Island University Celebrates New Ideas, Novel Approaches During 2nd Annual Research and Innovation Week

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi showcased the accomplishments of Islander students, faculty, staff, and researchers during the second annual Research and Innovation (R&I) Week, March 28-April 1.

More than 430 Islanders and community members alike flocked to events both in-person and online, highlighting the university’s mission to enhance student success through scholarly and creative activities. Events included a research showcase, expert panel discussions, featured speakers, research forums, and more.

Dr. Ahmed Mahdy, TAMU-CC Vice President for Research and Innovation, says R&I Week is one more way the university celebrates being the innovation hub for the Coastal Bend and beyond.

“This is a statement of how research and innovation are central to TAMU-CC’s mission and ultimate goal of student success and a testament of how much we have grown,” Mahdy said.

The week’s festivities began with a kickoff event on March 28. The event invited participants to vote for their favorite entry in the Research Image Student Competition and visit with the university’s research centers and institutes through pop-up booths. Later that day, R&I hosted a virtual research showcase which invited faculty from across campus to give a five-minute presentation on their field of study and current research to students seeking faculty mentors.

Day two of R&I Week presented the anticipated featured speaker event “Pioneering Coastal Artificial Intelligence,” in which distinguished speakers, Dr. Philippe Tissot, Associate Professor of Research, Corpus Christi City Councilman Greg Smith, and Islander students Marina Vicens Miquel and Beto Estrada, provided an in-depth discussion on the university’s role as a leader in Coastal Artificial Intelligence (AI). The talk, moderated by Jennifer Vela, Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Communications at the Texas State Aquarium, featured a robust overview of the region’s coastal changes in recent decades as well as the policies that address these changes. Tissot shared details about the ongoing work AI2ES has accomplished to date in two of four focus areas: use-inspired research in environmental science and foundational research in AI risk communication for environmental science hazards. The team also shared details about models they are working on to predict fog, cold stunning events, and beach inundation.

Events like this inspire students to continue to make advancements in their own field while opening the doors for collaboration with others.

Dr. Sining Kong, TAMU-CC Assistant Professor of Communication

“Sea levels are rising, our climate is changing, and this is creating bigger coastal management challenges,” Tissot said. “The TAMU-CC team, presently funding 17 students, is at the forefront of using AI to better predict and understand the coastal environment and provide new tools for often difficult and timely decisions.”

Other events throughout the week included the Council for Principal Investigators and Research Administrator (CIPRA) Research Forum, which highlighted collaborative research, along with “Communicating Your Research Professionally,” a workshop hosted by Don Luna, TAMU-CC Professor Emeritus of Theatre.

The week-long celebration wrapped up with an awards ceremony on April 1. The event awarded internal research awards, including the Impact Multiplier Grant, Texas Comprehensive Research Fund, Research Enhancement Grant, Research Equipment and Infrastructure Grant, the Summer Grant Fellowship, and the Research Student Image Competition winner.  

Dr. Sining Kong, Assistant Professor of Communication, was awarded both the Summer 2021 Grant Fellows Program and 2022 Research Enhancement funding.

“Events like this inspire students to continue to make advancements in their own field while opening the doors for collaboration with others,” Kong said. “For a professor and researcher like myself, it inspires me to continue my work, and is a recognition I am extremely honored to receive. Hard science helps us understand the world, while social science helps us understand who we are in the world.”

At the awards ceremony, environmental science major Dominic Vargas ’23, was announced as the first-place winner of the Research Image Student Competition for his photo which showcased the morning sunlight bathing over a deck at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

“Students are the future of the scientific conversation and novel ideas are birthed from curiosity and awareness of the known,” Vargas said. “This competition awarded me the opportunity to share my experiences from the classroom to my everyday work environment – it was an honor to be able to contribute something that engaged others.”