Tag Archives: graduate school

Undergraduate Research Scholar Spotlight: Daniel Revier

By Hayley Cox

Former Undergraduate Research Scholar, Daniel Revier ‘12, participated in the Undergraduate Research Scholars (UGRS) Program during his senior year under Dr. Gregory Huff. At the time, Revier, a native of Katy, Texas, was studying to obtain his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering (ECE). During his final semester at Texas A&M University, Revier worked for Dr. Duncan Mackenzie, writing the LaTex thesis template for the thesis submission process. His name is currently on the example template provided to the UGRS LaTex writers.

During his undergraduate career, the ECE student was also a member of the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC), President of Mosher Hall during his freshman year, a Visitor Center Tour Guide, and performed undergraduate research prior to and after being under the UGRS program.

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Daniel Revier took some time to respond to our questions about his experience as an Undergraduate Research Scholar at Texas A&M, and how his experience has contributed to his transition to graduate school at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.


 

How did you become an Undergraduate Research Scholar (UGRS)? Did anyone mentor you in the process?

I had already been performing research aiding a PhD candidate with his dissertation work when I approached my advisor about performing my own work. Dr. Huff had several ideas and we narrowed one down that I could pitch and work on throughout my senior year instead of the standard capstone project.

What was your favorite part of the UGRS program?

My favorite part of the UGRS program was learning about everyone else’s research. There were many different ideas floating around and it was interesting to hear about all of them.

The best experience?

I would say that the best experience though was that it opened my eyes to how difficult research can be. Maddeningly, you may hit a wall and not know where to go next. Many nights I sat at my computer dumbfounded as to what to do. It is at those points, if you persevere, that you begin to understand how to use your education to approach problems. In that case, I would have to say the best experience was also the most challenging.

How did experience as an UGRS help you prepare for your current graduate program?

UGRS helped prepare me for my current program by exposing me to LaTeX and providing an avenue for me to use some of the computational tools that are standard in my field. Being surrounded by people who were genuinely curious about the world was energizing and inspiring.

Could you tell me a little about the program you are in now?

Currently, I work full time for the Georgia Tech Research Institute (think the MIT Lincoln Labs of Georgia Tech) while simultaneously pursuing my PhD in electrical engineering. My current setup allows me to attend Georgia Tech for free while also maintaining a very nice salary, far beyond what I could have hoped for solely as a graduate student. I would like to stress this is not a TA or GRA [teaching assistant or graduate research assistant] position, I am a full-fledged employee for Georgia Tech while attending school on the side. A very unconventional route but nonetheless it has offered me a great experience. Simultaneously working as an engineer and attending engineering school offers a few benefits:

1) I make contacts in both realms, academic and industry. My connections in industry allow me to procure materials and supplies that would normally be unavailable to me if I were just a student. Furthermore, my connections in the academic world allow me to collaborate more freely with researchers across the world without worrying too much about IP or business matters.

2) My practical knowledge has increased 10x since working in the industry. University will give you the guidelines but the actual application in the real world is a completely different method. In turn, my practical knowledge influences how I think about theoretical work in a very useful way. When you can actually see and make something that works it takes it from being abstract into a reality and allows your intuition to kick in.

What are your future goals/plans?

My goal is to obtain my PhD from the ECE department at Georgia Tech, specifically researching 3D printed antennas and passive devices. Currently, my work has been focused on inkjet printing of the same; however, with 3D printers becoming cheaper and printing many different materials, there is an avenue to look into this type of additive manufacturing. Eventually, I would like to work in industry full-time to gather some more experience and then begin my own start up manufacturing inkjet and 3D printed antennas, etc.

Is there anything you would have done differently before moving on to graduate school?

I would have started performing undergraduate research much, much earlier. As a sophomore I knew I wanted to do research; however, I thought that I would wait until my junior year when I would “know more.” As it turned out I never really learned enough and still don’t know enough, but that is the point. Don’t let your ego get in the way of starting your research. I also would have taken harder classes as an undergraduate. It’s the hard classes are where you learn the most. The very best class I ever took was Dr. Steven Wright’s Magnetic Resonance Engineering course. Easily the most time consuming class I ever had; however, I also learned the very most from that class. It is setup in a way where you don’t just learn about MRE but you learn about systems engineering as well. This ties back to what I said in question 5 about the practical knowledge influencing the theoretical. I also maybe would have double majored in physics to expand on the theoretical side of everything as well.

