Student Research LAUNCH Event Has Record Participation
A record 250 students participated in Texas A&M University’s LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Symposium, which encourages students to conduct research within a community of scholars.
Now in its third year, the LAUNCH event gives students a chance to present a their research on a wide variety of research topics to students and faculty and receive feedback.
In short, it’s a way for students from all academic disciplines to get involved in research at Texas A&M.
LAUNCH gives students the opportunity to present their research projects as oral presentations and posters describing their work, and faculty members help give them pointers to develop their communication skills.
“This has been a record turnout for us – all slots were full,” said Sarah M. Misemer, professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies and associate director of LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research. Misemer is one of the coordinators of LAUNCH.
“The students tell us that the most enjoyable part of all of this is the feedback they get from their professors who help guide them on their projects,” she said. “They get a chance to work one-on-one with some of the best minds in the world, and it’s a great experience for these students as they continue their careers and helps them down the road as they pursue their academic goals.”
Projects cover all fields and range from the mysterious to the intriguing, such as “Tick Borne Pathogens Prevalent in Puerto Rican Livestock,” “Pirouette VR – How Can Virtual Reality Be Used to Advance Modern Dance Education Methods” from the Department if Visualization, and “Evaluating the Efficacy of Ancient Egyptian Surgery” from the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Senior Nariko Nakachi’s project “Investigating the Needs of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students at a Large University” examines what needs college students are not getting as they try to succeed in a living and learning community on campus.
“I worked closely with Dr. Robert Garcia and the experience was amazing for me,” Nakachi said. “Even though I’m an undergrad, I get treated like a graduate student. If you are thinking about graduate school, this event can really help you, and I think it’s a big reason why I was just accepted to grad school at Columbia University.”
Other projects entered included “First Year Eats” which examined nutritional needs of freshman students and how these affected or contributed to academic performance; “Dimple Detection Using Facial Landmarks in Videos,” which looks closely at 68 facial factors in a human face and originated in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering; “Forgiveness and Punishment,” which looks at the concept of people being able to forgive someone and punish them at the same time, from the Glasscock Center for the Humanities; and “Architectural Modernism on the Texas A&M Campus,” which looks at various building designs at Texas A&M.
Misemer said a collaboration with the University of Texas has continued this year, and the exchange with UT allows six students from both schools to network with students and faculty away from their home campus and participate in research work.
“We also had 15 students from our campus in Qatar attend this year, and three from Texas A&M-Galveston, so we are developing a great partnership with our fellow schools,” Misemer said.