Undergraduate Research

Students in research lab

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. Al-Taweel, A., Dong, Y., Hussain, S., & Wang, X. (2019). A Weak Galerkin Harmonic Finite Element Method for Laplace Equation (Poster Presentation). Scientific Computing Meets Machine Learning and Life Sciences Conference, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, October 7-9, 2019.
  2. Almanza-Ortega, E. (2018). Building Scholars: Strategies to Improve Student Retention in Undergraduate Programs. 10th Annual AHSIE Best Practices Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, March 25-28, 2018.
  3. Arellano, J.J. (2017). Using Technology in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom. The International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), Chicago, IL, March 9-12, 2017.
  4. Arellano, J.J. (2018). Growth Mindset Effects on Mathematics Performance. The Coastal Bend Mathematics & Statitics Conference, Corpus Christi, TX, March 30-3, 2018. 
  5. Blackburn, A.M., Aleman, A., & Guerrero, B. (2018) Introducing SECSE: A Survey of Experience in Code-Switching Environments (Poster Presentation). The 59th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA, November 15, 2018.
  6. Casey, J.E., Lin, R., Mireles, S.V., & Goonatilake, R. (2018). Community Aid for Hispanic STEM Students: Support Through Success Workshops (Poster Presentation). The 8th Annual - 2018 STEAM/STEM Education Conference, Honolulu, HI, June 6-8, 2018.
  7. Cervantes, F., Quintana, F.G., & Wang, H. (2018). Measurement of Liver Size by Imaging Methods Unveils Fatty Liver and Hepatomegaly in Overweight Mexican-American Children (Poster Presentation). The 78th Scientific Sessions of American Diabetes Association (ADA) Conference, Orlando, FL, June 22-26, 2018.
  8. Contreras, M.A., & Morales P.D. (2019). Influence of Beacon Tracking on Usages and Performance in College Algebra Courses with Learning Support. The 4th Coastal Bend Mathematics and Statistics Conference (CBMSC) at University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Edinburg, TX, March 23, 2019.
  9. De la Cruz Hernandez, J. (2019). Neural Network Solutions to Irregularly Observed Continuous - Time Stochastic Processes. The 4th Coastal Bend Mathematics and Statistics Conference (CBMSC) at University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Edinburg, TX, March 23, 2019.
  10. Espinoza, L.P. (2019). Correlation between Higher Education and Financial Literacy. The 4th Coastal Bend Mathematics and Statistics Conference (CBMSC) at University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Edinburg, TX, March 23, 2019.
  11. Garza, R. Heredia, R.R., & Cieslicka, A.B. (2016). Male and Female Perception of Physical Attractiveness: An Eye Movement Study. Evolutionary Psychology, 1-6. (DOI: 10.177/1474704916631614)
  12. Gill, P. (2019). Educating Students about a Special Report on Climate Change. ME by the SEa, Conference for STEM Educators, Corpus Christi, TX, June 14, 2019.
  13. Goonatilake, R., Garza, N.R., & Maldonado, S.C. (2019). Building Scholars: Improving the Sustainability of Higher Education among Minorities (Poster Presentation). Texas Hispanic Serving Institutions (TxHSI) Consortium Annual Conference, PROMISES REALIZED Providing Resources and Opportunities for Minorities for STEM Education, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX, May 23-24, 2019. 
  14. Goonatilake, R., Gill, P., Lin, R., & Maldonado, S.C. (2019). Improving Mathematics Education through Noyce Scholarship Programs (Poster Presentation). Texas Hispanic Serving Institutions (TxHSI) Consortium Annual Conference, PROMISES REALIZED Providing Resources and Opportunities for Minorities for STEM Education, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX, May 23-24, 2019. 
  15. Goonatilake, R., & Maldonado, S.C. (2019). Building Scholars Program: Fostering Self-Efficacy of Students in Higher Education. American Journal of Education and Learning, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp 325-338. (DOI: 10.20448/804.4.2.325.338)
  16. Goonatilake, R., Maldonado, S.C., & Alvarado, I.R. (2019). Building Scholars Program: Fostering Self-Efficacy of Students in Higher Education. The 23rd Annual Western Hemispheric Trade Conference, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX, April 3-5, 2019.
