Tag Archives: astronaut scholarship foundation

Texas A&M Undergraduates Nominated for the 2018 Astronaut Scholarship

Texas A&M undergraduates Oscar Gonzalez ‘20, Ashley Hayden ‘19, Ashley Holt ‘20, and Quinton Lawton ’19 have been nominated for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s 2018 Astronaut Scholarship.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) seeks to support the brightest scholars in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) while commemorating the legacy of America’s pioneering astronauts. The ASF has supported undergraduate students across the nation in pursuing their education for more than 30 years. The Astronaut Scholarship is one of the most significant merit-based scholarships in STEM fields that can be awarded to an undergraduate. Students must be nominated by faculty based on achievements in their chosen field. Out of a pool of 42 Universities, ASF typically chooses one recipient from each school. However, Texas A&M undergraduate students have proved themselves to be incredibly strong candidates and ASF has awarded multiple of our students in the past.

Texas A&M University has had 30 honorees since the scholarship was established in 1984 by the surviving Mercury 7 astronauts. More than 100 astronauts have contributed to the cause, resulting in over $4 million in scholarships.

The LAUNCH office wishes all four of the 2018 nominees all the best while final selections are being made.

Ashley Holt '19 posing for a portrait
Ashley Holt ’19, Biomedical Engineering

Ashley Holt ‘20

Ashley Holt, a biomedical engineering major from Kingswood, Texas, researches bacteriophages, the viruses of bacteria, and how new antibiotic strategies can help build defense against bacterial disease. Ms. Holt says “[her] short-term professional goal is to pursue a MD/PhD after [her] undergraduate degree. In the long-term, [she] want[s] to use clinical research to confront a global threat: antibiotic resistance.” She hopes to pursue a MD/Ph.D. and further develop her career in clinical research. She is a Beckman Scholar, a University Scholar, and was most recently awarded the 2018 Goldwater Scholarship.

Ashley Hayden '19 posing for a portrait
Ashley Hayden ’19, Biology

Ashley Hayden ‘19

Ashley Hayden, a biology major and bioinformatics and psychology minor from Friendswood, Texas, researches the monarch butterfly’s ability to sense magnetic fields. Her work could become the model system for identifying the yet unknown magnetoreceptor molecule(s). Along with participating in multiple Honors programs within the University, Ms. Hayden is also a University Scholar, a Biology Honors Program Ambassador, and was most recently accepted as a LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Ms. Hayden’s long-term goals include to one day “teach in academia, lead a research lab, and if given the opportunity, even lead an honors program.”

Oscar Gonzalez '20 posing for a portrait
Oscar Gonzalez ’20, Chemistry

Oscar Gonzalez ‘20

Oscar Gonzalez, a chemistry major and physics and mathematics minor from San Juan, Texas, focuses on solving technological problems and hopes to one day become a professor. Mr. Gonzales works in two research projects, both done at Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee’s lab. He synthesizes hematite films for photoelectrochemical water splitting and creates ways to push the deposition process towards higher film quality and higher water splitting efficiency. He is a Century Scholars Program mentor, facilitating the transition of high school seniors into their freshman year at Texas A&M. Mr. Gonzalez is also a Science Leadership Scholar and an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Quinton Lawton '19 posing for a portrait
Quinton Lawton ’19, Meteorology

Quinton Lawton ‘19

Quinton Lawton, a meteorology major and oceanography minor from Houston, Texas, researches the relation between tropical cyclone behavior and global climate change and is a LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Ambassador. “This position [as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador] lets me share my passion with others and encourage them to deepen their involvement in research. […] I don’t just participate but lead, while inspiring others to do the same”, says Mr. Lawton. Undergraduate Research Ambassadors strive to expand and enrich student engagement in undergraduate research. In long-term, Mr. Lawton “[hopes] to carve a new path forward and serve as an example for others long into the future.”

The recipient of the Astronaut Scholarship will be announced at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Ceremony on September 20, 2018 at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Astronaut Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.


Ezell and Versaw to Receive Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Awards Thursday

Kendal Ezell ‘18 and Brooke Versaw ‘18 have been selected to receive 2017 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Astronaut Scholarship awards. Both students previously received Honorable Mention recognition in the 2017 Goldwater scholarship competition.

