Tag Archives: Udall

Texas A&M Nominates Three for 2017 Udall Scholarship Competition

Nominating outstanding students for nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships is one way to showcase the world-class undergraduate experience at Texas A&M. Not only do the winners in these competitions receive valuable support for their educational expenses, but they also join professional networks that will continue to open doors throughout their careers. But a student does not have to win a competition to realize the value of the national fellowships application process. The applications for these awards ask students to reflect on their ambitions and how they are building knowledge, skills, and experience related to following their dreams. Students report that the application is a truly clarifying experience.

One of the awards that LAUNCH: National Fellowships serves as a nominating official for is the Udall Scholarship. This award, from the Morris K. & Stuart L. Udall Foundation, recognizes top students planning careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Students who are selected will receive scholarships of up to $7000 and join a community of scholars whose dedication to sustainable public policy honors the legacy of the Arizona congressmen.

We are proud to announce the nomination of three TAMU students for the 2017 Udall Scholarship competition: Charlie Arnold, Grace Cunningham, and Jasmine Wang.

2017 Udall Nominee Charlie Arnold ’19

Charlie Arnold ’19 is a mechanical engineering undergraduate in the university and engineering honors programs. He spends his spare time designing solar lighting shelters with Give Water Give Life to be used in rural communities in Burkina Faso Africa, and is the vice president of the cycling team. Arnold became interested in the environment through his cycling. His cycling throughout the country opened Arnold’s eyes to the environment and impacts of climate change occurring in the world today. His interest in engineering and energy spurred Arnold to become interested in renewable energy. After completion of his undergraduate mechanical engineering degree, Arnold plans on working for renewable energy companies before following his goal of starting his own net zero energy home company.

2017 Udall Nominee Grace Cunningham ’18

Grace Cunningham ’18 is a junior bioenvironmental science major pursuing minors in Spanish and business. Cunningham hopes to unite professionals from varied disciplines—including science, business, planning, and design—across government, academia, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses from around the world to work together to solve environmental problems in a more holistic way. A member of the University Honors Program, she served as a Sophomore Advisor and was inducted as a University Scholar in 2015. Cunningham has worked as an intern with the City of Dallas Trinity Watershed Management, conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Brian Shaw’s fungal biology lab. She has participated in a variety of study-abroad opportunities that include conducting tropical and field biology research on endemic species in the Commonwealth of Dominica, instructing a seminar in Italy as an MSC Champe Fitzhugh Honors International Leadership Seminar student leader, and participating in a student leadership exchange to Qatar in the Persian Gulf Coast; in 2017, she will be studying Spanish language and culture in Barcelona as well as conducting research on sustaining human societies and the natural environment in Antarctica. Cunningham is also a member of the sorority Alpha Chi Omega. After graduating from A&M, Cunningham hopes to pursue a masters degree in environmental management.

2017 Udall Nominee Jasmine Wang ’19

Jasmine Wang ‘19 is a sophomore political science major and sociology minor from Houston, TX. Wang is involved in and currently serves as a Student Senator and Chair of Diversity & Inclusion and the Chair of Sustainability through the Texas A&M Student Senate, Aggie Belles, a women’s leadership development and service organization, as well as multiple university-wide committees spanning a wide array of subject matter. Wang also serves as an intern through Texas A&M’s Office of Sustainability, a university institution devoted to fostering a culture of preservation and respect for environmental, social, and economic resources on campus. Just recently, she was a recipient of the prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award. Following her completion of an accelerated undergraduate program, Wang plans to attend law school in pursuit of a Juris Doctor with a focus on environmental and energy law and advocacy.

Since 1996, Texas A&M has had seven Udall Scholars and two Honorable Mentions. The most recent Udall Scholar was Victoria Easton ‘15, who was the first TAMU Udall Scholar selected in the Tribal Public Policy category.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://tx.ag/NatlFellows.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Awards

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most prestigious awards to support graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Nearly 17,000 applications were submitted for the 2016 NSF Fellowship competition, resulting in 2,000 award offers. This spring, 14 current and former Texas A&M University students were selected as 2016 NSF Graduate Fellows, while 21 were named Honorable Mention. Several of these students participated in LAUNCH programs at Texas A&M, including 5 who completed an undergraduate research thesis as an Undergraduate Research Scholar, 4 who participated in the University Honors program, one Undergraduate Research Ambassador, and two authors for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal.

Alexandria Payne ’16, Bioenvironmental Sciences and Wildlife & Fisheries
Alexandria Payne ’16, Bioenvironmental Sciences and Wildlife & Fisheries

2016 NSF Graduate Fellow Alexandria Payne recently graduated from Texas A&M, where she double-majored in bioenvironmental sciences and wildlife & fisheries sciences. Alex began her research experience in the labs of Dr. Karen-Beth Scholthof and Dr. Herman Scholthof in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. Alex will continue at A&M for a PhD in entomology, studying with Dr. Juliana Rangel in the Honey Bee Lab, where Alex will investigate the interactions of honey bees and the invasive Tawny crazy ant. Alex, a University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar, was previously nominated for the Udall Scholarship recognizing commitment to environmental issues. She graduated cum laude with the Honors Fellows and Honors in Bioenvironmental Sciences distinctions. Alex has an upcoming publication, “Do More Promiscuous Honey Bee Queens Produce Healthier Hives?” in Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, Volume 8, to be published in fall 2016.

In addition to the GRFP, Alex’s graduate study will be supported by Texas A&M’s Diversity Fellowship. She also received the Senior Merit award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Reflecting on the benefits of the GRFP, Alex says, “This fellowship has given me the gift of being able to choose research topics I find interesting and wish to delve into. I wish to advise everyone to apply for or reach for the seemingly impossible as you may surprise yourself with the results.”

Ana Chang-Gonzalez ‘16, Biomedical Engineering
Ana Chang-Gonzalez ‘16, Biomedical Engineering

Ana Chang-Gonzalez, another 2016 NSF Graduate Fellow, recently graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering and the Engineering Honors distinction. As an undergraduate, she volunteered in the Molecular Biomechanics Lab and conducted protein simulation in an AggiE-Challenge. She also began working with the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories to develop software for biological purposes. With NSF support, Ana will continue that project in her graduate studies, expanding a software that builds computational models of biological images and analyzes them for quantitative information. Ana is a former resident of the Honors Housing Community and a member of Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the Biomedical Engineering Honor Society, and Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. She has an upcoming publication, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Numbers,” in Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, Volume 8, to be published in fall 2016.

A three-time recipient of the Dean’s Honor Roll, Ana says that, through her NSF application, she “learned how to neatly craft all [her] experiences into a concise form, how to formulate a research proposal, and the value of having faculty mentors that truly care about [her] success.” This fellowship will allow her “to focus more on conducting high-impact research and making a true difference in the field.”

LAUNCH would like to congratulate the Aggie 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows and Honorable Mentions and acknowledge their valuable contributions to our programs!

National Science Foundation 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees:

  • Shelby Bieritz, biomedical engineering. 2014 Fulbright Scholar.
  • Timothy Brown, physics of materials research.
  • Stacy Cereceres, biomedical engineering.
  • Ana Chang Gonzalez, bioengineering. Engineering Honors, Explorations
  • Chace Holzheuser, evolutionary biology.
  • Ethan Kamphaus, materials engineering. Engineering Honors.
  • Shannon Murray, materials engineering.
  • David Parobek, macromolecular, supramolecular, & nanochemistry.
  • Alexandria Payne, entomology. University Honors Program, Honors in Bioenvironmental Sciences, Undergraduate Research Scholar, University Scholar, Udall Scholarship nominee, Explorations
  • John Peters, neurosciences. University Honors Program, Undergraduate Research Scholar.
  • Karis Tang-Quan, bioengineering.
  • Taneidra Walker, biomedical engineering.
  • Jessica Wang, paleoclimate geosciences. Undergraduate Research Scholar.
  • Sarah Ward, macromolecular, supramolecular, & nanochemistry.

