Research Funding Shines Spotlight on Islander Student and Alumni Successes

Published: June 21, 2017

Research Funding Shines Spotlight on Islander Student and Alumni Successes

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As research funding has increased at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, students have had more opportunities to work with experienced researchers and educators and be involved in the community, preparing them to be competitive in today’s global job market. Three alumni and one student have exemplified the impact of research funding at the Island University.

Thanks to National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program funding, one alumna will soon be calling New Zealand home. Josette Delgado will be traveling to New Zealand to start a new job as a Mass Spectrometry Technician at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. Chosen out of 90 applicants, Delgado was prepared to shine by receiving training from Dr. Paula Rose on isotope ratio mass spectrometry in the Isotope Core Laboratory while working there as a Graduate Research Assistant. In her new job, she will be working with and maintaining various instruments used to analyze different types of environmental samples. She graduated in 2016 with a master’s degree in marine biology.

“I was lucky to have opportunities that helped me grow as a scientist during my time at TAMU-CC,” said Delgado. “I was given the training to run some of the most sensitive instruments on campus. It was really amazing to figure out how these machines work and how to operate them.”

Not every alumni travels overseas. Some make an impact by staying local and working at the Island University. Daniel Mendez, who graduated in 2014 with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, now works at the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC) as an Airworthiness and Standardization Engineer. During his time as a student, he became involved in several research opportunities such as working with underwater remotely operated vehicles. For his capstone project, he even developed an unmanned lawnmower from an existing riding lawnmower platform. After working behind the scenes of the LSUASC test site as an intern, he is now proud to work full-time at the center and to encourage youth in the local community to follow similar career paths.

 “I was inspired to continue working at TAMU-CC because I love, and wholeheartedly support, my alma mater,” said Mendez. “My education here was crucial and extremely beneficial to getting me to where I am today.”

Due to the quality of education and experiences offered at the Island University, some students even receive job offers long before graduating. Kristian Saenz, a current undergraduate in the Department of Computing Sciences, has plans to graduate Summer 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. While still an undergraduate, she received multiple job offers, including offers from General Motors and the United Services Automobile Association (USAA). Like Mendez, she decided to stay in Texas and accepted the offer from USAA. As a research assistant, Saenz had the opportunity to engage with the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions through working as a developer at the Innovation in Computing Research Labs (iCORE). She was also able to gain experiences by traveling to computer science conventions in Puerto Rico and California to present her research. 

“I credit the iCORE family, especially Burak Ersoy and Director Dr. Ahmed Mahdy, for encouraging me to develop new ideas,” said Saenz. “They pushed me to strengthen my skills as a leader and developer in my field.”

Developing new ideas at the Island University prepared one alumnus to continue his educational path at Rice University. Shane Reader graduated May 2017 with his master’s degree in psychology. During his time at the Island University, he worked as a team manager in the Junior Research Program. There, he supervised and assisted undergraduates in deploying original experiments and analyzing the results. He conducted original research made possible by a $5,000 Research Enhancement Grant from the Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach (RCO). With Dr. Miguel Moreno, he completed a series of experiments exploring how non-conscious attitudes toward food affect health-related decision-making. These experiences have readied him to join Rice University’s Translational Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. He is now on his way to earning a doctorate in psychology with a certification in health psychology.

“The hands-on opportunities for conducting original experiments at the Island University, and the mentorship by Dr. Moreno, contributed immensely to my acceptance to a prestigious Ph.D. program. The technology available at iCORE also allowed me to expand my research designs to a level that I hadn’t thought possible,” said Reader.

These shining Islanders were able to achieve numerous opportunities and excel through the hands-on experiences made possible by research funding. To learn more about research at the Island University and RCO, visit