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Saturday , November 17 2018
Home | Tag Archives: University of Texas at El Paso

Tag Archives: University of Texas at El Paso

UTEP Nursing Faculty Member to Study End-of-Life Cancer Care in Latinos

Guillermina Solis, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at The University of Texas at El Paso, will serve as the El Paso region’s principle investigator on a national multisite study called, “Coping with Cancer III.”

Led by Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, the study is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Other sites include New York, Chicago, Florida and Dallas.

Solis will collaborate with Javier C. Corral, M.D., division chief of hematology and assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

They will recruit patients, their informal caregivers, and their oncologists for a study to identify beliefs and practices among Latinos that significantly contribute to advance care planning and end-of-life care.

The goal is to gain a better understanding of Latino versus non-Latino disparities in making treatment decisions upon the progress of the disease.

Researchers will look at how Latinos and non-Latinos differ in oncology care, religious and familial beliefs that are related to cancer care in comparison to other ethnic groups, and how those differences contribute to care received.

According to Solis, Latino patients with advanced cancer are more likely to receive aggressive treatment at the end of their lives, which may lead to prolonged suffering and higher health care costs than non-Latino cancer patients.

The data will help determine potential interventions to lessen existing ethnic disparities in advance care planning and end-of-life care in Latino patients, caregivers and oncology professionals.

“The uniqueness of this study is that we will gain the perspective on end-of-life and advance care planning from a comprehensive group involved in the decision-making process that includes patients, caregivers and oncology providers,” Solis said.

Study participants must be 21 or older with certain types of cancer and receiving medical treatment. They must have an adult non-paid caregiver and an oncology provider who are willing to participate in the study.

Coping with Cancer III is a longitudinal cohort study of advanced cancer patients and their oncologists led by principle investigators Holly Prigerson, Ph.D., and Paul Maciejewski, Ph.D., co-directors of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medicine.

For more information, contact Guillermina Solis at

UTEP Expands Partnership with America Makes via W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation

Thanks to an expanded partnership with America Makes, officials with the University of Texas at El Paso say that the college will be a “pivotal leader in the collection of critical performance data for the 3D-printing industry while offering immense benefits to students.”

“We are excited to announce this expanded collaboration with America Makes,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio said. “This is a significant step in the effort to generate data that can be used to move the additive manufacturing industry forward. It is also a validation of UTEP, through the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, as a national leader in additive manufacturing. We look forward to addressing the needs of America Makes while offering our students opportunities to participate in groundbreaking work in a thriving technology industry.”

The amended agreement is an expansion of one originally signed in April 2015, which made UTEP the first America Makes Satellite Center. The updated pact expands the Keck Center’s national impact by providing additional services to America Makes member institutions that will add significant value to their association.

The new agreement will help fill the tremendous need in the additive manufacturing (AM) community for access to critical performance data from AM-produced parts.

Managed by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes is the nation’s leading public-private partnership to innovate and accelerate additive manufacturing technology.

“Since our inception, America Makes has worked tirelessly to foster a highly collaborative membership community for the open exchange of additive manufacturing information and research with the singular goal of advancing our industry,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes executive director.

“Today’s announcement of our newly updated agreement with UTEP further underscores our dedication to our industry and demonstrates the ongoing success of our collaboration with UTEP and the Keck Center. The goal of the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to expand our current Satellite Center relationship by incorporating services that will provide tremendous strategic value and competitive advantage to the America Makes membership community.”

In 2015, America Makes designated UTEP’s Keck Center as its first America Makes Satellite Center with the goal of promoting America Makes’ mission and expanding its regional, industrial and technological footprint to innovate and accelerate 3D printing as well as increase domestic manufacturing and economic competitiveness.

Under the new MOU with America Makes, UTEP’s Keck Center will be the focal point of an effort to provide America Makes’ membership community with greater access to critical performance data for 3D-printed components.

“The Keck Center’s ongoing dedication to advancing additive manufacturing and all of the supporting technologies and creating a skilled workforce aligns perfectly with the mission of America Makes,” said Ralph Resnick, America Makes founding director and NCDMM president and chief executive officer.

“On behalf of all of us at America Makes, we are pleased to have our relationship with UTEP and the Keck Center enter this new phase. The America Makes membership community and industry at large will benefit greatly from the expanded services available at the America Makes Satellite Center.”