Honorable Mention:

  • Kristine Arvola, tissue engineering.
  • Alyssa Bennett, ocean engineering. University Honors Program, Honors Housing Community Sophomore & Junior Advisor.
  • Megan Brooks, materials engineering.
  • Erin Buchholtz, ecology.
  • Prachi Dhavalikar, biomedical engineering.
  • Garrett Edwards, biochemistry.
  • Grace Fletcher, biomedical engineering.
  • Thomas Fowler, aeronautical & aerospace engineering.
  • Julie Hammett, systems engineering.
  • Joshua Herrington, aeronautical & aerospace engineering.
  • Chris Holland, organismal biology.
  • Rania Labib, mechanical engineering.
  • Pierre Lau, environmental biology.
  • James Moore, chemical synthesis. Undergraduate Research Scholar.
  • Anish Patel, chemical engineering.
  • Zachary Popkin-Hall, evolutionary biology.
  • Ryan Priest, environmental engineering.
  • Mayra Ramirez, developmental psychology.
  • Elise Voltura, environmental biology.
  • Elizabeth Walsh, physiology.
  • Randy White, particle physics. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Undergraduate Research Ambassador.

Written by Adelia Humme ’15, Program Coordinator for National Fellowships, LAUNCH

Edited by Annabelle Aymond ’14, Administrative Assistant for Undergraduate Research, LAUNCH

Four Outstanding Students Nominated for the 2016 Udall Scholarship

By Macy Moore –

One of the most gratifying elements of being an undergraduate student at Texas A&M is the opportunity to be nominated for various scholarships and fellowships. Receiving a scholarship or fellowship is financially fulfilling and opens doors for professional networking, but even the simple nomination is rewarding in itself. The application process allows students to reflect on their career ambitions, skills, and dreams for the future and has been proven to be an illuminating experience for many.

The Udall Foundation recognizes studious undergraduate students who are pursuing a career related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Awarding scholarships, fellowships, and internships to exceptional students, the foundation was established in 1992 to honor Morris K. and Stuart L. Udall’s influence on America’s environment, public lands, and natural resources, as well as their support for the rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Students selected for the Udall Scholarship will obtain scholarships up to $5,000 and an invaluable connection with the community of other dedicated public policy scholars.

This year, we are proud to announce the four Texas A&M students nominated for the 2016 Udall Scholarship competition: Omar Elhassan, Phillip Hammond,  Jaclyn Guz, and Alyson Miranda, .

Omar Elhassan '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Omar Elhassan ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Omar Elhassan ’17 is currently a junior environmental soil science major and bioenvironmental sciences minor in honors program of the Soil and Crop Sciences Department. Both a Cargill Global Scholar and Golden Opportunity Scholar, he has conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Gentry’s Soil and Aquatic Microbiology lab investigating the effects of urban wastewater treatment plants on increasing antibiotic resistance in the environment.  Aside from academics, Elhassan also works as the Sustainability Officer with the student run nonprofit Just4Water, which aims to provide self-sustainable water solutions to developing nations. He works to develop partnerships with NGOs, nonprofit, and businesses to assess the needs of rural communities to design site-specific water solutions such as drilling water wells, designing water distribution systems, and installing latrines for waste management. Following his undergraduate career, Elhassan plans to enlist in the Peace Corps to gain real world experience in the realm of international development, then intend to pursue a master’s degree in international development at Cornell University to become a driving force for sustainable development in emerging nations.

Jaclyn Guz '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Jaclyn Guz ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaclyn Guz ’17 is a junior environmental studies major with a minor in geographic information systems. Guz has previously conducted undergraduate research as part of the Michael E. DeBakey Undergraduate Research program in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She worked in the Cairns lab studying the tree line in Northern Sweden, which research formed the basis of her Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis. She also serves as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader for the TAMU Academic Success Center. Guz completed a water quality analysis internship through a summer research program at the University of Vermont in Summer 2014, and served on the EPA Science Advisory Board as part of her participation in the Texas A&M Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) in Fall 2014. She worked as a writing intern for Geography.com in Summer 2015, and is a 2015-16 Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Guz is currently completing a second capstone with the Undergraduate Leadership Scholars program working toward promoting undergraduate research opportunities in the College of Geosciences. After pursuing a dual master’s program in public policy and environmental studies in Washington, D.C., Guz plans a career using sound data analysis to craft economic and legal incentives to promote sustainable practices.

