Tag Archives: Chemistry

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.

Advertisements

Two Aggie Students Honored by Barry M. Goldwater Foundation

The LAUNCH office at Texas A&M University congratulates Ashley Holt ’19 and Oscar Gonzalez ’20 in being recognized for their outstanding academic achievements by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Ms. Holt, a biomedical engineering major from Kingwood, Texas, was selected as the 2018 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, and Mr. Gonzalez, a chemistry major from San Juan, Texas, has been named a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to exceptional sophomore or junior undergraduates who intend to pursue a research careers in mathematics, natural sciences, or engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

The Goldwater Foundation gave its first award in 1989 and has bestowed more than $40 million worth of scholarships. Hundreds of scholarships are awarded each academic year to students who have impressive academic qualifications and merit, as the average awardee has a 3.9 GPA. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Texas A&M University has produced 36 Goldwater Scholars since 1991.

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

Ms. Ashley Holt was nominated by Texas A&M University as part of a pool of thousands of applicants from colleges and universities nationwide. In 2016, Ms. Holt began working with Dr. Ry Young, named Distinguished Professor in March 2018, to discover the mechanism by which a specific virus destroys the outer membrane of its host cell. Ms. Holt’s research focused on how a phage, or virus, that infects E. coli releases harmful toxins and destroys bacterial cells during an outbreak. The results of her research will shine new light into treatment options for bacterial infections through her identification of a novel antibiotic mechanism. Ms. Holt has already published two papers based on her work in the Young Lab, directly reflecting the success of her research. She says that “[her] foundation in phage biology has impacted the evolution of [her] own career and guided [her] toward achieving a long-term goal: building defenses against bacterial disease by creating new antibiotic strategies.”

Among many of her other achievements, Ms. Holt was selected as a Beckman Scholar and a University Scholar in 2016. She is currently completing her Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis as part of her Capstone experience for the University Honors Program.

Ms. Holt is also the treasurer of Texas A&M’s chapter of Engineering World Health (EWH), where engineers are encouraged to solve health challenges occurring in the developing world. “I study ways to bring together science, mathematics, and engineering to improve human health,” says Ms. Holt. While her short-term goal is to pursue a MD/PhD after graduation, she plans to continue to do research on antibiotic resistance and hopes “to stand at the intersection of medicine, engineering, and scientific innovation.”

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

Mr. Oscar Gonzalez ‘20, a chemistry major, began working with Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee in 2017 investigating ways to control the dimensions of magnesium nanowires through the development of a coating that inhibits corrosion of the material. These studies are critical for the development of magnesium batteries which have the potential to be more shelf-stable and storage-efficient than current lithium batteries. He hopes to continue his research and complete graduate school so that he may teach his own research students about problems that inhibit further technological advancements.

Mr. Gonzalez serves as a peer mentor for the Century Scholars learning community. Mr. Gonzalez says that “being a mentor has helped [him] improve [his] presentation, leadership, and time management skills while at the same time helping freshmen make the transition from high-school to Texas A&M University.” As a result of those strong communication skills, Mr. Gonzalez has been recently selected as a 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Ambassadors work to inspire broader engagement in undergraduate research by educating and serving the Texas A&M University community. They Represent LAUNCH at research, recruiting, and outreach events, give presentations to student organizations and meet with administrators, faculty, and prospective students. “I want to share and use everything I have learned with the rest of the world,” said Mr. Gonzalez. With an extensive research resume along with co-curricular and community activities, Mr. Gonzales personifies the expectations held by the Goldwater Foundation as a nominee.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Goldwater 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.

Daniel Singleton Selected for 2017 Honors Faculty Mentor Award

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 2017 Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor Award goes to Dr. Daniel Singleton.

Dr. Daniel Singleton, 2017 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award Recipient

Dr. Singleton earned his B.S. degree in chemistry with highest honors from Case Western Reserve University and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Singleton is a professor of chemistry, and holds the Davidson Chair in Science. His research involves organic, organometallic, and bioorganic reaction mechanisms, and is aimed at revising fundamental understanding of reactivity and selectivity in organic chemistry. Dr. Singleton has been a member of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty since 1998, and has been selected for numerous awards including the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995 and again in 2015, as a University Faculty Fellow, the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching from Texas A&M, and with the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society.

The student who nominated Dr. Singleton writes, “[he] undeniably checks all the boxes any teacher must: he knows his subject, and conveys that knowledge effectively, concisely, and truthfully (truth is unusually scarce in chemistry). Moreover, he has invested at least 12 hours in me personally through supplemental problem and tutoring sessions so far this term. He often shares tales of green flames, metallic bubbles, and unexpected explosions, bringing the human elements of excitement, wonder, and terror to this science of puzzles.

