A Penny for Your Thoughts; Student Research Ideas turn Reality

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Eight innovative student research ideas are now getting a kick-start thanks to the first ever Student Research Competition at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

"I am encouraged to continue pursuing science and research because I was a part of this competition and even earned my first award from the University," said Xin Deng a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi marine biology graduate student. "Thanks to the funding, I can now conduct research that could give insight into the severe health consequences of food deprivation."

The Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach (RCO) has supported the development of Island University faculty and staff researchers through a variety of activities including training and professional development to help researchers learn the skills they need to be successful. Recognizing that teaching and research are closely connected, RCO developed the program to enable students to fund their research in conjunction with a faculty mentor.  

"Writing proposals is an important part of many professionals' lives," said Dan Riechers, RCO senior research development officer. "This program offers students the chance to experience the reality of doing grant-funded work, learning about the process now can help them make more informed choices about future career paths."

The eight competition winners were required to create a research plan, proposal, and budget from start to finish. The reward for all this hard work was an $800 check.

The 2018 award recipients are:

  • Xin Deng, for her research proposal titled, "Evaluation of the Function of Serotonin to Rescue Learning Deficits Caused by Food Deprivation in an Invertebrate Model." Dr. Riccardo Mozzachiodi, associate professor of neuroscience, will be Deng's faculty mentor for the project.
  • Nicole Elledge, for her research proposal titled, "Assessing the Impact of Stormwater Runoff on the Marine Bacteria Community in Corpus Christi Bay." Dr. Jeffery Turner, assistant professor of marine biology will be Elledge's faculty mentor for the project.
  • Adam Hennad, for his research proposal, "Determining Volume of Irregularly-shaped Objects from 3D Visual Scans." Ruby Mehrubeoglu, professor and program coordinator of engineering, will be Hennad's faculty mentor for the project.
  • Kimberlee Mincey, for her research proposal titled, "An Exploratory Qualitative Inquiry on the Lived Experiences of People who Engage with Pro-Eating Disorder Online Media." Dr. Michelle Hollenbaugh, assistant professor of counseling and educational psychology will be Mincey's mentor for the project.
  • Megan Mullis, for her research proposal titled, "Microbial Community Survival in Mariana Forearc Sediments." Dr. Brandi Kiel Reese, assistant professor of microbial ecology, will be Mullis' faculty mentor for the project.
  • Jamiu Opoola for his research proposal titled, "The Significance of Sustainability Reporting to the Realization of Sustainable Development Goals." Don Deis, regent's professor of accounting, will be Opoola's faculty mentor for the project.
  • Tri Vo, for his research proposal titled, "Emotion Recognition and Prediction from Physiological Signals to Enhance Human-Computer Interaction Experience." Dr. Junfei Xie, assistant professor in the Computer Science program, will be Vo's faculty mentor for the project.
  • Rachel Weisand, for her research proposal titled, "Spatial and Temporal Variability of Microbial Communities within Mangrove Systems." Dr. Brandi Kiel Reese, assistant professor of microbial ecology, will be Weisand's faculty mentor for the project. 

Opoola, a business graduate student, applied for the competition with the intent of broadening his horizons and adding perspective to the world of business research. Through his research, he hopes to hold corporations accountable for the effect they have on their surrounding environments. Opoola also plans to share what he has learned through the Student Research Competition and pass that on to his peers.

"I'm thankful for this opportunity to spread my wings," he said. "I was always interested in sharing knowledge and would tutor my peers while assisting my instructors, so naturally I seized the opportunity to take my learning and assisting my fellow Islanders further."

RCO plans to continue the Student Research Competition annually in addition to several other internal funding programs. For more information on this and other professional development opportunities, visit research.tamucc.edu.