Phillip Hammond '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Phillip Hammond ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Phillip Hammond ’17 is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture with minors in urban & regional planning and sustainable architecture & regional planning. He dedicates his spare time to the student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects as the active Vice President for the departmental organization. Phillip also serves as a University Scholar in the University Honors program after being inducted in 2014. His love of nature, architectural design, and philosophy has led him to aspire for a career designing sustainable communities following his certification as a registered Landscape Architect. After he receives his undergraduate degree, Phillip plans to complete a master’s degree in land and property development, then will follow his ambition of changing the way people live with designs that will improve transportation alternatives and provide better ecological infrastructure.

Aly Miranda '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Aly Miranda ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Alyson Miranda ‘17 is a bioenvironmental sciences major and business minor from Missouri City, TX. Her environmental interests were spurred by her first experiences as a restaurant employee and her first national park experience (as a trip leader for TAMU Alternative Spring Break). Then, as an A&M Conservation Scholar, Miranda engaged in marine species risk research for the marine biodiversity lab at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Her research focused on current literature on Gulf of Mexico bonyfishes, as well as assessment review for other regional projects in the Global Marine Species Assessment (https://sci.odu.edu/gmsa/). Last fall, Miranda completed a separate internship at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. where she explored the connection between public policy, federal agencies, and science. Upon returning this semester, she joined the Environmental Issues Committee where she is excited to work on programs to educate students about sustainability and marine environmental issues. Outside of being a current University Scholar, Miranda is a musician in the TAMU Symphonic Winds and at her church, and she loves volunteering at the sustainable Howdy Farm on campus. This summer, she will serve as a business consultant for disadvantaged entrepreneurs in Cape Town, South Africa. Ultimately, Aly would like to work as a marine/wetland researcher or consultant to help people use land and marine resources in an environmentally and responsible way.

As of 1996, seven Udall Scholars and two Honorable Mentions have emerged from Texas A&M University. Most recently, Victoria Easton was selected as a Udall Scholar, making her the first Texas A&M Udall Scholar selected in the Tribal Public Policy category.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.

Aggies Commit to Practicing Personal and Social Responsibility

An op-ed piece by Marvin Krislov and Stephen S. Volk in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Apr. 7, 2014) titled “College is Still for Creating Citizens,” highlights a crucial role played by the undergraduate education in crafting leaders who are thoughtful about “what kind of life might be meaningful, productive and rewarding.” This is a concept which dates (at least) to Aristotle and up through the history of civic participation in the United States. Krislov & Volk demonstrate that a broad set of competencies key to a liberal education—and which are reflected in the TAMU Undergraduate Learning Outcomes—remain in high value and demand relative to job-specific skills.

Among these competencies, the TAMU Undergraduate Outcomes lists the practice of personal and social responsibility, including ethical leadership, the application of rational decision-making to ethical dilemmas, awareness and attention to the consequences of one’s actions, and engaging in civic activity. The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.

Victoria Easton '15, 2014 Udall Scholar
Victoria Easton ’15, 2014 Udall Scholar

One student who exemplifies this commitment to practicing personal and social responsibility is Victoria Easton ’15 from Tomball, TX, who recently graduated with a double major in history and philosophy. In addition to participating in the University Honors Program, Liberal Arts Honors, and the Cornerstone Learning Community, Easton was an officer for FREE, an anti-trafficking organization, and was the founder and president of the American Indian Student Association. Easton was also a National Merit Scholar and President’s Endowed Scholarship recipient, and was awarded the History Undergraduate Scholarly Activities Grant to support her independent research.

The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.

Easton said that she decided to start the American Indian Student Organization because, while Texas A&M is a diverse institution, she found, “no place for Native students to build connections with one another or promote the role of the distinguished Native alumni in our university’s history.” Easton found that her cultural heritage and professional interests intersect in an important way. Describing an internship with the Center to End the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children (CTEC), she noted that ads aimed at exploiting women used, “Indian heritage as effective selling point.” This experience has helped push Easton into exploring the issue of exploitation and violence against women in Native American communities.

In 2014 Easton was selected for the prestigious Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship, which annually awards 50 scholarships to students pursuing careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Easton was selected based on her work studying historical notions of law, justice, and gender in Muscogee communities and plans to complete a senior thesis on the topic next spring through the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Easton’s research mentor, Dr. Angela Hudson, noted that it is rare to see a student combine their civic commitments and scholarly interests as well as Easton has. “In combining these concerns [violence and exploitation of Native women], she has crafted a career trajectory that is not only reflective of her scholarly work but also demonstrates her commitment to engaged community activism, with a maturity and confidence rare in students of her age.” After attending law school, Easton plans a career advocating for human trafficking and domestic abuse victims.

TAMU Nominates Six for 2015 Udall Scholarship Competition

Nominating outstanding students for nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships is one way to showcase the world-class undergraduate experience at Texas A&M. Not only do the winners in these competitions receive valuable support for their educational expenses, but they also join professional networks that will continue to open doors throughout their careers. But a student does not have to win a competition to realize the value of the national fellowships application process. The applications for these awards ask students to reflect on their ambitions and how they are building knowledge, skills, and experience related to following their dreams. Students report that the application is a truly clarifying experience.

One of the awards that Honors and Undergraduate Research serves as a nominating official for is the Udall Scholarship. This award, from the the Morris K. & Stuart L. Udall Foundation, recognizes top students planning careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Students who are selected will receive scholarships of up to $5000 and join a community of scholars whose dedication to sustainable public policy honors the legacy of the Arizona congressmen.

We are proud to announce the nomination of six TAMU students for the 2015 Udall Scholarship competition: Sean Castillo, Jaclyn Guz, Jessica Gwinn, Alyson Miranda, Alexandria Payne, and Jennifer Rangel.

Sean Castillo '16, Udall Nominee
Sean Castillo ’16, Udall Nominee

Sean Castillo ’16 is a junior bioenvironmental sciences major, minoring in geography. He served as a sophomore mentor for Aggies Selflessly Serving in Shaping Tomorrow (ASSIST). Castillo participates in undergraduate research in the Scholthof labs in the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology where he studies the Panicum Mosaic Virus, Citrus Tatter Leaf Virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, and Tomato Bushy Stunt Virus. He plans a career studying the effects of environmental toxins with the hope that his work will inform lawmakers and educate citizens about the need to reduce pollution.

Jackie Guz '17, Udall Nominee
Jackie Guz ’17, Udall Nominee

Jaclyn Guz ’17 is a sophomore environmental studies major with a minor in geographic information systems. Guz has previously conducted undergraduate research as part of the Michael E. DeBakey Undergraduate Research program in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is currently working in the Cairns lab studying the tree line in Northern Sweden, She also serves as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader for the TAMU Academic Success Center. Guz completed a water quality analysis internship through a summer research program at the University of Vermont in Summer 2014, and served on the EPA Science Advisory Board as part of her participation in the Texas A&M Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) in Fall 2014. Guz plans a career using sound data analysis to craft economic and legal incentives to promote sustainable practices.

Jesse Gwinn '16, Udall Nominee
Jesse Gwinn ’16, Udall Nominee

Jessica Gwinn ’16 is a junior bioenvironmental sciences and wildlife & fisheries sciences double degree student. She served as secretary and webmaster for the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) and is a staff member for Aggie RePlant. Gwinn is an undergraduate researcher in the Roelke Lab studying the  toxic effects of Prymnesium parvum, an algae with potentially useful biofuel applications that is known to cause massive fish kills. Gwinn is also employed as a student worker in Dr. Ong’s plant pathology lab studying Rose Rosette Virus and writing Extension publications about rose diseases. She plans a career researching the ecological relationships between micro- and macro-organisms and the importance of these relationships to humans.

