Tag Archives: Honors Students

Student Research Week 2014 – Leave Your Mark

By Hayley Cox

SRW2014Poster

The 17th annual Student Research Week (SRW), a student run event on the Texas A&M campus, was a success in showcasing undergraduate research throughout the last week of March. This event illuminates the outstanding research undertaken by Texas A&M graduate and undergraduate students, allowing students to receive feedback from their peers as well as experts in their respective fields of research.

“Student Research Week 2014 is a platform for showcasing outstanding research undertaken by graduate and undergraduate students of Texas A&M University. This week long celebration of presenting innovative ideas is our initiative to inculcate the spirit of research amongst the present generation. The event offers an opportunity to meet stalwarts in the respective fields of research, interact with them and receive valuable feedback from them and their peers.” (http://srw.tamu.edu/)

This year’s SRW theme “Leave Your Mark” encouraged students to bring as much to the table as possible during their careers at Texas A&M, and to leave a legacy that will be remembered.

First place winner in the Earth Sciences category of the SRW oral presentations, Dillon Amaya, presented the research he did this past summer at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Amaya, also an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, looked at the different impacts El Niño and Modoki El Niño have on tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures. Amaya said, “I’m honored to have been chosen for this award.” He said, “Student Research Week was a great opportunity to improve my scientific communication skills and I would encourage others to participate in the future.”

First place winner in the Math category of the SRW oral presentations, William Linz,  University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar (UGRS) presented his project of enumerating derangements on a Ferrers Board. Linz explained, “Simply put, for a set of objects, a permutation is an ordering of that set of objects. Given a permutation of those objects, a derangement from that permutation is another ordering of those objects which has no object in the same place as in the given permutation. For example, if {1, 2, 3} is a given set of objects, and 1 2 3 is the initial permutation, then the derangements from the permutation 1 2 3 are 2 3 1 and 3 1 2. A Ferrers Board is a grid (or chessboard) of some particular size (for our purpose, the size of the permutation) with a section missing.” This research has applications in theoretical computer science and mathematical biology.

The University Honors Student and Scholar said, “I was thrilled to be named an award winner, as it was my first time giving a public presentation over my research.” He said, “I’d like to thank my research mentor Dr. Catherine Yan for all the help she has provided me.”

Second place winner in the Psychology category of the SRW oral presentations, Samantha Guz, worked with Dr. Rispoli and Jennifer Ninci on her presentation in Educational Psychology. Guz, a University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar, studied learning and communication processes in preschoolers with an autism spectrum diagnosis. Guz said, “My success at Student Research Week can be accredited to fantastic mentorship and guidance from the Undergraduate Research Scholars program, as well as Dr. Rispoli and her research team in Educational Psychology.”

Each of the 10 categories that students presented in  during Student Research Week 2014 awarded first and second place prizes for the top poster and oral presentation.  Out of these 40 awards, 23 went to students who are members of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Fourteen students winning these prizes are University Honors Students, and four prize-winners currently participate in their respective study’s departmental honors program. The first and second place winners in the Earth Science oral category, Dillon Amaya and Matthew McMahon are both Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. McMahon is also a University Honors Student. What a great showing for Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR)!

In competition with around 300 contenders, members of Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) took over 70% of the undergraduate prizes. See the list below for details on SRW 2014 undergraduate prize-winners:

Astronomy:
Oral
1st Sherwin Chiu (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Chris Akers (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Austin Schneider (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)
2nd Alyssa Shyan Rosas

Biology:
Oral
1st Aaron Griffin (University Honors, University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Amrita Sherlekar

Poster
1st Ramsey Yusuf
2nd Kaylee Davis (University Honors, University Scholar,  and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Earth Sciences:
Oral
1st Dillon Joseph Amaya (Undergraduate Research Ambassador)
2nd Matthew McMahon (Undergraduate Research Ambassador and University Honors)

Poster
1st Kathryn Westerman
2nd Kathleen McDaniel (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Engineering:
Oral
1st Robert Tyler (Undergraduate Research Scholar from TAMUG) Tim Kroeger (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Hari Shrestha
2nd Lauralee Mariel Valverde (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Health:
Oral
1st Amie Maree Klein
2nd Rachel Guess (University Honors)

