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4 Natural Sciences Graduates Who Aim to Make their Mark in the World

4 Natural Sciences Graduates Who Aim to Make their Mark in the World

Members of the Class of 2019 are tackling the complicated questions shaping our tomorrow, taking what they have learned at UT out into the world. With no shortage of impressive achievements and inspiring stories in this cohort, UT Austin featured four stand-out students from Natural Sciences in its round-up about amazing graduates. Each student demonstrates a distinct commitment to their vision for changing the world. 

Robert McInvale
Computer Science & Mathematics​

Robert believes the government has a technology literacy problem, and he is taking it upon himself to help the U.S. government get up to speed on what it needs to know.

Having served in the Navy and the National Security Agency, Robert has seen first-hand what can happen when public agencies lack the technological wherewithal to handle big challenges, and he believes leaders and citizens need to be better informed about technology in their lives.

In general, Robert sees positive potential for technology, as he explained to UT News: "I worked on an app called BeVote. Young people are historically very underrepresented at the polls. BeVote is trying to get those people to go out and cast a vote. I was brought onto the project and told to develop a full-featured app in about six weeks working alone part-time with no mobile app development experience except a five-week summer course. I don't even own an iPhone myself. The goals were noble, but it also felt very satisfying to succeed in such conditions."

Jacqueline Gibson
​Computer Science

Jacqueline, the featured student speaker at the College of Natural Sciences' noon ceremony, says she wants to build technology that everyone, regardless of ability or background, can use with ease.

"I have always been inspired by the Shirley Chisholm quote, 'If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,'" she told UT News. "It is my hope that my legacy, not only on the Forty Acres but in the world, is that I have fought to create inclusion and community in spaces where there was none. For me, it is not enough to bring a chair for yourself; you have to make space for others to join as well and make their voices heard."

Anne Dattilo
Astronomy and Physics

Anne made global news earlier this year, when she was first author on a scientific paper about the discovery of two planets outside our solar system that had never before been detected. And she's not done searching for worlds. 

Every day, she sits at her laptop running an AI algorithm she wrote that rummages through an unbelievable amount of data collected by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. 

"Imposter phenomenon has been something I have dealt with," Anne said in the wake of all the attention. "This experience has helped me grow, to see that I got here because of hard work, not just because of luck."

She will continue her research in graduate school: "Astronomy research is answering the questions of why we're here and how we're here. Finding planets thousands of light-years away may never directly impact us, but the machine learning techniques we build to find them will. It is about scientific advancement and satisfying human curiosity."

Larissa Ybanez
Biochemistry/Pre-Med, Pre-dental, Pre-vet

Larissa, formerly the president of Texas Forensics and a winner of a College of Natural Sciences Distinction in Service and Leadership, aims to help families after a tragic death.

She has researched infant death investigations through an internship with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, and, to help address SIDS, she organized Austin's first Baby Box Community Distribution Event, an initiative for safe sleep for infants. She plans to work in forensic science and become a forensic pathologist. 

"I am passionate about making people's lives easier during tough times," Larissa told UT News. "I've worked in death investigations and spoken directly to families that were just finding out about the death of a loved one. The biggest questions are always why, what happened, how could this be? And I think a really huge part in that healing process is answering those questions."

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Friday, 03 February 2023

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