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Joy Youwakim

Headshot of student researchers Joy Youwakim
Graduation Year:
Spring 2018
BDP Certificate:
Environment & Sustainability
“Conducting research gave me a lot of career direction.”

In her undergraduate research, Joy uses math to explore how to best rely on drought-resistant crops.

Learn more about Joy’s work with her video submission and presentation for the 2016 Texas Student Research Showdown.

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. William Wolesensky, Mathematics

Briefly describe your research project.
I examined the drought resistant qualities of sorghum and compared them to the water intensive nature of corn in order to make recommendations for the future of grain agriculture in the U.S. to assist in the eradication of hunger and poverty. 

Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
My work ranges from mathematical modeling to farming. I write grant proposals, publications, plan climate change simulations, choose seeds, and carry out my experiments. I like to use math to explain why we shouldn’t be hungry. 

Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
I did not think about research at all before college. I imagined college as a huge place of learning and opportunity, and I don’t think I was wrong. 

How did you get involved with your research project?
I knew after my first year of college that I wanted to work with math and the environment. I e-mailed my favorite mathematics professor at UT, and he turned out to be a farmer from Nebraska. The rest is history. 

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
Definitely. Conducting research gave me a lot of career direction. I want to get a PhD in Development Economics and work for the International Food Policy Research Institute. 

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
I really enjoyed our harvest day. I shucked seven cobs of corn and ran into an HEB to weigh them. 

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
You’ve got nothing to lose! Ask someone you admire and present your interests. Only good things can happen from there.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place in the middle of April each year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.