Do you have any advice for other research scholars or those pursuing graduate degrees in the future?

UGRS was useful for me in the sense that it helped me understand the research process in a structured environment. Research requires a mentality of curiosity that is not learned overnight. It is just now where I feel as if I am coming up with original ideas and UGRS is already 2 years behind me. Stick with it and always ask questions. Be the kind of person that ALWAYS goes up to your professor after class to ask for more details about a topic. And as your professors lecture, ask questions. Too often lectures become a force-feeding of information that students have no time to think in class and can only react by taking down notes. I would challenge you to take less notes (or record the lectures on your phone at least) and ask questions to yourself as your professor speaks. Also, I would recommend finding a few advisers and/or other mentors (Professors, TAs, GRAs) who will let bother them incessantly. There are many people for me at work and at school that I can approach to ask a question whether it is theoretical or practical. Developing this team is CRITICAL to your success. Finally, accept the fact that you don’t know anything (probably) and that is OK. Tying back to finding a good mentor team, if they are good they will help you build the tools to then question and determine things on your own without them.

 

Julia Garcia takes on Canada!

By Hayley Cox

Julia Garcia, Class of 2014
Julia Garcia, Class of 2014
Senior English student Julia Garcia traveled to the Canadian Sociological Association Conference in Victoria, Canada in June 2013. She was a member of a team, along with students Devita Gunawan and Vennessa Jreij, studying the effects of education on economic development in primary, secondary, and university education systems.

Although her teammates were unable to make the summer trip, Garcia traveled to Victoria along with the team’s advisor, professor of sociology Dr. Samuel Cohn. Dr. Cohn had been working on a project in research towards eradicating poverty, and needed a team of research assistants. The previous summer, Garcia traveled to Austin, Texas to gather census data at the University Library at the University of Texas in correlation with Dr. Cohn’s research efforts. Her team would ultimately gather census data for over 40 countries, including The United States, Canada, and England. Garcia’s background as an English major influenced her role as writer and large concept framer for Dr. Cohn’s research.

After Garcia completed the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program with teammates Gunawan and Jreij, Dr. Cohn encouraged the team to apply for the Canadian Sociological Association Conference, and the team was accepted. Garcia applied for and was awarded with an Undergraduate Research Travel Award, giving her the privilege to spend nine days in Victoria, four of which she would spend at the conference.

Victoria, Canada
Victoria, Canada
Garcia expressed her appreciation for the beautiful sites she saw on her trip, beginning with a ferry ride from Seattle to Victoria. She was impressed by the progressive nature and awareness level at the University of Victoria. She said, “It’s interesting because at the University of Victoria, global warming IS a thing. It is not a debate, but instead an issue to which people are working to make a change.”

At the conference, Garcia heard presentations which were mostly political discussions dealing with poverty, sanitation, and water. She said it was a great learning experience to be in the same room with incredibly successful professors from all over the United States and Canada. Her favorite presentation was made by a man who purchased a golf membership in India in order to observe class differences between elite members, caddies, and staff. He lived in India for six months, attending the golf course each day, interviewing and observing these individuals.

Julia's presentation group. Dr. Cohn is pictured Row 1 far right and Julia Garcia right behind.
Julia’s presentation group. Dr. Cohn is pictured Row 1 far right and Julia Garcia right behind.
Also at the conference, Garcia presented the team’s thesis “The Influence of Education on Economic Development,” along with Dr. Cohn. She said this was her first opportunity to fully experience the research process. Garcia said the statistical analysis segment of the project was time consuming and somewhat frustrating, but overall she wouldn’t have changed much that the team did throughout their work. She encouraged students to take part in undergraduate research and to create relationships with professors. Garcia said, “Why wouldn’t you be a part of a great experience with the opportunity to take a fully paid trip to Canada?”