Additionally, workforce needs will be significantly addressed through the increased number of graduates who will have direct expertise in specific additive manufacturing and testing technologies.

“Dr. Ryan Wicker, director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, has built an extraordinary facility, program and operation over the years,” said Theresa A. Maldonado, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s College of Engineering. “The Keck Center is an international beacon for 3D manufacturing capabilities that support the fabrication of a range of components, from very large-scale aerospace fixtures to the most delicate biological elements for human health. At the same time, Dr. Wicker is deeply committed to developing a workforce with the technical and leadership skills required to advance this dynamic manufacturing environment for years to come.”

“UTEP has done an exemplary job growing the America Makes partnership for our students and community in El Paso,” said U.S. Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar.

“This program is not only expanding the skillset and opportunities in science and technology for our young minds but is also allowing us to be more competitive through advanced manufacturing research and innovation. UTEP is playing a leading role in economic development by connecting our talented workforce to job opportunities here in our region.”

An added benefit for America Makes members who seek services at the Keck Center will be an option to apply the costs incurred to build and test 3D-printed components toward membership fees through the ‘@Program.’

“It’s an arrangement that benefits all parties,” said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., founder and director of the Keck Center. “Through this initiative, America Makes members will be able to utilize our state-of-the-art equipment and generate significant data that can in turn assist our industry in determining how best to use 3D printing for designing and producing next generation products. We will be working with 3D printing equipment manufacturers and materials suppliers to maintain a high level of technological advancement at the Keck Center. Lastly, our students will benefit from the direct work they perform and through the research avenues that companies will pursue as they learn more about their products.”

Wicker added that the collaboration with America Makes will make UTEP an attractive institution to companies in the additive manufacturing sector seeking a locale near high-end expertise and performance. Wicker points to the recent announcement from Aconity3D — one of the world’s emerging technology leaders in the production of 3D printing equipment, which installed its North American base of operations at UTEP in July — as evidence of the campus’ rising prominence.

“Every company that we work with will recognize the value UTEP adds,” Wicker said. “We are confident that we will produce a substantial quantity of follow-on research, increase industry-sponsored activities and interest in our region, and build this initiative into a thriving workforce and economic development platform for this community.”

The announcement was made Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at a joint press conference with America Makes held at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation at UTEP.

UTEP Announces New Binational Academic Partnership

The University of Texas at El Paso is taking another decisive step in its commitment to access and excellence in education with the launch of a new partnership with one of the leading educational institutions in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Last week, UTEP President Diana Natalicio and Ma. Teresa Ortuño Gurza, director general of the Colegio de Bachilleres of the State of Chihuahua (COBACH), met at UTEP to sign a memorandum of understanding.

The agreement’s main goals are to increase awareness among COBACH students about the opportunities available to them at UTEP, and to encourage faculty and staff from both institutions to explore opportunities for research and professional development through exchange programs.

“This agreement is important because it’s a continuation of UTEP’s effort to make the young people of our region – on both sides of the border – aware of the opportunities that are available to them,” President Natalicio said. “Many of these students, especially those who come from low-income families, don’t believe that going to college is a real option for them. So, with this agreement between UTEP and COBACH, we are telling these students, ‘That’s why we’re here: to offer opportunities to you.’”

The COBACH system consists of 31 state-run public high schools located throughout the state of Chihuahua, including several campuses in Juárez.

The agreement also signals UTEP’s continuing recognition of Mexico as a strategic partner in the University’s ongoing efforts to increase access to higher education for students of this region.

“During her tenure as head of The University of Texas at El Paso, President Natalicio has increasingly created more opportunities for students from Mexico, and the benefits of this effort cannot be expressed in mere numbers or statistics,” Ortuño Gurza said. “Thanks to UTEP, there are now more young people in Mexico for whom the thought of obtaining a college education in the United States, and all the advantages that derive from this, is no longer a far-fetched dream. This is something we want students across all 31 of our campuses to know.”

One COBACH graduate who understands the transformational effect partnerships like the one between the Mexican institution and UTEP can have on students is Valeria Romo de Vivar. Through her hard work and perseverance, and the efforts of UTEP and COBACH officials and staff members, she learned about the scholarship and employment opportunities available to her. Romo de Vivar thrived as a UTEP student. She graduated in May 2018 with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in communication.

