Awards Put 7 Undergrad Researchers in BBS Labs for Summer
From left: Ryan Buhrmester, son of Duane and Linda Buhrmester, congratulates award recipients (back row) Shrinath Kadamangudi, Isaac Sedillo and Jon Shasteen; and (front) Fizza Masood Naqvi, Angela Kim, Peris June Nganga and Madison Hammonds.
Amy Zwierzchowski wanted an educational experience that would prepare her for a life committed to research.
“One of the reasons I chose to apply to UT Dallas’ neuroscience program was the enormous opportunity for hands-on research experience working with highly regarded faculty and staff,” said Zwierzchowski, who graduated from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) this year with a bachelor’s in neuroscience.
Zweirzchowski’s laboratory experience came in large part thanks to receiving one of the inaugural Duane and Linda Buhrmester Research Awards last year. The awards provide funds for an undergraduate student to work in a faculty laboratory over the summer.
Now in its second year, the program recently provided seven undergraduates with the Buhrmester Awards.
Dr. Marion Underwood, Ashbel Smith Professor in BBS, said the award recognizes students’ potential and provides a mechanism for the school to directly invest in their research careers. Working in a lab can provide students with skills in advanced research techniques, teach them how to design and execute experiments, and help build their resumes for graduate school.
Shrinath Kadamangudi and his faculty advisor, Dr. Francesca Filbey, at the Duane and Linda Buhrmester Research Award Luncheon.
A committee comprising BBS faculty members chose recipients based on their demonstrated commitment to research. Students have often worked with their mentors on projects in the past, and the funds can be used to start new lines of research.
“It’s one thing to have personal motivation to do something,” said Shrinath Kadamangudi, a neuroscience major and 2013 award recipient, “but it’s nice to have distinguished faculty recognize the research.”
Dr. Duane Buhrmester, former professor of psychology and associate dean of undergraduate education in BBS, advocated the importance of the lab experience to a student’s education. As a well-respected researcher in adolescent social relationships, Buhrmester sought to instill fervor for the scientific method wherever possible. Underwood said he was well known for going out of the way to make undergraduates feel welcome and mentoring them in preparation for a career.
“He was this great combination of super high standards, and he also understood that it needed to be fun,” she said.
Duane and Linda, his wife and child development specialist, died in a hiking accident in 2010. BBS established the Duane and Linda Buhrmester Research Award in their honor.
“He was a really excellent teacher,” said Angela Kim, a 2013 award recipient majoring in speech-language pathology and audiology and child learning and development. “I am really excited about getting the award because I feel like that’s passing on the legacy of Dr. Buhrmester and his work.”
“He was a really excellent teacher. I am really excited about getting the award because I feel like that’s passing on the legacy of Dr. Buhrmester and his work.”
Zwierchowski has used her experience to pursue a master’s degree in applied cognition and is writing a research paper based on her work at UT Dallas.
“In a way, Dr. Buhrmester continues to help students pursue their dreams while having an exceptional experience at UTD, which from all of the fond memories I hear about him, I think he would be happy to know,” she said.
The Buhrmesters kept a quote by Forest E. Witcraft, a former administrator for the Boy Scouts of America, on their refrigerator; “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a (child).”
In reference to the quote, Underwood said, “It’s very much who they were. They were both devoted to work in development and to personally helping people develop.”
Students can find more information about research opportunities at the Office of Undergraduate Education or by contacting their undergraduate advisors or faculty.
This year's scholarship recipients as well as their majors, research projects and mentors are as follows:
- Madison Hammonds, psychology, “Adolescents’ Peer Relations and Digital Communication,” Dr. Marion Underwood.
- Shrinath Kadamangudi, neuroscience, “Neuropsychological Analysis of Memory and Attention Among Chronic Marijuana Users: Exploring Possible Modulators and Comorbid Effects of Smoking Nicotine,” Dr. Francesca Filbey.
- Angela Kim, speech-language pathology and audiology, “Child Learning and Development, Differences in Semantic Retrieval Between Word Classes,” Dr. Mandy Maguire.
- Fizza Masood Naqvi, neuroscience, “Differences in Semantic Retrieval Between Word Classes,” Dr. Mandy Maguire.
- Peris June Nganga, child learning and development, “Analysis of the Dallas Preschool Readiness Project Card Sort Dimensional Change Task Procedure,” Dr. Margaret Owen.
- Isaac Sedillo, neuroscience, “Aging in Memory,” Dr. Tres Thompson.
- Jon Shasteen, psychology, “Eye Tracking Snakes in the Grass: Detecting Nonsocial Threats,” Dr. Noah Sasson.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].