IMG_1375The senior will be graduating in May 2014, and hopes to travel as a part of her many post-graduate aspirations. She is considering law school or a graduate degree in public policy or comparative literature, but intends to take a year off of school to live in Washington, D.C. or Austin, or to travel the world. Through research, Garcia saw many inevitable problems in society which tied into her already present humanitarian interests. She said should would definitely consider living in another country where she would find a humbling experience.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is very proud of Julia Garcia, along with her research teammates Devita Gunawan and Vennessa Jreij. Congratulations to the team and Dr. Cohn in all of their research accomplishments and their acceptance to travel to the Canadian Sociological Association Conference in Victoria!

From Jon to Dr. Jon!

By Hayley Cox

Dr. Jon Kotinek
Dr. Jon Kotinek
University Honors Program Associate Director Jonathan Kotinek has recently become Dr. Kotinek! Kotinek completed the dissertation process in early June, and in August he will be receiving his diploma for his Ph. D. in educational psychology from Texas A&M University. He has been selected for recognition as a Distinguished Honor Graduate for the Department of Educational Psychology.

Kotinek began working in the University Honors Program office in 2003, becoming Assistant Director in 2007 and Associate Director in 2012. He received both a B.A. and M.A. in English from Texas A&M. Since 2007, he has been selected for the President’s Award for Academic Advising, the Diversity Staff Service Award, and the President’s Meritorious Service Award. He was also selected as a Texas A&M Fish Camp namesake.

Jon with the counselors of Camp Kotinek!
Jon with the counselors of Camp Kotinek!

Kotinek had not considered graduate school before his mentor, Dr. Finnie Coleman, encouraged him to do so. Kotinek was an undergraduate student in Dr. Coleman’s Introduction to African American Literature in fall 1999, after which Dr. Coleman encouraged Kotinek to apply to the master’s program in English. Kotinek took time off during his master’s program because he was working full-time, and when he returned his professor for Issues in Child and Adolescent Development, Dr. Joyce Juntune, encouraged him to apply to the doctoral program in educational psychology.

By this time, Kotinek had begun working as a graduate assistant for Dr. Coleman who asked him to assist Dr. Edward Fry in hosting a group visit of Davidson Young Scholars in March 2003. Over the course of these students’ visit, Kotinek saw the frustrations of these young high school students due to the limited opportunities to start college as full-time students. Kotinek said, “This experience really helped to crystallize my desire to study giftedness and how these gifted persons are served by the university.”

Jon with students on an art trip in Houston.
Jon with students on an art trip in Houston. He is also a photographer and painter.

Dr. Kotinek’s graduate dissertation is titled “A Narrative Examination of the Experience of Early Entrance to College,” which is a qualitative study that examines the experiences of eight college graduates who entered college as freshman at age 16. The results of Kotinek’s study suggest that “intellectual ability may be sufficient for early college entrants to complete college, but they might need additional support such as specialized advising, mentors, and peer groups to fully realize their academic potential.” He saw this in the young students’ reliance on figuring problems out on their own and a common decrease in achievement levels in college relative to their achievement levels before college.

Kotinek’s Ph.D. in educational psychology ties well into Honors classes and programs which are a fit for gifted college students, focusing on providing additional challenge and enrichment at Texas A&M. He said, “Gifted college students often have a lot of passion for a particular subject, and Honors provides both a community that understands that kind of intense focus and provides opportunities, like undergraduate research and Honors classes, to pursue their interests in great depth.”

Dr. Kotinek had a difficult doctoral education due to competing priorities such as working full-time, having a family, and being engaged in the community. He said he likes to a lot of advising by “negative example,” and from experience could now tell students to consider pursuing graduate work as a full-time student if possible. He also likes to let people know that “graduate school is one of higher education’s best-kept secrets” due to the different relationship between faculty and student that was not so present in undergraduate education.

Kotinek noted that a lot of people are scared by the prospect of a dissertation. But, he said like any large project this could be managed by breaking it into chunks. According to Kotinek, any question that sparks a person’s interest can be a dissertation topic, and “there is a very real sense of accomplishment in adding to the body of knowledge about a subject.”

Jon also won Best Beard Champion in 2011 and helped start the Aggieland Beard and Mustache Club in 2012!
Jon also won Best Beard Champion in 2011 and helped start the Aggieland Beard and Mustache Club in 2012!
Dr. Kotinek wanted to thank all of his supporters throughout his doctoral process. He said, “I have been blessed by having such a supportive community as I pursued my degree. Everyone in Honors and Undergraduate Research helped by letting me focus on writing this past Spring. Dr. Suma Datta, Dr. Duncan MacKenzie, and our former Associate Director, Dr. Dave Louis, have been especially encouraging as I have worked toward this goal. I have also had wonderful support from my committee members: Dr. Laura Stough, Dr. Joyce Juntune, Dr. Edward Funkhouser, and Prof. Rodney Hill. Thank you to all of these folks and the countless colleagues and students that have offered encouragement and advice though the process.”

Kotinek added, “Mostly I have been trying to get people to just call me ‘Jon’ instead of ‘doctor.’”

The Department of Honors and Undergraduate Research congratulates Jon Kotinek on becoming Dr. Jon, along with all of his outstanding achievements at Texas A&M!

Thirteen Aggies chosen as National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows for 2013!

By Hayley Cox

photoThe National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) supports outstanding graduate students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics and pursuing research-based Masters and Doctoral degrees. This program reinforces diversity in these fields and encourages fellowship applications from minority groups such as women, racial minorities and the disabled. 2012 marked the GRFP’s 60th anniversary.

Over 13,000 applications were submitted for the 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship competition, resulting in 2,000 award offers. This spring, 13 former Texas A&M University students were selected as 2013 NSF graduate fellows, while 16 were named honorable mentions. Of these students, 12 had previously completed an undergraduate research thesis at Texas A&M as either an Undergraduate Research Scholar or University Undergraduate Research Fellow.

2013 NSF Graduate Fellow Daniel Freeman graduated from Texas A&M University in 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in both mathematics and physics. While at Texas A&M, Freeman had two major research focuses—molecular beam experiments in the chemistry department and cosmology research in the physics department. His work on the molecule chlorine oxide (ClO) was published in the journal Chemical Physics. Freeman graduated as an Undergraduate Research Scholar, receiving the award for Best Research Scholars Thesis in 2012.

Daniel Freeman - NSF Fellow - Chemistry
Daniel Freeman – NSF Fellow – Chemistry
The 2013 NSF Graduate Fellow said, “The NSF fellowship essentially frees me to pursue what I’d like to as a graduate student, which is intellectually liberating.” Freeman said, “I can steer the course of my studies with more freedom than is afforded to many. I greatly appreciate the opportunity.”

Freeman currently attends the University of California at Berkeley where he has completed his first year as a graduate student research assistant interested in the field of Quantum Information Science.

2013 NSF Graduate Fellow Jennifer Bryson graduated from Texas A&M University with University and Mathematics Honors with a degree in mathematics and minors in physics and electrical engineering. During her undergraduate career, Bryson participated in internships with the Department of Defense as well as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in number theory at Emory University. She was also a dedicated player for and captain of the Texas A&M Women’s Water Polo team.

Jennifer Bryson - NSF Fellow - Mathematical Sciences
Jennifer Bryson – NSF Fellow – Mathematical Sciences
Bryson said, “Texas A&M has been the most amazing undergraduate experience for me, supplying an endless amount of incredible opportunities. I owe a ton to this university and the numerous faculty and staff members who have helped me so much along the way.” She said, “A&M is truly a special place. I’m so thrilled to have more time at the place I love so much!”

Bryson is currently enjoying her summer working on the East Coast on a math research project, and she will be continuing on at Texas A&M in the fall to begin her PhD in mathematics.

The Honors and Undergraduate Research Department (HUR) would like to congratulate the 2013 National Science Foundation Fellows and Honorable Mentions!

