Ian Caine receives Faculty Mentor Award for Undergrad Research at April 20 Creative Inquiry Showcase

(April 17, 2017) -- It is UTSA's largest annual show-and-tell. On April 20, more than 100 students from all disciplines will present their research and creative works at the fourth annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase organized by the UTSA Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). The Showcase highlights interesting and engaging undergraduate research and creative endeavors. Nearly a thousand students and faculty are expected to attend and support one another.

From Shakespeare's sonnets to the evolution of autism, from partisan politics to battlefield burns, students' topics are far and wide and reflect the intellectual curiosity of a top-tier mind. What makes this showcase unique is the peer review by fellow students. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions so the presenters can practice their presentation and conversational skills. For many, this is their first time presenting. Visitors who critique at least two student presentations will be given a free t-shirt. This interaction makes it a fun, dynamic event for all who participate.

The OUR has partnered with the Honors College and programs such as MARC-U*STAR, RISE and the First-Year Experience to expand the reach and breadth of the Showcase. In addition, the UTSA Center for Civic Engagement is offering additional prizes for research projects that exemplify academic service-learning.

"Our mission is to give all UTSA undergraduates the opportunity to engage with a formal research experience, whether it's a lab placement, externship, scholarship or research opportunity, ideally in their first year," said Thomas Coyle, the newly-appointed director of the UTSA Office of Undergraduate Research. "The Showcase is a great introduction to undergraduate research at UTSA. We encourage all students to drop by and see what their peers are doing, get inspired and get involved in research. We're here to help and facilitate those connections."

Faculty mentors play a critical role in the academic and professional development of student researchers. The Office of Undergraduate Research is recognizing four faculty members who are exceptional mentors. This year's recipients of the Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research are Astrid Cardona from the College of Sciences; Ian Caine from the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning; Teja Guda from the College of Engineering; and Ovidio Giberga from the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. These faculty members have outstanding records of enabling scholarly and creative activities with undergraduates. All of them have demonstrated a sustained commitment to undergraduate research and to their students, who have produced significant scholarly and creative works (e.g., publications, presentations, and exhibits), have been accepted into graduate schools, and remain engaged in research after graduation.

Astrid Cardona, associate professor of biology, specializes in microbiology and immunology and has a sustained record of funding undergraduate research. She has mentored nearly 20 undergraduate thesis projects. This year alone, she mentored three undergraduate honors projects and co-authored three publications with RISE and MARC trainees. Many of her students have continued doing research after being accepted into Ph.D. programs.

Ian Caine, assistant professor of architecture, pictured at right, serves as a faculty advisor for the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS). He uses his studio to give constructive critiques of student architectural projects and has mentored students in architectural design and installation. He was one of three architecture faculty nationally recognized by the ACSA/AIAS.

Teja Guda, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has developed the undergraduate curriculum and manages the internship program for his college. He has also mentored two winning student-led CITE teams (2016 and 2015), an NSF I-Corps student-led team and supervised nearly 30 undergraduates, many of them winning scholarships.

Ovidio Giberga, associate professor of art, heads the Ceramics program at UTSA. Giberga connects his students with outside artists and creates innovative creative activities such as building kilns and replacing obsolete ceramic light sconces for the UTSA Paseo. He also mentors students at ceramics research conferences and serves as faculty advisor for student groups engaged in ceramics research.

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 20 in the UTSA Convocation Center. Lunch will be provided.

UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.

- Sarah Hada

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Learn more about the UTSA Office of Undergraduate Research.