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Undergraduate Research

One of the Building Scholars’ goals is to engage undergraduate students in original research. Undergraduate research experiences enhance the quality of the student’s learning experience and promote a variety of important skills. According to student surveys, undergraduate research has been a top activity contributing to student engagement at TAMIU. The University has expanded the capacity to offer research opportunities to undergraduates in all disciplines in order to increase student engagement and success. Building Scholars is helping to continue to provide the infrastructure for research across campus by implementing an undergraduate research program for all disciplines.

Our current faculty has the background and training to mentor undergraduate research projects in a wide range of fields including biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics, sociology, psychology, communications, business, education, humanities, public affairs and nursing. Sharing research results among colleagues is an important step in building expertise in the field, and it is expected that faculty members involved in research with undergraduate students include students in their research and publications. The following is a list of projects supported by the program. Any journal and conference presentations as a result of these activities are appended below. The persons boldfaced received funding from the Building Scholars program.


  1. Rohitha Goonatilake, Miguel San Miguel, Runchang Lin, Sofia C. Maldonado, and Aida C. Garza (2016). Assessing Core Curriculum in the Foundational Component Area of Mathematics for Undergraduate Research, the 28th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), March 10–13, 2016 in Atlanta, GA
  2. Runchang Lin (2016). Ultraconvergence of finite element method by Richardson extrapolation, The 11th AIMS International Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications, Orlando, FL, July 1-5, 2016
  3. W. He, R. Lin, and Z. Zhang (2016). Ultraconvergence of finite element method by Richardson extrapolation for elliptic problems with constant coefficients. SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis, 54, pp. 2302–2322 (DOI: 10.1137/15M1031710)
  4. Roberto Heredia, Garza, R., Heredia, R.R., & Cieślicka, A.B. (2016). Male and female perception of physical attractiveness: An eye movement study. Evolutionary Psychology, 1-16, DOI: 10.1177/1474704916631614.
  5. Heredia, R.R., & Cieślicka, A.B., (2016). Metaphoric reference: An eye movement analysis of bilingual readers. Frontiers in Psychology. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00439
  6. Warner, Judith A. & Goonatilake, Rohitha (2016). The Immigration-Industrial Prison Complex, Profit, and the Hispanization of Federal Detention and Imprisonment. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Seattle, Washington, August 2016.aa
  7. Muhammad Z Hasan, Rainer Fink, Daryl James, Jesus Gamboa, “Performance Validation of an Energy Efficient Elevator Controller”, International Journal of Engineering Research and Innovation (IJERI) –Accepted, October 2016. 
  8. Muhammad Z Hasan, Rainer Fink, Mario Vargas, Jesus Adame, Edgar Hernandez “Development and Evaluation of Traffic Signal Algorithms to Support Future Measure of Effectiveness (MOE)”, 2016 IEEE International Conference on Eelectro/Information technology, May 19-21, 2016, University of North Dakota & North Dakota State University, Grand Forks, ND, USA.

Educational Activities

Andrew M. Hilburn, Ph.D.

Educational Applications:

- GEOG 4340: Maps, Mapping, and Society Class used GPS to collect field data for lab exercise
- Three students used GPS units and incorporated GPS technology for their final projects in GEOG 4340
- Building Scholars Summer Research Week students participated in two GPS field mapping sessions in July 2016
- GEOG 3451: GIS for the Social Sciences will learn and operate GPS units for class exercises and final projects
- GEOG 1301: Physical Geography students were trained in the theory and use of GPS technology for a class lab exercise
- GPS units will be featured for promotional efforts to attract students to the geography mino

 Research Applications:

- Dr. Hilburn will use GPS units in research on agrarian and energy landscapes in east-central Mexico in Summer 2017
- Dr. Hilburn will use GPS units in research on garbage management in southern Mexico in Summer 2017 and possibly Winter Break 2016

Thomas T. Zawisza, Ph.D.

Educational Applications:

- Students in my CRIJ 4325 are now using R for statistical modeling, instead of SPSS

Research Applications:

- Dr. Zawisza and Dr. Hilburn are working closely with an undergraduate student who wishes to get her PhD. Some of the research she is doing is a direct result of the information learned at Ann Arbor, conference.