlaty said, “The goal of HSC is to contribute to honors students getting the most out of their honors experience here at A&M by promoting their intellectual enrichment, growing a sense of community, and providing them with a representative voice.” Kudlaty said, “At the end of the day, it is the support and resources entrusted to us that allow us to invest in the current and future generations of honors students.”

Jamaica Pouncy, University Scholars Program Coordinator
Jamaica Pouncy, University Scholars Program Coordinator
The University Scholars Program (UScholars), also AFS-funded, celebrates students who exemplify academic leadership, and develops these students both personally and professionally. It seeks not only to find the most motivated and curious Honors students, but also to challenge them further. A major benefit of the Uscholars program is the one-on-one interaction between students and faculty.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is incredibly grateful for its relationship with the Association of Former Students and the contributions made to its programs and its students. It is because of this generosity that HUR will continue to grow and development in the best interest of its students and the university!

Those Famous Maroon Blazers!

In March, the Texas A&M Foundation welcomed its sixth class of the student ambassadors organization, the Maroon Coats. These new members received their signature maroon blazers during an initiation ceremony at the Texas A&M Legacy Society gala in March.

According to Texas A&M Foundation Public Relations Contact Monika Blackwell, “Maroon Coats enhance the impact of the Foundation through stewardship and service.” These students are leaders across campus, involved in a wide range of activities, organizations, and fields of study. The Maroon Coats organization was formed in 2008 as a link between Aggie donors and the benefits they have brought to the student body.

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) proudly recognizes two senior Honors students who have been inducted into the sixth class of Maroon Coats: Alejandro Azocar and Chris Mellina.
Azocar, a Houston native studying aerospace engineering, is the Vice Chair for the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member and previous Career Fair Director for Student Engineers’ Council (SEC). He also plays trumpet in the Hullabaloo Band and is both an Undergraduate Research Scholar and a University Scholar.

Alejandro Azocar, Maroon Coats 2013-2014
Alejandro Azocar, Maroon Coats 2013-2014
Azocar said he was first exposed to Maroon Coats during his freshman year at the President’s Endowed Scholarship reception where he realized how fortunate he was to be receiving scholarships and how thankful he was toward the donors of these scholarships. He said, “I wouldn’t be at Texas A&M without my scholarships and I have so many donors to be thankful for. Although I’ve written many thank you letters, I didn’t feel like they were enough to express my gratitude and tell my unique Aggie Story.” Azocar loves having the opportunity to thank donors personally as well as on the behalf of other Aggies.

To explain the Maroon Coat application process, selections are divided into a written application, a social round, and an interview. Applicants selected by the quality of their written applications are invited to attend a meet-and-greet social where they are introduced to current Maroon Coats prior to the interview round. The current class of Maroon Coats is able to get a sense of each applicant’s Aggie story first and then get to know each individual more personally as the process continues. The Maroon Coat organization looks for selfless students who are passionate about Texas A&M and are capable of connecting the student body to alumni and friends of the university.

Chris Mellina, Maroon Coats 2013-2014
Chris Mellina, Maroon Coats 2013-2014
Chris Mellina, a supply chain management major from Fort Worth, is a member of the men’s service organization One Army: Texas Aggie Men United, and the program Startup Aggieland. Mellina said his experiences in Honors coursework at Texas A&M strengthened his ability to communicate which he benefitted from throughout the Maroon Coats application process. The supply chain management student advised his fellow Honors students to seek out organizations on campus to become involved in. He said, “The best thing that I did at Texas A&M was that I started asking questions. I went to the people that I looked up to and asked them about their involvements and why they chose to devote their time to their organizations.”

Mellina said he is very humbled and thankful for the opportunity he has received by being selected for the sixth class of Maroon Coats. He said, “While you are a student at Texas A&M you have an incredible opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and it would be a missed opportunity to graduate without experiencing as much of it as you can outside of the classroom.”

Honors and Undergraduate Research would like to congratulate Honors students Alejandro Azocar and Chris Mellina, along with the rest of the members of the sixth class of Maroon Coats, on this exceptional achievement and their dedication to the university!

Much More than Just a Fish in the Sea!

