As a Public Health and Human Biology major, I am interested in studying infections diseases specially those transmitted by vectors. During the application process to UT, I read about how undergraduate students were developing do-it-yourself diagnostics for mosquitoes in the Freshman Research Initiative. After reading the article, I decided to apply to the FRI-DIY Diagnostics stream and was fortunately admitted. This fall 2018 semester I ambition to continue exploring the field of vector diagnostics with success by working on a device that can automatically count mosquitoes by listening for wing characteristics such as frequency. It is important to mention that I didn’t always have this ambition or confidence, like many of my fellow classmates I felt that I lacked the knowledge necessary to be a competent researcher. Being part of this research community gave me a sense of success because unlike other students, I was able to take a hands-on approach to what we learned in course lectures, and the stream itself provides the students with a variety of new skills that a regular student can only wish to have. To be honest, I didn’t find research interesting at first especially because it seemed too complicated, but Dr. Riedel and the mentors help any student make a smooth transition into the world of science. Dr. Riedel is truly an enthusiastic research educator, you can see it in his expression when you meet to discuss research projects, and as students, nothing makes us more motivated than having those who we look up to encourage us. This stream has definitely impacted the opinion I had about research, it has made me consider and search for medical school programs that place emphasis on research. The stream will help you create a strong research foundation that can be used for other undergraduate research opportunities, and in my opinion compared to other streams, DIY diagnostics offers more diversity in their skill developments such as learning to program mobile apps.
Something particularly fun that happened during the semester was when I plunged off into E Coli. Infested Waller Creek, I had to walk home soaking wet (Just kidding!). The whole experience itself is very enjoyable, you meet many new people who are just as eager to learn and who want to make the best out of this opportunity. Now for my favorite quote with a twist: remember not everyone can become a great scientist, but a great scientist can come from anywhere.
Best of Luck,
Cristian A. Cruz