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2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research


University of Houston Students attend the 2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research


On April 10, 2013, 12 students from the University of Houston and their chaperone, Dr. Veronique Tran, left for La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend the 2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Although they encountered a few delays, a cancelled flight, and a six-hour bus ride, a good Italian meal in Chicago and a welcoming Hotel in La Crosse lifted their spirits and they prepared to present their research findings over the next three days.

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research, typically called “NCUR”, is a 27 year-old conference organized by the Council of Undergraduate Research. It brings together undergraduate students from universities across the nation to present their research to a national audience, network with each other, and gain professional experience that prepares them for rigors of graduate school.

Sarah Stanley, a 2010 Tier One Scholar at UH and Honors College student, found that NCUR was “excellent preparation for graduate school where successful research depends on one's ability to communicate complex information with clarity.” Her most rewarding experience during the conference was the interaction with other undergraduate researchers from UH and she was “amazed at the amount of detail reflected in each poster and oral presentation and was reminded of the great opportunities that we have as undergraduate researchers at the University of Houston.”

Many students enjoyed learning about topics outside of their research areas, including Fatima Syed, a Baylor Pre-Medical Academy and Honors College student. “My favorite poster was about racial and gender stereotypes in Disney movies. I think it's so important for us to understand how the media shapes our implicit conceptions, and I really appreciated the focus on Disney's films since we're immersed in the Disney culture during our formative years.”

Nancy Shenoi, a Baylor Pre-Medical Academy and Honors College student, took advantage of the conference by “interact[ing] with graduate school faculty from the University of Minnesota who were experts in my project's field of study, corneal anatomy and physiology [and] network[ing] with admissions representatives from multiple graduate school programs in biochemistry.”

All 12 students were awarded an Undergraduate Research Travel Fellowship presented by UH Learning through Discovery that covered the cost of transit and hotels. This Fellowship is presented to UH undergraduate students who will be presenting their research at a regional or national conference. For a full listing of their names and presentations, see below.

UH News Release: 2013 NCUR

Lindsey Brier:

Differential Toxicity Of Cholera Toxin And E. Coli Enterotoxin Explored Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Faculty Mentor: James Briggs

Department : Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Lindsey Brier: I really enjoyed learning about research in fields that are very different from my own, such as marketing and fine arts. I also enjoyed social aspects such as meeting people from all over the nation interested in the same kind of research as me.

Jaime Carrillo:

Spatiotemporal Development Of Late-Born Rods And Bipolar Cells And Their Synapses In Mice With Gestational Lead Exposure

Faculty Mentor: Donald A. Fox

Department : Optometry
Jaime Carrillo: The experience of meeting new people who share my research passion. I think this creates allows for a lot of networking opportunities that could potentially be helpful in the future.

Shane Hutsen:

Order Effects Of Novel Word Learning: Bilingual Advantage Of 2nd Label Retention

Faculty Mentor: Hanako Yoshida

Department : Psychology


Ramon Montano:

On The Development Of Integrated Antennas For The Cube Satellite (Cubesat)

Faculty Mentor: David R. Jackson

Department : Electrical Engineering
Ramon Montano: I really enjoyed the poster presentation where a student from Michigan State explored the effects of protein on zebra fish. The goal was to see how the effects aided or impeded the ability to regenerate cells and the driving force was the fact that certain animals have the capabilities to regenerate limbs while humans cannot. Being an engineering major, we deal with a lot of technical writing and presentations so it was nice to see other fields and their goals for a change.

Kyley Pitts:

This, Not That: Materialism’s Effect On Impulse Purchases

Faculty Mentor: Jacqueline Kacen

Department : Marketing
Kyley Pitts: The experiences I had presenting my work and meeting new people helped me to develop professionally. Through my conversations with Dr. Tran, I became more aware of some great opportunities and resources that will help me start my career after graduation.

Nancy Shenoi:

Keratocyte And Neutrophil Interaction In Mouse Cornea Characterized By A Novel 3-D Ultrastructural Approach

Faculty Mentor: Alan R. Burns

Department : Optometry
Nancy Shenoi: The most memorable presentation I attended was one from the University of Wisconsin discussing improvements in peer advising. As a member of the Student Government Association, it was interesting talking to other students about their advising experiences and university structures.

Dema Shobaki:

Peptide Conjugation By Click Chemistry

Faculty Mentor: Chengzhi Cai

Department : Chemistry
Dema Shobaki: The NCUR Conference is one of the few times that I have been around other professionals and pre-professionals who share similar goals as mine. I was able to observe others communicate about their research and network with others from different states. I was given a lot of advice from professors and students who had more experience in a specific field that I was not familiar with.

Sarah Stanley:

Stochastic Delay And Signal Propagation In Gene Regulatory Networks

Faculty Mentor: Dr. William Ott

Department : Mathematics
Sarah Stanley: This was excellent preparation for graduate school where successful research depends on one's ability to communicate complex information with clarity and precision not only to colleagues in a particular academic field, but also to those of different backgrounds who may benefit from the results.

Fatima Syed:

Conversion Of Fibroblasts Into Cardiac Progenitors

Faculty Mentor: Robert Schwartz

Department : Biology
Fatima Syed: I gained a new appreciation for the importance of networking in the professional world and also got a better understanding of the expansive nature of research.

Dasha Tikhomirova:

Conversion Of Fibroblasts Into Cardiac Progenitors

Faculty Mentor: Robert Schwartz

Department : Biology
Dasha Tikhomirova: The trip reenforced my ability to give a presentation and present my research in a way which is easy to understand by all. I enjoyed getting to know everyone on the trip. The students have inspired me to go further in my research and my career.

Audrey Utti:

Adjective Learning In Children: Mechanisms Involved In The Successful Acquisition And Extension Of Novel Adjectives

Faculty Mentor: Hanako Yoshida

Department : Psychology
Audrey Utti: My favorite aspect of the NCUR trip was the graduate school fair and being able to meet Dr. Tran. The graduate school fair allowed me to meet people from all over the country and talk to them about my future plans and how I could fit in their programs. Getting the opportunity to meet Dr. Tran and speak with her was also very beneficial. She had so much wisdom to share and opened my eyes to a lot of ideas I had never thought about.

Roya Zamani:

A Pilot Study Analyzing Nonverbal Behavior During An Iterative Social Interactive Trust Game

Faculty Mentor: Carla Sharp

Department : Psychology
Roya Zamani: Every aspect of the NCUR trip proved to be a memorable experience in itself as everything we encountered was completely new and foreign to me. Apart from going to present my research and congregate with others around the nation for the purpose of sharing our findings, a main motivating factor for me in going to NCUR was the fact that I wanted to do something new. From the conference itself, to seeing snow settle on the ground for longer than 30 seconds, to having our flight canceled, every second of the trip was worth it and taught me something new. I hope to be able to participate in NCUR again in the future.