Poster
1st Edwin Mathew Savio
2nd Jessica Justice (Undergraduate Research Scholar) and Conor Irwin (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

History:
Oral
1st Jacquelyn Sariah Hill (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Alexandra Frenzel

Poster
1st Mikayla Paige Hall (Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Saad Dawoodi (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Math:
Oral
1st William Linz (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Ryan Olivieri (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Tyler Jered Biehle (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Ruiz Akpan

Medicine:
Oral
1st Keith Krenek (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Jason Szafron (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Zachary Andrew Steelman (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)
2nd Emily Veerkamp (University Honors)

Plant Science:
Oral
1st Konni Kelso (Departmental Honors)
2nd Vincent Provasek (Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Anna Kathryn Blick
2nd Kerstin Alander

Psychology:
Oral
1st Taylor Vestal (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)
2nd Samantha Rachel Guz (University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar)

Poster
1st Esteffania Adriana Lezama
2nd Victoria Kimmel (University Honors)

Melbern G. Glasscock Humanities Award:
Esteffania Adriana Lezama

Sigma Xi Theme Award:
1st Edwin Mathew Savio
2nd Hari Shrestha

Sigma Xi interdisciplinary Award:
1st Victoria Kimmel (University Honors)
2nd Taylor Vestal (Undergraduate Research Scholar and Departmental Honors)

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) is extremely proud of its students, as well as all of those who participated in Student Research Week. Way to Leave Your Mark!

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Announcement of Texas A&M University’s Goldwater Scholarship Winner and Honorable Mention!

By Honors and Undergraduate Research

Two Texas A&M students have been recognized for their outstanding academic achievements in physics and environmental geosciences by the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation. Nick Mondrik, a junior physics major, has been selected as a Goldwater Scholar and Amelie Berger, a junior environmental geoscience major, has been named a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established in 1986 in honor of US Senator and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater of Arizona. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes college students nationwide in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, selecting approximately 300 sophomore and junior students each year. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic excellence, research experience, and future potential.

Nick Mondrik - Goldwater Scholarship Winner, 2014
Nick Mondrik – Goldwater Scholarship Winner, 2014

Goldwater Scholarship Winner, Nick Mondrik, is from Belton, Texas. He has worked in Dr. Lin Shao’s Ions and Materials Facility in the Nuclear Engineering Department and for Dr. Darren Depoy in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab. Currently, he is working on heat transfer simulation for the VIRUS project (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs) and on preliminary data from the Dark Energy Survey underway in Cerro Tololo, Chile.

Mondrik came across the Goldwater Scholarship when he was looking at websites with information on graduate school profiles and decided to check it out. He wrote his Goldwater essay on looking for outliers and variable stars in the Dark Energy Survey data. The junior physics major said, “The ideal candidate is one who devotes significant time and effort not only in the classroom, but also in the lab where acquired research tools are put into practice.”

On campus, Mondrik is also a Society of Physics Students tutor for underclassmen. He was also a National Merit Scholar coming out of high school. His future pursuits include attending graduate school at Princeton, Caltech, Cambridge, or Harvard for astronomy or astrophysics.

Amelie Berger - Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, 2014
Amelie Berger – Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, 2014

Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, Amelie Berger, is a junior from Paris, France. Berger is pursuing a degree in Environmental Geoscience with minors in both meteorology and oceanography. She is involved in the Honors Fellows Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program where she wrote her thesis on characterizing throughfall heterogeneity in a tropical pre-montane cloud forest in Costa Rica.

Berger has conducted research with the Oceanography department, the Geosciences department, and as an REU Intern in Costa Rica. She is a member of the American Association of Geographers, the Environmental Issues Committee, and a volunteer at the Oceanography Institute of Paris. In the future, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and PhD. in climate science and sustainability, and to conduct research and teach at the university level.

Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research commends the outstanding achievements of Nick Mondrik and Amelie Berger. All of their hard work continues to pay off!

Piloting the Undergraduate Service Scholars Program

By Hayley Cox

“A capstone is a culminating experience that allows a student to bring the learning and experience of their undergraduate education together to address an issue or question that interests them. While capstone experiences are required for Honors Students, any undergraduate at Texas A&M may apply to these programs” (http://hur.tamu.edu/TAMU-Students/Capstones).

