Mexican Undergraduates Conduct Research with Faculty Mentors
Sept. 2, 2015
Undergraduate students from various Mexican universities spent six weeks on campus working with faculty mentors on STEM-related research projects.
In partnership with the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative and the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research, the UT Dallas-Mexico Summer Research Program is designed to immerse junior-level students from participating Mexican universities to active research environments on campus.
“Participants work closely with faculty mentors and are exposed to and engaged in hands-on, STEM-related learning experiences that inspire curiosity, help connect students to the real-world experiences of STEM professionals and give students project-based making and learning experiences,” said Dr. Austin Cunningham, professor of physics. “We at UT Dallas believe that such experiences will better inform the students on the excitement and rewards of a future research career and further enhance the collaboration between the research communities of both Mexico and the U.S.”
Selected from more than 300 applicants, the students spend six weeks on campus conducting research with the supervision of faculty mentors and their respective research group. Working in fields such as physics, art and technology and materials science, the students analyze their data and present their findings at the end of the program.
Blanca Azucena Hernández Sotelo, a student at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Cuernacava, Mexico, presented her research on 2D nanotechnology on July 9.
“Jorge was simply outstanding — both as a researcher and a person,” Sibert said. “He also successfully completed a multistep synthesis to a new compound that we hope will serve as a sensor for the environmentally deleterious arsenic. He will be missed.”
During their final presentations, students delivered presentations, in English, to their peers and mentors. Some students said that the language barrier was a significant hurdle, but none were impeded by it.
“I feel like the biggest difference in having an American colleague in research is getting acclimated to a relationship that is more professional and very focused on the task at hand,” Gálvez said. “I think it’s a cultural difference.”
Coral Ortiz Torres, a chemical engineering major at the University of Veracruz, spent the summer researching the photoelectrical properties of cadmium sulfide with Dr. Manuel Quevedo-Lopez, associate professor of materials science and engineering.
“In my case, I’m delighted because I did research in an area that I had never considered, and now, it’s broadened my vision,” Torres said. “Perhaps I’ll continue the research I began this summer.”
Summer Faculty Mentors
Dr. David Lary, Dr. Robert Gregg, Dr. Farokh Bastani, Dr. Ron Smaldone, Dr. John Sibert, Dr. Zhenyu Xuan, Dr. Anvar Zakhidov, Dr. Manuel Quevedo, Dr. Jiyong Lee, Dr. KJ Cho, Dr. Ryan McMahan, Dr. Rosanna Guadagno, Dr. Roozbeh Jafari, Dr. Jun Wang and Dr. Walter Voit
In between their workload, the students also experienced Dallas-area attractions, such as the Dallas World Aquarium, Six Flags Over Texas and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science as part of the cultural and linguistic component of the program with Thomas Lambert, senior lecturer of linguistics in the School of Arts and Humanities.
José Octavio Tripp Villanueva, the Consul General of Mexico in Dallas, said the program and its participating students are a clear expression of the success of a binational higher education strategy.
“It is evident proof of a functional and comprehensive strategy, which includes federal governments and Mexican and U.S. universities, enhancing academic actions and concrete outcomes from governmental commitment,” he said. “Under this frame of collaboration, UT Dallas has been an outstanding academic leader."