Tag Archives: Tyler Behm

Undergraduate Research Scholar Spotlight – Tyler Behm

By Chrystina Rago

Behm during his visit to Rice. He is standing at the same podium JFK gave his "Go to the Moon" speech.
Behm during his visit to Rice. He is standing at the same podium JFK gave his “Go to the Moon” speech.

Recent graduate in physics and mathematics and Goldwater Scholar, Tyler Behm, knows his way around a laboratory.  Behm has been involved in undergraduate research since 2009.  His research has taken him across the nation and world to places like the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics REU program to the National Solar Observatory to the Astronomical Instrumentation Conference in Amsterdam. 

Behm’s extensive undergraduate research experience led me to contact him to learn more about how he got involved in research and what his future holds.

Where are you from?

I’m from Lawton, OK.

Tell me about your undergraduate research and how it led you to Amsterdam?

My work with Texas A&M Astronomy Professor Dr. DePoy focused on index-matching fluids. These fluids bend light exactly like glass. This property makes them useful because we can fill the gaps between glass lenses with index-matching fluids to improve image quality.

Unfortunately, there have been documented cases of these fluids corroding telescopes. Although this does not compromise the telescope’s structural integrity, suspended corrosion residue makes the telescope blind to ultraviolet light and does millions of dollars of damage.

For my thesis, I tested different index-matching fluids and telescope materials to see if corrosion would occur. I presented my results in July 2012 at the Amsterdam Astronomical Instrumentation Conference.

The whole experience taught me that research is more than just the scientific method. Research requires many leadership skills like time management, budgeting, and networking. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many industry companies at the conference would generously pay for research talent.

What is your next step after college?

I’ve been accepted to Yale, Rice, Boston University, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, and University of Colorado. I don’t know which one I will attend. I am visiting four of them and will negotiate my financial offer before making a decision.

Who do you look up to most in your field?

I look up to my advisers the most. They have all done so much to help me.

Where do you hope to be in ten year?

In ten years, I hope to have completed my PhD in solar astronomy. I want to find a steady career job as an observatory researcher or a space-weather analyst. 

What advice would you give to other undergraduates?

Getting involved in research during my freshman year was the best career move that I made in college. The skills that I acquired are invaluable for any job, even if it’s something completely unrelated to my research, like banking or management. Consequently, it looks good on my resume for any job.


Four Aggies Honored by Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program


Four Texas A&M University undergraduates have been honored by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program: Tyler Behm ’12 and Ashwathi “Abbee” Mohan ’12 were selected as scholars and Matthew Grunewald ’12 and Yen-Nan Lin ’12 were selected as Honorable Mentions. This is the first time since 2001 that all four University nominees were recognized in the Goldwater competition.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the United States’ premier undergraduate award for the fields of math, science, and engineering. In this year’s competition, 278 sophomores and juniors out of a pool of over 1,100 students were selected as Goldwater Scholars. To date, 37 Texas A&M University students have been honored as Goldwater Scholars.


Tyler Behm ’12 graduated from MacArthur High School in Lawton, Oklahoma. As a physics and math double-major, his primary research interests include dark energy and telescope construction. His research under Dr. Darren DePoy will contribute to the Dark Energy Camera in Chile, and his research with Dr. Peter McIntyre will debut on the Discover Channel show “Weird or What?” in the fall of 2010. This past semester, Tyler studied abroad at University College London, and in the future, he hopes to lead international astronomy research projects.


In reaction to his selection, Behm commented, “This is a total shock to my system. If a nuclear reactor ever experienced an emotion, this would be it.” When asked how his selection as a Goldwater Scholar will aid his progress towards his long-term goals, he remarked, “I want to be a leader in the field of astrophysics, and the Goldwater Scholarship has given me the resources and energy to make it happen.”


Ashwathi Mohan ‘12 is a Molecular and Cell Biology major, Classics minor who attended Health Careers High School in San Antonio. A University Scholar, she is currently working in Dr. Steve Lockless’ laboratory, studying evolutionarily conserved networks of amino acids in proteins and their role in intein function. She plans to pursue an M.D.Ph.D. and a career in biomedical research, focusing on the study and treatment of metabolic disorders.


“Aside from the initial surprise of being selected, it’s really rewarding to have my research experiences and interests recognized and commended at the national level,” Mohan commented. “It’s also a great feeling to be representing A&M at the national level.” When asked about the importance of the Goldwater Scholarship program, Mohan continued, “The Goldwater Scholarship stresses even more the need for advances in science and research. [It] has definitely strengthened my conviction to pursue a career in biomedical research and has made accomplishing this goal quite a bit easier.”

Honorable mention Matthew Grunewald ’12 is a Genetics and Biochemistry double-major from Madison, Mississippi. A University Scholar, his major research interests are genomic engineering, specifically as applied to treatment of genetic disorders. He will pursue a PhD in Biochemistry, and he was recently selected to participate in the German government’s DAAD-RISE program, through which he will conduct research on adult stem cells in the coming summer.


Also selected as an Honorable Mention is Yen-Nan Lin ’12, who attended the Texas Academy of Math and Science. A Regents Scholar, Lin is a Chemistry major whose  primary research interest is neural engineering. In the long-term, he will focus on neural cell regeneration and degeneration, with application towards neurological disorders such as dementia, spinocerebellar ataxia, and dystonia. He also volunteers with Brian’s House, a non-profit childcare program for children with AIDS and other illnesses, and has served as a camp counselor at Camp Summit, a summer camp for children with mental disorders.

Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue research careers. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 102 Marshall Awards (7 of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2009), and numerous other distinguished fellowships. Recent Aggie Goldwater Scholars of note include Joel Turtle ’11, Robert E. Rogers ‘11 Rhodes Scholarship finalist Andrew Matteson ’08, Hertz Foundation Fellow Luke Hunter ’08, and Rhodes Scholar Nick Anthis ’05.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. In its twenty-four-year history, the Foundation has awarded 6,079 scholarships worth approximately fifty-eight million dollars. The Trustees plan to award about three hundred scholarships for the 2011–2012 academic year.

To apply, students must first be nominated by the University. For further information on the nomination procedure, contact Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator, at 845-1957.