Fellows:

Kaila Morgen Bertsch – Materials Sciences

Jennifer Anne Bryson – Mathematical Sciences

Cynthia Marie Castro – Civil Engineering

Jory London Denny – Computer Science

Christian Daniel Freeman – Chemistry

Kim Lani Gonzalez – Cell Biology

Bagrat Grigoryan – Biomedical Engineering

Candice Marie Haase – Biomedical Engineering

Richard Joseph Hendrick – Mechanical Engineering

Landon Daniel Nash – Biomedical Engineering

Katherine Christine Stuckman – Computer Science

Cherish Christony Vance – Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Timothy Daniel Woodbury – Aerospace Engineering

Honorable Mention:

Haron Abdel-Raziq – Electrical Engineering

Brian Bass – Electrical Engineering

Tyler William Behm – Physics and Astronomy

Trevor John Bennett – Aerospace Engineering

Christine Michelle Bergerson – Biomedical Engineering

Alexandra Lynn Bryson – Microbiology

Shannon Lee Cole – Neuropsychology

Nathan Bradley Favero – Political Science

John Robert Haliburton – Biophysics

Matthew Christopher Johnson – Electrical Engineering

Michael Clinton Koetting – Chemical Engineering

Jeehyun Park – Biomedical Engineering

Courtney Nicole Passow – Evolutionary Biology

Kaitlyn Stiles – Biological Anthropology

Laura Timm – Marine Biology

Elizabeth Susan Wilson – Ecology

Student Spotlight – Lexi Crommett

By Hayley Cox

Lexi Crommett, Class of 2013
Lexi Crommett, Class of 2013
Lexi Crommett is the fourth student to complete a degree “majoring” in Honors. Crommett completed the University Studies – Honors degree Spring 2013. Students previously graduating with this distinction included Kat Drinkwater (language and social deficits of children with autism), Libby Joachim (application of nanotech to treatment of neurological disorders), and Cindy Williams (innovative rehabilitation programs for women). To read more about these previous University Studies – Honors graduates, see https://tamuhonors.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/a-build-your-own-major/ .

Crommett created her own major through the Honors program. She came to Texas A&M looking to major in Neuroscience, but since there wasn’t a degree plan to match she started out in math until she found a way to create her own major. Crommett said one day she was on the Honors website and saw the option to create your own major. “So I talked to an advisor and asked about it. I was interested in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience,” said Crommett.

Crommett’s main concentration is in neuroscience. Along with her area of concentration, Crommett decided to add three minors: math, psychology and statistics. She proves that there is something for everyone at Texas A&M, including designing your own major, “Something about my major that not many people know is probably that it even exists. Most people are usually pretty stunned when I tell them about it,” said Crommett.

Crommett urges students who are struggling to find a degree to match their plans to check into the University Studies – Honors degree program, “I would tell other people interested in USHN that it is a great idea if you have a solid idea of what you want to do with your life. I know I’m interested in brain research and I felt like this was the best way to prepare myself for that. Also, it’s great because it is what I’m interested in, so it makes going to class really easy, since I want to learn about everything in my courses.”

Crommett concluded her undergraduate career at Texas A&M University this spring, graduating Magna cum laude, University and Foundation Honors, and as an Undergraduate Research Scholar. She is continuing on to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to pursue her Ph. D in neuroscience.

Undergraduate Research Spotlight, Holland Kaplan

Kaplan (right) in Canberra, Australia preforming research on platypus sex chromosomes.
Kaplan (right) in Canberra, Australia preforming research on platypus sex chromosomes.

Undergraduate Researcher doesn’t even begin to credit the work of Holland Kaplan ’13, biology and philosophy major. Since before setting foot on the A&M campus Kaplan has been expanding her mind through research. Her passion for education has taken her from Australia to Portugal to New Zealand and across the United States. I recently interviewed Kaplan to learn more about her, her work, and her future.

What is your major/class year?
I am double majoring in philosophy and biology and will be graduating in May.

