Islanders Victorious at TAMUS Pathways Student Research Symposium

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Island University swept the doctoral category in the Engineering and Computer Science Division and the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Division at the 18th annual Texas A&M University Pathways Students Research Symposium. The symposium is a yearly student research showcase held for all undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students from all institutions within the Texas A&M University System. Students get the opportunity to present their research to faculty, participate in developmental workshops, and network amongst the A&M System.

The College of Graduate Studies (CGS) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi coordinated travel arrangements to Texas A&M University at Galveston for 46 Islander undergraduate and graduate students who presented their research at the symposium. The CGS also accompanied the student group and provided training and support to the participants; 12 students brought home awards in various categories.

Dr. Karen McCaleb, College of Graduate Studies Dean, said this was likely the largest traveling cohort of TAMU-CC participants to take part in the event.

“Our Islanders’ research showcased our exceptional students as well as the breadth and depth of our programs,” McCaleb said. “Our student work is impressive, and it was even more special when our doctoral Islanders swept two categories. Their recognition speaks volumes to the strength of our students, faculty, and programs.”

Jacob Hopkins ‘22, ‘26, a geospatial computer science major, presented his first-place award-winning research about implementing a new digital verification certificate (VC) for the COVID-19 vaccine called VaxCheck, which would allow VC owners to have control over what information can be released regarding their vaccination status. Hopkins said his advisor, Dr. Carlos Rubio-Medrano, TAMU-CC Assistant Professor of Computer Science, gave him advice about presenting his research in a way that was both understandable and intriguing to the audience.

“This was the first time my research was presented to people outside of my immediate circle,” Hopkins said. “I have been blessed that I was able to perform research and present it at the TAMUS Pathways Symposium. This event has further cemented my desire to pursue a career as a researcher in either academia or in industry.”

For her first-ever presentation on a professional level, Ayleen Chen ‘24, an undergraduate biomedical science major, presented her poster project about long-term memory in the invertebrate model, Aplysia, and the effects of nitric oxide as a carrier signal in long-term sensitization. Her research mentors include Drs. Riccardo Mozzachiodi, TAMU-CC Professor of Life Sciences, and Marcy Wainwright, TAMU-CC adjunct faculty.

“All my achievements thus far have been because of my fabulous mentors,” said Chen, who took home a third-place award. “Their continuous support has allowed me to come this far.”

Chen is celebrating more than her Pathways win. She’s also recently been accepted to an external Summer Research Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Medical Scientist Training Program, where she will receive dual degree training for an M.D./Ph.D. by investigating the degeneration of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons and their connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

“As a first-generation college student with first-generation immigrant parents, I have seemed to have to do things by myself and look at internet sources for assistance,” Chen said. “Nevertheless, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has allowed me to find a valuable support system that I will always remain grateful for.”

The full list of Islander winners is as follows:

Engineering and Computer Science Division, Doctoral:

  • First place: Jacob Hopkins
  • Second place: Ahmed Mohamed Saad Emam
  • Third place: Syed Izzat Ullah

Mathematics & Physical Sciences, Undergraduate:

  • Third place: Quincy Walker

Mathematics & Physical Sciences, Doctoral:

  • First place: Ramadan Abdelrehim
  • Second place: Ahmed Omar
  • Third place: Mohamed Mousa

Life Sciences, Undergraduate:

  • Second place: Emily Cano
  • Third place: Ayleen Chen

Life Sciences, Master’s:

  • Second place: Landrue Richards
  • Third place: Jennifer Gilmore

Life Sciences, Doctoral:

  • Third place: Alexandra Good

In addition to the symposium, 16 students participated in the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, where Emily Cano and Quincy Walker placed for their presentations. The LSAMP program was created to assist universities and colleges diversify the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce.