IE Pre-Grad Intern and Mentor Win at A&M Symposium

Danielle Lussier and Luis Bonachea

Graduate student Luis Bonachea, a mentor in the Pre-Graduate Internship program, works with undergraduate students in the field of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. (Photo by Marsha Miller.)

Danielle Lussier is one of the 120 undergraduates this spring participating in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship's Pre-Graduate Internship program. Lussier, a senior biology major, attended the Ecological Integration Symposium at Texas A&M University with her mentor, graduate student Luis Bonachea who is studying Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Lussier and Bonachea both received first place awards at the symposium for their work related to the hormone manipulation on the behavior of captive bred frogs. The compared the significance of the behaviors produced by the captive bred frogs to behaviors of wild Tungara frogs.

Lussier won a first-place award for best undergraduate poster presentation, "Efficacy of hormone manipulation to induce receptivity, preferences, and risk assessment in captive Tungara Frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus." Bonachea won a first for best graduate oral presentation.

Lussier said, "It turns out the two University of Texas people came back with the two first place prizes! The best thing about attending the symposium was the rewarding feeling of a job well done; all those late nights paid off--and they were all worth it."

She also said the IE Pre-Grad Internship program "was a huge determining factor for my decision to attend graduate school. It also provided me with research experience."

Rick Cherwitz, director of the IE program, of which the Pre-Grad School Internship is one initiative, said Lussier's experience is typical of the pre-grad interns who attend research conferences and symposia to present their research. "They are empowered and motivated by meeting and having meaningful conversations with scholars in their fields of study. It makes a huge difference in how they think about graduate school and entering a career in research and academe."

The IE program has been most successful among first-generation college students and students from underrepresented populations.