In 1984, the six surviving members of the Mercury 7 mission created the scholarship to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors. Today the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) program members include astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs. Over the last 33 years the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has awarded over $4 million in scholarships to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars over the last 32 years. This year only 45 students nationwide are being honored with this prestigious scholarship.

2017 Astronaut Scholar, Kendal Ezell ’18

Kendal Ezell is a senior biomedical engineering student minoring in neuroscience. She was honored in 2017 as the Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior for Texas A&M after being selected as the Outstanding Junior from the College of Engineering. As noted above, Ezell was selected for Honorable Mention in the 2017 Goldwater Scholarship competition, and is a member of both the University Honors Program and the Engineering Honors program. Ezell was an Undergraduate Research Scholar, completing her undergraduate thesis on shape-memory polymer foam devices for the treatment of brain aneurysms with Dr. Duncan Maitland in the Biomedical Device Lab. She has also conducted research on the relationship between emotions and learning memory with Dr. Mark Packard in the Institute of Neuroscience, and on biotech device design with Dr. Jeremy Wasser in the Germany Biosciences Study Abroad Program. Ezell’s research has resulted in three publications, including one in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Journal for Design of Medical Devices Conference for which she is first author. She also was awarded a Gilman scholarship for international study and has gained inventorship on provisional patent applications.

Ezell plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. dual degree and work in medical device development and treatment and prevention of tissue degradation in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Ezell’s grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s sparked her passion in this direction. “Before my grandmother’s passing,” she says, “medicine was my chosen field, but her illness gave me further direction into a research career. I realized that I want to do more than just treat patients; I want to conduct research so that I can develop new ways to help and treat patients like my grandmother. The fields of neurology and tissue engineering interest me. It is at the intersections of these fields where I hope to apply interdisciplinary strategies to solve problems in unique ways.”

2017 Astronaut Scholar, Brooke Versaw ’18

Brooke Versaw is a senior chemistry student with a minor in business administration. Versaw was selected as a Beckman Scholar and University Scholar in 2015, and has served in multiple leadership capacities within the University Honors Program Honors Housing Community and Honors Student Council. Versaw also has extensive research experience. The summer before her senior year in high school, she worked with Dr. Junha Jeon at the University of Texas at Arlington as a Welch Foundation Summer Scholar. The summer before her freshman year at Texas A&M, she worked with Dr. Steve Lockless in the Department of Biology to study intracellular signaling. Most recently, Versaw has worked with her Beckman Scholar mentor, Dr. Karen Wooley, as an Undergraduate Research Scholar. Her thesis examined the development of a novel class of degradable polycarbonate materials to create environmentally-responsible plastics. In addition to conducting original research, Versaw is also invested in extolling the virtues of scientific research.

“While my research experience has undoubtedly informed and inspired my desire for a career in scientific research,” Versaw says, “it has also made me an enthusiastic advocate for science outreach. As an Undergraduate Research Ambassador for Texas A&M University, a volunteer for the annual Chemistry Open House, and a workshop leader for Expanding Your Horizons, a STEM initiative for 6th grade girls, I discovered that I enjoy both conducting research and communicating its findings. Moreover, I enjoy serving as a role model and a source of encouragement for younger students.”

Following graduation, Versaw plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry and a career as a polymer chemist on the faculty of a Tier-1 research institution, where she can impact both her field of polymer and materials synthesis, and help cultivate future generations of scientists.

Ezell and Versaw will be presented their ASF awards at a special ceremony on Thursday, October 26, by former astronaut Fred Gregory.

2017 ASF Award Presentation, Reach for the Stars, with astronaut Fred Gregory. Gregory will present awards to Ezell and Versaw before making public comments.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Astronaut Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.

Two Notable Students Nominated for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Astronaut Scholarship

By Macy Moore

Mikayla Barry ’17 and Maura Cadigan ’17 have been selected as the Texas A&M nominees for the 2016 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Astronaut Scholarship. Both students were nominated for the Goldwater scholarship earlier this year, and they will now compete for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Scholarship with other candidates from institutions such as Georgia Tech, MIT, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan.

