Undergraduates Learn Lab Lessons in Summer Research Program

Tina Dam

“Research during the summer gives me the most time to learn new processes or to work on a project that demands a lot of attention,” said Tina Dam, a neuroscience senior and one of the recipients of the Buhrmester research awards.

Instead of spending time on the beach or backpacking in Europe, a group of UT Dallas undergraduate students from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) is spending the summer in laboratories, working with professors to research answers to scientific questions. 

The nine students were selected to receive the Duane and Linda Buhrmester Undergraduate Research Awards, which provide funds for undergraduate students to work in a faculty laboratory over the summer. 

Neuroscience senior Tina Dam, one of the award recipients, said summers provide the best opportunities to participate in research projects. 

“Research is intensive and long-term by nature. During the school year, there are always classes and extracurricular activities that may take my focus off of research,” she said. “Research during the summer gives me the most time to learn new processes or to work on a project that demands a lot of attention.” 

Dr. Duane Buhrmester, who was a professor of psychology and associate dean of undergraduate education in BBS, and his wife, Linda, died in a hiking accident in 2010. BBS established the program in their honor. 

Duane and Linda Buhrmester
Undergraduate Research Awards

This year’s scholarship recipients as well as their majors and mentors are as follows:

  • Neeraja Balachandar, neuroscience,
    Dr. Tres Thompson

  • Davelle Cheng, psychology,
    Dr. Shayla Holub

  • Tina Dam, neuroscience,
    Dr. Tres Thompson

  • Dante Gallucci, psychology,
    Dr. Marion Underwood

  • Daniel Guest, psychology,
    Dr. Peter Assman

  • Ali Mansoor Kara, neuroscience,
    Dr. Sven Kroener

  • Stephanie Shyu, psychology,
    Dr. Karen Prager

  • Sidney Stovall, neuroscience,
    Dr. Richard Addante

  • Andrew Torck, neuroscience,
    Dr. Theodore Price

Buhrmester advocated the importance of the lab experience to a student’s education. As a well-respected researcher in adolescent social relationships, he sought to instill fervor for the scientific method wherever possible. 

Dr. Tres Thompson, associate professor of neuroscience, is supervising two undergraduate students in his lab this summer. He said the program gives undergraduates lab opportunities that often are reserved for graduate students. 

“They’re expected to immerse themselves in the literature and not just understand their one project, but rather to understand the full ramifications of what they’re working on,” Thompson said. 

Dr. Bert Moore, BBS dean and Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor, said many undergraduate students are hungry for research experience, which makes the summer research program highly competitive. 

“We had a record number of applications for the Buhrmester Undergraduate Research Awards program,” he said. “We ended up with an outstanding group of BBS students who are poised to make their own marks in scientific research.” 

Stephanie Shyu, a psychology junior, said the program is allowing her to not only achieve her research goals, but also to honor a dedicated professor. 

“I am pleased to help carry on Dr. Buhrmester’s legacy and his investment in students and research,” she said.

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

Tagged: BBS