With the signing of the agreement between UTEP and COBACH, Romo de Vivar said more students like her would be able to make their academic dreams come true. She referred to students who may have the talent to succeed in college, but see their socioeconomic issues as an insurmountable obstacle.

“It’s important to know that there is a support system,” Romo de Vivar said. “I believe there are too many students who are simply not aware of this, so their thinking is, ‘Why would I even think of going to college in the United States?’ My message to them is, ‘You’ll have to put in the work and you may have to knock on a lot of doors, but it’s definitely possible.’”

COBACH is celebrating its 45th anniversary during the 2018-19 academic year. Officials with the Mexican institution said the partnership agreement with UTEP is one of the highlights on its commemorative events calendar.

Author: Victor Arreola – UTEP Communications

UTEP Launches Fundraising Campaign in Honor of Natalicio’s 30 Years of Leadership

On Thursday, the University of Texas at El Paso launched the “Thank You for 30” campaign to celebrate UTEP President Diana Natalicio’s leadership and build on the momentum to propel the University forward for the next 30 years and beyond.

“Our institution and community have been profoundly transformed under Dr. Natalicio’s visionary leadership and extraordinary service,” said Ben Gonzalez, vice president for asset management and development. “It is bittersweet to bid her farewell, but we’re happy to know that she will have an opportunity to enjoy her retirement.

“We know many alumni, friends and community members want to thank her for her invaluable contributions to this community. This campaign is a unique way to do just that. It’s about coming together to show support for our institution in the name of someone who has advocated tirelessly for our students and our region for over 30 years.”

Under the leadership of President Natalicio, the longest-serving president of a public research university in the country, UTEP has earned national and international acclaim for successfully preparing students to compete in a global economy, pursue graduate studies, conduct world-class research, and give back to their communities and the nation.

UTEP is encouraging all UTEP faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the community to show appreciation for President Natalicio’s 30 years of leadership, dedication and commitment to the University and the Paso del Norte region through a gift of any amount.

College officials say that residents can choose to support the “Thank You for 30” Scholarship Fund, give to an established scholarship fund, or create an endowed fund in the name of a favorite professor, department or program, any gift will honor President Natalicio’s remarkable 30 years and build on the successes to which her leadership has contributed.

UTEP’s deep commitment to a historically underserved region’s 21st century student demographic has had a profound impact on enrollment, increasing the student population by nearly 80 percent since President Natalicio took the helm in 1988. Today, the University’s more than 25,000 students accurately reflect the demographics of the Paso del Norte region.

The University has also increased the number of doctoral programs from 1 to 22 and the number of doctoral students from 16 to 921 during President Natalicio’s tenure. UTEP’s annual research expenditures have grown from $2.6 million to $100 million,  full-time faculty positions have more than doubled to support an ever-growing student population, and new state-of-the-art facilities have transformed the campus.

In May 2018, President Natalicio announced her plans to retire once a successor is appointed and assumes the office.

To learn more about the “Thank You for 30” campaign or to give a gift, visit

UTEP Receives $13M Grant for GEAR UP Program

The University of Texas at El Paso’s GEAR UP program has received a $13 million, 6-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will help more than 2,700 students get more out of high school and navigate the path to college.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP, program will provide comprehensive support to students in 10 Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) middle schools through academic counseling, tutoring, mentoring, community service opportunities, academic workshops and activities, college tours, college and career awareness and readiness activities, and financial aid planning.

Juliette Caire, who has been the director of GEAR UP since 2001, said the new grant’s main goal is to assist students in preparing for and attending college.

This six-year grant will follow and support all members of the class of 2024 enrolled at the 10 YISD middle schools through their high school graduation.

“We are very grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of  Education and for their investment in UTEP and YISD,” said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs at UTEP. “The GEAR UP program has proven to be a catalyst for educational attainment and progression to a post-secondary degree. This grant will result in more students completing high school and pursuing a college degree. What a great win for El Paso!”

UTEP’s GEAR UP program has served area students since its first grant cycle in 1999.