How did you get started in Undergraduate Research?
My first experience in undergraduate research was in biology on platypus genomics and genetics. The cover of Nature in May 2008 had a huge platypus on it, and it announced that the platypus genome had been sequenced. I read this article and some others about platypus genetics and was hooked. Platypuses have ten sex chromosomes, which changes all kinds of things about the way they express genetic information. I emailed the lead author of the paper and was invited to spend a summer at Australian National University conducting research under Dr. Jennifer Graves, a prominent platypus researcher. The following summer I continued my platypus research at the University of Connecticut with one of Dr. Graves’ previous post-docs, Dr. Rachel O’Neill. When I got to Texas A&M, I became more interested in interdisciplinary research regarding medical ethics. I had previously taken a class with Dr. Mike LeBuffe, and he agreed to be my advisor for my thesis applying Kantian ethics to end-of-life situations in children.

What is your project about?
My most recent research culminated in an undergraduate research scholars thesis entitled “Pediatric Euthanasia: The End of Life as an End in Itself?” In my thesis, I present background on pediatric euthanasia, expand on some key ideas in Kantian philosophy, develop a model for decision making in pediatric end-of-life situations, and systemically apply ideas of Kantian ethics to my model. It is my hope that a model similar to the one I developed can be used to articulate and prioritize relevant concerns during these types of decision-making processes.

How has this project changed or solidified your views of the importance of undergraduate research?
I certainly want to be involved in research in medical school and in my career, so I think my research experience as an undergraduate will prove to be valuable. It gave me an opportunity to engage with the material I was learning in my classes instead of just passively absorbing it. I was also lucky to be able to compare and contrast my research experiences in science and in the humanities, both of which I enjoyed and will probably engage in in the future.

How was your experience presenting in another country? What did you take away from that experience?
Presenting my work at a global, interdisciplinary conference in Lisbon, Portugal was a great experience. I met many other people with similar interests and received valuable input on my work. Presenting my work in Portugal and studying abroad previously in New Zealand have been some of the most impactful experiences I’ve had while at Texas A&M. Both of these experiences exposed me to different types of cultures and people, which I think is useful for any profession.

What work will be published in Explorations?
I have published my previous research in Explorations in the article “The Platypus: Duck-Billed Outcast or Crucial Evolutionary Link?” My current research will be published by the conference at which I presented it.

What are your future plans?
I have been accepted to Baylor College of Medicine and will pursue my M.D. with a concentration in medical ethics. I hope to become an academic physician with a dual appointment in a subspecialty of internal medicine and a center for medical ethics, allowing me to see patients, conduct ethics research, and teach medical students.

Aggies continue to make strides in research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded fellowships to study science and engineering at the post-baccalaureate level to several Aggies.  According to the NSF website, “The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.” Four recipients explain their award and future plans below.

Charles Zheng, Applied Mathematical Sciences

Zheng was awarded an NSF fellowship for research in biostatistics.  He plans to use the award to support a continued collaboration with the Chapkin Nutritional Science Lab at Texas A&M as well as continue his collaborations with the Fred Hutchinson Center for Cancer Research.  Zheng hopes to become established in the academic world – and maybe discover something new along the way, he added – with his graduate studies.  His goal as a scientist is to use statistical theory to better understand the scientific process.  “This understanding may help us ‘do’ science more effectively or even enable some of it to be automated,” he said.  Zheng will continue his research while pursuing a Statistics Ph. D. at Stanford University next fall.

As Zheng continues in his academic career he is grateful for the chance to participate in research at Texas A&M and all the knowledge he gained from it. “All of my research experiences at Texas A&M – including many efforts which I considered to be failures – were vital for preparing me for my current path to graduate school, and I would not change a single second of it.  I was indeed fortunate to find so many professors at Texas A&M who were generous in sharing their passion for research with me,” he said.

Oscar Carrasco-Zevallos, Biomedical Engineering

Carrasco-Zevallos will be pursuing a Ph. D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University with his NSF award.  His research interest includes developing a new medical imagining technology, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) that can be used to image up to several millimeters deep into tissue.  Specifically, he will work on merging an OCT system with an intrasurgical microscope to facilitate retinal surgical procedures. 

He hopes to continue performing research after completing his doctorate degree and become a leader in the field of bio-photonics/bio-imaging.    Carrasco-Zevallos credits his studies at Texas A&M with molding his skills and giving him the confidence to continue his academic career. “I believe both the classes I took as a biomedical engineering student and the undergraduate research I partook in gave me the skills and confidence necessary to succeed as a graduate student and beyond. Classes often introduced me to technical concepts, while research allowed me to implement that knowledge in a much more independent setting,” he said.

