2022-23 OUR grant winners provide insight on experiences

The Office of Undergraduate Research recognizes exceptional students with high performances on research projects. These top students provide insight as to what the Office of Undergraduate Research means to them.

Muneeb Akhtar

My participation in the program as an O.U.R. grant winner was genuinely transforming. I had the wonderful chance to perform undergraduate research in the field of cultural microbiology, specifically about Islamic dog teachings, which allowed me to deeply explore my interests and hobbies. Through the program, I learned vital skills in communication, data analysis, and laboratory procedures that have helped me in both my academic and professional endeavors.

The opportunity to network with other researchers and industry experts in my field will always be one of the most treasured parts of my experience. I felt supported and inspired by the program's community whether I was sharing my research at The Tenth Annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities or working with other groups. Overall, the O.U.R. program not only gave me the financial means to carry out my study but also the knowledge, contacts, and network I needed to be successful in my future undertakings.

Jennifer Arredondo

Being a part of the Office of Undergraduate Research organization has been an incredible experience that I'm truly grateful for. Working alongside such talented and passionate individuals has been inspiring and has taught me so much. This organization flows with opportunities and networking like no other.

Throughout my experience I’ve had the chance to work on new machinery and software. I’ve built techniques since learning to work with the M2 Fusion laser cutter, mold making and casting, AC and DC corona discharge treatments. Even sharpening my skills within Fusion360 and g-coding. The Office of Undergraduate Research has given me the opportunity to present my research beyond Lamar University – I’ve presented my research at TEHA conference in Round Rock, TX and at the Girls and Women in Science conference. Overall, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something so important and meaningful.

Noah Bonnette

My project was centered around two topics, primarily: metal casting and nano/microstructures. Both are not topics regularly discussed in a mechanical engineering curriculum. My OUR funded project allowed me to explore these topics in a very tangible way, that was interesting to me. Not only was I able to explore new topics related to my field of study, but I also gained valuable experience working with others to achieve common goals. Often, progress within my project was made from combined ideas and efforts of myself and other students, working on similar projects. From my class and internship experiences, I know that this is a valuable skill that I will continue to develop throughout the duration of my career. Finally, I am grateful for my OUR experience because it gave me the opportunity to contribute to a field of study that I am interested in. The thought that my time and effort invested into the project could lead to a meaningful discovery and advancement in this field excites me and makes me appreciate the opportunity that I had and those who helped make it a meaningful experience.

Aniya Crawford, Ethan Honza, Haley Perkins

Throughout our research project,
Leveling up: Obstacles to Sign Language Interpreting Advancement, which we conducted with Dr. Smith and Mr. Williams, we gained plenty of hands-on experience, not only with research itself, but interacting with other scholars and the general public. The many presentation opportunities we had were also valuable and encouraging experiences. While we started this journey nervously and unsure, the end result was three, semi-confident undergraduates ready to show everyone our efforts. Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to conduct our research.

Evelyn Hardy

OUR was a great experience for me. Before OUR, I had no idea what the research process was, but OUR broke it down into manageable pieces and allowed me to experience and learn it. My project was over “Effects of 3D Printed Bouligand Structures with Different Pitch Angles on a Materials Dynamic Yield Strength.” A large part of my project was 3D printing and Tensile testing, and working with them allowed me to gain a more thorough knowledge of CAD modeling and 3D printers. Overall my experience with OUR has taught me a great deal about the research process and the tools used in my research.

Maryah Javed

It has been a great honor to be a part of OUR research and work with my amazing mentors. I have developed so many valuable skills throughout this project. With the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Singh, I was able to learn how to conduct research and teach students. I have also met many incredible people along the way that have helped me understand what research is and how to do it. OUR has given me such a great experience that has not only taught me about research, but it has helped me grow as a person and gain more clarity for my future.

Heena Karani

Being chosen as an O.U.R fellow was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my time at Lamar. The support from the community that exists only within OUR has been an eternal constant in the past year. The various panels and presentations the OUR set up for us fellows were incredibly helpful as the research progressed. From the Literature Review presentation by Dr. Jordan to the panel discussions with past OUR awardees, I never felt alone or adrift in the process. My mentor, Dr. Twagirayezu, and I were especially grateful to the personal attention by the director of the OUR, Dr. Cristian Bahrim. Dr. Bahrim, even with all his various responsibilities, never failed to keep in touch on the progress of my research and to ask if there was any possible help he could personally offer. I am forever grateful for having been gifted the opportunity to be part of an amazing organization and project in my last year at Lamar. I am deeply thankful to Ms. Jenna Erwin, Dr. Cristian Bahrim, and, of course, Dr. Sylvestre Twagirayezu.

Itzanami Madrid

With this OUR grant, I had the ability to create an engaging lesson about climate change, teach it to preserve teachers, and gain more confidence in my abilities with creating lessons and teaching. With Dr. Singh’s help, I also gained a multitude of experience with the process of conducting research, from writing a literature review to formatting a research paper, and everything in between. As of present, I have completed my research, and presented my findings. My experience with OUR has also given me many opportunities to practice public speaking. Now that I am confident in my ability to give presentations, I hope to have more opportunities to present these findings in the future. The skills and knowledge that I gained throughout my journey of conducting educational research are invaluable to me and my future endeavors.

Amber Maredia

I am so grateful for the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of my wonderful mentor, Dr. Ian Lian, and for the support from the O.U.R. Through completing this project and participating at the EXPO, I have gained skills I feel can bring into the next phase of my career. As someone entering the field of medicine, I felt that conducting research at Lamar University helped me explore my interests and increased my curiosity about a relevant topic in today’s environment. I also gained research and presentation skills through the informative workshops held by the O.U.R. I would like to thank the Office of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Ian Lian, as well as my fellow students who worked on this project.

Aaron Martinez

The O.U.R. Program was a unique experience that fostered my joy in researching by giving me opportunities to present my research at conferences and to attend rich campus events and workshops that left me better equipped to continue research in the future. During my time in the program, I presented at two conferences, namely the EXPO conference and the TSAAPT 2023 Joint Spring Meeting, and I attended a total of four. These experiences improved my networking skills and exposed me to a variety of different scientific disciplines that undergraduates, graduates, and professionals conducted research in. In my opinion, providing professional conference experiences to undergraduates is what the O.U.R. Program does best, as no other program encourages students the way the O.U.R. Program does. This program certainly believes in you and rejoices with your achievements. To top it off, I learned fascinating scientific concepts, unique programming skills, and developed my writing skills from a professional viewpoint.

Nikhil Patel

Throughout the 2022-2023 year, I conducted undergraduate research at Lamar University with my mentor, Dr. Jordan. Not only has this experience been beneficial academically, but also personally as a student majoring in the STEM field. As a biology major with a pre-med concentration, I had been yearning for hands-on lab experience and to understand what being a researcher felt and looked like. OUR was the perfect opportunity for me and since being a grant recipient, I have fulfilled both wishes and more. For example, I learned how to cooperate with a variety of individuals, whether it be my mentor or participants. Additionally, I also gained valuable experience on managing my time, whether it was a submission for an IRB Proposal or even small things, such as working independently in the lab with a short time frame to get this done. Overall, this experience was very enrichening, and not only did I benefit from it academically, but also personally. I drastically grew as a young scholar and I can’t wait to see where my journey goes, thanks to OUR.

Justin Ramirez

As an undergraduate researcher, I enjoyed many aspects of the research program. Firstly, I appreciated the opportunity to work alongside experienced researchers and gain valuable insights into their approaches and methodologies. This allowed me to develop my own research skills and techniques, as well as expand my knowledge in a particular field of study. Secondly, I enjoyed the challenge of conducting research and the sense of accomplishment that came with making progress and achieving results. It was rewarding to see my hard work and dedication pay off in the form of new discoveries or contributions to the field. Lastly, the research program provided a platform for me to develop valuable transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication, which will serve me well in any future endeavors. Overall, the research program was a challenging and rewarding experience that I greatly enjoyed.

Omar Ramos

Overall, doing research for the project ”Deaf Latino’s Experiences in Post-Secondary Education”, has been a memorable experience. Working with Dr. Smith and Jazleen as my team has given me a sense of how collegiate research goes for EXPOs and such. Presenting at EXPO was surprisingly a pretty laid-back experience. The judges had a basic sense of Deaf culture as a whole and seemed genuinely curious to learn more about how they could support.

Cristian Reza Mora

Through my research experience for Lamar’s Office of Undergraduate Research, I cannot emphasize enough the value-impact in my personal and academic growth. Although the process was filled with numerous personal and technical challenges, setbacks, and roadblocks, the support and guidance from the director as well as my mentor helped me persevere through the difficulties that ultimately led to the successful completion of the project. Their guidance and support played a crucial role in shaping my research skills and taught me the importance of resilience and perseverance in the face of obstacles. In this program, I not only developed a newfound appreciation for research, but also gained the confidence and skills necessary to better tackle future challenges. From my experience, I recommend O.U.R. opportunities to any student seeking to expand their knowledge and skills to better develop valuable problem-solving abilities.

Madison Smith

Being a part of the O.U.R program has been one of the highlights of my undergraduate career and has set me up for success in graduate school! This program has provided amazing opportunities to collaborate with experienced researchers, develop friendships within the program, and has increased my confidence in public speaking! I have enjoyed being a part of this program and the valuable insight I have received from the many workshops, panel discussions, and other resources graciously provided by O.UR. I would highly recommend this experience to any student who is interested in research!

Cindy Sosa Castro

Going into the OUR program, I was excited and nervous because I had never conducted research. However, the OUR program allowed me to engage in firsthand research, write the report, and present with the support and guidance of my mentor. Some of my great learning lessons included conducting a literature review by finding relevant articles. I also learned how to conduct interviews to set boundaries between a researcher and participants. Another thing I learned was that recruiting participants can be challenging when the population is small. Therefore, learning how to use snowballing sampling procedures to get the needed participants was significant. Additionally, my mentor introduced me to basic MAAXQDA as an analysis program to visualize my data. Finally, learning and improving my writing, confidence, and presentation skills was a wonderful experience. Overall, the OUR experience has changed my perception of college and motivated me to pursue graduate studies.

Kimberlie Travelstead

When I transferred to Lamar University, I knew that taking advantage of every opportunity I could participate in would help give me a sound footing in pursuing my dreams. OUR grant and the fellowship that goes along with it have done just that for me.

It was great to be able to choose my own research topic, and I discovered that other students were eager to support and encourage my ideas as I explored an aspect of an earlier study that had remained unexplored.  The scientific method is a fantastic procedure, and it often yields results that raise new queries.  It is essential to have access to the right mentor if you want to keep the project exciting.  Dr. Hoch, who I selected as my mentor, was the ideal fit for me.  Since he continuously considers my input and has an excellent flair for turning a developing idea into a masterpiece, I like studying with him.

Nicholas Wade and Joshua Mallari

We both enjoyed our time as O.U.R. grant recipients and we believe that our research was a meaningful experience despite it not being within our field of expertise. This research experience elevated our knowledge of the fundamentals of electrical engineering and gave us a newfound level of respect for the field. We greatly appreciated the opportunity provided by the O.U.R. grant funds as it made this wonderful experience possible for us. Additionally, we want to give thanks for the opportunity that our mentor, Dr. Stefan Andrei, provided for us as well as the plethora of guidance he was able to provide whilst on our research journey. It was an enlightening experience to be able to enjoy the presentations and posters of the other O.U.R. grant fellows during EXPO 2023 as we were able to glean a lot about the other fields and practices presented at the conference.

Jonah Watts

The Lamar O.U.R. Program has helped me develop essential research skills that I will be able to utilize for the rest of my career. I have been able to explore a new field that I never would have even thought of and have learned a tremendous amount throughout the process. I would like to thank Dr. Bogdana Bahrim for being an amazing mentor and guiding me throughout this research. I am forever grateful for this amazing experience.

Colby White

I am truly thankful to both my mentor, Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor, and to the Lamar University Office of Undergraduate Research for providing me with a valuable and memorable research experience. I enjoyed the experience this academic year immensely. The skills and knowledge I gained were invaluable, and I feel like it really helped me grow both personally and academically. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring their field of study in a deeper way. The opportunities for growth and discovery are endless, and the impact it can have on your future career is immeasurable.

Lexus Wilkerson

The O.U.R. Grant has allowed me to work closely with my mentors, Dr. Agim Kukeli and Dr. Dan French to produce a quality research project. Although my research did not require materials, the grant allows me the ability to travel and present our research at conferences. Above all, the Office of Undergraduate Research provided many workshops and panels that were very helpful in learning how to research at a university level.

Lily Yoder

Participating in undergraduate research has greatly shaped my time here at Lamar. I am grateful to Dr. Bahrim and Ms. Erwin for their guidance as always, and I am especially thankful to my mentor Dr. Kirk who encourages me and has taught me everything I know about the research process.