  17. Goonatilake, R., Maldonado, S.C., Cadena, A., & Segovia, P. M. (2018). A Glimpse of Noyce Scholarship Program Tailored Towards Teaching Diverse Students (Poster Presentation). The 2018 Southeastern Regional Robert Noyce Connections, Mobile, AL, June 21-23, 2018.
  18. Goonatilake, R., Maldonado, S.C., & Viloria, M.D. (2020). Features of Building Scholars' Summer Research Weeks towards Student Retention and Graduation. The 24th Annual Western Hemispheric Trade Conference (Conference Proceedings), pp 228-241, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX, April 15-17, 2020.  
  19. Goonatilake, R., San Miguel, M., Lin, R., Maldonado, S.C., & Garza, A.C. (2016). Assessing Core Curriculum in the Foundational Component Area of Mathematics for Undergraduate Research, the 28th International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), Atlanta, GA, March 10-13, 2016.
  20. Guerrero, B. & Blackburn A. M. (2018). Comparative Study of Cross-Linguistic Short-term Literacy Intervention in Children and Adults (Poster Presentation). The 59th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. New Orleans, LA, November 16, 2018.
  21. Hasan, M.Z., Beattie, E., Witt, J., Mohiuddin, W., & Fink, R. (2018). Development and Calibration of a Portable Controller for Adjustable Pulmonary Artery Shunt. American Journal of Advanced Research (AJAR), Vol. 2 No. 1, pp 18 - 23, December 2018.
  22. Hasan, M.Z., Fink R., James D., & Gamboa J. (2017). Performance Validation of an Energy Efficient Elevator Controller, International Journal of Engineering Research and Innovation (IJERI), Vol. 8 No. 2, pp 16 - 24, March 2017.
  23. Hasan M.Z., Fink, R., Vargas, M., Adame, J., & Hernandez, E. (2016). 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.
  24. He, W., Lin, R., & Zhang, Z. (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)
  25. 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)
  26. Huber, T., Sanmiguel, E.R., & Cestou, L.P. (2018). International Service-Learning for Developing Globally Competent Educators: Muffled Voices of the Children of Batey 7 (Poster Presentation). The 18th International Conference on Diversity in Organization, Communities & Nations. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, June 8, 2018.
  27. Huber, T., Sanmiguel, E.R., & Cestou, L.P. & Reyes, A. (2018). Creating a Culture of Criticial Consciousness to Develop Intercultural Competence in Educators. Paper for the 18th International Conference on Diversity in Organization, Communities & Nations, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, June 8, 2018.
  28. Kim, J.W. & Chen, G.M. (2018). Incivility or Civility: Which Works best to Dispel Fake Political News? The American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Convention, Boston, MA, August 30 - September 2, 2018.
  29. Lin, R. (2017). Finite Element Circus. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, April 21-22, 2017.
  30. Lin, R. (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.
  31. Maldonado, S.C. (2017). 9th Annual AHSIE Best Practice Conference: Building and Sustaining Powerful Partnerships for Student Success at HSIs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, April 9-12, 2017.
  32. Maroonroge, S., Chen, H.C., & Barragan, C. (2018). Resonant Frequency (RF) of Middle Ear: Clinical Utility for Conductive Hearing Loss. American Academy of Audiology Annual Convention, Nashville, TN, April 18-21, 2018.
  33. Maroonroge, S., Rodriguez, Y., Palos, A., Perez, S., & De Los Santos, S. (2018). Laredo We Have a Problem... Noise. American Academy of Audiology Annual Convention, Nashville, TN, April 18-21, 2018.
  34. Quintana, F.G., Wang, H., Hernandez, Hernandez, J., Goonatilake, R., De La Torre, A., & Torres, R. (2018). Understanding the Laredo Texas Murine Typhus Endemic-disease Focus. Proceeding of the DIN 68th Annual Conference of Diseases in Nature Transmissible to Man, Houston, TX, May 23-25, 2018.
  35. Reyes, A., Santos, A., Rivas, N., & Blackburn, A.M. (2018). Comparing the Cognitive Impact of Short-term Literacy Training in Adults and Children (Poster Presentation). The 59th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. New Orleans, LA, November 16, 2018.
