Annual Poster Contest Showcases Year’s Best Undergraduate Research

  • Natalia Camacho, a senior child learning and development student mentored by Dr. Raul Rojas-Villareal, explains to a judge her project on the performance of children learning two languages simultaneously, and how certain behaviors can be mistaken for learning deficits.

Sixty-four UT Dallas students presented their research work in the annual Undergraduate Research Poster Contest, with the top prize going to Shruti Ag Natarajan, a bioengineering senior in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Her investigation of the properties of dicationic imidazolium-based ionic liquid, a compound used to coat dental implants, was awarded the top prize by a panel of industry judges during the April contest. She was mentored by Dr. Danieli BC Rodrigues, assistant professor of bioengineering.

Mechanical engineering senior Andrew Kislak Da Costa came in second with his presentation on a training tool designed to better prepare surgeons for trocar insertion, a component of laparoscopic surgery. He was mentored by Dr. Ann Majewicz Fey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Neuroscience senior Alfredo Sandoval Jr. placed third with his study of the physiological traits that make some fear-associated memories more difficult to shake than others. Dr. Jonathan Ploski, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, served as his mentor.

The poster contest concludes the school-year cycle of the Undergraduate Research Scholar Awards, presented by the Office of Undergraduate Education. Thirteen semifinalists displayed their work for the panel, with the three cash prizes going to the top three participants.

Students may present research in any field, with the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and Naveen Jindal School of Management all represented in the group of 13 for the final presentations.

Corporate judges included Kent Pride, engineering director, university partnerships at Raytheon; Alfonso Lopez BS'12, MS'14, cybersecurity engineer at Raytheon; Steve Zimmel, vice president, head of Integration Center of Excellence at Ericsson; Michael Kelly BS'01, MBA'05, Executive Experience Center manager for Nokia; and Dave Williamson BS'98, MS'02, MS'03, founding member and vice president for geoscience at Monadnock Resources LLC.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].