Undergrads Showcase Research Efforts at Exhibition
Debut of Undergraduate Research Journal, The Exley, is Celebrated
Apr. 10, 2012
Elizabeth Exley Hodge, second from right, met with students at the Exhibition of Excellence in Undergraduate Research. From left: Matthew McCann, who is studying electrical engineering; Larissa Weidenbruch, literary studies and Triet S. Nguyen, biochemistry.
The University’s first undergraduate research journal, The Exley, was the star of the show at the University’s recent Exhibition of Excellence in Undergraduate Research.
The new journal, which debuted at the March 29th event, presents traditional research, ranging from geosciences to investment analysis, as well as creative works, including black and white photography, charcoal drawings and poetry.
The exhibition showcased the work of UT Dallas’ brightest young researchers. University of Texas System Regent Brenda Pejovich joined students, faculty and administrators in the Clark Center to hear first-hand about the opportunities for undergraduate discovery at UT Dallas.
Five students, whose majors range from biochemistry to literary studies, began the event with a panel discussion about their research. Nervous gestures quickly turned into enthusiastic grins and spirited comments as the group fielded questions from the audience.
“I fell in love with research the second I got involved in it,” said Daniel Hulsey, a senior majoring in psychology who works in Dr. Michael Kilgard’s lab. “Neuroscience research is what I want to do for a career.”
UT System Regent Brenda Pejovich, left, and Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, dean of undergraduate education, celebrated the students' work.
Senior biochemistry major Triet S. Nguyen, who transferred to UT Dallas from a community college, said she initially felt “intimidated” at the thought of conducting research.
“But, the professors opened their doors to me,” she said. “When Dr. [Dennis] Smith (Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair of Chemistry) showed me his lab for the first time, it was so exciting just to touch the machines and to talk to people who use them every day.”
Senior Nate Milburn, a biology major, discussed his experiences in molecular biology as a Green Fellow at UT Southwestern and as a research assistant studying synthetic chemistry in Dr. Dean Sherry’s lab at UT Dallas. Dr. Sherry is the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology.
“My professors at UT Dallas were extremely hands-on in shaping my research project,” he said. “They understand that you are an undergraduate. The professors give you a project and help you along. The experience is mentor-oriented.”
The Exley, which debuted March 29, is available for reading online.
Many of the students' work was featured in The Exley, named after UT Dallas supporter and former staff member Elizabeth Exley Hodge, who attended the March 29th event. She joined the administrative offices of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in 1967, which became UT Dallas in 1969. She retired in 1986 after nearly 20 years of service to the University.
“I am delighted to contribute to the education of the students and to the growth of UTD,” Exley Hodge said in comments delivered by her friend, Kay Cougar. “It is my intention that the journal will continue for many years to come.”
Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, dean of undergraduate education and the Mary McDermott Cook Distinguished Chair of Undergraduate Education and Research, said research is vital to the growth of undergraduate students.
“Research enhances their intellectual development, their emotional development and, in some ways, their social development as they learn to interact with colleagues in the lab and with their faculty,” Piñeres said.
IN THE WORDS OF THE DONOR
A statement from Elizabeth Exley Hodge was shared at The Exley’s debut event.
“In the year 1920, I was born Elizabeth Exley on a small farm in eastern Maryland, one of 11 children. I grew up in the era known as the Great Depression, but was fortunate to graduate high school at the age of 16. College was not an option for me, but after taking a secretarial course, I was soon able to become employed in the big city of Philadelphia.
Many years later (in 1967), my career led me to a secretarial position at Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, which became The University of Texas at Dallas in 1969. This was my first view of what higher education was all about. Later, as a grants administrator for Natural Sciences & Mathematics, I realized the importance of education and research to the community, the state, and to our country. This initiated my desire to help students and UTD attain their lofty goals.
I am delighted to contribute to the education of the students and to the growth of UTD. I am honored that The Exley was chosen as the name of the new undergraduate research journal. It is my intention that the journal will continue for many years to come.”
FROM THE DEAN
OF UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION