At the close of the 2015-2016 academic year, LAUNCH offers congratulations to the many students in our programs who have been recognized for outstanding achievements in academics, leadership, and other areas!
ASPIRE (Aggie Scholars Promoting Incentive, Resources, and Encouragement) Presented by LAUNCH: Learning Communities Hannah Gerken, Mentor of the Year
Abraham Hinojosa, Mentee of the Year
King Thrills, Small Community of the Year
Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Outstanding Student Award Presented by Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies
Andy Baxter, College of Science
Buck Weirus Spirit Award Presented by Department of Student Activities Isabelle “Izzy” Antes
W. Hayden Lander
Class Stars Award Presented by Department of Student Activities
Andy Baxter, Class of 2016 – Academics
Luke Oaks, Class of 2019 – Leadership
Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior
Ali Jalal, College of Science
Women’s Progress Award Presented by Department of Multicultural Services Emily Parrish
Thank you to the Departments of Student Activities and Multicultural Services, the Association of Former Students, the Associate Provost of Undergraduate Studies, and our learning communities for supporting students across the university and for encouraging service, academic excellence, and high achievement!
It is sometimes difficult to convey the impact that the additional challenge and enrichment offered through Honors and Undergraduate Research has for the students, faculty, and staff that make up our community. In part, this is because these experiences impact each person differently, and each person then goes on to change the world in her or his own way.
We have used this news blog to help share these rich stories, and look forward to continuing to do so. Please help us out by sharing these stories with others, and let us know when we can help tell your story!
Blog Highlights for 2014
This year, our news blog was recognized in the National Collegiate Honors Council newsletter contest with a second place prize!
WordPress has generated a summary of our most-widely seen posts over the last year. Here’s an excerpt from the 2014 year in review:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Stephen McConnell ’14 graduated in May 2014 with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked with Dr. Robert Balog to complete his thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. A portion of his thesis work, “Photovoltaic Arc-Fault Detection,” was published in the 2014 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Denver, CO. He was listed as first author on the paper “Evaluation Method for Arc Fault Detection Algorithms” and prepared an accompanying poster for presentation from June 9-12th, 2014. Stephen received the “Best Poster” award at the conference.
by Stephen McConnell –
At the recent 40th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) in Denver, I was surrounded by hundreds of professionals in my field and had the opportunity to hear them give presentations related to their research. These presentations included question-and-answer sessions that followed where peer scientists and engineers offered their feedback and suggestions. This opportunity gave me a more comprehensive view of how my research and potential future publications might be viewed and received by my peers in photovoltaics. It also gave me better insight into the vocabulary and current topics of interest among this vast network of professionals.
My experience in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program not only allowed me to perform quality research under expert mentorship, but also prepared me to communicate my ideas through the written thesis and poster presentation during Student Research Week. The research I presented at PVSC was directly tied to the thesis I completed for the program.
The UGR Scholars Program was the logical next step after completing photovoltaic research during a summer NSF REU program at Texas A&M. The REU was my first official academic research undertaking and also gave me the opportunity to present my findings via poster display to peers and faculty after a successful summer research project.
I found interest in undergraduate research when I realized that I wanted a more thorough and detailed understanding of the engineering curriculum and after a potential employer suggested it. I would encourage all students who have even the smallest desire to engage in research to act on it by talking to their professors and to discover where that discussion will lead them. I would like to thank HUR for helping to make my most recent research opportunity possible through the organization of the UGR Scholars Program.
Enriching experiences like the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program are offered through Honors and Undergraduate Research thanks to the generous support of the Association of Former Students.
Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Awards, which include cash gifts of $5,000 each, were presented to Hatheway and Lastovica. The award honors top students who exemplify the leadership and related traits of the late Gen. Earl Rudder, a World War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970.
Dr. Meissner is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the director of the Engineering Honors program. Dr. Meissner has been actively involved with Engineering Honors since shortly after his arrival at Texas A&M. He served as departmental coordinator from 2005-2010 and has served as Director since 2010.
Dr. Meissner earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and received his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1994.
Dr. Meissner’s Nanomaterials and Biophotonics Lab focuses on using nanostructured materials and optical techniques for biomedical imaging and sensing applications.
In 2004, the Betty M. Unterberger Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Education was created and presented to Dr. Unterberger in recognition of her many years of service and significant contribution to the growth and development of high-impact education at Texas A&M.
The 2014 recipient of the Betty M. Unterberger Award is Dr. Christopher Quick.
After earning a Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, Dr.
Christopher Quick made the unusual decision to pursue research in cardiovascular science and accept a faculty position in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Texas A&M University in 2002.
After failing repeatedly to find potential graduate students that were both interested and prepared to enter the esoteric field of computational physiology, he worked with faculty and students to turn his lab into an incubator for developing novel approaches to integrate research and education. The most successful approach so far has been the development of the “Research-Intensive Community” model. Pairing experienced students seeking leadership experience with a multidisciplinary team of students seeking research experience, he found that he could radically increase the number of research opportunities for undergraduates and lower the barriers to participation.
Dr. Quick applied this model to create the DeBakey Undergraduate Research Program in 2004, which has since steadily grown to create research opportunities for over 100 undergraduates per semester. To expand this team-based approach beyond the DeBakey Institute, he worked with faculty and the Office of Honors and Undergraduate Research to create the Aggie Research Scholar Program, which had over 140 participants in the summer of 2013.
Dr. Quick’s efforts to develop sustainable models that are effective, efficient, and scalable have been recognized by the award of four competitive education grants from the NIH and NSF and an Association of Former Students Distinguished Award in Teaching in 2014.
The Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award recognizes and rewards Honors faculty members whose dedication and
commitment to excellence in education is truly outstanding.
These faculty members encourage a spirit of inquiry in their students, are thoughtful teachers, and exhibit the strongest desire to train a new generation of thinkers and creators. This award is of special significance because recipients are nominated and selected by Honors Students.
The 2014 recipient of the Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award, presented by Honors Student Council, is Dr. Donald J. Curtis, Jr.
Dr. Curtis was nominated by Honors Student Travis Askew. In the nomination statement, Askew writes:
Dr. Don Curtis is a man who truly cares for all the students within the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M. He is the Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts and the head of Liberal Arts Honors. Additionally, he is the head of the Cornerstone Liberal Arts Honors Program, which he puts a majority of his time into maturing. His goal with Cornerstone Program is to take some of the greatest students the Liberal Arts College has to offer and turn them into great critical thinkers and leaders. He teaches his students how to think critically and gives them the opportunity to gain international experience. In everything he does, it is truly evident that he cares for his students. He makes himself completely available to his students, whether they have important questions, or just need to talk: he is always there for his students. Furthermore, he truly cares for the development and advancement of his students inside and outside of the classroom. He doesn’t make his classes easy. He gives his students challenging assignments that take them outside of their comfort zone so that they will grow and be better prepared for the challenges that life and college will throw at them in the future. Dr. Curtis goes above and beyond the call of duty. He takes being an instructor and an adviser to whole new level and leaves a lasting, positive impact on all the students who have the privilege to spend any amount of time with him.
Dr. Don Curtis is Assistant Dean for High Impact Programs for the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He is also a visiting assistant professor of American History and Director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. Dr. Curtis is Director of the Cornerstone Program Honors Learning Community, a group of some of the best and brightest Liberal Arts majors at Texas A&M
Dr. Curtis received his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 2000 with a specialty in American Military and Diplomatic History. He has been at Texas A&M since 1993 and has previously served as Honors Program Coordinator for the University and Director of Undergraduate Student Services for the College of Liberal Arts. He has undergraduate degrees in Biological Science and History from the University of Nebraska and an MA in Military History from NU as well.
He is the author of Hard Times Come Again No More: General William S. Graves and the American Military Intervention in Siberia 1918-1920. Dr. Curtis has also authored several articles in military history and the applications of honors programs and learning communities in higher education.
Dr. Curtis had the honor of being a Fish Camp namesake in 2013 and was a TEDx TAMU speaker in 2014.
Dr. Curtis has been married to his wife Kari for fifteen years. They have an eight year old son, Ben, a lab/hound mix dog and a 100% antisocial cat.