Churchill Scholarship Supports Graduate Study in STEM at Cambridge

Honors and Undergraduate Research will be conducting informational briefings about the Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship, which provides complete support for one year of study at Cambridge University.

Briefings:
Sept 21, 4:30 pm, Rudder 410
Sept 22, 4:30, Rudder 504

The Churchill is among the most selective and elite scholarships for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Only the most outstanding research universities are invited to nominate students, and only 14 scholars are selected each year.

Award Terms

The Churchill Scholarship is worth between $42,000 and $48,000, depending on the exchange rate. It covers all University and College tuition and fees (currently about $25,000). In addition, Churchill Scholars receive a living allowance of £10,000 if enrolled in a nine-month academic program, £11,000 if enrolled in a ten-month academic program, and £12,000 if enrolled in a full-year academic program. They receive an allowance of up to $1,000 for travel to and from the United Kingdom, as well as reimbursement of applications fees for a UK visa. The Foundation also offers the possibility of a Special Research Grant of up to $2,000; this grant may cover travel for presentations at international conferences, short stays at another university or institute for special research, and other activities.
Eligibility Criteria

An applicant for the Churchill Scholarship must be a citizen of the United States, either native born or naturalized, and must be a senior who is enrolled in one of the institutions participating in the Scholarship Program or a student who has recently graduated from one of those institutions. Upon taking up the Churchill Scholarship, a Churchill Scholar must be between the ages of 19 and 26, must hold a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent, and may not have attained a doctorate.

Application Procedures

Texas A&M University may only nominate two students per competition year. The campus application deadline is November 2. For further information on the application process, visit the Honors and Undergraduate Research website.

Sumana Datta Appointed Executive Director, Honors and Undergraduate Research

Dr. Sumana Datta
Dr. Sumana Datta

Dr. Sumana Datta has been named as the new executive director of the Honors Programs, which will combine with the Office of Undergraduate Research to become Honors and Undergraduate Research.

As the former Honors Programs office expands, Dr. Datta’s leadership will enhance honors experiences, including undergraduate research opportunities, for many Texas A&M students.  Her responsibility as executive director is to envision and implement rigorous, exciting, and innovative honors and research experiences for Texas A&M undergraduates.  In partnership with colleges and departments, as well as other offices, she will articulate and support a vision for honors students and faculty that integrates undergraduate research for all students, including those students who are not otherwise involved in honors programs.  Dr. Datta will oversee an office staff that coordinates mentoring for national and international awards and recognitions, residential programming and advising, among other activities.

Dr. Datta received two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan, one in chemistry and one in cellular and molecular biology, both with honors.  After receiving a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego, and serving as a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Yale University, she joined the Texas A&M University faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Biology and membership in the interdepartmental faculties of genetics and neuroscience. She has numerous publications and presentations that contribute to our knowledge of brain development and prostate cancer, and many of her publications include undergraduate student coauthors.  Forty-one undergraduate students and three high school students have conducted research in Dr. Datta’s laboratory.

The search committee, chaired by Dr. Ann Kenimer, associate dean for academic operations in the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences, praised Dr. Datta’s experience and vision in undergraduate research, her charisma, her creative ideas, and her commitment to honors at Texas A&M University.

Sigma Xi to Host Research Expo for Undergraduates

Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society, is sponsoring the Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Expo. At least one iPAD will be given to a lucky student as a door prize.

Date: Wednesday Oct 6th
Location: Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building Atrium
Time: 4-6 PM

The Expo is an opportunity for undergraduate students to meet and talk to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) faculty to see what research is being conducted at Texas A&M. Not only will this be an interesting event, but it’s also a great chance to “network” and discover some new opportunities to get involved in undergraduate research!

The event is “come and go,” and finger food will be available at 5:00 PM.
This event is being conducted in collaboration with the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, Council of Principal Investigators, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Honors and Undergraduate Research.

Faculty members who would like to have undergraduate students carry out research in their laboratories are encouraged to display research activities presently being conducted in their laboratory and to interact with undergraduate students considering research opportunities (possibly for their first time). This is an opportunity for faculty to advertise their undergraduate research openings and to showcase their research to the community.

For further information, contact Michelle Sullens ( m-sullens@tamu.edu) or Dr. Larry Johnson (ljohnson@cvm.tamu.edu).

A “Build Your Own” Major?

The September 5 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education featured a story, “Newly Customized Majors Suit Students With Passions All Their Own,” which examines a growing trend in undergraduate education: “Build Your Own” Majors.

You’re Majoring in What?

Few students are aware that such an option exists here at Texas A&M University! In fact, the first two University Studies – Honors majors just graduated in May, 2010.

University Studies - Honors Graduates Kat Drinkwater and Libby Joachim
University Studies - Honors Graduates Kat Drinkwater and Libby Joachim

The University Studies – Honors major allows students to identify an “area of concentration” comprised of 21 to 24 credit hours of course work focused on a particular topic. To supplement, students must also select two pre-designed minors, one of which must be housed in a different college than their main area of interest.

For example, recent University Studies – Honors graduate Libby Joachim ’10 identified her area of interest as “Neuropharmacology,” which included course work in microbiology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, pharmacy, and biomedical engineering.  Libby will pursue an MD/PhD at the University of Illinois.

Fellow University Studies – Honors graduate Kat Drinkwater ’10 designed a curriculum that took a holistic approach to the topics of communication and interaction by combining courses from neuroscience and psychology, with minors in linguistics and Spanish.  She will continue on to nursing school.

To some students, the inherent value of the University Studies – Honors major is obvious. As the Chronicle article relates…

Self-designed majors generally allow students to choose which courses count toward their majors. “This is the kind of major that could have kept a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in college,” Dave B. Jones, dean of Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College says.