Currently, the capstone programs include Undergraduate Research Scholars, Undergraduate Teacher Scholars, and Undergraduate Service Scholars.  The mission of the Undergraduate Service Scholar Program (USSP) is “to give students an opportunity to integrate classroom education in their major with their career goals and gain a better understanding of the nature of service…” Each Undergraduate Service Scholar is required to develop a project to be carried out over the course of the academic year. Honors students Erica Cottingham and Lauren Simcic are piloting this capstone program with their service projects under the direction of Dr. Sumana Datta.

As Undergraduate Service Scholars, students first identify a need for service in Bryan-College Station and gather volunteers to address that need. Scholars also attend at least one social justice event per semester and write reflection papers on their experiences.

Lauren Simcic, a senior political science and Honors student from San Antonio, Texas, has been involved with Honors since her freshman year. She began her Honors career as secretary for the Lechner-McFadden Hall Council. The senior chose to participate in USSP because of her high school’s heavy emphasis on community service. She had missed volunteering regularly since entering college at Texas A&M.

Simcic’s parents were her inspiration to commit to service, as they always made time in their busy schedules to help those in need. Simcic said, “My father was a successful doctor, but he still made time to volunteer at church. Everyone was worth his time, and he never overlooked ‘the little guy’.” Another reason Simcic continues in service is to honor her father, who passed away six years ago.

The service scholar volunteers at a nursing home, which she has found to be very fulfilling. She said, “When I show up, people say hi to me and hug me. The residents wait eagerly for anyone unfamiliar to walk into the facility because it adds variety to their days.” Simcic hopes to plan a large service event for the end of the spring semester. In the future, she aims to obtain her Masters degree in the Texas A&M University Masters of Urban Planning program.

Simcic encourages students interested in service to choose a need that stimulates their personal interests. She found herself more likely to attend regularly if she loved the work that she was doing. On the other hand, the service scholar recommends that students try to stretch themselves every time they volunteer. Simcic said, “I find that when I encounter a really lonely, discouraged person, the things I used to find ‘gross’ or ‘not my job’ don’t [make me uncomfortable] anymore. I just want to help the person.”

Honors students are encouraged to apply for the Undergraduate Service Scholars Program. Applications will require a two-page proposal and a timeline of activities in late spring or early fall semester. Honors and Undergraduate Research is very excited to continue and expand this new capstone with the help of more students like Lauren!

Former Student Spotlight: Randal Halfmann

Dr. Randal Halfmann, ’04, took a bachelor’s in genetics from TAMU before completing his doctorate in biology at MIT. Dr. Halfmann is the recipient of the UT Southwestern Sara and Frank McKnight Fellowship and the NIH Early Independence Award. These awards are designed to help talented young scientists engage in research as principal investigators, bypassing traditional postdoctoral training under the supervision of more senior faculty. Dr. Halfmann’s work with prions was highlighted in the January 2014 issue of The Scientist (see “The Bright Side of Prions”).

Dr. Randal Halfmann
Dr. Randal Halfmann

 Dr. David Stelly, who served as faculty mentor for Dr. Halfmann’s undergraduate thesis, commented, “Randal was an outstanding undergraduate genetics student, student worker and Honors [University Undergraduate Research] Fellow…it was a real pleasure having him in our group.” Dr. Stelly noted that, even as an undergraduate, Dr. Halfmann did not shy away from challenge. “For his Honors Research project, he took on a project that was not being investigated in the lab but of great relevance. [It was an] extremely challenging topic, trying to devise systems for cell cycle synchronization and chromosome doubling in plant in vivo systems.”

 Dr. Halfmann took some time to respond to our questions about his experience as an undergraduate in Honors at Texas A&M, and how his experience has helped to shape his current success.

How did you end up at Texas A&M?

I never seriously considered any other college. Having grown up on a ranch in rural west Texas, and with several Aggies in my family, A&M always felt like the natural choice. But what sealed the deal was my involvement in FFA in high school. In addition to nurturing an interest in applied biology, FFA also yielded the tangible reward of a sizable scholarship to be applied towards an ag major. Luckily, the Genetics program is in the college of Ag and Life Sciences at A&M. So it was a perfect match.

What are your favorite memories of your time at Texas A&M?