The next group of students for the program will be pulled from Bel Air, Camino Real, Desert View, Eastwood, Indian Ridge, Parkland, Rio Bravo, Riverside, Valley View and Ysleta middle schools.

“We have three goals: one is increasing the academic readiness for postsecondary education,” Caire said. “Everything we do for the seventh grade through the 12th grade is increasing academics, knowledge of navigating the postsecondary application process, increasing knowledge about degrees and careers, and very important, the financial aid process.”

Since 1999, UTEP’s GEAR UP has secured more than $49 million in research grants and has guided 10,688 students in the Ysleta, Socorro and El Paso independent school districts.

Study: Parents of Young Children Lack Time for College Classes

The University of Texas at El Paso’s Alyse C. Hachey, Ph.D., associate professor of early childhood education, co-authored a research paper that for the first time uses data to show that students with preschool-aged children, despite having higher GPAs on average, are at risk because they have significantly lower quantity and quality of time for college than their peers with older or no children.

“Although our findings make intuitive sense and have been assumed for a long time, this is the first study to use empirical methods to prove it by actually gathering and analyzing data,” Hachey said.

“My hope is our research gets policymakers to re-think current support programs and to create new ones for student parents that will really address the issue – time poverty – which is holding them, and potentially the next generation, back.”

The study shows that the main reason for the time differential is the amount of time spent on childcare.

It also shows that a greater availability of convenient and affordable childcare likely would lead to better college outcomes for students with young children.

The researchers conducted their study from 2015 to early 2017, said Hachey, who joined UTEP in fall 2017. They based their findings on institutional data and surveys of students who attended a large, urban U.S. university.

She said research has shown that increased parental education improves the educational outcomes of their children. In fact, parents often are motivated to attend or return to college to provide for their children financially or to set a good example.

The Journal of Higher Education recently published “No Time for College? An Investigation of Time Poverty and Parenthood.” Hachey collaborated on the study with Claire Wladis, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, and Katherine Conway, Ph.D., professor of business management, who both teach at the Borough of Manhattan Community College at the City University of New York.

UTEP Ranked a Top Degree Producer for Hispanic Students

The University of Texas at El Paso has been recognized as one of the top minority degree producers by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

Via a news release on Monday, UTEP Officials said this ranking “validates UTEP’s successful efforts to bolster degree attainment of underrepresented minorities, primarily Hispanic students.”

UTEP ranked No. 1 in the nation for awarding doctoral degrees to Hispanics in engineering, and No. 3 for doctoral degrees in rehabilitation and therapeutic professions.

At the master’s level, the University ranked in the top 5 in conferring degrees to Hispanics in engineering (No. 1), multi/interdisciplinary studies (No. 1), mathematics and statistics (No. 2), English language and literature/letters (No. 3), physical sciences (No. 3), and rehabilitation and therapeutic professions (No. 3). It is ranked No. 5 in awarding multi/interdisciplinary degrees to all minorities.

The University ranked among the top 5 institutions in awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanic students in biological and biomedical sciences (No. 3); accounting and related services (No. 3); homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting and related protective services (No. 4); and engineering (No. 5).

“These rankings substantiate UTEP’s role as a national leader in public higher education,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “They reflect our deep commitment to providing equitable educational access for traditionally underrepresented minority students from a broad range of backgrounds, and enabling them to complete highly valued degrees. UTEP’s holistic approach to student success – analyzing the many factors that impact their progress toward degree completion, and addressing them through tailored programs and resources – has been highly effective in achieving UTEP’s access and excellence mission.”

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education rankings are based on the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (the 2016-17 academic year).

Rhonda V. Sharpe, Ph.D., founder and president of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race, compiled the data exclusively for the magazine as part of a national report on the ability of U.S. colleges and universities to award degrees to African-American, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American students.

UTEP is one of the few doctoral/research universities in the U.S. with a majority Mexican-American student population. Eighty percent of the University’s students are Hispanic, 83 percent are from El Paso County and 4 percent are Mexican nationals.

“We take our role and responsibility as a public research university with a primarily Mexican-American student body very seriously,” said UTEP Provost Carol Parker. “The caliber of our students is unquestionable; we are especially proud of their success. This recognition demonstrates our commitment to our mission, and further validates the effort our excellent faculty, staff and administration make to increase access to higher education, while simultaneously providing our students with exceptional educational opportunities.”

The Top 100 annual rankings are featured in the magazine’s Aug. 23, 2018 edition.

Video+Story: UTEP’s New Education Dean Ready to Serve Students

Raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Clifton Tanabe knew about The University of Texas at El Paso from its days as a Western Athletic Conference rival to the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH).

As a higher education professor, researcher and administrator, he learned more about the University through the national attention it received for its successful access and excellence model and its leadership role with the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a community partnership hailed for its transformational education reforms.

“That was truly a powerful light for me,” said Tanabe, Ph.D., new dean of UTEP’s College of Education as of July 1, 2018. “I saw what some folks who come together could pull off. It was very impressive.”

Tanabe said he was excited and grateful to be at UTEP to serve its students and those of the larger El Paso community. He also looks forward to contributing to the growth of the college and the University.

The Indiana native came to UTEP from UH, where he taught educational policy and law and was a lecturer in law at the university’s William S. Richardson School of Law.

He served in the chancellor’s office as director for institutional transformation and executive assistant chief of staff. He also directed the Leaders for the Next Generation Program and co-directed the Hawaii Educational Policy Center.

Tanabe earned his doctorate in educational policy studies (1998) and a law degree (2004) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Master of Education in educational foundations from UH in 1994 and his bachelor’s degree in humanities from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, in 1988.

Author: Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

University Heights Early Learning Academy Prepares for a New Year

The foundation to student success in college is laid at centers such as the YWCA University Heights Early Learning Academy.

The learning academy — which provides on-campus child care for UTEP students, faculty and staff — services newborn to 5-year-old children.

The University of Texas at El Paso and the YWCA partnership began in 2012.

“It’s really important that this center is on our campus,” said Catie McCorry-Andalis, Ed.D., associate vice president for student engagement and dean of students. “It sends a very positive message that we are committed to education at the earliest of stages.”

She said the YWCA University Heights Early Learning Academy, located at  315 West Schuster Ave., is a great resource for UTEP students.

“A majority of individuals accessing the center are students who have children,” McCorry-Andalis said. “To have a place that is not only safe and secure but a place where they are learning is really empowering for that child and that family, especially as mom and dad are pursuing an education. This is an opportunity to share the vision for the YWCA and our responsibility to educate individuals from preschool all the way through college. Education doesn’t stop in elementary, middle school or high school. We want them to continue all the way to college.”

The learning academy can accommodate up to 142 children. Openings remain for children up to age 5. The academy is a block away from the University, providing easy access for UTEP students, faculty and staff.

“Having the learning academy only a block away from the University has been very convenient for me,” said Jecoa Ross, a doctoral student in history. “It’s just a matter of dropping her off on the way to campus and picking her up on the way home in the afternoon. It’s great.”

Ross has been taking his 2-year-old daughter, Temple, to the learning academy since she was six months old.

“When I leave her off here, my confidence level is as high as it can be that she will be well taken care of,” Ross said. “The times when she has gotten sick, they have called us right away to let us know that she has a fever and we have to pick her up. It’s amazing when some days she will come home singing a song that we know we didn’t teach her and we figure that she learned it at school.”

The academy is staffed with qualified teachers and aides trained through Texas School Ready, a comprehensive preschool teacher training program that combines a research-based, state-adopted curriculum with ongoing professional development to help children be more prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

Lorraine M. Valles, director of the YWCA University Heights Early Learning Academy, said the curriculum consists of social and emotional development, language and communication, reading and writing, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, physical development and technology.

“The children have access to iPads with additional learning programs on there,” she said. “Aside from covering science, social studies, language and math, they are active in reading, storytelling, music and outdoor play. They have activities all day long, every hour on the hour.”

The YWCA operates nine Early Learning Academies with about 500 children in El Paso and has established partnerships with various UTEP departments including Speech Language Pathology, Social Work and Nursing that enable students to complete their practicum and internships at the academy.

“We are able to draw from the experience and the resource partnerships that we have with the faculty at UTEP not only at the UTEP early childhood academy but all of our academies,” said Sylvia Acosta, CEO of the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region. “They are able to provide empirical research so that we can validate the work that we are doing and we can state, without a doubt, that the work we are doing in our YWCA early childhood learning academies is making an impact academically, emotionally and socially with the children that we care for.”

Acosta said the UTEP-YWCA partnership is invaluable.

“It’s not very common for universities to have child care available for their students and their faculty,” she said. “For UTEP to have taken the lead and to have worked with us to help establish this center is very valuable. Oftentimes you have students who have kids and that could deter their ability to finish school, but because they have a safe place to drop off their children, they are able to attend classes knowing that their kids are in a safe environment. When they return, it’s reassuring to know that their children have not only been cared for but have been taught. It’s not just childcare, it’s an early learning academy environment because they are learning.”

And the academy is affordable.

For infants ages 12 months and younger, the cost is $115 per week for a full day or $99 a week for less than six hours a day. For children age 1 and older, the cost is $110 a week for a full day or $97 a week for less than six hours a day.

“We are so close to campus so students, faculty and staff have easy access to their children,” Valles said. “We have an open-door policy where they can come and visit their children at any time during the day. For infants we have a breast-feeding room so mothers can come in and breastfeed their children. We are exclusive to UTEP so everybody knows each other. It’s a big family that we have here.”

Author: Victor R. Martinez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Engineering Professor Duo Awarded $393K NSF Grant

A pair of engineering professors from The University of Texas at El Paso will address the need to develop faculty who are adept at effective teaching strategies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Benjamin Flores, Ph.D., professor and director of The University of Texas System Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, was named the principal investigator of the NSF award worth $393,601 with co-PI Heidi Taboada-Jimenez, Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering.

The duo will work on the effort, which is part of a broader NSF initiative — the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) program.

“We are grateful and thrilled to be selected as recipients of this National Science Foundation grant,” Flores said. “From what we have seen, there is a need to develop future faculty who are well-trained in teaching strategies that can positively impact undergraduate students enrolled in community colleges. What we plan to do is to implement a sustainable program to make graduate students keenly aware of career opportunities at community colleges. Many of our graduate students have a passion for teaching and we want to provide guidance for that passion. So, if they do decide to pursue careers at community colleges, they will have the right tools to hit the ground running.”

Flores and Taboada-Jimenez will use the five-year grant to harness an already existing network dedicated to promoting best practices in teaching. The pair will work closely with The University of Texas at Arlington in the formation of two regional cooperatives (RCs) in Texas.

Through the RCs, graduate students will be paired with professors to form a mentor-protégé team that exposes students to best practices in teaching and its applications at the college level.

Flores said he hopes this effort will eventually result in a faculty that better reflects the diverse student populations that begin their higher education journeys at community colleges.

“We know that a majority of Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans and other minority groups that decide to pursue higher education are starting that journey at community colleges,” Flores said. “It becomes clear to us that we need to ensure we have a full understanding of their challenges as students. One of the historical roadblocks is that the educational system doesn’t necessarily consider the diversity of our STEM population background that impacts their success. We want to make sure that our graduate students who are thinking about academic careers learn the best teaching practices, developed and tested over time.”

Flores said that over time, the hiring of a more diverse and well-prepared teaching faculty will improve science and math community college courses and curricula, bolstering their compatibility with four-year programs.

“We’re looking forward to working with our collaborators,” Flores said. “We have at least six community colleges, including El Paso Community College, which we are reaching out to throughout the state. Our joint efforts are really going to make the difference.”

UTEP Helps Student Build Confidence for Law School

Samantha “Sam” Natera never had use for the old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” The Chihuahua City native grew up in a caring and supportive family believing that people achieved their success independently. Her perspective changed as an undergraduate at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Natera, who earned her bachelor’s degree in finance and general business in 2018, fell into a reserved routine as a freshman: cross the border, attend class, return home, study, and repeat.

Some of her fellow students gently nudged her out of her comfort zone. They encouraged her to learn about student organizations and to get involved on campus. She did, and that led to a student research job with the College of Education, membership in several student groups aligned with her major, a study abroad trip to China, and participation in UTEP’s Law School Preparation Institute (LSPI), where she developed an interest in the legal field.

In the same way, friends suggested she apply for a student assistant position in the Provost’s Office. She got the job but quickly showed the skills to move from the front desk to help with the office’s financial operations. This opportunity proved instrumental in the creation of the support network that led to the latest step in her life’s journey at the University of Kansas School of Law.

“I never planned on a career in law until my junior year when a friend told me about the LSPI,” Natera said. “I learned more about the program, applied and was accepted. I got to do things I never thought possible, like present arguments in front of real judges. It was a great experience that changed my career path.”

David Ruiter, Ph.D., associate provost for student and faculty success, recalled Natera’s positive nature and was impressed with her work ethic and customer service skills. As with all the office’s student employees, he met with Natera regularly to discuss how things were going with work and school. When Ruiter learned that Natera wanted to apply for law school, he volunteered to help with her admissions paperwork.

“When these student workers are here they become our responsibility, and their success is our responsibility,” Ruiter said. “They aren’t just here to do tasks, but they are here because they are on their way somewhere – to graduate school, careers, and leadership roles – and we can contribute to that in a really meaningful way. We want our student employees to know that the work they do in our office is valuable to them moving forward professionally, and so are the relationships and networks they build in this office.”

At some point, Natera’s resolve began to waiver because she was anxious about leaving her family and having to support herself. Later she confessed that her main concern was about having to answer questions from the law school interviewers in English, which is her second language. The self-doubt ate at her to the point where she almost convinced herself that she was not ready for law school.

Ruiter took action after Natera explained her worry to him. It did not take long before several members of the campus community rallied around to help.

“It was interesting because Sam has everything in the world going for her,” Ruiter said. “She is incredibly talented, has great family support, and had already done great things at UTEP. But she was hung up on this one thing, and it was a big enough worry that it was going to be hard for her to move forward. It took me a couple of minutes to make a few calls around campus to colleagues who had the expertise to assist her. With their support, Sam was able to get prepared for her challenge and realize that she truly is ready for this opportunity.”

Ruiter put Natera in contact with Louie Rodriguez, associate vice president for student affairs, and Arturo Barrio, senior advisor to the President on Mexico and Latin America at UTEP. Rodriguez, a former New York City lawyer, gave her an idea of the types of questions she might be asked. Barrio, who recalled how UTEP students, faculty and staff helped him as an undergraduate, reached out to friends in the legal field who could give her useful advice.

One of Barrio’s friends was Monica Perez, shareholder and attorney at Mounce, Green, Myers, Safi, Paxson, & Galatzan, P.C. in El Paso. The UTEP alumna said she remembered feeling the same way as Natera as she prepared her law school applications. She and other UTEP alumni volunteered their time to work with Natera and conducted mock interviews with her to build her confidence and ease some of her fears of the unexpected.

“It is our responsibility as alumni to lend our experiences, time, and/or funds to support the students and programs of the University,” Perez said.

Natera said the help and encouragement she received from the UTEP community gave her the confidence to continue her law school application process – to include the interviews. In the end, she had six offers from law schools around the country.

“The way the UTEP community came together to help me touched my heart,” Natera said. “They all wanted good things for me and just wanted to see me succeed. I don’t think I could have done it without them. I want to thank everyone who helped me, and it is my hope to one day be able to help other students succeed as the UTEP family helped me.”

Author: Christina Rodriguez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Alumnus Joins Ranks of Award-Winning Faculty

Since it was established in 2008, 70 faculty members from The University of Texas at El Paso have been named recipients of one of the nation’s most competitive teaching recognition programs in higher education — The University of Texas System Board of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA).

This year, the roster of deserving Miners includes not only UTEP faculty but alumni as well. Alumnus Russell Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pathology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, is now part of a distinguished band of faculty from the eight academic and six health institutions in the UT System to earn a ROTA for their extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in instruction.

“Receiving the Outstanding Teaching Award is truly an honor,” said Broaddus, who earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 1987 and was named a UTEP Gold Nugget Award recipient for the College of Science 30 years later. “It is especially meaningful when I consider that many excellent teachers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have received this award in the past. Many of these are faculty who I have always looked up to and respected.”

Broaddus credits UTEP faculty members for the role they played in inspiring him to join the professoriate. He can still name a number of professors and teachers, both in and out of the sciences, who devoted tremendous time and enthusiasm to teaching and learning while he was a UTEP student.