Another administrator notes…

“I think students do best when they are studying what they really care about,” Raymond W. Hedin, Professor of English at Indiana University says. “I had a number of students who told me they would have left college if they had not had an individualized major.”

But What Do I Do With That?

A common response to the idea of a “build your own” major is that it will hinder students who apply for graduate school, professional school, or the workplace. In fact, the opposite is true. As the Chronicle article notes,

Trudy G. Steinfeld, who runs New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, says undergraduates in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study generally fare better in the job market than do classmates with traditional majors. An individualized course of study allows students to market themselves as “entrepreneurs and self-starters,” she says.

In fact, students with aspirations of top-flight graduate programs, medical schools, or law schools might actually fare much better with their custom-built degree plan. In addition, students with an individualized major are often more competitive for prestigious fellowships:

Last year four of NYU’s 11 Fulbright scholarship winners were Gallatin students or alumni, Ms. Steinfeld notes, even though students at the school make up only about 6 percent of the university’s full-time undergraduates. Other institutions cite similar statistics. For example, although less than 2 percent of Duke University’s students have individualized majors, five of them have been among the 13 Rhodes scholars there in the last 15 years, says Norman C. Keul, associate dean of Duke’s Trinity College.

So when people ask you “What are you going to do with that?”, you can say, “Whatever I want.”

For further information on the University Studies – Honors major, contact the Honors Programs office at 845 – 1957 or honors@tamu.edu.

Info Session: Boren Awards for International Study

A representative from the Institute for International Education (IIE) will be visiting the Texas A&M Campus on Wednesday, September 1st to present information on the Boren Awards, a unique funding opportunity for U.S. students to study world regions critical to U.S. interests. The presentation will be from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm in Bizzell Hall West, Rm. 358.

Boren awards for undergraduates fund study in countries that are generally underrepresented in study abroad. Boren awards for graduate students add an important international and language component to their graduate studies. Undergraduate students are awarded up to $20,000 for an academic year and graduate students are awarded up to $30,000 for two academic years.

Additional information on preferred geographic regions, languages, and fields of study, as well as application procedures can be found at www.borenawards.org.

For information on this and other awards, contact Kyle Mox, Honors Programs.

Kristina Yancey Receives Fulbright Grant

The Honors Programs office announces that nuclear engineering major Kristina Yancey ’10 has received a Fulbright grant to conduct research and study in Switzerland for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Sponsored by the Department of State, The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards scholarships to U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists selected through a national, merit-based competition for study and research abroad. Academic fields include the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. The Program emphasizes leadership development. Approximately 1,500 scholarships are awarded each year for study in over 150 countries.

Yancey will use her grant to work with the FAST Reactors Group at the Paul Scherrer Institute near Zurich, Switzerland. Her hope is to develop a computer model of a next-generation nuclear reactor.

Yancey is an Honors Research Fellow and will graduate with distinctions from the Engineering Scholars Program and with both Foundation Honors and University Honors distinctions from the University Honors Program. A President’s Endowed Scholar and a Galen T. Brown Scholar, she has served as president of the Global Justice student organization. She has also been recognized with the Aggie Spirit Award for determination in the face of adversity and as a Stinson Scholar by the Department of Nuclear Engineering.

Yancey comments that her proposed research in Switzerland would be of benefit as she progresses in her education towards a PhD in nuclear engineering and towards her ultimate goal of designing more sustainable nuclear reactors. “As the world moves toward more environmentally-friendly power sources, it will be vital to make the case for nuclear power to be part of the energy portfolio and to keep striving for excellence in the nuclear industry, both with current and future technology,” Yancey comments. In reference to why studying in Switzerland, as opposed to the United States, will be so valuable, she adds, “I would not only be sharing ideas about the group’s work but also learning about the country’s attitude toward nuclear energy. Because Switzerland is made up of an international community, learning about the country’s attitude would give me a better understanding of nuclear energy in a more global context.”

In the past ten years, 20 Texas A&M students have received Fulbright Grants, studying such diverse fields as archaeology, engineering, and journalism in countries ranging from Chile to Japan to Poland. The application cycle for Fulbright Grants for the 2011-2012 cycle is currently underway. For more information, please contact Mr. Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator at (979) 845-1957 or kemox@tamu.edu.

Fulbright Grants to Fund Study Abroad

The online application for the Fulbright Program for US Students is now open.  Fulbright is the premier study abroad program for US students, providing complete support for an entire academic year of foreign study or research.

Sponsored by the US Department of State, Fulbright annually awards over 1,300 grants to support foreign research or study in over 140 countries. A Fulbright grant entirely supports one academic year of study, research, or teaching assistantship experience—projects may include university course work, independent library or field research, or professional training in the arts.

To be eligible, students must be U.S. citizens and hold at least a bachelor’s degree by the start of the grant period (i.e. graduating seniors and graduate students may apply). Students should begin preparing their applications at the end of their third/junior year of undergraduate study.

The Fulbright program provides invaluable opportunities to meet, work, and live with people of various cultures, promotes cross-cultural interaction and mutual understanding through engagement in local communities, and fosters appreciation of other’s viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think, through direct interaction with them on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in daily tasks.

For more information on the Fulbright Program for US Students, visit http://www.us.fulbrightonline.org/home.html.

For information on how to apply to the program, visit http://us.fulbrightonline.org/program_universities_school.html?id=806 or http://honors.tamu.edu/advising/NationalScholarships_ApplicationProcedures.shtml.

For further guidance on the application process, contact Mr. Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator at kemox@tamu.edu or 979.204.4709.

From Promise to Achievement