I have so many great memories of A&M, from football games to Northgate to to over-caffeinated all-night study sessions. Many of my fondest memories are from my freshman year in Lechner Hall. It was very formative for me, so much so that I would consider honors housing to be one of the major perks of the Honors program. I was surrounded by diverse, driven, incredible people, all of whom were inspiring and some of whom have become lifelong friends. Finally, I cannot forget the emotionally charged A&M vs. OU game of Sept. 22, 2001. The “Red, White, and Blue-Out” of Kyle Field that followed the 9/11 terrorist attack stamped an indelible sense of unity and belonging, and affirmed my faith in the power of individuals to make a difference. I have never been so proud to be an Aggie.

In what aspects of the Honors Program did you participate?

I came into A&M with a Lechner Scholarship, which provided an allowance for studying abroad. So the summer of my sophomore year, I attended the University of Copenhagen as part of Denmark’s International Studies program. While there I lived with a Danish family and was immersed in a completely different environment – physically, culturally, and politically – than anything I could have experienced back in the US. Needless to say I returned home with a deep appreciation for diversity. I honestly would not have considered that opportunity if it weren’t for the honors scholarship.

I actively participated in Honors Student Council, where I became the VP of Public Relations and worked with other members to improve visibility of honors programs on campus.

I was a University Scholar, which grouped me thenceforth among the academic crème de la crème of my classmates. I was exposed to the movers and shakers on campus, and benefited from regular, small scale seminars with faculty and other University Scholars.

I was also an Undergraduate Research Fellow with Dr. David Stelly.  My thesis: “Towards Improved Methods for Cell Cycle Manipulation and Chromosome Doubling in Cotton”.

How did your research experience shape your career path?

Working with Dr. Stelly was by far the most formative experience for my subsequent research career. He is a top notch mentor, and he cares intensely for his students. He provided just the right amount of direction for my project and gave me free reign of the lab, which I took full advantage of. He encouraged me to attend conferences, helped me choose a grad school, and to apply for a graduate fellowship that would subsequently pave my way at MIT. I spent a LOT of time in the lab, and found myself thinking about strategies for chromosome doubling even when I wasn’t there. Having something like that to devote one’s creative time and energy to, and to see it reach fruition, was immensely fulfilling. The objects of my scientific curiosity have changed, but the passion that was born in that first research experience continues to get stronger.

What advice can you offer Honors students as they look forward to an uncertain future after college?

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting deep, firsthand experience in your chosen career. Take every available opportunity.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is grateful to the students, faculty, and staff that make programs like the Honors Housing Community, University Scholars, and Undergraduate Research such a transformative experience. We could not put these programs on without the generous support of the Association of Former Students.

 We love to share news and success stories from our Honors Former Students! If you have something to share with our current, former, and prospective students and their families, please contact honors@tamu.edu.

University Scholar elected 65th MSC President/CEO

For many students, being “pre-med” is an all-encompassing role—keeping the GPR high, fitting in the research, the shadowing, the volunteer service and studying for the MCAT takes all their time and seemingly every breath. For University Scholar and newly elected MSC President Ryan Trantham, that is just the beginning.

Ryan Trantham, University Scholar, Texas A&M University
Ryan Trantham, University Scholar, Texas A&M University
Trantham’s connection to the MSC began even before he started at Texas A&M when he was chosen for the Champe Fitzhugh Jr. International Leadership Seminar co-sponsored by Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) and the MSC the summer before his freshman year. This intensive two and a half week experience in Tuscany with 25 other top incoming freshmen gave Trantham the opportunity to bond and grow with the other “Italy fish”, but more importantly introduced him to two juniors who were peer leaders for the trip—Eric Blackman representing the MSC and Chris Davis representing HUR. Watching Eric and Chris handle their responsibilities gave Trantham insight into the attributes he wanted to emulate and embody as a person and a leader. Two years later, Trantham was back in Tuscany as the MSC peer leader for the Champe Fitzhugh seminar and as a role model for a new generation of Italy fish.