In 1984, the six surviving members of the Mercury 7 mission created the scholarship to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors. Awarding $4 million in scholarships to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars over the last 32 years, the ASF program members include astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs.

Mikayla Barry '17, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship Nominee
Mikayla Barry ’17, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship Nominee

Junior biomedical engineering major Mikayla Barry is Texas A&M’s first Beckman Scholar, serves as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, conducts research in Dr. Melissa Grunlan’s Polymeric Biomaterials lab, and volunteers at the Chemistry Open House, the Physics & Engineering Festival, and SEE Math Camps. Mikayla is particularly passionate about gender imbalance in engineering fields.

“I know we have come a long way since women started venturing out from their expected roles, and I expect that, with time, the workplace environment in STEM fields will become more balanced,” Barry says. “A&M’s Biomedical Engineering department has pretty close to 50 percent female students and a much greater diversity in heritage than I could have predicted. The primary reason I realize gender imbalance is an issue results from the experiences of other engineering friends, mostly in the workforce. I really want them to be able to enjoy the sense of belonging I’ve been able to experience thus far.”

Barry’s focus is to improve STEM participation and integration in education, believing that outreach to under-represented groups, specifically minorities and women, is one of the largest ways to make an impact.

“I personally looked up to women who were not only involved in these fields, but made significant advances, reminding me that I can do the same.” Barry considers Marie Curie a role model as Curie “was esteemed by her peers because of her breakthroughs in understanding radioactivity, and her gender was of no significance.”

Barry intends to earn her Ph.D. in Materials Science, and then join the faculty of a research university. She also aspires to organize STEM outreach for middle school and high school students.

“As a faculty sponsor, I want to encourage collaboration among students of different backgrounds,” Barry says, “and in doing so help them learn to see beyond each others’ differences, effectively preparing them for the environment they will likely see when they become practicing engineers or scientists.”

Maura Cadigan '17, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship Nominee
Maura Cadigan ’17, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship Nominee

Junior aerospace engineering major Maura Cadigan is the first Aggie to be selected for the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum where she serves as a technical consultant on a multinational research team. She is also the mechanical team lead for the Women in Engineering’s first VEX robotics team and is very active in the Student Engineers Council. Cadigan is passionate about studying the effect of international public policy on multinational collaborations in industrial research.

“The more work experience I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized just how much policy affects the ability of researchers to collaborate and what they can collaborate on,” Cadigan says. “In my opinion, researchers are too restrained by policies for the sake of politics that don’t matter to them. In the future, I want to advocate on behalf of researchers to inform policy.”

When it comes to the ASF astronaut scholarship, Cadigan says she would love to follow in the footsteps of those who have previously been awarded.

“Winning an Astronaut Scholarship would be incredible! It would open so many doors and allow me to join a list of students who went on to do well in their future education and in their careers.”

Following graduation, Cadigan plans to earn a Ph.D. at a top technical school, such as Georgia Tech. After that, she dreams of pursuing a career with NASA or in a government lab such as the Sandia National Laboratories.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Astronaut Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.



2015 Astronaut Scholars Announced

Texas A&M is fortunate to announce the designation of two 2015 Astronaut Scholars, Kirstin Maulding ‘16 and Will Linz ‘16. This is the second time that two of our nominees have been selected to receive this prestigious award from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which seeks to recognize outstanding undergraduates working in STEM fields who will have the potential to be next-generation leaders.

2015 Astronaut Scholar Kirstin Maulding '16
2015 Astronaut Scholar Kirstin Maulding ’16

Maulding is an Honors Student from Spring Branch, Texas majoring in molecular and cell biology with minors in genetics and neuroscience. She has been working in biological research since high school and has continued her commitment to research as an undergraduate, both in the lab of Dr. Bruce Riley and as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Maulding’s combination of ability, creativity, and work ethic resulted in her publishing a paper in a peer-reviewed journal by her sophomore year. Her career goals include pursuing research related to neurological diseases such as Alzheimers. Read Maulding’s nomination profile here.

