Undergraduate Research

Home » our » profiles » Student Ambassadors and Representatives

Student Ambassadors and Representatives

Each year the Office of Undergraduate Research seeks passionate undergraduates to serve as Student Research Ambassadors — the public face of student research at events for internal and external audiences, where they share their stories of becoming researchers whose experiences combine the teaching and research missions of the university. Students in this program develop their ability to share their research narrative with a general audience.

Ambassadors will be expected to attend a workshop on research narratives in the fall, and to represent student research at the following events:

  • Family Weekend
  • Explore UT
  • One workshop or event related to the Texas Student Research Showdown
  • At least one Research Week activity
  • At least six OUR info sessions or workshops for current students
  • Other events as needed (e.g. Research Day at the Texas State Capitol; an inter-campus research event with Texas A&M University)
  • A chance to be selected for AURA-Texas

2019-2020 Student Research Ambassadors and AURA-Texas members

Simren thumbnail Simren Lakhotia
Simren Lakhotia is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Business. Simren first got involved in research through the DIY Diagnostics lab of the Freshman Research Initiative, and has gone on to mentor two incoming classes of freshman through the lab. She is working to create a novel loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) diagnostic for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In addition to her work in FRI, she is also a research assistant in the neurocognitive Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) lab. Upon graduating, she hopes to go on to medical school.

Zaria thumbnail Zaria El-Fil
Zaria El-Fil is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin triple majoring in Psychology, African & African Diaspora Studies, and Humanities Honors with a minor in History. Zaria is a scholar in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program as well as the Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Program. Her work, Labor, Terror, and Slavery: Reproduction and Gender in the Making of Nineteenth-Century America, places the experiences of enslaved women at the forefront of her historical work in order to acknowledge the symbolic violence, social injury, and forms of cultural domination and oppression that have reduced enslaved women to asterisks in the telling of history. At the graduate level, she hopes to earn a doctoral degree in History and continue her quest to love and care for the experiences of enslaved women.

Apgar thumbnail Christopher Apgar
Christopher Apgar is a senior neuroscience major who has done research on TBI, PTSD, Fragile X Syndrome, ALS and MS. He has been involved in the Undergraduate Research Committee (URC) and the Research Student Advisory Council (RSAC). After graduating from UT, Christopher would like to pursue an MD/PhD which will allow him to teach, research, provide patient care or any combination of those things. One piece of advice he gives to future student researchers: “Do all you can to get involved in some aspect of research and build from there. Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors or approach a lab and ask for an opportunity to be involved. Start to develop your research resume by joining clubs or groups that are associated with research and network.”

Andres thumbnail Andres Najera
My name is Andres Najera and I am a 3rd yr Mechanical Engineering student from El Paso, TX working under Dr. Beaman’s lab in Additive Manufacturing. My interest in the field started around the middle of my high school years when I got introduced to the capabilities of 3D printers. I was fortunate enough to enroll in Dr. Beamans UGS class during my first semester at UT, which exposed me to research in this field. I began my research project last summer and am continuing this project throughout the school year. One thing that has made my undergraduate research experience memorable is how much I am able to contribute to my lab’s progression. Whether that’d be directly through my project, or at my lab’s discussion meetings, there is always plenty of knowledge to pick up on. Lastly, one of my proudest triumphs was successfully integrating mechanical and electrical components to build part of our lab’s own specialized 3D printer!

Jamie thumbnail Jamie Chuvalo-Abraham
I’m Jamie Chuvalo-Abraham, and I am a fourth year chemical engineer working in Dr. Lydia Contreras’ biotechnology lab. I am heavily involved in undergraduate research, and I currently investigate the detrimental effects of air pollution on human lung cells. This past summer, I interned in the Early Stage Pharmaceutical Development department at Genentech investigating the effects of a novel surfactant on protein stability in drug formulations. In addition to my involvement in research, I participate in different STEM outreach programs, but one can typically find me telling super bad jokes, cooking or baking, and staying active with IM sports. I contrast my detailed and focused lab personality with my adventurous, outdoorsy nature by frequently taking my friends on spontaneous explorations. Hook ‘em!

Senate Undergraduate Research Committee

The Senate of College Councils’ Undergraduate Research Committee (URC) is responsible for promoting and expanding research opportunities to undergraduates and enhancing the undergraduate research experience at the university. Members foster an interconnected undergraduate research community by working closely with programs and organizations on campus that support and facilitate undergraduate research. Other committee responsibilities include administering a $1,000 Undergraduate Research Grant, planning the annual Research Reception to honor excellence in undergraduate research, and co-hosting with the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) the campus-wide Research Week, which is a celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity.

2018-2019 co-chairs

Chris Apgar
Major: Neuroscience
Year: Junior

Katie Lee
Major: Plan II, Government, and Philosophy
Year: Sophomore

Research Student Advisory Council
RSAC’s mission is to represent students by advising and providing feedback to the OUR; to raise awareness of research opportunities and foster relationships between students and faculty; and to facilitate the effective communication of opinions, ideas, and knowledge regarding undergraduate research between the OUR, the URC, the college councils, and the research-based organizations and programs across campus.

2018-2019 co-chairs

Chris Apgar
Major: Neuroscience
Year: Junior

Brandon Tran
Major: Biology
Year: Junior