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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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LAUNCHing careers

After+participating+in+undergraduate+research+programs+and+graduating+from+Texas+A%26amp%3BM%2C+Kanika+Gakhar+was+accepted+into+an+AeroAstro+master%26%238217%3Bs+program+at+MIT.
Photo by Provided

After participating in undergraduate research programs and graduating from Texas A&M, Kanika Gakhar was accepted into an AeroAstro master’s program at MIT.

The LAUNCH office provides undergraduate research programs and other high-impact scholarly activities to students at Texas A&M.
LAUNCH is an acronym which stands for learning communities, academic excellence, undergraduate research, national fellowships, capstones and honors. It entails a body of academic programs for students and faculty at A&M.
Annabelle Aymond, program coordinator for undergraduate research, said the LAUNCH office is comprised of incredibly collaborative teams.
“The nice part of all the groups is that we have more reach for different types of students,” Aymond said. “Our programs allow us to bring all types of students from all majors and disciplines and walks of lives together.”
One program LAUNCH offers is the undergraduate research expo, a campus-wide event that takes place every fall semester with about 400 to 500 participants. This year, the research expo will be hosted on Oct 3. in the Memorial Student Center. The all-day event will include faculty members, administrators, graduate students and undergraduates.
“The goal is to get all the research community on campus together in a place in one day,” Aymond said. “There will be open discussions about the state of undergraduate research, best practices in research, research opportunities and mentoring experiences.”
Engaging in research can be intimidating for some undergraduates, Aymond said. To help with this, there are mini-workshops conducted throughout the year for students trying to get started in research. Those interested in researching for credit can inform their academic advisors about 291 and 491 courses, which can be taken from zero to four credit hours.
According to Aymond, any interested undergraduate should consider applying for a position.
“You don’t have to be an honor student to apply for these positions,” Aymond said. “Students interested in research should read about faculty members before approaching them. For example, look through their publications, CV, laboratory websites or faculty pages.”
There are several resources for students to learn about the available research and scholarly opportunities. Apart from the regular university-wide emails and social media, the LAUNCH office has an online database with lots of research, presentation and funding opportunities.
“The online database is actually brand new this year. We are working hard to populate the database and promote it to our students,” Aymond said.
Engaging in research can offer impactful experiences to students, such as connecting classroom learning to the real world and making students more competitive for graduate schools and national fellowships.
Former A&M undergraduate research ambassador Kanika Gakhar is currently an AeroAstro graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gakhar said she’s been grateful for the scholarly opportunities and experiences provided by LAUNCH’s undergraduate research program.
“It goes from knowing nothing about a field to being the expert,” Gakhar said. “The LAUNCH office also exposed me to various opportunities including writing research proposals, and how to communicate my research to general audience, which indirectly helped me with applications for national fellowships and graduate school.”
Gakhar said the program also helped her develop interpersonal communication skills that have been useful for future academic endeavors.
“I used to be a shy person,” Gakhar said. “LAUNCH programs taught me how to get comfortable expressing myself and talk about my research and network with people.”
Another flagship program of LAUNCH is Explorations, an interdisciplinary academic journal for undergraduates that will celebrate its 10th anniversary in November.
“It is an amazing experience for students to be involved in Explorations,” Aymond said. “Undergraduates can publish their research and even be on the editorial board. They have the opportunities to learn leadership, graphic design, writing, communication and marketing. It’s an important transferable skill to the workforce.”
For more information about undergraduate research and other programs provided by LAUNCH, visit launch.tamu.edu

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  • Kanika Gakhar, Class of 2018, was an undergraduate research ambassador during her time at Texas A&M.

    Photo by Provided

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