Engaged Scholar Symposium highlights student research, recognizes community engagement

The Engaged Scholar Symposium (ES2), the largest multidisciplinary gathering of undergraduate scholars in South Texas, kicked off Tuesday, April 18 on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus. ES2, a two-day event, was initiated to share and celebrate multidisciplinary undergraduate research, service-learning projects, and creative works being conducted by UTRGV students. During the symposium, UTRGV students showcased their work through oral and poster presentations and displays, which were judged by faculty and graduate students. ES2 continues on the Edinburg Campus Wednesday, April 19. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

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By Cheryl Taylor

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – APRIL 19, 2017 – The annual Engaged Scholar Symposium that recognizes undergraduate student research and community engagement opened its first day on the Brownsville Campus of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, April 18.

Hosted by the Office of Engaged Scholarship & Learning, the event gives undergraduate students an opportunity to display their research efforts and compete for prizes. Posters were on display in the PlainsCapital Bank El Gran Salón, and oral presentations were given in the adjacent Life & Health Sciences Building. The symposium continued at the UTRGV Edinburg Campus on Wednesday, April 19.

Research subjects covered the gamut from “Effects of Machining Process on the Failure of Tensile Test Specimens” to “Gene Discovery for Epilepsy in the Latino Population by Whole Exome Sequencing” to “Thermal Dose Dissipation Appriach for Escherichia coli.”

The full day started with a keynote address by Dr. Teresa Feria Arroyo, UTRGV associate professor of biology, about her research related to endangered, invasive, and vector-borne disease species.

Feria talked about the excitement of working in research, and encouraged students to develop their intellectual curiosity. She promoted study abroad, and urged students to search for scholarships. Another area she touched upon was the importance of developing a good work/personal life balance.

In the morning, students delivered oral presentations on their research. Throughout the afternoon, students stood proudly aside their posters, explaining their research and answering questions from visitors and judges.

In late afternoon, as the judges were compiling their tallies, Dr. Kristin Croyle, vice president for Student Success, spoke briefly to the students about the importance of undergraduate research and service learning.

“Service learning allows you to apply what you are learning in the classroom with a community partner in a way that expands your knowledge and awareness,” Croyle said. “Thank you to our community partners. We know service learning can be rewarding to both parties, and we are grateful for their collaboration.”

Distinguished Community Engagement Partner Award

Chris Trejo, assistant vice president for Community Engagement and Assessment, reminded the audience of an event that took place at the 2016 Engaged Scholars Symposium awards ceremony one year ago – the launch of the UTRGV Engagement Zone (EZ).

“UTRGV is truly committed to be an engaged university, fostering opportunities for students to apply their learning beyond the classroom while addressing critical issues in our community,” Trejo said. “Partnerships with the community are vital, and we had the vision to create a user-friendly path that would enable nonprofits to engage with our students – a way for students to become aware of service learning opportunities, while assisting the mission of the nonprofit organization.”

Trejo recalled the challenges of synchronizing the use of an electronic volunteer recruitment platform that connected the community and UTRGV, but said the partners involved were as committed as UTRGV’s leadership.

“This year’s Distinguished Community Engagement Partner Award goes to two remarkable partners, United Way of Southern Cameron County and United Way of Northern Cameron County,” Trejo announced. “United Way has been a vital partner in engaging students in the act of strengthening our community and in helping those in need.”

The platform has proven to be a tremendous tool, Trejo said, with over 4,700 volunteer/service hours logged through the EZ by students in the fall 2016 semester.
Traci Wickett, president and CEO of United Way of Southern Cameron County, accepted the award for both entities.

“We are grateful for this recognition, and I must thank everyone who has enabled this collaboration between United Way and UTRGV to flourish,” Wickett said. “As we go forward, I would like to share these few words that say so much, and embody the spirit of United Way – from an African proverb that I saw posted at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’”

Also representing United Way were Jessica Belschner, executive director, and Kathy Preddy, resource development director, for United Way of Northern Cameron County; and Amanda Sampayo, board chair for United Way of Southern Cameron County.

The Engaged Scholar Symposium (ES2), the largest multidisciplinary gathering of undergraduate scholars in South Texas, kicked-off Tuesday, April 18 on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus. Dr. Teresa Patricia Feria, an associate professor, UTRGV Department of Biology, delivered the morning keynote address to commence the symposium. ES2 continues on the Edinburg Campus Wednesday, April 19. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike) Dr. Teresa Patricia Feria Arroyo, associate professor, UTRGV Department of Biology, delivered the morning keynote address to commence the Engaged Scholar Symposium. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

And the Engaged Scholars Symposium winners are:

Oral Presentations

Title: Benchmark Pulmonary Center
Authors: Ruby Resendez, Alejandra M. Garcia, Justine Rodriguez, Luis Fonseca, Nicole Montiel

Engineering/Computer Science
Title: A Vertical Axis Rotor for Wave Energy Conversion
Authors: Francisco Salazar Jr, Joab Soto-Flores

Title: UTRGV’s Running Man
Authors: Julio Hernandez, Esmirna Cantu, Paige Loughlin, Michelle Rivera, Bianca Jasso

Liberal Arts
Title: On Assuming Identities: Comparing Views of Guy de Maupassant and Jennie Livingston
Authors: Soren Johanns Bugtong

Title: Quantum Chemical Calculations of the Monomer and Monohydrate of 3,3,3-trifluoro-2-(trifluoromethyl)propanal
Authors: Michael J. Carrillo, Wei Lin

Poster Presentations

Engineering/Computer Science
Title: Why Do Car Windshields Get Broken So Easily by Stone Impacts?
Authors: Xavier Castaneda, Darien Iracheta, Jesus Gonzalez, Immanuel Edinbarough, Antonio Suarez

Title: An Investigation of the Attachment and Proliferation of Cells on PCL scaffolds with Different Porogen Volume Percent and Sizes for Bone Tissue Engineering
Authors: Carolina Leynes, Marco Arriaga, Sue Ann Chew

Interdisciplinary/Liberal Arts
Title: Evaluation of The Early Clinical Experiences in the A-PRIME TIME Brownsville Campus Program
Authors: Alejandra Torres, Sachin George, Paul Alexander Shane, Muhammad Siddiqui, Hugo Rodriguez, Maria Teresa Castaneda, Manuel Saldivar, Erich Wittmer

Sciences (x2), in no particular order
Title: Primary Culture of Dopaminergic Neurons from the Midbrain of the Monodelphis domestica
Authors: Hector Filizola, Alejandra C. Camacho, Mario Gil, Gabriel A. de Erausquin

Title: Thermal Dose Dissipation Approach for Escherichia coli
Authors: Daniela Butanda, Ivan Davila, Karen Martirosyan

Community Research
Title: Analysis of Medical and Social Barriers to Optimal Diabetes Care in Patients Attending a Community Health Center
Authors: Lakshman Vigneswaran

Service Learning
Title: Brain Day at The Children’s Museum of Brownsville
Authors: Deanna A. Sanchez

Title: Writers and Artwork
Authors: Zugay Treviño

For more information about Engaged Scholarship & Learning, Office of Student Academic Success, contact Dr. Amy A. Weimer, associate dean of Student Academic Development, at 956-665-2442 or via email at amy.weimer@utrgv.edu.


Senior Writer / 956-882-8787

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications