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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Students display summer-long projects

English senior Darrel Holnes remembers when he interviewed an immigrant woman who survived Hurricane Katrina. This woman had to make a difficult decision: to leave or stay in New Orleans.

Her story inspired Holnes to begin interviewing immigrants who were affected by the hurricane. Holnes interviewed Spanish-speaking survivors and then translated their stories into English.

A Katrina survivor himself, Holnes is one of the 55 participants who took part in the third annual Undergraduate Research Day on Thursday.

Students displayed their visual presentations of various research projects, covering a wide range of fields such as architecture, science, music, engineering, archaeology, medicine and business.

"The position is about getting undergraduates from all over campus involved in undergraduate research," Stuart Long, associate dean of undergraduate research at The Honors College, said.

Karen Weber, program manager for the Office of Undergraduate Research, planned and organized to have the participants’ posters professionally printed.

The posters served as a visual medium for the students’ research, utilizing images, graphics and text.

"The program creates a team environment. You get to learn what research is in your discipline, and it helps cultivate critical thinking skills," Weber said. "This is something unusual and innovative."

Forty-two participants were involved in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, a 10-week research session that starts in the middle of May and continues through the first week of August.

The admissions process consists of a student finding a faculty sponsor. The two then collaborate. Both the student and faculty member develop a research proposal, and the two apply for approval in front of a panel. Approved students received $2,800 for their research.

Sociology senior Laura De La Cruz is one of the students who made the cut with her proposal, ‘Journaleros’ of Houston: The Exploitation of Immigrant Day Workers in Houston, Texas.

De La Cruz, Puerto Rican, said her culture played a significant role in forming her project.

"You carry your culture with you," she said. "It was my motivation for the project."

She visited a day labor site in Conroe that helped her understand labor exploitation and its effect on immigrant workers.

"I came across people who did not finish elementary school, and I came across people who had college degrees," she said. "Those who had college degrees could not get the jobs they wanted because of government laws."

Next to De La Cruz’s poster presentation was psychology senior Laura Zavala’s, The Quality of Life in Asian Breast Cancer Survivors.

Zavala chose the topic because she feels that minority women are left out of the subject of breast cancer.

The Office of Undergraduate Research encourages all undergraduate majors who have at least a 3.0 grade-point average to apply for next year.

"They’re great presentations with different spectrums," Long said. "We hope to expand the program in the years to come."

All prospective SURF members must apply by March 26.

For more information, visit

Additional reporting by Anny Sivilay

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