By Hayley Cox

sea grant

Texas A&M University was designated as a Sea Grant College in 1971 with a mission to improve the understanding and use of Texas coastal and marine resources. Texas Sea Grant Director Dr. Pamela Plotkin developed the idea for a scholars program in order to engage undergraduate students. The Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program sent three representatives from its initial class to present to Texas Legislators at Undergraduate Research Day on April 26th at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Cyrenea Millberry, a senior studying Wildlife and Fisheries at Texas A&M University, presented research on how river discharges and changes in tides affect populations of shrimp on the Texas coastline. Texas A&M University at Galveston students Josh Carter and Raven Walker also presented at Undergraduate Research Day.

Cyrenea Piper (Millberry), Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program Class of 2013
Cyrenea Piper (Millberry), Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program Class of 2013

Could you explain your research topic and findings?

I looked at how Brown Shrimp and White Shrimp populations are affected by tide levels and river discharge in the Gulf of Mexico. We used statistical analysis to look for associations between fluctuations in shrimp populations (the quantity of shrimp) and environmental data between 1987 and 2010. Based on past research, we expected higher tide levels, which give shrimp greater access to marsh edges in estuaries during the post-larval stages, to increase shrimp abundance. We expected greater quantities of discharge from rivers to cause declines in populations due to decreased salinity and temperatures, which we expected would then cause declines in shrimp abundance. Our research found that there are significant associations between tide and discharge and shrimp populations. We are still looking at our data to identify trends etc.

How did you become involved with Texas Sea Grant?

I was hired by my research adviser, Dr. Masami Fujiwara, to collect data. After being hired, we decided that I should use the data we were collecting to write a thesis. I wrote a proposal and submitted it to the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. After being accepted into the program, Dr. Fujiwara suggested I submit a research proposal to Texas Sea Grant in order to fund my research further, so I could go to Galveston to collaborate with NOAA researchers and so I could present my research.

What did you gain most from this experience?

I believe this research, the collaboration with professors and professionals, and the creation of a thesis has helped take me from student to professional. This research, and working directly with such a great mentor, has allowed me to apply the things I have learned in my classes to real original work and has probably prepared me to actually work in Wildlife Biology better than anything else.

What would be your piece of advice for success to students involved in research?

Make a plan and a schedule and find a professor who you can work well with. Every week, I committed to 10 hours and my professor made himself available for questions and oftentimes lessons in statistics every week as well. We made progress goals regularly and we stuck to them. Writing a thesis seemed like an impossible undertaking when I first started, especially being an undergrad – but I took it just a step at a time, and it was done before I knew it. Now I am preparing my research for publication and figuring out what to write my Master’s thesis on.

Millberry, who was married in the spring and became Mrs. Cyrenea Piper, will graduate in December 2013 with her BS in Wildlife and Fisheries. She plans to continue her research with Dr. Fujiwara as a Masters student and eventually hopes to work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife biologist.

Congratulations to the Summer Class of Public Policy Interns!

By Hayley Cox

The Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) is an academic service to Texas A&M University students, providing out-of-classroom opportunities and helping students build on and enhance coursework they have undertaken during collegiate education. As Texas A&M recognizes internships as an integral part of an Aggie education, PPIP helps students to find these hands-on internships and move beyond their classroom knowledge.

public policyPPIP was established in 1999 by Texas A&M President Dr. Ray Bowen and since then approximately 500 Aggies have interned in Washington, D.C., Austin, and Paris. More recently, PPIP has expanded to London and other European Union cities such as Nice, Brussels, and Berlin. The internship program is coordinated by the Texas A&M office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.

Students selected for PPIP’s Washington, D.C. internships (offered throughout the fall, spring, and summer) are chosen for their communication skills, initiative, potential, diligence, and personal integrity. While students must have excellent grades, but they must also be poised to take full advantage of the program. Prospective PPIP Washington, D.C. interns undergo an application and interview process.

Five Texas A&M University Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) students have joined the crop of summer PPIP interns in Washington, D.C.!

Sarah Armstrong – Senior Editor and Layout Designer for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal
Gus Blessing – University Scholar
Sophia Makris – University Honors
Alex Masucci – University Honors
Amanda Streetman – Undergraduate Research Scholar

Sophia Makris - University Honors - PPIP Intern
Sophia Makris – University Honors – PPIP Intern
PPIP intern for Summer 2013 Sophia Makris ‘14 has been selected to intern with the Texas A&M System Office of Federal Relations in Washington, D.C. Makris wrote a research essay, submitted a cover letter and letters of recommendation, and completed an interview process en route to her selection. She said, “Overall, the application process was a learning opportunity in itself and I greatly enjoyed my experience.”