Zachary Crannell, Biomedical Engineering

Crannell’s NSF fellowship will be used to fund his bioengineering research at Rice University.  There he will work on developing point-of-care diagnostics for use in low-resource settings.  He is working towards completing his Ph.D. in bioengineering, after which he plans to go back to work in the industry and get involved with research and development at a small to medium sized biotech startup company. 

At Texas A&M, Crannell conducted research with Dr. Christopher Quick, Associate Professor in the department of Veterinary Medicine Physiology & Pharmacology, Dr. John Criscione, Associate Professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. Alvin Yeh, Associate Professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering, on a variety of projects including lymphatic flow dynamics, heart failure treatments, and tissue engineering.  Undergraduate research at Texas A&M helped Crannell identify what he wanted to do with his future. “My undergraduate education opened the door to an industry job where I was able to gain valuable business experience which in turn helped me better understand what I want to do in the long run,” said Crannell.

Zachary Sunberg, Aerospace Engineering

Sunberg intends to use his NSF fellowship to complete his Master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Texas A&M, afterwards he plans to continue his education by pursuing a Doctorate degree in the field. His research goals include expanding an engineers’ capability to observe and control dynamic systems, and learning the theory and tools that will help him to create sophisticated aerospace vehicles when he begins work in the industry.  Sunberg had many undergraduate research opportunities while at Texas A&M including work in the Land, Air and Space Robotics Lab.  He also earned the opportunity to accompany Dr. Suman Chakravorty, Associate Professor in the department of aerospace engineering, to the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M. as an undergraduate. There he worked on cutting-edge research related to satellite tracking.  “It was extremely rewarding to develop and demonstrate new algorithms that no one had ever conceived of before,” he said.  Today, Sunberg works on applied research into helicopter control systems at the Helicopters and Unmanned Systems Lab at Texas A&M. 

When asked about his future career goals Sunberg said, “First, I hope to make an impact by working in industry on space exploration projects so that we can learn more about our place in the universe and experience its elegance and beauty. After some time working in industry, I hope to return to academia to disperse what I have learned to the next generation of engineers.”  He credits the aerospace engineering faculty with his undergraduate success as well as a solid foundation for his future.  “I am deeply indebted to the aerospace engineering faculty at Texas A&M. They pushed me to my limits in learning, gave me a rock-solid technical engineering background, taught me how to think effectively, and took the time to help me when I was struggling. I am very thankful that I earned my undergraduate degree at A&M because I was able to study under these professors. To a large extent, the education that I received at A&M is what enabled me to receive my National Science Foundation Fellowship,” Sunberg said.

Stacy Prukop – Biomedical Engineering

Prukop is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Rice University with her NSF award. The support of this award has allowed Prukop to continue researching polymeric materials at the graduate level.  Along with her research the NSF award has made it possible for her to travel to local and international conferences to share her studies and gain exposure to new research areas. 

As an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Prukop spent most of her time in the choral ensemble Century Singers as well as TAMU UNICEF, an organization which she cofounded.  It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that Prukop first realized her potential and interest in a career in research as a participant in the Undergraduate Summer Research Grant (USRG).  Under the guidance of Dr. Melissa Grunlan, Associate Professor in the department of biomedical engineering, her research goal was to create and characterize new responsive polymeric biomaterials.  With the support of her research advisor Prukop decided to pursue a doctoral degree after graduation in May 2010.  “Dr. Grunlan taught me the foundations of polymer chemistry in both a class and, most importantly, a laboratory setting. Her approach to research led me to appreciate the challenges and opportunities in this field,” said Prukop. 

As she finishes her second year of research as a doctoral student she credits Texas A&M for providing her with a rare undergraduate experience and a foundation for a successful career in academics. “I truly believe that the high standards Texas A&M University holds all students to and the strong traditions of the university make it a unique and nurturing place for young professionals to begin their successful academic and professional careers,” Prukop said.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu