The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
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Owais Durrani

Owais Durrani
Major: 
Government and Biology

Owais’s undergraduate research topic is The Effect of Committee Assignments On Electoral Success for Members of the US House.

“Having participated in biological research as well as research in Government, I was truly surprised by how many similarities exist between the two.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Sean Theriault, Government

How did you initially get involved in research?

I initially joined a lab in the College of Pharmacy. Working in the lab instilled in me the need to ask questions beyond what we learn in the classroom. When I heard about the Government Department’s Pickle Fellows program, I knew it was something that I would enjoy and something that would allow me the unique opportunity to study a subject area that interested me.

Briefly describe your research project.

The United States Congress is composed of numerous committees that each deal with a specific issue. Some of these committees are considered more prestigious than others. My project centers on comparing the electoral success of members with appointments to less prestigious committees to members with appointments to more prestigious committees.

How has participating in research affected your undergraduate experience?

Undergraduate research has been by far the highlight of my college education. My experiences with research have allowed me to push myself intellectually in a way that we don’t experience in everyday class. More importantly, I have gained an appreciation for working collaboratively with others. I can say without a doubt that I am a better-rounded individual because of my research experiences.

What surprised you during the research process?

A lot of things surprised me! I didn’t realize how many resources were available to us as students of the University. Furthermore, everyone from professors to TAs are willing to help out if you ask for it. Having participated in biological research as well as research in Government, I was truly surprised by how many similarities exist between the two. This goes to say that on a basic level, research instills in us skills that can be used to solve problems in any discipline.

What advice would you give to incoming and current students about getting involved in research?

Don’t be afraid of getting into research! No matter what your interests are, the University of Texas has faculty members that share your passions. Labs and faculty members are always looking for passionate individuals that want to contribute. I honestly believe some degree of research should be a part of everyone’s undergraduate education.