Research program to fund student’s study at Stanford

Research program to fund student’s study at Stanford

April 15
23:48 2013

Melissa Wylie / Senior Staff Writer

Biology senior Irán Román will be spending the summer at Stanford University to study genetics, one of three academic interests he is exploring.

Román received a grant from the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute undergraduate researchers program at UNT.

“It’s a big honor to be accepted,” HHMI program director Lee Hughes said.

HHMI, partnered with 120 universities, can nominate one or two students every year for the EXROP grant.

Román’s work in Hughes’ microbiology class and biology professor Pamela Padilla’s undergraduate genetics research lab earned him a nomination, Hughes said.

This summer, EXROP will place 77 students in labs at universities nationwide from June 3 to August 25.

“I really wanted to go to Stanford,” Román said. “I know people at Stanford in other departments, and that university has gotten my attention since I first thought about undergraduate school.”

Román will continue his studies at UNT in the fall and is planning to graduate in about a year with a triple major in biology, music theory and German studies, he said.

Román’s German studies mentor, associate foreign language and literature professor Christoph Weber said Román has proven to be an exceptionally gifted student through the complex work he is doing in a broad range of subjects.

“He embodies the whole idea of humanism,” Weber said. “He sees the connections, the common threads.”

Music professor Graham Phipps, Román’s mentor in music theory, said Román’s studies in each discipline can be applied to his other interests.

“There certainly is an essential bond between German studies in music theory as the majority of theory [articles] in music are in the German language,” Phipps said. “There are many important connections between German literature, past and present, and music.”

Román moved to the U.S. from Uriangato, Mexico, four years ago to pursue a college education, planning to take any classes that caught his attention even if they would not lead to a degree, he said.

“In my teenage years I was leaning toward the arts and music,” Román said. “My father is a doctor and my mom is a pharmacist, so I’ve always had that science contact.”

Román has gained exposure in music, humanities and biology, but he may choose to focus on his scientific interests due to the availability of scholarships and funding in that area, he said.

“I’ve been trying to get a real-life experience in all fields,” Román said. “Then when I decide to do something with all this information, I will have the resources to think critically about what it really means, and decide what I’m going to be doing.”

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