2015 Astronaut Scholar, Will Linz '16
2015 Astronaut Scholar, Will Linz ’16

Linz is an Honors Student from Temple, Texas majoring in mathematics with a minor in German. When he graduates in May 2016, he will have completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. Linz got involved in undergraduate research as a first-semester freshman, completed his undergraduate thesis as a sophomore, and continues to do research with Dr. Catherine Yan in combinatorics. He has presented his research at professional meetings and campus research expos, and has submitted his work for publication in a top mathematics journal. Linz currently serves on the Executive Board for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal and is also an Undergraduate Research Ambassador. He is planning a career in mathematical discovery and serving as a liaison to help mathematicians and computer scientists develop mathematical tools for practical use in computer science and technology. Read Linz’s nomination profile here.

The campus community is invited to a public lecture and award presentation on Tuesday, October 6 at 10:30 AM with Former Astronaut Charlie Duke (Brigadier General, USAF, Retired) to honor Maulding and Linz and present each of them with a $10,000 scholarship. Following the award presentation, Mr. Duke will give a lecture about his experiences as an astronaut on the Apollo 16 mission and as Capcom on the Apollo 11 mission.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entry and are available through the Memorial Student Center Box Office.

digitalevite_charlieduke_LGRelated: See post honoring Maulding & Linz on the TAMU College of Science Blog

Seventeen Aggies Chosen as National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows for 2015

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most prestigious awards to support graduate students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Over 16,000 applications were submitted for the 2015 NSF Fellowship competition, resulting in 2,000 award offers. This spring, 17 former Texas A&M University students were selected as 2015 NSF Graduate Fellows, while 9 were named Honorable Mention. Most of these students participated in Honors and Undergraduate Research programs while undergraduates, including 13 who completed an undergraduate research thesis as an Undergraduate Research Scholar, 8 who graduated with Honors distinctions, 2 Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, and 3 Authors for Explorations, the undergraduate journal.

2015 NSF Graduate Fellow Dillon Amaya is a first year PhD student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. While a Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences major and Oceanography minor at Texas A&M Amaya studied paleoclimate, physical oceanography, and climate change with faculty in the Department of Oceanography as well as the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Amaya, a Summa Cum Laude graduate, was the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Astronaut Foundation Scholarship. A member of the inaugural cohort of Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, he holds a strong interest in communicating science to the public.

In response to his selection Amaya said “I am honored to have been chosen for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This kind of Fellowship gives me the funding and the freedom to do the exciting and innovative research that interests me the most. None of it would be possible, however, without having participated in substantial undergraduate research at Texas A&M. The experience I gained as an undergraduate made my NSF reviewers sit up and take notice. Every single NSF review I received cited my undergraduate research experience at A&M as the primary reason for my nomination for the award. For this reason, I am forever grateful for the opportunities afforded to me during my undergraduate career.”

Dillon Amaya, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences ‘14, shows oceanographic instruments to 5th graders on a tour of the research pier at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.
Dillon Amaya, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences ‘14, shows oceanographic instruments to 5th graders on a tour of the research pier at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Alejandro Azocar, another 2015 NSF Graduate Fellow, graduated Summa Cum Laude with University and Aerospace Engineering Honors. During his time at Texas A&M Azocar completed five cooperative education tours at NASA Johnson Space Center, working in three different research labs. As an Undergraduate Research Scholar, he won two best paper awards from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Region IV Conference for his work in unmanned aircraft simulation (2013) and electromyographically-controlled quadrotors (2015).

Azocar also was the recipient of the 2015 Ammon S. Andes National Award from Sigma Gamma Tau, the national aerospace engineering honor society. This award recognized him as the top aerospace engineering student in the United States based upon his academic, service, and extracurricular accomplishments. Azocar credits his mentors and peers at Texas A&M for his success, saying, “Texas A&M surrounded me with incredible people and opportunities, and allowed me to grow as a researcher, leader, and communicator.” This fall Azocar will begin his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. He will be working at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago with a research focus on either bionics or brain-machine interfaces. With NSF support he hopes to develop prosthetic arms, legs, and exoskeletons that can be controlled through the user’s neural signals.