“Everything I listed above could be accomplished by any personable and good-humored expert. Dr. Singleton is more. He truly cares about me and my fellow students. He knows and calls us by name. Early in our teacher-student relationship, he asked after my dreams, as opposed to the common question of how my interests relate to his class. He attended the ring dunk of a former student just last week. It is clear to me that he is personally invested in the wellbeing of his students.

“Dr. Singleton deserves the Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor Award because he is relatable, interesting, informative, and caring. He is teaching me how to be a better scientist, and showing me how to guide and grow people by guiding and growing me.”

Three Aggies Selected for Goldwater Honorable Mention

LAUNCH: National Fellowships is delighted to announce the recognition of three outstanding students in this year’s Goldwater Scholarship competition. Kendal Ezell ‘18, Kanika Gakhar ‘18, and Brooke Versaw ’18 were all selected for Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention.

Kanika says of the honor that “Receiving the Goldwater Honorable Mention has been a humbling reminder of the appreciation the research community has for projects like mine. By encouraging young undergraduate researchers like me to pursue topics of interest in the field of science and technology, the Goldwater Scholarship committee is truly doing a remarkable job at helping students recognize their passions and the significance of their work in a global research community. I am very grateful to LAUNCH for introducing me to this opportunity and giving me a chance to refine and present my research proposal to the prestigious Goldwater Committee. “

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program seeks sophomores and juniors who are planning careers in STEM research. Fewer than 300 Goldwater Scholars are chosen from across the nation each year, so the scholarship is both prestigious and highly competitive. Candidates must demonstrate strong research experience, clear vision for a research career, and academic excellence in STEM coursework. Students selected as Goldwater Scholars receive a $7,500 scholarship for the next academic year.

Goldwater Honorable Mention, Kendall Ezell ’18

Kendal Ezell ’18 is a junior biomedical engineering major from Corpus Christi, TX. Ezell’s extensive involvement at Texas A&M has included Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Student Engineers’ Council, American Medical Student Association, and the University Honors Program and Engineering Honors. She has been selected for numerous honors and awards including as a Benjamin A. Gilman International Fellowship, as the 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior for the College of Engineering, Southerland Aggie Leader Scholar, and Peter Chaplinsky Memorial Scholar.

Ezell currently works in the Biomedical Device Laboratory with Dr. Duncan Maitland, researching biomaterials and material characterization. She plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and conduct research in a clinical setting to develop new medical technologies for practice. Her primary interest is treatment and prevention of tissue degradation in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Ezell’s extensive undergraduate research will result in two first-author publications on independent projects as well as other publications by the time she graduates.

Goldwater Honorable Mention Kanika Gakhar ’18

Kanika Gakhar ’18 is a junior aerospace engineering major from Faridabad, Haryana, India. She has extensive leadership experience from her involvement in in Lambda Sigma Honor Society, the Memorial Student Center, Maroon & White Leadership Fellows, and Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. Gakhar has been selected as a University Scholar, for the TAMU Academic Excellence Award, the Larry J. McQuien ’76 “Take Flight Award,” and was part of a design team selected to present at the SpaceX Hyperloop Design Weekend.

Gakhar is currently working in the Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory with Dr. Moble Benedict. Her Undergraduate Research Scholar thesis is on a robotic hummingbird project that seeks to revolutionize the field micro-aerial vehicles by improving efficiency of flapping-wing mechanisms through mimicry of insects and birds. Gakhar is also working with a team of mechanical, electrical, and aerospace engineering students on an Aggie Challenge Project focused on preventing railroad accidents and train derailments. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and conduct research in biomimicry and nature-inspired design to revolutionize atmospheric and space flight. Gakhar’s research has resulted in multiple publications, including one for which she is first author.

Goldwater Honorable Mention Brooke Versaw ’18

Brooke Versaw ’18 is a junior chemistry major from College Station, TX. Versaw has served in leadership roles with the American Chemical Society and Aggie Honor Council, and has been active as a member of the MSC Visual Arts Committee and as a National Scholar Ambassador. Versaw was selected as a University Scholar, Beckman Scholar, Undergraduate Research Ambassador, and a Robert A. Welch Foundation Scholarship, and is proficient in Spanish.

Versaw has extensive experience in undergraduate research, having worked in Dr. Junha Jeon’s synthetic organic lab, with Dr. Steve Lockless’s protein chemistry group, and in Dr. Karen Wooley’s polymers and functional macromolecules laboratory. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry and have an academic career conducting research on polymer synthesis and materials characterization. Versaw’s research has resulted in multiple first-author publications.

