The Undergraduate: Elvira Marquez

Credit: Jeff Wilson

Senior in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). Interviewed by Steve Franklin.

How did you land your first research position on campus before classes even started your freshman year?

I saw UT was one of the universities doing research on Down’s syndrome, which interested me. The contact information was there for Prof. Jon Pierce, so I emailed him and said, “I’ll do anything you need, I just want to watch and see you do science.” And before school started he sent me an email that said, “Come and meet with me.” He said I could start coming to lab, and then I wound up working there for three years. 

What other research experiences have you had at UT?

I participated in FRI [the Freshman Research Initiative]. I felt like that was where I learned failure. I would spend so much time on an experiment and then it wouldn’t work—but it was a learning experience: it was science. I really enjoyed the exposure to what actually happens when you do research.

Tell us about being a Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) mentor. 

I was a TIP scholar my freshman year and I absolutely loved it. Because TIP was so great to me, being a mentor is my opportunity to help other freshmen. I have four mentees. I help them look at the course schedule and help them find resources on campus. I really enjoy being a mentor.

Do you have any favorite professors?

“The Freshman Research Initiative was where I learned failure, but it was a learning experience: it was science.”

One of my favorites is Dr. Amy Bryan in the HDFS department, who’s an inspiration. I’ve had the privilege to have her as a professor for three semesters and she is an inspiration and a beautiful human being. I’ve also had really great chemistry professors, Dr. Fakhreddine and Dr. Iverson. They just love what they’re doing and they demonstrate that every single day. I think, “I want to learn what you’re teaching because you’re so passionate about it.” Now that I’m going to be a teacher [Elvira was selected to join Teach for America], that’s exactly how I want to be in the classroom. I want kids to fall in love with science just like they made me fall in love with science.


Read more about Elvira and other undergraduate researchers from the College of Natural Sciences.