This summer, Texas Science students will travel the world to tackle challenges in public health, poverty and sustainability, thanks to UT Austin's inaugural President's Award for Global Learning.
The award provides up to $25000, plus travel expenses, to seven interdisciplinary teams to implement their research, social impact, or entrepreneurship projects across the world. Six of the winning teams include students from the College of Natural Sciences, three of whom are members of the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) student organization.
Biology major Veronica Remmert and her team will be traveling to Mexico to conduct a "comprehensive assessment of health needs, determinants, and resources in underserved regions of Puebla, focusing on aspects of the built environment (housing, water and air.)"
"We're going to Puebla to learn about Puebla," Remmert said. "Hopefully this project will inform a future collaboration between [a local university or medical school] and UT Austin's Dell Medical School. As an undergraduate, I hope to come out of this with a renewed understanding of what health is to take into my career in the future as a medical professional."
In the President's Award for Global Learning, there is one team for each eligible region - Europe, Russia and the Caucasus; Sub-Saharan Africa; Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia; East Asia; South/Southeast Asia and Oceania; South America; and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The teams—made up of four third-year students, one faculty leader and one to two faculty mentors—will spend six to ten weeks in the country of their project.
The teams are currently in a spring semester class to plan for their projects, and they will be presenting to the university when they return in the fall through a one-hour seminar course.
One of the requirements for the teams is that each student is pursuing a different major. Three students––Veronica Remmert, Eunise Chen and Priya Ramamoorthy––are representing WINS in three different President's Award teams.
Nutrition major Eunise Chen's project is based in Cambodia, to "test a pilot educational model in communities and encourage shifts in cultural views on waste while teaching the tools needed to generate solutions."
Public Health major Priya Ramamoorthy is participating in an all-women team, Women's Hygiene, Empowerment and Research for Social Impact. They will "analyze and address empowerment through the creation and study of appropriate, sustainable menstrual hygiene products for women in refugee camps in Lebanon."
"WINS gave me a lot of confidence in myself, in that I saw women doing amazing things throughout my time in the organization," Remmert said. "And just seeing at the end of the day that three WINS students were able to implement a project is really amazing to me."