Student Spotlight: Mack Cleveland

Mack Cleveland ’23

Mack Cleveland ‘23 is a materials science and engineering major from Bedford, TX. We spoke with Mack about his involvement in Explorations and with Texas A&M, along with his post graduation plans and more. 

“What work/research have you done for Explorations? Who did you work with? What is your favorite aspect of Explorations?” 

“I joined Explorations in the fall of my freshman year. In my sophomore year, I served as the Managerial Editor of Explorations, and this coming year I am serving as the Editor-in-Chief. I work as part of the Student Editorial Board to publish an annual journal of ten to twelve outstanding undergraduate research articles and creative works. The editorial board decides what research gets to be published in the journal and then works with authors to refine their articles so they can reach a general audience.I get to work with so many incredible students and faculty as part of Explorations. I have learned so much from fellow board members; in our roundtable discussions for submitted manuscripts, they pull in their diverse and nuanced perspectives. I get to work with authors who are exceptional undergraduate researchers that always teach me something new. I also work with incredible faculty members and staff who pour their time and expertise into Explorations, because of their love for undergraduate research. My favorite aspect of Explorations has to be the critical thinking challenge of selecting what undergraduate research to publish. Comparing research in cutting-edge medicine or technology with scholarly investigations of a philosophical question or a beautiful creative work shows the wider interdisciplinary nature of the scholarly community. Each piece is significant on its own, but when we put them together into one journal we invite readers to make connections and create new knowledge. Explorations beautifully embodies the highest ideals of the scholarly community, demanding excellence and celebrating diversity.”

“How long have you been a UScholar? What research/projects/accomplishments have you completed since becoming a UScholar?”

“I became a University Scholar the summer following my freshman year. Since becoming a University Scholar, I conducted a research project using atomistic simulations to create new radiation-resistant materials for nuclear reactors. I also performed in a virtual stand-up comedy showcase as part of the University Scholars program. This summer, I am working as an intern for a research laboratory within the Bureau of Reclamation to prevent the corrosion of the United States’ water infrastructure.”

“You are serving as a student leader for the “Italy” trip this summer, can you explain what your role is in that?”

“The summer before my freshman year at A&M, I got the opportunity to study abroad in Italy with a group of outstanding incoming freshmen. We learned about intercultural leadership as a sort of extended orientation put on by the LAUNCH office and the MSC. This summer, I was selected to be a student leader for the same program, now that we are looking to restart study abroads. I am excited for the opportunity to give back to this program because it introduced me to so many incredible opportunities within the LAUNCH office as well as many of my closest friends. I hope to share my experience and provide mentorship to a group of exceptional incoming freshmen so that they can make the most of their opportunities at A&M to be agents of change.”

“What is your involvement outside and inside of the University?”

“I am a student leader with the Texas A&M Student Government Association’s Election Commission that oversees student body elections. I also work with the Engineering Honors Executive Leadership Committee to promote undergraduate engineering research. Additionally, I am a Maroon and White Leadership Fellow and a member of the Materials Science Ambassadors. In between my busy schedule, I make time to be an active member of The Church of the Incarnation, an Anglican church plant in the Bryan College Station area.”

“What are your plans post graduation?”

“My post-graduation plans are to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science. I want to follow my dream and lead research efforts to design new materials that can endure the harsh environments needed for new technologies such as nuclear fusion.”

“What advice would you give an incoming freshman wanting to get involved in research?”

“I had a mentor say to me that to get started in research, you have to knock on all the professor’s doors in your department. If you are persistent and you put yourself out there, you will find a professor to mentor you in undergraduate research. Talk to your professors, email them, reach out after classes, they are looking for undergraduates who are interested in their work. And don’t be afraid to try new things. There are a lot of undergraduate research opportunities at Texas A&M, so the first one you find may not be right for you. In my first semester, I joined a philosophy undergraduate research team studying C. S. Lewis as part of the Aggie Research Program. It was a blast, but I learned that I was looking for research with a heavier scientific focus. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Every undergraduate research opportunity is a learning experience.”