Texas A&M has a long history of success with the Goldwater Scholarship. Previous Goldwater Scholars include Nicholas Mondrik ’15 (physics), Erica Gacasan ’16 (biomedical engineering), Aaron Griffin ’16 (biochemistry & genetics), and Maura Cadigan ’17 (aerospace engineering). If you are a STEM student invested in research and would like to learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship, please contact National Fellowships coordinator Benjamin Simington (natlfellows@tamu.edu) or visit our website: http://tx.ag/NatlFellows.

Honors Reunion (A Letter to Honors Freshmen)

By Adelia Humme ’15

Dear Honors freshmen,

Right now, your biggest concern is probably How will I make friends? You may be wondering Why do I have to live in the Honors Housing Community? Or What if I don’t like my roommate?

Worry no more. Living in Honors Housing is one of the best experiences you can have at Texas A&M. It’s one thing for me, as an Honors Advisor, to tell you that you’ll make plenty of friends. It’s another thing for me, as a former Honors student who lived in Lechner Hall for two years, to tell you that my cohort of fellow Honors students is still in contact more than a year after graduation. For Memorial Day weekend, more than a dozen former students from the University Honors program, Class of 2015, reunited in Houston. Our weekend included volleyball, bowling, swimming, two-stepping at Wild West, a crawfish boil, a visit to the planetarium, and about eight rounds of the card game Werewolf. We also put our college educations to the test at Escape the Room Texas, where we solved puzzles and searched for clues to find keys and open combo locks in order to “escape.” You’ll be delighted to hear that Honors pays off: we got out with one minute to spare on the one-hour time limit!

escape room
Honors Former Students Conquered the room!
Sam & Edward patriotism
Sam & Edward are patriotic!

More important than anything we did was reminiscing about our time in the Honors Housing Community, where we met as freshmen. Most of us were Sophomore Advisors (SAs) in 2012-2013; a few were “spouses,” or partners chosen by Sophomore Advisors to help mentor Honors freshmen. Living in Lechner and McFadden Halls together bonded us. We pulled all-nighters in Hobofo, Lechner’s second-floor foyer. As freshmen, we designed the greatest shack ever for Habitat for Humanity’s annual fundraiser, Shack-a-thon. It featured an enormous and detailed Nazgul for our Lord of the Rings theme. As SAs, we painted ourselves blue for free food at Blue Baker and hosted our own Hunger Games for the freshmen, arming them with pool noodles and flour-filled socks. We opened the annual talent show with our own rendition of “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King. And even after we moved out of HHC, we volunteered for Big Event, attended Muster, celebrated Ring Day, and dressed up for Ring Dance together.

Nerd Shack 2012
Nerd Shack 2012
sports
Sports!

The Aggie spirit is still strong in our hearts, and we still hold to our identity as Honors students. So if you’re afraid that you’re going to be alone in college, I hope I can reassure you. Living in the Honors Housing Community, I felt that I had found people who spoke not only my language but my dialect. My fellow Honors students liked what I liked; we watched the same sci-fi TV shows and knew the same geek culture references. You’ll make connections, like we did. You’ll make memories, like we did. You might meet your future spouse (no pressure!). And you very well could have a one-year reunion of your own in 2021.

crawfish boil better
Honors Former Students enjoy a crawfish boil

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten your second worry, which is probably What’s my plan? What am I going to do after college? Not knowing the answer right now is okay! You have plenty of time (and plenty of guidance within Honors) to help you figure it out. We were there, too, and we made it. Here’s what we’re doing now:

  • Alyssa Bennett is pursuing a PhD in naval architecture at the University of Michigan. She majored in ocean engineering and graduated with Foundation Honors. Alyssa was a Sophomore Advisor and a Junior Advisor.
  • Sam Carey is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech through the Critical Skills Master’s Program at Sandia National Laboratories. Sam spends his summers working for Sandia in Albuquerque, NM. He majored in electrical engineering and graduated with University Honors and an Honors Minor in mathematics. Sam was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Mallory Carson is a PhD student studying medical physics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She is working on methods to detect and correct errors in dose calculations to improve the quality of radiation therapy. Mallory majored in radiological health engineering and minored in mathematics. She was a Sophomore Advisor and an Undergraduate Research Scholar.
  • Danielle Cope is a planning/project engineer for ExxonMobil at the Baytown Olefins Plant. She majored in chemical engineering, minored in chemistry, and graduated with Engineering Honors and Foundation Honors. Danielle was Pj’s “spouse” in the Honors Housing Community.
  • Pj Downey is a systems engineer for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He majored in aerospace engineering and was a Sophomore Advisor. Pj graduated with certificates in engineering project management and engineering business management.
  • Jacob Glenn is a healthcare consultant at Apogee Consulting Group in Houston. He majored in economics and was an Undergraduate Research Scholar and Sophomore Advisor.
  • April Holland is a business consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Houston. She double-majored in business honors and supply chain management. April was a Sophomore Advisor and graduated with Business Honors.
  • Edward Ji is in the Baylor College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in Houston and continues performing as a violinist with the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. He majored in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology.
  • Taylor Peterson is an administrative assistant with Switched Over Consulting and plans a career with Texas Parks and Wildlife. She is majoring in wildlife & fisheries sciences and was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Lauren Roverse is a second-year student at the University of Houston College of Optometry, where she is pursuing a Doctor of Optometry degree. Lauren majored in biology and was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Eric Vavra is a chemical engineering PhD student at Rice University, where he is investigating foam flow dynamics in porous media. He majored in chemical engineering, minored in chemistry, and graduated with Engineering Honors. Eric was a Sophomore Advisor.
  • Trey Whitaker works as a developer for the Advance Technology Division of AmRisc, LLC. Trey majored in computer science and was April’s “spouse” in the Honors Housing Community.