Aly Miranda '17, Udall Nominee
Aly Miranda ’17, Udall Nominee

Alyson Miranda ’17 is a sophomore University Scholar, majoring in bioenvironmental sciences with a minor in business administration. She has served as a site leader and local service executive for Alternative Spring Break, volunteers with the Texas A&M Howdy Farm and Brazos County Senior Citizens’ Association, and is a sophomore advisor (SA) in the Honors Housing Community. She was also recently selected as a 2015 Public Policy Intern with PPIP. Miranda is conducting undergraduate research in the Lacher lab, performing regional extinction risk assessments for the Gulf of Mexico. She plans a career bridging the gap between science and policy in making food production chains more sustainable.

Alex Payne '16, Udall Nominee
Alex Payne ’16, Udall Nominee

Alexandria Payne ’16 is a junior University Scholar, double-majoring in bioenvironmental sciences and wildlife & fisheries sciences. She is the president of the Human Environmental Animal Team (HEAT) and is the Department of Bioenvironmental Sciences representative to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS) Student Council. Payne has conducted undergraduate research related to plant virology in the Scholthof labs, on the invasive Tawny crazy ant as part of an NSF-REU at the University of Texas with Dr. Edward LeBrun, and most recently in the Honey Bee Lab at TAMU with Dr. Juliana Rangel. She plans a career researching the mystery of honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in order to create a healthy bee population and stable food supply.

Jennifer Rangel '16, Udall Nominee
Jennifer Rangel ’16, Udall Nominee

Jennifer Rangel ’16 is a junior recreation, park & tourism sciences major with minors in sociology and urban & regional planning. She is the coordinator of registration for the Student Conference on Latino Affairs, an officer for Going Out and Leading from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a member of Future Former Students from the Association of Former Students, and the I Lead Maroon program. Rangel serves as an intern with the Family and Consumer Sciences Program as part of the TAMU AgriLife Extension. She is particularly interested in the intersection of a community’s space and infrastructure design, and the implications of this intersection for human behavior. Rangel plans a career educating people about the positive impacts of green space in a community, especially for low-income and high-risk families.

Since 1996, Texas A&M has had seven Udall Scholars and two Honorable Mentions. The most recent Udall Scholar was Victoria Easton ‘15, who was the first TAMU Udall Scholar selected in the Tribal Public Policy category.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how Honors and Undergraduate Research helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://hur.tamu.edu/National-Fellowships.

2014 Udall Scholars Selected

On May 1, 2014, the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation will announce the selection of 50 sophomore- and junior-level scholars dedicated to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Students who are selected will receive scholarships of up to $5000 and join a community of scholars whose dedication to sustainable public policy honors the legacy of the Arizona congressmen.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is proud to report that University Honors Student Victoria Easton ‘15 has been selected as a 2014 Udall Scholar. In addition to Easton, Texas A&M also nominated Kristen Koch ‘16 (environmental geosciences), who plans to pursue a career in environmental law and hopes to work for an organization such as the EPA remediating brownfields; Lázár Kish ’15 (physics) who plans a career in condensed matter physics to help reduce waste; Matthew McMahon ’15 (geology) who plans to be a materials scientist with a focus on green materials, such as clay polymer nanocomposites that can be used as biodegradable food packaging; and Alexandria Payne ’16 (bioenvironmental sciences) who plans a career in ecological restoration.

Victoria Easton '15, 2014 Udall Scholar
Victoria Easton ’15, 2014 Udall Scholar

Easton is a junior history and philosophy double major from Tomball, TX. In addition to participating in the University Honors Program, Liberal Arts Honors, and the Cornerstone Learning Community, Easton is an officer for FREE, an anti-trafficking organization, and is the founder and president of the American Indian Student Association. Easton is a National Merit Scholar and President’s Endowed Scholarship recipient, and has been awarded the History Undergraduate Scholarly Activities Grant to support her independent research.

Easton is studying historical notions of law, justice, and gender in Muscogee communities and plans to complete a senior thesis next spring. Easton recently accompanied her research mentor, Dr. Angela Pulley Hudson, to the annual historical symposium put on by the Muscogee Nation Office of Cultural Preservation where she had the honor of introducing Dr. Hudson. Easton plans to attend law school after graduation to prepare for a career advocating for human trafficking and domestic abuse victims.

Since 1996, Texas A&M has had six Udall Scholars and 2 Honorable Mentions. The most recent Udall Scholar was Brian Sedio ’06, who was selected for the honor two years in a row.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how Honors and Undergraduate Research helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://hur.tamu.edu/National-Fellowships.

My Narrative Arc

Matt McMahon in Belize, 2012
Matt McMahon in Belize, 2012

By Matt McMahon

Through my career in high school and now in college at Texas A&M University, writing has been a skill that I have always treasured and appreciated. The power of writing is simply amazing when used effectively, in processes such as applications, publications, or simply getting a grade. In the two years that I have been at A&M, research composition has truly shown me the significance of writing, which I could not have fully appreciated at any time before.

My official push into the field of research composition began during spring 2012 when I was given the assignment of writing a research proposal to prepare for my internship in Belize that summer. The proposal was a way for me to begin developing my research project, which was a survey of the invasive lionfish population in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. As this proposal was my first composition of its kind, I was naturally proud of it, and as it grew to become 46 pages in length by the end of the summer I felt like I was the lead author of a small book. Little did I know that, in my naivety from lack of experience, I had overlooked a crucial aspect of research communication: no conjecture is allowed. Before I could end my internship, my last assignment was to rebuild my high 46-level temple of research results into a small, secure hut of a mere ten levels. Similar to the story that the Son of God once told, I had three days to do so. The result was a report that, I felt, was stripped to the bare minimum, but in reality that minimum was the crucial line through the flow of the project. The revised report finally had a forward direction through which a progressive point could be made, and since it was shorter people may have actually had the desire to read it all the way through. Overall, the experience was a difficult one to bear, as criticism pointing at an underlying mistake that had gone on for two months is not easy to handle. I learned many valuable lessons about the process of research composition and peer review, however, which gave me the grounds to launch forward towards new opportunities.

After returning from Belize, I applied for and was accepted onto the editorial board for the Explorations Undergraduate Research Journal. With my newfound writing skills taken from my Belize internship, I have already been able to make full use of my position as a journal editor in my critiquing of applicants and in revision of their work. When the university nominated me for the Udall scholarship, I saw another opportunity to apply those same skills, but this time I would be writing about myself and working to highlight why I should be chosen for such an award. The skill that came in most handy for this application process was definitely my experience with peer review, since I could view the application from my own eyes as well as consider what opinions my readers might have as I wrote it. The editorial process to prepare the Udall application took about a month and a half, since eight essays of varying lengths were required. With such scrupulous review and revision, I not only learned a great deal about where I want to head with my future semesters of schooling, but I also realized how much more I have yet to learn about the fields that I had believed I was familiar with. In the final week, the application was presented to a faculty review board, which was given the task of editing for technical errors and making minor adjustments. The results from this final editing step gave me one last, meaningful lesson to remember: no matter how hard you work, there will likely always be critics looking to depreciate your work. For that reason, a writer should believe in what has been written, and, just as in a debate, have solid reasons for the points that have been made.

Keeping these fresh new lessons in mind, I disembarked into the research arena while my Udall application lay in line to face its final judgment. My culmination of acquired writing experiences aided me in writing my first research grant proposal, and another will likely be sent out the door in a similar fashion soon. The method through which grant proposals are written, as professors will confirm, is vital in the long run with regards to keeping one’s academic position as well as funding research. Although I don’t have to count on research funds for my job just yet, the results of my grant proposals will be an accurate critique of how effective my writing skills have become. Now I look to add the finishing touches to the lesson that came from my Belize internship, which will be accomplished in a publication in a professional research journal. Using the experiences that I have from my high school Expository Writing class, writing and rebuilding my Belize report, meticulously constructing the Udall application, and sending off my first grant proposal, I have already begun to build three research reports derived from the findings obtained in my lionfish study, with the goal of getting them all officially published in the near future. Needless to say, the power of effective writing is an impressive and increasingly useful one, and only through practice and experience can students of all kinds harness that ability. When such a level of comprehension is reached, only good things can come from continuing to strive forward.