Texas Border Business ---
BROWNSVILLE – Albert Mata believes being exposed to different subjects will help him as he pursues his goal of working in oncology.
Mata, 19, a senior physics and biology major from Brownsville attending The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, will learn how chemistry and optical astronomy tie together during a summer-long internship at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The internship began Monday, June 4 and ends Saturday, Aug 11. Mata’s internship opportunity is entitled “Investigating Gas Chemistry in Protoplanetary Disks,” which will have him looking for molecular emission features in dust from the early formation of planets.
“I’d like to get some insight into a field I have never been exposed to,” said Mata. “I can use this to prove my programming and scripting skills with computers.”
Mata learned about the internship opportunity while attending an American Astronomical Society conference.
He was born in Matamoros and lived in Brownsville when he was young before moving to Laredo. He became interested in oncology after shadowing nurses, radiation oncologists and dosimetrists at a hospital starting his freshman year of high school in Laredo.
“It really moved me working with the patients and their conditions,” said Mata.
He is a university Arecibo Remote Command Center Scholar and Scorpion Scholar. As part of being an ARCC Scholar, Mata has enjoyed his hands-on work studying data from the William E. Gordon Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The work involves using knowledge about gravitational wave astronomy and pulsars.
Mata has also been involved in building the Low Frequency All Sky Monitor, a series of antennas that will monitor areas of space for radio transients, located in Willacy County.
“Here I’ve gotten to learn a lot of things that I would have not taken any interest on my own to learn,” said Mata.
Mata found out during the spring semester he was conditionally accepted at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston after he graduates in 2014 from UTB. He accomplished this by being part of the university’s Office of Health Professions Careers’ Houston Medical Early Admissions Program.
“If I keep my grade point average above a 3.6 and make above a certain score on the MCAT, then I’m guaranteed acceptance in medical school,” he said.
Mata moved back to Brownsville with his family when he was a junior in high school. Mata took dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses at Hanna High School where he graduated from in 2010.
When he is not studying Mata enjoys playing paintball and basketball and going to the gym.
Joining Mata this summer in Maryland is Jesus Hinojosa, a graduate student in physics, and Jose McKinnon, an undergraduate physics major and ARCC Scholar. Also participating in the internship is Frank Ceballos of Brownsville, a May graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics who will begin graduate school this fall at the University of Kansas. TBB