|Past Undergraduate Spotlights|
November 2011 Spotlight: Danielle Macedo
Danielle Macedo works with Dr. Gil Rosenthal and graduate student Brad Johnson. Last year she worked with Brad in a project for the NSF’s Undergraduates in Biomathematics (UBM) program where they looked at how morphology impacts fast-start swimming performance in swordtail fish, an anti-predator response common in fish. She will be presenting this work at a conference at the University of Houston for the UBM program. This semester, as work for both UBM and the TAMU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, she will be trying to find correlations between geographic range and morphology in Xiphophorus malinche, X. birchmanni, and their hybrids. These two morphologically divergent species converge in central Mexico and produce polymorphic hybrids, while preferring different elevations. They are therefore trying to determine whether these morphological differences are related to the varying geographic range.
Danielle grew up in Recife, Brazil, a city that is located in coastal northeastern Brazil and contains a small fraction of the Atlantic Rain Forest. Being exposed to a complex coral reef system from a young age and having the rain forest in her backyard really opened her eyes to how fascinating and exciting biology can be. Her school in Brazil took them on field trips to ecological reserves, which spiked her interest in how the organisms they saw came to be, how they adapt to their environment, and what people can do to help preserve their habitat. She attended two high schools in Texas, Abilene High School and Whitehouse High School. She graduated from WHS in 2013.
The research projects she has worked on have shown her that she really likes research. She plans to attend graduate school and get a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology, in the field of marine biology.
She plans to present a poster of the research she conducted this summer at the TAMU System Pathways Symposium. She conducted a multi-locus analysis of depth-related population divergence in the protobranch bivalve, Deminucula atacellana, at the University of Massachusetts – Boston, as part of their NSF REU in Integrative and Evolutionary Biology with Dr. Ron Etter. She is also hoping to spend the spring semester in Brisbane, Australia, at the University of Queensland, and hopes to participate in marine biology research while there.
May 2011 Spotlight: Sonny AguilarSan Antonio Scholar Fulfills Dream Through Unique NSF Program
February 2011 Spotlight: Alvaro E. Rodriguez
Alvaro E. Rodriguez, an undergraduate Molecular and Cell Biology major, is already making the most of the research opportunities available in the Department of Biology. Alvaro has worked for most of his undergraduate career in Dr. Michael Benedik’s lab, genetically optimizing a cyanide degrading enzyme of Pseudomonas stutzeri to tolerate high alkalinity pHs.
Because of his research experience Alvaro has had the opportunity to perform research for eight months at the University of Strasbourg in France, as well as present his research in Washington D.C. as a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation scholar. He credits his research opportunities with providing a “profound hands-on experience” that has significantly helped him in several of his courses.
Alvaro plans to graduate in May, after which he will be attending graduate school to pursue his Ph.D. He doesn’t know yet which school he will attend, but Alvaro is certain that he will continue his education and career in research.
May 2010 Spotlight: Ashwathi Manhan
Ashwathi Monhan, an undergraduate in the Biology Department, has been named a 2010 recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The scholarship was created to provide a continuing source of highly qualified individuals to those fields of academic study and research, and is awarded to undergraduate math and science majors around the country.
Ashwathi Mohan is a Molecular and Cell Biology major and Classics minor who attended Health Careers High School in San Antonio, TX. Currently, she is 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. for a career in biomedical research, focusing on the study and treatment of metabolic disorders. Outside of research, Ashwathi is involved as a UScholar and Aggie Scholars Promoting Incentive, Resources, and Encouragement (ASPIRE) mentor.
Ashwathi says that it’s rewarding to have her research experiences and interests recognized at the national level, and that she’s also proud to be representing Texas A&M with this award. She appreciates being recognized because the Goldwater Scholarship stresses even more the need for advances in science and research.
“The Goldwater Scholarship has definitely strengthened my conviction to pursue a career in biomedical research,” she says, and “it has made accomplishing this goal quite a bit easier.”
April 2010 Spotlight: Stephanie Grady
Stephanie Grady wins Texas Genetics Society undergraduate poster competition.
Biology undergraduate Stephanie Grady won first prize in the undergraduate poster competition during the Texas Genetics Society meeting from March 25-27, 2010 for her poster entitled “Role of p24 Genes in Regulating Reproductive Behavior in Drosophila melanogaster”. Stephanie is a TAMU Undergraduate Research Scholar in Dr. Ginger Carney’s lab. After she graduates in May 2010, Stephanie will move to Columbia University in New York to earn a Master’s degree in Public Health. She hopes to study the epidemiology of chronic diseases, specifically cardiovascular disease.
Stephanie is also involved in volunteer work with HIV Prevention and Health Education programs at the Bryan/College Station Community Health Clinic, assisting at the clinic as well as at community outreach events. She has been an active member of the Student Government Association throughout college as the appointed student representative for the HIV/AIDS Committee and is currently serving as the student representative for the Disciplinary Appeals Committee, Fiscal Appeals Committee, and Student Media Board.
November 2009 Spotlight: Will O'GormanTwo Cadets Awarded Medical Scholarships
The Texas A&M University Medical & Dental Society, in honor of Dr. Joseph Abell Jr. ’54, presented medical scholarships to cadets Joe Kilianski III ’10 and Will O'Gorman ’10 on Friday, Nov. 20 in the Sanders Corps Center.
Dr. Abell has an endowed scholarship—the Mary & Joseph '54 Endowed Scholarship—that awards to Corps members who plan to attend medical school.
In honor of Dr. Abell’s many contributions to the medical community and Texas A&M, the Society voted to give another medical school scholarship in his name to honor him.
After the presentation of the scholarships, Dr. Abell was presented a Benjamin Knox print of the Corps print, the Founders of Tradition, for his service to the Society.
July 2009 Spotlight: Ryan McCormick
Spring 2009 Department of Biology graduate Ryan McCormick has already made a name for himself in his chosen field. A graduate of Texas A&M’s Undergraduate Research Scholars program, Ryan has achieved mastery of disciplines and techniques that rivals that of many graduate students.
Ryan has worked closely with the department’s Center for Research on Biological Clocks for the past three years. Most recently, he has been involved with a project that has used ChIP/Solexa DNA sequencing to identify direct targets of a transcription factor complex, the White Collar Complex. The WCC is a central component of the circadian clock in Neurospora crassa and functions to activate expression of the clock gene frq to form part of a feed back loop, and also functions to activate expression of key components of the output pathways that signal time of day information to control overt rhythmicity. Very little is known about how the output signals work, and Ryan’s work will contribute to a much better understanding of these pathways. As a result of his work on this project, Ryan is an author of a paper which is in preparation. It will be submitted to the journal Molecular Cell this spring.
Ryan has distinguished himself in many ways while at Texas A&M. He has been a summer student at Oxford University, a field worker on an archaeological dig in Transylvania, a member and president of the Aggie Speleological Society, and has participated in student organizations including Replant and the Big Event. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Dean’s List honoree for every semester at A&M, and he was named Outstanding Junior of Texas A&M University by Phi Beta Kappa.
In addition to all of his achievements, Ryan is also well-liked and respected by faculty and his peers. Professor Deborah Bell-Pedersen calls him an exceptional scholar and says, “students like Ryan come along once in a lifetime.”
After graduation in May, Ryan will begin his graduate career and attend Texas A&M beginning in January 2010.