Clark Program Immerses Undergrads in Research
17 Scholars Paired With Faculty Members for Wide Range of Projects
Aug. 15, 2011
For the 21 students taking part in the Anson L. Clark Summer Research Program at UT Dallas, the last few months have been a whirlwind of research, lab work and theory development.
This year’s Clark scholars included 17 incoming freshmen and four current students. They studied topics ranging from tinnitus treatments to environmental monitoring systems to improving socioeconomic conditions in Colombia.
Clark scholars put the results of their research on display at a poster session on Thursday.
Students awarded an Academic Excellence Scholarship were eligible to apply for the 10-week program. They received $2,000 stipends and were matched with faculty mentors from across campus. Nearly every school was represented.
Dani Litovsky, a returning Clark student from the School of Economic, Political & Policy Sciences (EPPS), examined scores of websites for statistical data about whether new public facilities in Colombia had helped improve everyday life for some Colombians.
She said her experience in the program helped validate her decision to change her major prior to the start of classes last fall.
“It’s been great to be a Clark student because I got to start my college experience early and ultimately decide what I wanted to study,” she said.
Litovsky’s mentor, Dr. Jennifer Holmes, said this was her first year to work with the summer research program.
“I don’t have a lab, and my work is outside of the traditional hard sciences,” said Holmes, associate professor of political economy and political science and associate program head for the international political economy and master of public policy programs in EPPS. “Because she’s bilingual, Dani was able to decipher detailed, rich, complicated information from Colombian websites and find the information I needed. Working with her through the Clark program was a fun mix of policy relevant work that I’m sure will have an impact on her larger college experience.”
According to Courtney Brecheen, assistant dean in the Office of Undergraduate Education, research activities like those available through the Clark program enrich students’ academic and professional careers.
“This is an important component of the undergraduate research experience at UT Dallas,” she said. “It demonstrates our commitment to excellence by affording incoming undergrads the chance to engage in hands-on research with more senior classmates and faculty mentors.”
New this year, the Clark students concluded their experience with a poster session in which they explained their projects to visitors in an informal setting.
The Clark Summer Research Program is supported by staff in the Office of Undergraduate Education. It is part of a much larger effort by UT Dallas to enrich the undergraduate research experience of its students, according to Dr. Paul Pantano, an associate professor of chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Clark Program faculty advisor.
“We worked hard to connect the students with schools and areas of study that were relevant to their majors and interests,” he said. “We hope this experience has set them up to be involved and acclimated to research for the duration of their experience at UT Dallas.”
The Clark Summer Research Program is funded by an endowment from the Clark Foundation in recognition of the interests of Dr. Anson L. Clark. Clark had an unusual and successful career, first as an engineer, then as a Mayo Clinic physician and finally as a businessman in the oil and banking industries. Clark’s philanthropic activities have supported scholarly endeavors at a number of Texas colleges and universities, including the Anson L. Clark Memorial Lecture, the Anson L. Clark Summer Research Program, the Anson L. Clark Presidential Scholarship, and the Anson Clark Research Initiation Fund in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Endowment, all at UT Dallas.
Jeff Thekkekara explains his summer research project. He is an incoming freshman in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Erin Korzeniewski, an incoming freshman from Kyle, Texas, explains her research about speech disorders and dyslexia. She was mentored by Behavioral and Brain Sciences faculty member Dr. Michael Kilgard and BBS grad student Tracy Rosen.
Dr. Paul Pantano, associate professor of chemistry, and Courtney Brecheen, assistant dean for undergraduate education, helped match students with faculty mentors for the Clark Summer Research Program.