“Accidental” Aggie Embraces All Things Texas A&M, From Undergrad Research to the Extracurricular
Senior chemistry major Mario Cosio ’17 never considered Texas A&M University as an option when he was deciding on which college to attend – until he was tricked into it.
Cosio says the culprit was his high school counselor, a die-hard Aggie. And the paperwork she had him fill out his senior year in 2013 under the pretense of being just another scholarship application actually was a registration form to attend a three-day retreat for high school seniors that enabled them to visit Texas A&M and learn about the campus’ rich history and its many opportunities.
“I’d visited colleges before, but this was the first place where on the bus ride home, I thought, ‘I can’t wait to go back; I can’t wait to bring my parents,'” Cosio said. “For such a big campus, it feels so small, like a home. I felt like I was already an Aggie, and I hadn’t even been accepted yet.”
While Texas A&M’s esteemed traditions and hospitable culture eventually won him over, Cosio says it was the university’s high academic standards that confirmed his decision was the right one, particularly with regard to the chemistry program. Cosio certainly has proven worthy of the challenge, earning multiple scholarships throughout his undergraduate career. He currently holds eight separate awards, including two specific to the College of Science: a Hach Scientific Foundation Chemistry Teaching Scholarship endowed through the Texas A&M Foundation to assist chemistry students interested in pursuing careers as teachers, and a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program scholarship funded through the National Science Foundation to support underrepresented students in STEM disciplines, specifically those involved in undergraduate research.
On that latter front, Cosio has been studying metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for the past year and a half under chemistry professor Hongcai Joe Zhou, holder of a Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and an international expert in the design of framework materials, including MOFs.
MOFs’ precise, highly porous structure and adsorptive properties have proven to be particularly useful in gas storage and separation, generating a buzz in many environmental and energy circles. They are composed of crystalline compounds of organic structures that are held together by metal ions, which can be changed to manipulate their properties. Cosio is investigating MOFs for their efficacy in the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels and industrial processes before it can reach the atmosphere, thereby preventing a number of ecological issues, particularly climate change.
Although carbon-capture technology currently is not required of large emitters like power plants, Cosio believes MOFs are on their way to becoming a necessary part of the climate solution.