Makris, a history major, has had the opportunity to attend meetings and learn about the higher education policy process since arriving in D.C. in late May. She said she loves getting to see so much of the work that impacts her university. The current PPIP intern said, “I have a very unique opportunity to experience this city for three months and I am looking forward to everything I will learn from my interactions here… Having the opportunity to live and work in D.C. as a college student is unbeatable! ”

Alex Masucci - University Honors - PPIP Intern
Alex Masucci – University Honors – PPIP Intern
Economics student Alex Masucci ’15 has also been selected as a PPIP Washington, D.C. summer intern. Since he arrived in late May, he has been tracking legislation and attending hearings on human services programs such as Medicaid and Head Start. He said his main duties are to report critical changes on these programs to state and local administrators of human services, relay their feedback to Congressional staff, and write weekly articles on particularly important items.

Masucci expects to gain professional experience from participating in the legislative process during his time as a PPIP intern this summer. He said, “I have never been to D.C., so I’m excited to explore everything that it has to offer over the course of the summer!”

The Honors and Undergraduate Research Department would like to congratulate the 2013 PPIP Washington, D.C. summer interns – Sarah Armstrong, Gus Blessing, Sophia Makris, Alex Masucci, and Amanda Streetman!

Explorations Cover Art Contest is Underway—First, A Flashback to Fall!

By Hayley Cox

Explorations Cover Fall 2012
Explorations Cover Fall 2012

Explorations is a student-run journal guided by faculty and administrators that selects and publishes student-authored articles of general interest in any area. Recently published articles have been from a wide range of academic fields: music, creative poetry, forensics, cancer biology, astrophysics, nanomedicine, computer algorithms, business, geosciences, sociology, aerospace engineering, and cultural anthropology.

Each summer, a Cover Art contest is hosted by Explorations in which students are invited to submit their creative cover ideas for the following edition. The Fall 2012 cover of Explorations was created by Bailey Jones ’13. At the time, Jones was a senior biochemistry and genetics major, pursuing a minor in chemistry. She hoped to “portray the courage and wonder of discovery” in her art. Jones said her artwork was inspired by Christopher Davis’s article Finding New Subatomic Particles and the “excitement of uncovering unknowns just waiting to be found.”

 Sharpie Shoes - David Ehlig - Explorations
“Sharpie Shoes” – David Ehlig – Explorations 2012

Inside the Fall 2012 edition were: Using a Worm to Understand the Human Brain, Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, and Powering Your Water Heater with Solar Energy, amongst many other student written articles. David Ehlig’s creative and eye-catching “Sharpie Shoes” were also featured in this fourth volume of Explorations.

2012 Cover Artist Bailey Jones contributed art to the Agape Art Auction each year during her undergraduate career at Texas A&M. She said she had seen the “call for cover art” many times and realized she shouldn’t put off submitting a cover for Explorations any longer. Jones said, “It had kind of been on my college bucket list.”

Bailey Jones - Cover Art Contest Winner Fall 2012
Bailey Jones – Cover Art Contest Winner Fall 2012

Jones graduated from Texas A&M University this spring with plans to attend pharmacy school. The graduate said she does not plan to pursue art “in the serious sense,” but she said, “It is a large part of my life—painting and planning composition and color helped to keep me sane in the midst of studying.” Jones was very close to attending a college in pursuit of an art degree, but instead decided to make art a hobby and chose the field of biochemistry for a career.

The now-graduated artist said upon seeing her cover on the fourth edition of Explorations, she felt “very honored and happy to have contributed to A&M from a creative side.” This was an opportunity she didn’t know she would receive.

The Department of Honors and Undergraduate Research would like to again congratulate Bailey Jones on her cover’s selection for the fourth edition of Explorations in Fall 2012!

The cover art contest for the fifth edition of Explorations is currently underway, with submissions due Monday, July 1st. All submissions must have a white tiger motif and all TAMU students are invited to submit.

More information can be found at and questions should be sent to