Tag Archives: Student Research Week

Student Research Week 2015

The 18th annual Student Research Week was held March 25-27, 2015. The week-long celebration of student research is coordinated by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and provides opportunities for students to present, either orally or in poster form, the research they have conducted as students here at Texas A&M University. Student Research Week helps foster a campus-wide culture of research and sets a high standard for student research by advertising the opportunities for inquiry at Texas A&M and inviting the university community to participate in this exciting endeavor.

Student Research Week 2015 Connecting Ideas

The theme for Student Research Week 2015 was “Connecting Ideas,” emphasizing the need for interdisciplinary collaboration, finding and exploring common issues, and connecting the results of research with public concerns.

Student Research Week 2015 marks the first time that Undergraduate Leadership Scholars participated in the event. Two of the inaugural capstone members, supply chain management major, Hana Hoshiko ’16, and business honors and management double-major, Derek Allen McKee ‘16 presented posters describing the projects they developed as part of the capstone program, which is open to all Texas A&M undergraduates.

A male student in a dark suit and a female student in a brown jacket and dark skirt give a thumbs up in front of their research posters.
Undergraduate Leadership Scholars Derek McKee ’16 and Hana Hoshiko ’16

Student Research Week 2015 involved close to 1000 participants between competitors, judges and volunteers. There were 441 competitors that received scores, including 172 graduate students and 269 undergraduate students. This 61% undergraduate participation is the first time that undergraduate presentations have outnumbered graduate presentations. 151 of the 269 undergraduate participants in Student Research Week 2015 are students in programs run by Honors and Undergraduate Research. Not only did our students constitute a significant portion of undergraduate participants, they also took prizes in every subject area and were awarded 31 out of 103 (30%) of the undergraduate prizes. See the list below for details:

Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Material Sciences
Oral
2nd – Colin Whisler, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
1st – Jose Roberto Dimas Valle, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Zachary Dell, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics
Oral
1st – Annalisa Erder, University Honors, Undergraduate Research Ambassador and Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Michael Li, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
2nd – Christina Allen, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Earth Sciences, Geosciences, Water Resources
Oral
1st – Amanda Walker, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
1st – Coryn Collins, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Engineering, Architecture
Oral
1st – Adekunle Adepoju, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Tasnim Mohamed, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
2nd (tie) – Jack Reid, University Honors, Undergraduate Research Ambassador and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Health, Nutrition, Kinesiology, Physiology
Oral
Laura Reid, Undergraduate Research Scholar

History, Literature, Fine Arts, Communication, Languages, Philosophy
Oral
1st – Maci Greene, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Harry Zhang, University Honors Program

Poster
2nd (tie) – Kimberly Johnson, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd (tie) – Renee Costello, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Math, Statistics, Computer Science
Poster
2nd – Zachary Varnadore, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience
Poster
1st (tie) – Colin Dodson, Undergraduate Research Scholar
1st (tie) – Iyan Younus, Undergraduate Research Ambassador and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, Wildlife & Fisheries Science, Entomology, Agriculture, Ecological Restoration
Oral
1st – Taylor Strange, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Lauren Naylor, University Honors

Poster
1st – Alexandria Payne, University Honors
2nd (tie) – Bryan Sales, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Business, Education, Political Science, Economics
Oral
1st – Rebecca Mentzer, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Cameron Halbert, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
1st – Murphy Young, Undergraduate Research Scholar
2nd – Hunter Hampton, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Glasscock Award Winners
Oral
Taylor Laufenberg, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Poster
Hunter Hampton, University Honors and Undergraduate Research Scholar

Vice-President for Research Awards
Oral
Adekunle Adepoju, Undergraduate Research Scholar
Taylor Strange, Undergraduate Research Scholar

Male student in grey button-up shirt and black pants gestures in front of a presentation projected on a screen.
Undergraduate Research Scholar Adekunle Adepoju ’15 presents at Student Research Week 2015

Congratulations to all of the 2015 Student Research Week winners!

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Nominee Kirstin Maulding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Griffin Awarded COALS Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research

University Scholar Aaron Griffin, ’16, was recently awarded the 2014 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research, one of the highest honors presented by the college to faculty, staff, and students. Griffin, a biochemistry and genetics double-major, was notified in May that he had been nominated by the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics. Each of the fourteen departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Science are allowed to nominate one undergraduate student for the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and a college-level committee selected Griffin from this pool.

Aaron Griffin '16, Recipient of the 2014 College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research
Aaron Griffin ’16, Recipient of the 2014 College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research

The Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Awards are meant to recognize, award, and encourage excellence in the work of faculty, staff, and students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The award for undergraduate research, specifically, recognizes and encourages excellence in undergraduate student research. Successful nominees must demonstrate substantial involvement in major research projects or conduct independent research with faculty members. The award is limited to research completed while the undergraduate student is enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

For two years, Griffin has investigated the genetic and biochemical basis of mitochondrial disease as an undergraduate in Dr. Vishal Gohil’s lab. Mitochondrial disease describes a group of diverse genetic diseases arising from mutations in DNA that result in broken mitochondrial machinery, resulting in defects that may affect the heart, brain, or other organ systems. As part of the Aggie Research Scholars program, Griffin has presented research with team members Daniel Diaz and Connor McBroom at the Texas A&M Summer Undergraduate Research Poster Session and Texas A&M University System Pathways Student Research Symposium in 2013. He also presented work related to his thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program at the 2014 Texas A&M University Student Research Week oral presentation session with Shrishiv Timbalia and Sarah Theriault. Griffin was listed as an author on a manuscript published recently in Human Molecular Genetics, and helped author a grant proposal recently accepted by the National Institutes of Health.

Griffin cites his involvement in Honors and Undergraduate Research programs such as the Honors Housing Community, Explorations: The Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, University Scholars, and Undergraduate Research Scholars as playing a large role in his academic development. Griffin has certainly taken advantage of the range of programs offered through our office to help students identify, prepare for, and pursue their passions. He is excited to use this experience and the tangible evidence of his accomplishments as he pursues doctoral studies in medicine and cancer cell biology.

 

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!

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!

A Big Thanks to the Association of Former Students!

By Hayley Cox

afsLogo

The Texas A&M University Association of Former Students (AFS) is a major contributor not only to the University as a whole, but specifically to Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR). AFS has been an essential contributor to National Fellowship applicants, Student Research Week, Honors courses, and HUR’s annual event which celebrates graduating seniors. AFS funding has been used to prepare students for National Fellowship applications such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. This funding will also be used this spring in order to support Student Research Week, in which over 300 undergraduates present their research and scholarly works. Finally, this year AFS funding will be used to support over 1500 students who are enrolled in more than 300 Honors courses taught by faculty, and to recognize the accomplishments of Honors graduates and Undergraduate Research Scholars. These students will be recognized at an HUR event in May that celebrates approximately 400 graduating seniors.

Over the years, AFS has also contributed to Honors and Undergraduate Research via the Honors Housing Community, the Honors Student Council, the University Scholars Program, and the annual Faculty Social.

Abigail Graves, Honors Housing Community Coordinator
Abigail Graves, Honors Housing Community Coordinator
The Honors Housing Community (HHC), under Program Coordinator Abigail Graves, has undergone a lot of changes recently. Graves said, “One of the biggest changes we’ve (HHC) made is combining an academic curriculum with a social structure. Students are assigned “families” now, in which there are activities and information is presented about resources and opportunities on campus.” She said, “Our objective is not to produce students that have all the answers, but who have questions. Being an educated individual is about constantly creating our individual process through which we interpret and operate in the world.”

See some photos from our Honors Housing Community “DORMAL” !

Austin Ford, Honors Student Council Staff Advisor
Austin Ford, Honors Student Council Staff Advisor
The Honors Student Council (HSC) represents and leads Honors students at Texas A&M and serves as a connection between the students and faculty, administration, and governing bodies. Throughout each year HSC holds events for Honors students such as discussions, seminars, and socials. HSC President Kathryn Kudlaty said, “The goal of HSC is to contribute to honors students getting the most out of their honors experience here at A&M by promoting their intellectual enrichment, growing a sense of community, and providing them with a representative voice.” Kudlaty said, “At the end of the day, it is the support and resources entrusted to us that allow us to invest in the current and future generations of honors students.”

Jamaica Pouncy, University Scholars Program Coordinator
Jamaica Pouncy, University Scholars Program Coordinator
The University Scholars Program (UScholars), also AFS-funded, celebrates students who exemplify academic leadership, and develops these students both personally and professionally. It seeks not only to find the most motivated and curious Honors students, but also to challenge them further. A major benefit of the Uscholars program is the one-on-one interaction between students and faculty.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is incredibly grateful for its relationship with the Association of Former Students and the contributions made to its programs and its students. It is because of this generosity that HUR will continue to grow and development in the best interest of its students and the university!

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!