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Spring Interaction: Students Find Lab Work to Keep Them Busy

Students enrolled in the UT Dallas School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for in-person classes this spring have plenty to keep them busy.

According to Dr. Michael Biewer, associate dean of undergraduate education for NSM and an associate professor of chemistry, most of the school’s labs are open for in-person research activities.

In addition, the spring semester marks the start of the annual Green Fellows Program, in which selected students conduct research in labs with faculty mentors at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“About half to two-thirds of the Green Fellows students are NSM majors. They will not be taking classes at UT Dallas, but rather earning research credit by working with groups at UT Southwestern,” Biewer said.

Senior biochemistry major Rebecca Waugh is one of the Green Fellows.

Rebecca Waugh

“I’m in the pediatric cardiology MRI lab, which is a biomedical engineering/imaging lab at Children’s Medical Center Dallas through UT Southwestern,” Waugh said. “I’m getting my research credits as upper-elective biology. This program is giving me a great opportunity to explore where medicine and research meet. I am currently choosing between either an MD or an MD/PhD program for my future. 

“Being a Green Fellow, I get to work closely with two MD/PhDs, Dr. Tarique Hussain and Dr. Radomir Chabiniok. I’ve already learned a lot about analyzing echocardiographs and cardiac MRIs,” Waugh said. “Being surrounded by these types of people and having this opportunity is invigorating and makes me very excited for my future no matter what I decide.”

Tina Lin, a chemistry senior who’s been accepted into the PhD program at UT Southwestern, shared what she’s looking forward to this spring.

Tina Lin

“I am most excited about the computational chemistry course I am taking. I think computational chemistry is a good skill to have, no matter what chemistry field you end up in. I am very glad I can learn about it here at UTD,” Lin said. 

“I also look forward to the weekly seminars that the chemistry department holds. It is always interesting to hear about research happening in other parts of the world.”

A new program launched this spring is the UTDiscovery program for data science majors.  

“This is a capstone project where seniors in this major work on a problem that is sometimes industry-directed or sometimes a problem initiated by math faculty members,” Biewer said. “Students are split into groups of three or four and are assigned an open-ended problem where they apply the knowledge they have learned throughout their undergraduate degree and come up with creative solutions.”

The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science has a similar capstone program called UTDesign.

And coming May 1 is the Meeting in Miniature, a virtual seminar where graduate and undergraduate students are invited to present their contributions to chemistry research.

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by Haywood McNeill — January 29, 2021