  36. Warner, J.A. & Goonatilake, R. (2016). The Immigration-Industrial Prison Complex, Profit, and the Hispanization of Federal Detention and Imprisonment. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Seattle, WA, August 2016.


Donnell, Wendy L., PH.D.
Educational Applications:
  • Attendance to the 3rd Annual South Texas Tropical Medicine & Vector Borne Disease Conference, South Padre Island, TX on February 14 - 16, 2018.
Gill, Puneet s., PH.D.
Educational Applications:
  • Coding with Robots: After school research project with Colonel Santos Benavides Elementary School, Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.
  • Robotics demonstration with Ozobots and KIBO robots for children in early childhood through sixth grade. These hands-on demonstrations were to showcase basic coding and applications of block coding. Event was hosted by the Business Education Activity Theater Science (BEATS) Puerto Educativo on December 14, 2019.
Hasan, Muhammad Z., PH.D.
Research Applications:
  • Project:
    • Wrong Way Driving Detection using V2I Communication: This project is to design and implement a solution to wrong way driving in the city of San Antonio, TX. This will be accomplished by working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and possibly TTI, in order to accurately develop a system that successfully contributes to the solution using existing technologies like ITS. GPS of car can help detect wrong way drivers (WWD).
    • Two groups of undergraduate Systems Engineering students travelled to TxDOT, in San Antonio, TX, on 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.
  • Dissemination:
    • Hasan, M.Z., Aguiar, R., Chavez, R., Guzman, C., & Treviño, N. (2019). Wrong Way Driving Detection Using V2I Communication. Lamar Bruni Vergara 2019 Academic Conference (oral presentation). Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX, April 9-10, 2019.
Research Applications:
  • The Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (CogSci Lab) is equipped with an Apple iMac Computer for the design and statistical analysis of behavioral and neuropsychological experiments. Specifically, the iMac will be used at the CogSci Lab to design psychological experiments to investigate how bilingual speakers might comprehend ambiguous information across languages (e.g., PAN = cooking utensil in English vs. bread in Spanish) and how their two languages might be represented in memory as measured by behavioral (i.e., reaction time [RT] as an index of accessibility and retrieval) and neuropsychological (i.e., electroencephalography [EEG] and even related potentials [ERPs]) correlates. RT and EEG/ERP data will be analyzed utilizing (generalized) linear mixed models. Equipment is accessible to Texas A&M International University faculty and Laredo College in the disciplines of Psychology, Communication, and Communicative Disorders. Summer 2019.
  • Statistical Software Support: IBM SPSS Statistics Premium Faculty Pack, October 3, 2016 - October 31, 2017 and November 1, 2017 - October 31, 2018.
Educational Applications:
  • Angelovska, T., Heredia, R.R., & Cieślicka, A.B. (under review). An online (r)examination of frequency and context effects in code-switching using the auditory moving window. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.
  • Cieślicka, A.B., García, A., Heredia, R.R., & García, E.A. (2018). The re(activation) of idiomatic expressions. Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, 23, 90.
  • Cieślicka, A.B., & Heredia, R.R. (in press). ERP correlates of figurative language processing. In A. Kielkiewicz-Janowiak, Wrembel, M., & Gasiorowski, P.  Interdisciplinary approaches to the study of speech. Adam Mickiewicz University Press.
  • Gallegos, I. (2019). An ERP investigation into substance-related word processing by alcohol users (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Texas A&M International University.
  • Heredia, R.R., Angelovska T., & Cieślicka, A.B. (2018). An online (re)examination of frequency and context effects in code-switching using the auditory moving window. Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, 23, 241.
Hilburn, Andrew M., 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 minor.
Research Applications:
  • Use GPS units in research on agrarian and energy landscapes in east-central Mexico in Summer 2017.
  • Use GPS units in research on garbage management in southern Mexico in Summer 2017 and Winter Break 2016.
Educational Activities:
  • Dr. Saqib Hussain, Lorna P. Espinoza, Miguel A. Contreras, Jacinto D. Hernandez, Rafael V. Colunga, Ray R. Casas, and Paola M. Segovia attended the 2019 StatFest conference held on September 21, 2019, at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at Houston, Texas (https://sph.uth.edu/).
Janamanchi, Balaji, Ph.D.
Educational Applications:
  • Janamanchi, B. (2017). System Dynamics Summer Camp, MIT, Cambridge, MA, July 11-14, 2017.
  • Colloquium presentation entitled: "System Dynamic Simulation Modeling" on October 19, 2017 for TAMIU faculty and students in the Department of Mathematics and Physics and the School of Engineering.
Lin, Runchang, Ph.D.
Research Applications:
MS Thesis Research Projects:
(1) Numerical Simulation to the Fitzhugh-Nagumo Model with Strong Reaction by Hongson Feng.
(2) Approximate Solutions to the Allen-Cahn Equation Using the Finite Difference Method by Jamil Malik Villarreal.
Maldonado, Sofia C.
Educational Activities:
  • Attendance to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Regional Leadership Development Conference (RLDC) – Region 5, "Soaring to Success", hosted by St. Mary’s University and University of Texas, San Antonio, TX, March 21-24, 2019. Purpose is to mentor TAMIU undergraduate systems engineering students traveling to this conference and attending faculty development sessions.
  • Presentation of undergraduate research experiences and introduction of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to high school students at the Lyndon B. Johnson High School Annual Career Day on November 1, 2019 in Laredo, TX.
Maroonroge, sumalai, ph.d.
Research Applications:
  • Equipment funded for the undergraduate research project entitled "Laredo, We Have a Problem... Noise". This project uses TAMIU as a setting for research on classroom acoustics and student academic performance.
NI, Qingwen, PH.D., and Holland, Douglas P.
Educational Activities:
  • Project:
    • The high field NMR requires helium in order to keep the superconducting coils that power the magnet cooled below its critical superconducting temperature (Tc), thus providing a near-absolute zero environment. The supply of the helium gas for the magnet is used with the solid state probe to measure the bond bound water on mice samples. The most sample measurements are done in our low field NMR. The data gathered from the probe will be used in preparation of project proposal(s) for conferences.
  • Dissemination:
    • Ni, Q., Holland, D., & Wang, X., Characterization of Disuse Mouse Bone Structural Changes by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Published on the Proceedings of The 2018 International Conference on Biomedical Engineering & Sciences, Las Vegas, NV, July 30- August 2, 2018. ISBN: 1-60132-472-3, CSREA Press.
San Miguel, Miguel and Morales, Pablo D.
Educational Activities:
  • Attendance to the fourth Coastal Bend Mathematics and Statistics Conference (CBMSC), March 23, 2019, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) – Edinburg Campus and providing mentoring for four graduate students to attend and present at CBMSC: Miguel A. Contreras, Jacinto De La Cruz Hernandez, and Lorna P. Espinoza.
Tashtoush, Tariq h., Ph.D.
Research Applications:
  • Attendance to the Two-Day Mandatory Coach/Faculty Green Power USA Teacher Professional Development Workshop, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX on September 22-23, 2017.
  • Attendance to the Siemens Software Training and GreenPower USA Pre-Competition Meet to be held in UTRGV – Brownsville Campus, Brownsville, TX on Saturday, March 3, 2018. UTRGV and its award winning program, Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week, partnered with GreenPower USA Foundation to bring this competition that uses the excitement of motorsport to inspire students from primary to university to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies.
  • Supplies and materials for the undergraduate research project entitled: "Industrial Robotics Safety and Human Robotics Interaction". This project aims to design and build attachment devices that can be added to industrial robots to make them safer for human interaction at low cost utilizing state-of-art technology and image process and sensing techniques.
Viloria, Maria D., Ph.D.
Educational Activities:
  • Panelist: Dr. Selina Mireles, "Tejanas Doing STEM: A Generational Perspective on Learning and Leading", Texas Hispanic Serving Institutions (TxHSI) Consortium Annual Conference, PROMISES REALIZED Providing Resources and Opportunities for Minorities for STEM Education, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX, May 23-24, 2019. 
Zawisza, Thomas T., Ph.D.
Educational Applications:
  • Attendance to an 8-week Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Summer Program, Summer 2016 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Students in 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 Ph.D. Some of the research she is doing is a direct result of the information learned at the Ann Arbor conference.