In his spare time Alejandro Azocar, Aerospace Engineering ’15, served as a Texas A&M Foundation Maroon Coat.
In his spare time Alejandro Azocar, Aerospace Engineering ’15, served as a Texas A&M Foundation Maroon Coat.

Honors and Undergraduate Research would like to congratulate the Aggie 2015 National Science Foundation Fellows and Honorable Mentions and acknowledge their valuable contributions to HUR programs!

National Science Foundation 2015 Research Fellowship Awardees:

  • Dillon Amaya, Geosciences, Climate and Large-Scale Atmospheric Dynamics. Undergraduate Research Ambassador and Astronaut Foundation Scholarship recipient
  • Alejandro Azocar, Biomedical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, University Scholar, and University Honors
  • Ryan Brito, Nuclear Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Foundation Honors, University Honors
  • Christopher Chini, Civil Engineering. Foundation Honors
  • Andrea Delgado, Particle Physics. Undergraduate Research Scholar
  • Keith Krenek, Electrical Engineering. University Research Scholar, University Honors
  • Timothy Kroeger, Mechanical Engineering. University Research Scholar, University Honors
  • Anna Means, Materials Engineering
  • Andrew Moehlman, Developmental Biology
  • Lakshmi Nathan, Chemical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, University Honors
  • Christopher Pannier, Mechanical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar
  • William Scholten, Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Jeremy Seidel, Chemical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Ambassador
  • Zachary Steelman, Biomedical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Honors Fellows, Explorations author
  • Jeffrey Swofford, Social Sciences, Sustainability
  • Jason Szafron, Biomedical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Explorations author and Editorial Board
  • William Whitten, Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering. Explorations author

Honorable Mention:

  • Christopher Akers, Theoretical Physics. Undergraduate Research Scholar
  • Shelby Bieritz, Biomedical Engineering. Fulbright Award Grantee, Whitaker Fellowship recipient
  • Charles Giattino, Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Dion Hubble, Materials Engineering
  • Kelli Humbird, Biomedical Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar
  • Kristin Nichols, Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Foundation Honors, University Honors
  • Jesse Pyle, Microbial Biology
  • Nicholas Rinkenberger,   Microbial Biology. Undergraduate Research Scholar
  • Michael Whitely, Biomedical Engineering

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Nominee Kirstin Maulding

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation permits only a handful of institutions in the country, based on the strength of their programs in STEM, to nominate candidates for the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship. Texas A&M is one of the few institutions allowed to nominate sophomore or junior STEM majors for this award. Astronaut Scholars become one of a very select group of outstanding students who have demonstrated not only outstanding academic talent, but also incredible creative ability and productivity in research, indicating that they have the potential to become the next generation of leaders pushing the boundaries of science and technology. Texas A&M is proud this year to be nominating three students for the 2015 Astronaut Scholarship competition! Meet the second of our 2015 nominees!

Kirstin Maulding sits in a chair.
Kirstin Maulding ’16, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Nominee

How outstanding do you have to be to become an Astronaut Scholar nominee? When it comes to research creativity and productivity, 2015 TAMU Nominee Kirstin Maulding may have broken the mold. Maulding is in the University Honors and College of Science Honors Programs, majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology with minors in Genetics and Neuroscience from Spring Branch, Texas. She will graduate with a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology in Spring 2016.

Maulding began her interest in biological research as early as the summer between her junior and senior year in high school, becoming a summer intern with National Academy member Dr. James Hudspeth to study sensory neurobiology. Her fascination with the field led her to persuade Dr. Bruce Riley to let her join his research group the summer before her freshman year at Texas A&M, a decision he categorizes as “one of the best” he has made in the past 20 years. Maulding’s exceptional intellectual abilities, independence and drive led her to take over sole ownership of her research project as an incoming freshman when the graduate student mentor she was working with over the summer pulled back to write and defend his thesis. As a freshman Maulding’s incredible scientific maturity and capability resulted in her being given free rein to design key experiments, execute them on her own and analyze the results. She has presented her award-winning work at a departmental poster session and Student Research Week. Maulding’s work progressed so swiftly given her dedication to the project, that she amassed enough data for a first author publication in a peer-reviewed journal by the end of her freshman year! This made her a published author in her sophomore year.

Maulding’s talents are not limited to the bench, as her perfect 4.0 GPR demonstrates. In fact, even among the top students at Texas A&M she shines. Her rigorous class schedule boasts multiple courses a level or two above that of her classification. Within those classes competing with high power pre-med students Maulding easily stands out as the top student, although she is frequently the youngest.

Maulding’s passion for research and its potential to solve problems in society has led her to the realization that she also wants to become a mentor and advocate for student involvement in research. To that end, she is submitting an application to become an Undergraduate Research Ambassador in order to share her experiences with others and inspire them to participate in research activities.

Maulding’s long-term goals include studying the underlying basis of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, a societal problem that will increase dramatically with the “graying” of American society. Maulding hopes that insights she uncovers in her investigation of nervous system development and function will hold the clues that reveal possible treatments for these intractable diseases.

HUR Staff Spotlight: Dr. Suma Datta

Honors and Undergraduate Research presents Dr. Suma Datta, our Executive Director. Dr. Datta coordinates with colleges, programs and centers across campus to improve existing HUR programming and develop new initiatives, she also serves as the HUR advisor for the Explorations journal and the coordinator for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Scholarship nomination process.

Dr. Suma Datta, Executive Director, Honors and Undergraduate Research

Dr. Suma Datta, Executive Director, Honors and Undergraduate Research

Dr. Datta grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with Honors degrees in Chemistry and in Cell and Molecular Biology. She participated in undergraduate research all four of her undergraduate years, culminating in a senior honors thesis. While at Michigan Dr. Datta also took on leadership positions with a student organization and organized fund-raising activities for charity.

Dr. Datta was awarded an NSF Graduate Fellowship to support her graduate work at the University of California-San Diego in the Department of Biology. Her doctoral thesis focused on understanding how the genes that control the identities of cells are regulated at the molecular level and led to the publication of 5 articles and 3 reviews. Upon receipt of her doctorate, Dr. Datta was awarded a Life Sciences Research Fellowship and moved to Yale University to do postdoctoral research on brain development. During her time at UCSD and Yale, she became a science tutor for high school students and later a mentor and then coordinator of the Academic Mentorship Program in the Sciences.

In 1993 Dr. Datta accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M with a joint appointment in Biology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1999. She has been awarded an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Fellowship, a Senior Ruth Kirschstein Fellowship and multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and American Heart Association for her work in brain development, stem cell division and prostate cancer progression. She has traveled nationally and internationally to speak about her research, organized workshops and chaired sessions at national and international conferences and reviewed grant proposals for foundations and government agencies and manuscripts for prestigious journals. Dr. Datta has continued her interest in student development and mentoring through organizing alternative careers workshops, participating in TAMU Honors programming, teaching Honors classes, presenting at the Women in Science and Engineering conferences and mentoring over 50 undergraduate researchers in her laboratory.

In 2008 Dr. Datta became the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Research, working closely with students and faculty from all across campus. In this capacity she organized the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, coordinated events for REU directors during the summer, ran workshops and training sessions and published the first issue of Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal. She joined the Council on Undergraduate Research and was elected to a counselor position in the spring of 2010.

In the fall of 2010 Dr. Datta became the first Executive Director of the new Honors and Undergraduate Research unit, combining the former Honors Programs Office and the Office of Undergraduate Research. She and her staff have expanded the Undergraduate Research Scholars program to include Honors students and students from all colleges, established the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors and developed and launched three new Capstone programs (Undergraduate Teacher Scholar, Undergraduate Service Scholar and Undergraduate Leadership Scholar). A new distinction (Honors Fellows) and associated Honors program (University Honors) have been developed and implemented including an application process and a more robust Living Learning Community experience. She has continued to coordinate publication of Explorations, which just released its sixth issue.

In her spare time, Dr. Datta hangs out with her husband Scott and her two “house lions.” She loves to cook and eat food from different cultures, especially if it is spicy. Luckily she and her husband also love to dance. She is the faculty advisor for TAMBDA, the Texas A&M Ballroom Dance Association, and for AggieWesties, the Texas A&M West Coast Swing Dance Club. Most weekends and some week nights she and Scott can be found on a dance floor somewhere.