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Students Recognized at UA Global Summit in Dublin

Rachel Hunt, Alexandra Brito, and Sierra Roark at The Undergraduate Awards in Dublin, Ireland Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

Rachel Hunt, Alexandra Brito, and Sierra Roark at The Undergraduate Awards in Dublin, Ireland Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

Three UT students recently returned from Dublin, Ireland, where they attended the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit and received international honors for their academic research.

Alexandra Brito, a May 2017 graduate, was presented with the Thomas Clarkson Gold Medal for her paper “Effects of Language Immersion versus Classroom Exposure on Advanced French Learners: An ERP Study” in the Language and Linguistics category. Brito’s award was presented by Chris Lubbe, inspirational speaker and former bodyguard for Nelson Mandela, during a ceremony held at Dublin City Hall November 9.

Sierra Roark, also a May graduate, received recognition as a regional winner in Classical Studies and Archaeology for her paper “Wood Charcoal Analysis from Coan Hall (44NB11),” and senior Rachel Hunt was recognized as a highly commended winner in Architecture and Design for her project “Herbaria.”

Alexandra Brito, Sierra Roark, and Rachel Hunt present their projects to peers at the UPresent event in Dublin, Ireland Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

Alexandra Brito, Sierra Roark, and Rachel Hunt present their projects to peers at the UPresent event in Dublin, Ireland Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

“We are proud of the academic efforts of our three students,” said Marisa Moazen, executive director for undergraduate research and community engagement in UT’s Office of Research and Engagement. “The Undergraduate Awards Global Summit has been an incredible opportunity to showcase their work on an international stage and network with peers at universities worldwide.

This year’s UA Global Summit, which drew 130 of the world’s top-performing students from 52 universities and 16 countries, began with a dinner at the historic Smock Alley Theatre, built in 1662. On the second day, more than 70 students delivered three-minute presentations summarizing their research—on subjects ranging from literature to physics—to an audience of their peers, UA organizers, board members, and representatives. Along with sightseeing tours and mixers, the students heard from several different speakers on issues related to higher education, research, business, philanthropy, and other topics.

Alexandra Brito poses with the Thomas Clarkson Gold Medal presented to her at The Undergraduate Awards in Dublin, Ireland Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

Alexandra Brito poses with the Thomas Clarkson Gold Medal presented to her at The Undergraduate Awards in Dublin, Ireland Thursday, November 9, 2017. Photo by The Undergraduate Awards

Each year, the coveted UA Gold Medal named in honor of a different global scholar.

This year, the medal—the one Brito received—was named for abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. “As a young man, Clarkson had won his first prize for an essay on slavery and then dedicated his whole life to its abolition in the British Empire, something he saw achieved by an Act of Parliament in 1833,” UA Chairman Jim Barry explained. “The Undergraduate Awards has exactly that ambition—that young men and women across the globe would address their academic talents to matters of significance in all fields of learning in the hope that it would spark their passion to be change makers and leaders into the future.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research is now soliciting entries from students who would like to represent UT in the 2018 competition; the deadline is in May. Students who wish to compete in the Undergraduate Awards can submit up to three academic papers, research projects, or portfolios completed during the current academic year for which they have received an A or equivalent.

More information about the Undergraduate Awards can be found at Contact Moazen (865-974-8560, with additional questions.

Present your research across the state, nationally, or internationally

Now that you’ve completed an undergraduate research project, we invite you to present that project at an upcoming conference. If your abstract is accepted, our office can provide either partial or full funding to the event! You can submit the same abstract to each of the events, if you are interested.