As for me, I’m currently an Honors Advisor and the program coordinator for National Fellowships and University Scholars at Texas A&M, but I’ll soon be moving to Boston to begin graduate school at Emerson College. Leaving College Station after five years feels like the end of an era because Texas A&M, and particularly the Honors community, has been my second home. I hope you find that same sense of belonging, security, and no-holds-barred fun when you arrive.

Best of luck, and gig ’em!

 

University Scholars Exploration Series – Transportation

Each semester, the University Scholars enroll in small-group, discussion-based seminars. Brooke Versaw ’18, a chemistry major and Beckman Scholar, participated in the Transportation seminar this spring. Here, she recounts the class’s topics and guest speakers.

By Brooke Versaw

University Scholar Brooke Versaw '18
University Scholar Brooke Versaw ’18

Put simply, transportation takes us places – down the block, across the country, and (for a select few) into space. With over 4,000,000 miles of public and privately held roadways in the United States, the prominence and influence of transportation can hardly be overstated. Consequently, 5 University Scholars spent the Spring 2016 semester exploring the subject of transportation at length.

Early in the semester, Dr. Brian Rouleau discussed the First Transcontinental Railroad and the expansion of the American West, and Dr. Shelley Wachsmann, professor of Biblical Archaeology and expert in nautical archaeology, shared his research on the Sea of Galilee boat, a small fishing vessel from the 1st century A.D. recovered on the Israeli coast in the late 1980s. His recollections on the painstaking twelve-day process of recovering and restoring the boat and insights on the expert craftsmanship and attention to design featured in the boat’s construction quickly made clear that transportation, particularly in seafaring communities, can serve as a cultural institution on par with music and art.

We later met with archival librarians Greg Bailey and Bill Page at Cushing Library to discuss the significance of transportation in a far more personal context – the development of Texas A&M University. The history of transportation in Aggieland begins in 1876 with a single dirt road connecting a small cluster of buildings to the town of Bryan and continues today with a bustling campus that grows increasingly connected with each semester. The events that transpired in between are as much a history of this university as a history of the state of Texas on the whole. Between the opening of the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas and the present day, our campus witnessed the arrival of passenger and freight rail lines and the introduction of a small trolley route that bore an early resemblance to the on-campus bus system we recognize today.

The Transportation seminar further explored developments in transportation on campus through visits from Mike McInturff ’73, a professional engineer currently employed in pedestrian safety and efficiency improvements to University Drive, and Melisa Finley, a Texas A&M Transportation Institute engineer researching countermeasures for wrong-way drivers. We also enjoyed a visit from Madeline Dillard, assistant director for Transportation Services. She spoke with us about the impressive logistics of managing the university’s 90-member fleet of Aggie Spirit buses and shared details of the extensive planning required to accommodate football games, career fairs, and Ring Days – all evidence of the quiet dedication required from Texas A&M staff to keep a university of our size and scope running for the students it serves.

Finally, we examined possibilities in transportation for the future. We began with a lively discussion of Google’s advances towards commercialization of the driverless car.  The economic ramifications of a car that removes the hassle (and joy) of driving and the ethical consequences of a car making its own decisions for pedestrian and rider safety were well worth considering. We then spoke with Dr. John Junkins about the politics of space debris and joined Dr. Nick Suntzeff for a discussion of space and time travel. From the information Dr. Suntzeff conveyed about recent developments in the scientific community’s understanding of physics and astronomy, interstellar travel is possible in theory – and might be closer to reality than previously expected.

Freshmen are recruited each spring to join the University Scholars program. To learn more, please see: http://honors.tamu.edu/Honors/University-Scholars