Guest Writer: Brandon Look Fong

The world is a place full of wonder, questions, mysterious phenomena, and unexplained events. Things that happen on an atomic scale and at unimaginable sizes. These mysteries and questions are the focus of the undergraduate research program here at Texas A&M university. As a Tier 1 research facility, every professor at this university is involved with research in some form. As such, there is a plethora of opportunity for students to get involved with the creation of new knowledge. Specifically, I participated in programs to get involved: The Aggie Challenge research program and the Beckman Scholars Program.

Starting with the Aggie Challenge research program, I participated for two semesters and worked within two labs and departments. My first semester of freshman year I was a part of the Gaharwar Lab in the biomedical engineering department. In this lab my work focused on the use of three-dimensional printing to create bio-scaffolds to simulate drug infiltration within tumorous masses. My second semester I was a part of the NASA-UIL project within the aerospace engineering department, where I worked on the use of shape memory alloys to mitigate noise propagation following sonic booms from supersonic flight. Both of these experiences were highly beneficial to my education in that I was able to explore my options and learn just what research has to offer. Moreover, by participating in aggie challenges, I was able to join labs temporarily and make connections that I found beneficial.

Following my time in Aggie challenge programs, I applied and joined the Beckman scholars research program. This program is a three-year research fellowship which provides funding for the student’s research. Moreover, this program provides a plethora of support through the hand selected principal investigators and the wonderful program coordinator Dr. Datta. During my time in this program, I was able to join the Bondos Lab at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and work on the creation and application of novel protein biomaterials to clinical problems focusing on nerve injuries. Moreover, I was able to travel to conferences to both hear about and present new research. The benefits of this program are many and joining the ranks of the scholars is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.