Here’s the list with deadlines:
Tennessee Experiential Learning Symposium 2017 (APSU, Clarksville, TN) – Deadline to apply October 20. – Present your research, study abroad, or internship experience to other students in Tennessee through oral or poster presentations. Transportation and funding for registration fees will be provided for those who register, present, and attend. The event will be held Thursday, November 2, 2018. Register and submit abstract at:

Posters on the Hill 2018 (Washington, DC)- Deadline to apply is November 1. – Present your research to Congress! 60 students nationwide will be chosen to present their research to Congress. In the past three years, three UT students have been selected. This is the longest application of the 4 events and requires a biographical sketch and interest statement. Our office can help with the submission, make an appointment and stop by. Full travel funding for the student is available if accepted. Event is held at the end of April before Congress adjourns. Faculty mentors are invited to attend. Submit here:

Posters at the Capitol 2018 (Nashville, TN) – Deadline to apply is November 7 – Present your research to the State Legislature in Nashville. Seven students will be chosen to represent UT at this event. Will it be you? Full travel funding is available if accepted. Event is typically held the last Wednesday in February. Submit your abstract at:

National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2018 (Edmond, OK) – Deadline to apply is December 5. – Presentations of research and creative works to and from 4,500 undergraduates from around the country. This is an impressive and inspiring event to attend. Submissions include oral presentations, posters, visual arts and performing arts (music, dance, theatre, and film). The University of Central Oklahoma is this year’s host April 4-7, 2018. Travel funding is available for those with accepted submissions. Faculty mentors are invited to attend and can use the event to recruit potential graduate students. Submit abstract at:

Your Professional Conference! Want to attend the professional conference in your discipline? You can apply for travel funds if you have been accepted to present your research. Check out the details at:

Have a great semester!
The Office of Undergraduate Research

Three Students Win Honors in International Research Competition

The Undergraduate Awards—often referred to as the “junior Nobel Prize”—has announced the winners of its 2017 program, and three UT students are ranked among the world’s best and brightest.

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) is the world’s largest international academic awards program, recognizing excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business, and creative arts. The top 10 percent of students in their respective categories are honored as Highly Commended. Regional Winners are then chosen from each of the seven regions in the competition, and a final Global Winner is selected in each category.

UT’s winners were Alexandra Brito, a May 2017 graduate, who was named a Global Winner; Sierra Roark, also a May graduate, who was a Regional Winner; and senior Rachel Hunt, who was Highly Commended.

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You asked for it – Summer Research Abroad is now available!

So many students asked us about hosting a research abroad experience in the summer. We are happy to announce that program is finally here! Make plans now to join us in one of these eight countries next summer!!

UTK Summer International Research Opportunities Program

Choose from 8 countries to spend the summer conducting research. Open to every major, choose from Australia, Chile, China, England, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea, or Spain. All research conducted in English unless otherwise noted.  A research-based internship provides you the opportunity to join an on-going research project for a short period of time, helping to clarify academic, career, and personal interests. You will step into existing projects at various stages of the research process and can engage a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods approach. Research-based placements are typically at universities abroad, but you could also be placed in the private business sector, as well as research centers. You should not expect to conduct your own research or advance personal research projects. Research placements are available in a wide array of fields depending on your interests and academic background. Whether you are studying STEM, the social sciences, communications and any other discipline, we will work with you to find a placement that fits your interests. Open to all majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Tracking Faculty Mentoring in Elements

As the University roles out its new faculty performance software, Elements, we would like to provide guidance on how to enter your undergraduate research mentoring activities.

Step 1. Log in at

Step 2. From the Home Screen, choose “+add” under Teaching Activities

Step 3. Select “student research (Student Supervision)” from the right side column

Step 4. Enter the requested information, including Student NetID. (The Student NetID allows us to track that specific student and can be found on the front half of the student’s campus email address.)

Handout with screen shots: Entering UGR into Elements

Alexandre and Varriano Receive Undergraduate Research Awards at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

During the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet, Dr. Gladys Alexandre received the University’s top recognition for an undergraduate research mentor. Dr. Alexandre was named the Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year for her ongoing work to support undergraduate research at UT, including the research mentoring of 52 UT undergraduates and 6 non UT-undergraduates. She has a track record of co-authoring peer-reviewed publications with her students and supporting them in both on-campus and off-campus presentations, showings, performances, awards or scholarships related to research. Many of her students have gone on to graduate school and medical school.

