Prestigious research conference canceled, opportunities remain for students

Apr 28, 2020Andrea Vasquez

Like many national events, the 2020 National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the most prestigious undergraduate research conference in the U.S., scheduled for March 26-28 at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, didn't escape the COVID-19 closures. San Jacinto College had 29 students accepted to the conference to present 19 group and individual research projects. Although the conference was cancelled, the invitation to present at this renowned conference still provides these students with great advantages and opportunities.

NCUR is an annual international interdisciplinary conference where nearly 4,000 students representing more than 500 universities and colleges across the globe present their research and creative works in oral, poster and performance/visual arts presentations. Institutions such as Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University are usually represented. Last year, only 53 projects from 14 community colleges were chosen to present their research out of more than 3,000 abstracts accepted.

"Without question, it is a great honor for anyone to be accepted from a research university. Many are turned down," said Dr. Eddie Weller, San Jacinto College Honors Program director. "Most of those presenting are university seniors who are presenting their senior thesis or independent research study. This year out of the 3,000 that are accepted, less than 75 were chosen from community colleges. San Jacinto College having 19 projects accepted is rather amazing. These students can use this on their university transfer applications and when they apply for scholarships and graduate schools."

One of the unique things about being accepted to present at this conference as a community college student is the level of writing and research that students are submitting. Weller adds that this speaks to the students' innovative thinking, research methods, and sources and to the commitment the faculty put into helping their students succeed.

"I am always amazed at the caliber of research that our students are capable of and willingly do," he said. "In many cases the work they are doing is graduate school level. Not only are they doing great research, but they are also learning how to work in research teams, which will be necessary in their future education and careers. Another reason our students do so well is due to the dedication of our faculty. Our faculty members willingly give of their time and energy to give our students this incredible opportunity. Few colleges or universities have so many people who are willing to go the extra mile, do the extra work, and take the extra time to mentor their students like this."

2020 San Jacinto College NCUR Student Presenters:

Group Projects

  • Hadeel Al-Sahli, "Artificial Skin Structure for Phlebotomy and Venipuncture Practice Arm Model," faculty mentors Dr. Connie Gomez and Dr. Phuong Doan; other student team members: Menna Elsaka, Daniel Guera, Jessica Ha, Stephen Medel, Thu Nguyen, Tyler Oneal, Huan Tran, Nga Vu
  • Karina Eguren Guajardo, "Synthesis of Alky Functionalized Derivatives of 2-(3,4-Dialkoxybenzylidene)-1Indanone," faculty mentor Dr. Jose Nunez; other team member: Bianka Torres
  • Mark Hanna, "The Effectiveness of Different Types of Motor Oil," faculty mentor Dr. Phuong Doan; other team member: Rahan Siddiqi
  • Saad Nadeem, "Engineering an Alternative Practice Arm for Venipuncture Training Through 3D Printing," faculty mentors Dr. Phuong Doan and Dr. Connie Gomez; other team members: Daniel Guera, Stephen Medel, Huan Tran
  • Christian Pappas, "Emissions Characterization and Air Quality Impact of Deer Park Chemical Plant Fire," faculty mentor Dr. Madhu Gyawali; other team members: Olivia LaRochelle, Vijaya Shodavaram
  • Isabella Ramirez, "Developing Pumping System for Educational Venipuncture Arm," faculty mentor Dr. Connie Gomez; other team members: Eder Flores, Steven Presutti
  • Rabab Virani, "Using an Augmented Reality Sandbox to Develop Research Opportunities for Engineering Students," faculty mentor Dr. Connie Gomez; other team members: Anthony McIntyre, Noe Armendariz Gonzalez

Individual Projects

  • Amy Agueros, "Quinceaera," faculty mentor Dr. Greg Smith
  • Karina Eguren Guajardo, "Characterization of RAD52," University of Iowa research project coordinated by Dr. Christopher Wild
  • Hilda (Rachel) Juarez, "The Mexican American Struggle in Houston ISD in the 1960s and 1970s," faculty mentor Cody Pogue
  • Sadokat Khakimova, "Muon Identification at Muon Endcap Sub-detector of CMS Detector," faculty mentor Dr. Radia Redjimi
  • Christian Pappas, "Space and Ground Based Decadal Trends of Nitrogen Oxides over Oil and Natural Gas Regions in Texas," faculty mentor Dr. Madhu Gyawali
  • Christina Sanchez (Robbins), "Vaping Effects on Oral Health," faculty mentor Dr. Connie Gomez
  • Kiswa Shaikh, "Snowden's Patriotism at its Best," faculty mentor Dr. Greg Smith
  • Johnpaul Stolle, "The Musical Triumph of Van Cliburn," faculty mentor Dr. Eddie Weller
  • Bianka Torres, "Expression Patterns of Arhgef38, Cobll1a and Ric1 in Zebrafish Embryos During Facial Development" University of Iowa research project coordinated by Dr. Christopher Wild
  • Alexander Vela, "Legends of the West: John Wesley Hardin," faculty mentor Dr. Eddie Weller
  • Lynsie Veuleman, "The Life and Art of Tom Lea," faculty mentor Dr. Greg Smith