SEPTEMBER 11, 2020 — When the university shifted mid–spring semester to fully remote learning in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Roadrunners conducting and supporting undergraduate research efforts pivoted quickly to continue their scholarly work.
UTSA recognizes undergraduate research as a high-impact practice that helps prepare students for success, with increased student-faculty interaction opening opportunities for mentorship and career planning advisement. Offering undergraduate students meaningful research opportunities is an important component of UTSA’s Classroom to Career Initiative, which focuses on providing more students with experiential learning opportunities during their academic journey at UTSA.
One program at UTSA focused on undergraduate research is the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential.
McNair scholar Joseph Galloway, a mechanical engineering major, learned that working from home could present challenges for research as he worked with Patrick Benavidez, a lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering on a project involving multirobot construction systems.
“It was definitely challenging trying to keep up with all of the assignments while staying home with so many distractions,” Galloway said. “My internet would cut out every once in a while during meetings and seminars, and I had to spend a lot of my time helping my family members with technical issues.”
Despite the challenges, Galloway found his research to be a great experience. “Although it was challenging, I had a lot of fun and still learned a tremendous amount,” he said.
Research teams demonstrated adaptability and creativity to find ways to continue their work remotely.
Another McNair scholar, Paulina Salinas, also had a positive experience over the summer with the McNair Scholars Summer Program. She worked under assistant professor Guenevere Chen’s Cybersecurity and Cloud Research Lab, studying cybersecurity in electric vehicle charging systems with another undergraduate student and two graduate students.
“We worked on the project this summer through weekly team meetings using Webex,” Salinas said. “For the project, one of the graduate students took the items we ordered online to their home and set up the test bed as we all collaborated and brainstormed to connect the items and make the project work.”
Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellow John Long worked with kinesiology assistant professor Tianou Zhang this summer, focusing on secondary research using already existing data.
“I am Dr. Zhang’s reader-grader for his exercise nutrition course, so we speak on a frequent basis,” Long said. “Since I’m an undergraduate student, research labs were not available for me, so I had to conduct secondary research, specifically a systematic review. I met with him periodically for guidance on both conducting the necessary research for a systematic review as well writing a systematic review.”
Undergraduate students at UTSA continue to have multiple opportunities to get involved with research. Students can now access the Student Opportunity Center through UTSA’s Office of Undergraduate Research. This free service allows students to access the nation’s largest database for honors and undergraduate research opportunities. UTSA faculty are encouraged to submit their research opportunities to the SOC.
The Office of Undergraduate Research was created in 2013 to engage and promote research opportunities for UTSA undergraduates in all academic disciplines. For more information, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website or contact Darrell.Balderrama@utsa.edu.
Professor Swisher is Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on risk factors in adolescence and the transition to adulthood (e.g., neighborhood poverty, exposure to violence, parental incarceration) and their consequences for health and well-being across the life course. Recent work has focused on educational mobility and, in particular, challenges faced by first generation college students.Virtual Event
Join UTSA for a virtual screening of “Hap Veltman’s San Antonio Country” with the filmmaker Noi Mahoney. See the story of the extraordinary life of Hap Veltman and the nightclub that kick-started San Antonio’s gay civil rights movement. Professor Derek Robertson will lead a discussion with the filmmaker, followed by audience Q&A. Free and open to the UTSA and entire San Antonio community.Virtual Event
Join us this summer as we showcase innovative and interesting topics from each institution of the UT System. Register and JoinVirtual Event
Secure your vaccine ahead of time by registering for an appointment. Walk-in appointments will also be available while supplies last. The vaccines available are the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.Denman Ballroom (SU 2.01.28)
San Antonio Pride Parade featuring make-up tutorials, Peace Love Pride Wedding, special guests. More details to come.Virtual Event
UTSA Campus Recreation will be doing a giveaway in celebration of Pride Month. The first 51 patrons to come to the Rec will win a free t-shirt!Campus Rec, Main Campus
Secure your vaccine ahead of time by registering for an appointment. Walk-in appointments will also be available while supplies last. The vaccines available are the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.Denman Ballroom (SU 2.01.28
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.