Being a role model comes naturally to Trantham, but is also the result of thoughtful choices and synergistic experiences. His application and interview for a position in the University Scholars program the spring semester of his freshman year was outstanding, and one of the “no-brainer” decisions made by the committee as they selected a mere ten students from the freshman class for this intensive Honors program. Being a University Scholar challenged Trantham to think in new ways and more broadly and deeply than ever before. The emphasis on intellectual exploration where it is “OK” not to have the answer has allowed Trantham to take a closer look at his own goals and plans and exposed him to ideas and issues he might not have experienced otherwise. His involvement with the MSC has given him a different perspective—working with 2000 student members to develop and produce programming requires a much more “corporate” attitude with timely concrete answers, specific logistical frameworks and critical risk assessment and containment the order of the day.

In combination with programming by the Jordan Institute and Wiley Lecture Series at the MSC, where he is currently VP of Educational Exploration programming, Trantham delved deeply into the knotty problems of public health policy and the political aspects of healthcare. These discussions led to a new long term personal goal: medical practice in pursuit of credibility to affect the national and international conversation about healthcare, and a new short term goal: a Business minor so that he can understand the business side of healthcare as well as the science. Trantham’s goals also made applying for the position of MSC President a natural fit as he learns to balance different voices in public conversations and lead complex organizations.

So how does Trantham view his Honors experience and how it will contribute to his presidency? “Being involved in Honors at Texas A&M has put me in situations through which I was challenged to assess my beliefs, perspective, and knowledge of the world at large.” Trantham says, “Doing so has helped me grow as a leader, student, and critical thinker – three roles that I will play every day during my term as MSC President.” Congratulations Mr. President!

Congratulations to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Nominees!

By Hayley Cox

Four Texas A&M University students have been nominated for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program were established in 1986 in honor of US Senator and republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater of Arizona. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes college students nationwide in the science, mathematics, and engineering fields, selecting approximately 300 junior and senior students each year. Scholarship recipients are selected based on a criteria composed of reference letters, personal essays, and research experience. Universities can nominate up to four students for the Goldwater Scholarship per academic year.

Jack Reid
Jack Reid

2014 Goldwater nominee, Jack Reid ’15, is a junior mechanical engineering and philosophy student from Austin, Texas. Reid was recommended by Honors and Undergraduate Research’s (HUR) Jamaica Pouncy and was also nominated during his sophomore year after he became a University Scholar. He wrote his research proposal about non-thermal plasma research under Dr. David Stack and Dr. Maria King, and this proposal was then reviewed a national committee. In Reid’s words, the committee is looking for aptitude, along with a “genuine interest in research and a drive to follow through on it.”

Reid is a member of the weekly microbiology news program Invisible Jungle, a local project lead for Engineer Without Borders, and practices a form of martial arts called Aikido. Upon completion of his undergraduate career, Reid plans to attend graduate school with a technical focus. He said that after a Master’s degree in technical research, he intends to pursue a PhD. But as a junior, he hasn’t narrowed down the remainder of his future plans.

If selected as a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Reid said the first word to come to mind would be “vindication.” He said, “It would be a wonderful confirmation that I am doing something right… The best part would just be knowing that I am a Goldwater Scholar.” In addition to the Goldwater Scholarship, Reid just submitted his application for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation nomination, in which he will find out if he continues later this month.

Nick Mondrik
Nick Mondrik

Another Goldwater nominee, Nick Mondrik, is a junior physics student from Belton, Texas. He has worked in Dr. Lin Shao’s Ions and Materials Facility in the Nuclear Engineering Department and for Dr. Darren Depoy in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab. Currently, he is working on heat transfer simulation for the VIRUS project (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs) and on preliminary data from the Dark Energy Survey underway in Cerro Tololo, Chile.

Mondrik came across the Goldwater Scholarship when he was looking at websites with information on graduate school profiles and decided to check it out. He wrote his research proposal on looking for outliers and variable stars in the Dark Energy Survey data. The nominee said, “The ideal candidate is one who devotes significant time and effort not only in the classroom, but also in the lab where acquired research tools are put into practice.”

On campus, Mondrik is also a Society of Physics Students tutor for underclassmen. He was also a National Merit Scholar coming out of high school. His future pursuits include attending graduate school at Princeton, Caltech, Cambridge, or Harvard for astronomy or astrophysics. If selected as a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Mondrik said the first word to come to mind would be “ecstatic.” He said, “To have all my hard work over these past three years would mean a lot…” Mondrik continued, “It’s one thing to say that hard work is its own reward, but a little recognition goes a long way.”

