Honors Conferences – Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Meeting

Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Conference
Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Conference

The Spring 2017 American Chemical Society National Meeting almost felt like the culmination of my undergraduate chemistry career. I was able to share my work with my peers from all over the country as well as immerse myself in the fascinating research of my peers. The topics presented ranged from probing how students can better learn chemistry in the classroom to developing a precursor for a more durable, data-dense hard drive. It is always inspiring to see the incredible work being done by others, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to practice explaining the details and significance of my work, a skill I will need as I grow as a student and academic.

The highlight of the conference was being able to see top researchers present in my field. Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, whose work inspired the research I do at UT, lectured on his recent work that allows reactions to be performed with dramatically less waste, often with a higher efficiency. His talk put my work into perspective: my research is not just the outcomes of individual experiments, but rather a part of a larger search to find more environmentally friendly ways of performing chemical reactions.

Honors Symposia – Juan Melendez: Injustice, Survival and Hope on Death Row

Juan Melendez

On Thursday, April 13th, Juan Melendez spoke to UT’s Honors Students.  Juan Melendez was wrongfully convicted of murder in Florida and spent over 17 years on death row before he was exonerated.  In his talk, he detailed how he was wrongfully convicted, what his life was like in prison, and how he was finally exonerated.  His talk detailed how flaws in the justice system and those who work for the justice system can lead to potentially deadly consequences for innocent people.

Honors Symposia – Oxford Semester Abroad Lunch & Learn

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On Wednesday, April 12th, three Honors students who participated in the Oxford Semester Abroad Program spoke with other students from the Honors Program, describing their experiences at Oxford University.  The three students, Nik Lampe, Erin Brosnan, and Maggie Poling, attended Oxford in Fall 2016. Nik graduated from UT in Fall 2016 with a degree in Sociology and is now planning on attending graduate school.  Erin Brosnan is a Marine Science/Biology major and Maggie Poling is a Writing major.  Both plan to graduate soon and continue their studies.

All three students described the experience as both exhilarating and challenging.  They noted that they spent a lot of time reading in the libraries of Oxford.  They encouraged students to take writing classes and to practice their debating skills, as being able to write well and defend your views are essential aspects to the experience.  They also noted that there are some opportunities to explore England and Europe during the Oxford Semester Abroad Program, but most students stay after the semester is over and travel in Europe.

Honors Conferences – Ashley Morales-Pacheco

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Honors student Ashley Morales-Pacheco recently traveled with Honors Program Directors Ryan Cragun and Kacy Tillman to Asheville, North Carolina for the Southern Regional Honors Council conference.  At the conference, Ashley presented her paper “The Effects of a Multiparty System on U.S. Polarization.”  The paper describes how the “first past the gate” political system in the US is likely contributing to increased political polarization in the US.

While in Asheville, we were able to visit the Biltmore Estate and go for a hike, as shown in the pictures above.

Honors Conferences – Nicholas Braganca

Nick Braganca at American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting
Nick Braganca at American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting

Attending the American Association for Cancer Research’s 2017 Annual Meeting was one of the highlights of both my senior year and my time here at UT. Being able to present the prostate cancer research I’ve performed at UT with prostate cancer experts from around the world had a profound impact on me. I not only got to inform oncologists from around the world about what I’ve discovered here at UT, but I was able to learn from and engage in discourse with prostate cancer scientists about what they’ve found in their own research.

I attended several talks on cancer biology and treatments, as well as speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and current Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, giving me the opportunity to learn about new developments in cancer research and how cancer can impact everybody in the world. This meeting has left me inspired to continue my own prostate cancer research project with relentless fervor, knowing that my work can contribute to a better understanding of prostate cancer biology, and hopefully, have a positive impact on those afflicted with prostate cancer.