Dr. Gladys Alexandre (pictured on the right) is a Professor and Associate Head in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). Her research focuses on the molecular events underlying sensing and signaling in bacteria. Alexandre completed two M. S. degrees, one in plant biology (1994) and one in microbial ecology (1995), before getting her Ph.D. in microbial ecology (1998) from the Universite Claude Bernard, Lyon (France). She worked as a postdoctoral research scientist under the advising of Igor B. Zhulin at Loma Linda University, School of Medicine (1998-2000) and then the Georgia Institute of Technology (2000-2001). She obtained her first academic position in the department of Biology at Georgia State University (2001) before moving to UTK in 2005. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2007 and to full professor in 2013. Since 2014, she is the PI and director for the NIH-funded program for Excellence and Equity in Research (PEER) which aims at increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups earning Ph.Ds in Biomedical and Behavioral sciences. Alexandre has published over 35 papers, has participated in several dozen conferences and has been invited as a speaker around the world. Alexandre’s research has been continuously supported from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2003, including with a prestigious CAREER award. Her research is currently supported by NSF and the Science Alliance (UTK/ORNL).

At the same event, Louis Varriano was named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year. Since 2013, Louis has conducted research at UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Christian Brothers University, and the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. He has numerous presentation credits to his name as well as several authored publications. Louis was recognized for his leadership with the Society of Physics Students, the Undergraduate Research Students’ Association, and as Editor-in-Chief of Pursuit: The Journal of Undergraduate Research at UT. Louis received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention for Tennessee in 2016. Louis has also received UT’s highest honor, being named a Torchbearer.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Louis is currently a senior in physics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has done extensive research on the mirror matter model of dark matter, with a particular focus on the phenomenological aspects of neutron-mirror neutron oscillations. His work developing a formalism to describe these oscillations in a gaseous environment has allowed him and other researchers to begin designing an experiment to search for these theorized oscillations. The experimental detection of each of these phenomena requires new physics which will ultimately affect every other theory in physics, from early cosmology to current high energy particle physics. The proposed neutron regeneration experiment will radically transform our understanding of the universe if evidence for mirror matter is found. Through his research, he has attended and presented at many conferences in the United States and abroad. In addition to his academic and research endeavors, he is also heavily involved in the undergraduate life of his department and of the university more broadly and has spent significant time trying to improve the research experience of undergraduates across the campus.

Recalling Her Own Experience, Nursing Student Wants to Help Kids Understand Asthma

Adaya Troyer

Amanda Troyer, center, with Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean Sadie Hutson and Professor and Associate Dean Tami Wyatt.

Adaya Troyer, a senior in nursing at UT, was only two when she was diagnosed with asthma. Now, as an undergraduate researcher, she’s trying to help young children with asthma understand and manage their condition.

UT’s eighth-annual Research Week kicks off today and runs through Friday, April 21. UT faculty and student research that impacts everyday life will be highlighted through a variety of events, including a Rube Goldberg Challenge, the annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EUReCA), a research photo contest, lectures, seminars and cultural events. A full list of which can be seen at

Troyer is just one of more than 1,400 UT undergraduates actively involved in research, an activity that embeds students in the learning process and enhances their preparation for graduate school or a career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT saw a 103 percent increase in the number of undergraduates involved in research and an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as research mentors.

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Cinema Student Finds Way to ‘Make a Real Impact’

Carolyn Knight

Caroline Knight works with friend and mentor Chad McClarnon, who helped her produce “Still Sophie.”

Caroline Knight, a graduating senior in cinema studies, is an award-winning filmmaker whose latest project is now being shown at film festivals around the country.

Knight is among more than 1,400 UT undergraduates participating in research or creative activities that help them apply what they’re learning in the classroom and prepare them for graduate school or a future career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT more than doubled the number of undergraduates involved in research or creative achievement and saw an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as mentors.

UT’s eighth-annual Research Week is now underway and a full list of activities is available online.

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