Amelie Berger
Amelie Berger

Goldwater nominee Amelie Berger is a junior environmental geoscience student from Paris, France. Berger is pursuing a degree in Environmental Geoscience with minors in both meteorology and oceanography. She is involved in the Honors Fellows Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program where she wrote her thesis on characterizing throughfall heterogeneity in a tropical pre-montane cloud forest in Costa Rica.

Berger has conducted research with the Oceanography department, the Geosciences department, and as an REU Intern in Costa Rica. She is a member of the American Association of Geographers, the Environmental Issues Committee, and a volunteer at the Oceanography Institute of Paris. In the future, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and PhD. in climate science and sustainability, and to conduct research and teach at the university level.

Berger wanted to thank the professors who have contributed to her Goldwater application and now nomination process. She said, I am so thankful for Dr. Frauenfeld, Dr. Cahill, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Biggs, and Dr. Garcia for their supporting letters. I probably would not have even applied without Dr. Biggs telling me I should consider it, and Dr. Frauenfeld selflessly took the time to help me make my application competitive. I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by supportive and dedicated faculty members!”

The final Goldwater nominee, William Linz, is a mathematics student from Temple, Texas. Linz is a University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar at Texas A&M. Linz has been following national scholarships since his high school academic career and consistently found Goldwater to be an excellent opportunity for math, science, and engineering students like himself. He began with an online application and an expository essay detailing his research work before submitting to a national Goldwater representative.

Linz is also an executive board member of Explorations, the Undergraduate Research Journal of Texas A&M University, and he is President of Aggie Quiz Bowl. In the future, he plans to continue his research work at Texas A&M and to attend graduate school for mathematics. If Linz were to be chosen as a Goldwater Scholar he said he would be extremely pleased. He said, “I would thank all who have helped me up to this point, and I would use the scholarship as an impetus to work even harder in research mathematics.”

Honors and Undergraduate Research is extremely proud of Jack Reid, Nick Mondrik, Amelie Berger, and William Linz for all of their outstand achievements as nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship. We wish them the best of luck through out the remainder of the selection process!

Lauralee Valverde Presents Her Research at MAES Symposium

By Hayley Cox

During the Fall 2013 semester, Texas A&M University senior Lauralee Valverde attended the Latinos in Science and Engineering Symposium organized by the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) in Houston, Texas. Valverde is a member of Texas A&M’s chapter of the MAES national organization. The symposium is one of the largest events held by MAES, which includes a research competition.

Lauralee Valverde at the MAES Symposium in Houston, Texas.
Lauralee Valverde at the MAES Symposium in Houston, Texas.
The MAES Symposium brings together hundreds of students and employees seeking advancement. It is a “gateway to a network of professionals, students, and recruiters – The MAES Familia.” (http://mymaes.org/program-item/symposium/)

Valverde, an industrial engineering student from San Antonio, is a 2014 Undergraduate Research Scholar and 2014 Undergraduate Research Travel Award recipient. She invested considerable time into submitting an abstract and preparing her poster prior to the symposium. Her research was based upon Computer-Aided Design (CAD) as a critical tool in the development of modern products. She investigated the modeling of a 2-dimensional drawing versus the modeling of a 3-dimensional artifact, and screen captured this data to analyze the time usage of each respective modeling program.

Members of MAES after presenting their research at the symposium.
Members of MAES after presenting their research at the symposium.
At the MAES Symposium, Valdverde said her favorite part was being able to see her friends from the local Texas A&M MAES chapter in a different light as they presented their research. After experiencing this event with members of her chapter, she found that practice is key. Valverde said, “Practicing what you are going to say before hand gives you confidence when it comes time to engage the judges.” The best advice that she has for students involved in science and engineering research is to write everything down. She said, “It is very easy to forget the details, and in some cases the smallest details are the ones that cause your research to work and make sense.”

The next MAES Symposium will be held in San Diego, California from October 15-18, 2014. Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) is proud of students such as Lauralee Valverde for their outstanding accomplishments in research and looks forward to supporting future students’ travel to professional meetings. These students improve their chances of obtaining employment in industry or admission to prominent graduate programs, while at the same time represent our outstanding undergraduate research programs on a national stage.