“Their enthusiasm was infectious,” Broaddus said.

When Broaddus attended the University in the 1980s, the only doctoral program available in science was geological sciences. Therefore, much of the research in the sciences was dependent on undergraduate students doing the work.

“This is a very valuable asset not offered at many larger universities,” Broaddus said. “For example, it is not uncommon for Rice University undergraduate students to pursue research opportunities in the Texas Medical Center, because graduate students perform most of the on-campus research.”

As an undergraduate researcher, two UTEP professors, in particular, left a lasting impression on Broaddus and were pivotal in paving his path to becoming a researcher and professor. They were Lillian Mayberry, Ph.D., and Jack Bristol, Ph.D.

Mayberry and Bristol knew Broaddus since he was a child on the same little league team as their sons. They were excited when Broaddus responded to a call made by a postdoctoral fellow, Steven Upton, Ph.D., in his freshman biology class seeking anyone interested in pursuing research in a lab.

“When Russell entered UTEP, he desired to go to medical school,” Mayberry said. “But enthusiasm is infectious, and between Steve, Jack and I there was lots of enthusiasm. By the time he graduated, he decided he wanted a career in medicine as well as research.”

Upon joining Mayberry, Bristol and Upton’s lab, Broaddus applied for and was awarded the Staley Grant, which provided money for research supplies and travel to professional meetings. Mayberry recalls that, by the end of his freshman year, Broaddus had secured funding for a research proposal centered on parasites and the host’s response. By the end of his junior year, Broaddus had submitted his data for publication to the Journal of Parasitology and had his first major work published by the time he graduated.

Mayberry and Bristol nurtured Broaddus’ interest of research and medicine and eventually introduced him to another formative mentor in his career, Gilbert Castro, Ph.D., from the U.T. Health Science Center at Houston, where he went on to complete his medical and doctorate degrees. Broaddus proudly states that he models his teaching and mentoring style off of what he learned from these influential professors.

“I think our influence was through our enjoyment of our careers, it was catching,” Mayberry shared. “Obviously we are extremely proud of Russell … He is a truly gifted individual.”

Broaddus’ research M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is instrumental in better understanding endometrial cancer, the most common gynecological cancer in women. His lab focuses on the study of the molecular pathogenesis of endometrial cancer, and his current projects include examining the molecular differences between aggressive and non-invasive endometrial cancers, gene methylation patterns in endometrial cancer, and the characterization of novel genes essential in endometrial cancer.

As for UTEP establishing itself as the first national research university in the United States with a 21st century student demographic, Broaddus feels it has already hit the mark.

“There are UTEP alumni far more accomplished than myself,” Broaddus humbly stated. “In my opinion, the University somewhat undersells itself as a ‘rising university.’ The proof of UTEP’s status is in its many successful alumni.”

Author: Christina Rodriguez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Students Bridging the Gender Gap in Nursing

Wesley Stonell was two semesters shy of graduating from The University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in biology when he switched his major to nursing.

Geovany Ruiz delayed entering nursing school because his friends teased him about his childhood dream to become a nurse.

Jeremy Alexander followed his older brother’s example and enrolled in UTEP’s nursing program.

Tabare Faison was a medic in the Texas Air National Guard when he decided to pursue a nursing career.

They are four out of 19 male students who completed UTEP’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in August 2018. The University’s School of Nursing honored the program’s 80 graduates Aug. 15 at the Summer Class of 2018 Pinning Ceremony in Magoffin Auditorium.

According to school officials, males make up 21 percent of undergraduate students and 20 percent of graduate students enrolled in UTEP’s School of Nursing. These numbers are higher than the national average of 15 percent for baccalaureate programs and 13 percent for master’s and doctoral nursing degree programs, reported by the National League for Nursing in 2016.

“I am very privileged to be around some of the smartest, most compassionate, hard-working people,” said Stonell, who was president of UTEP’s Texas Nursing Students’ Association and a 21st Century Scholar. “The majority of them are female, but that makes no difference to me. I am proud to be a male nurse and I hope that more male students want to go into nursing … because myself and my male peers have led by example.”

Stonell and his peers are part of a growing number of male nurses in the United States who continue to expand gender diversity in a workforce historically dominated by women. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of male nurses has tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent.

“We are very proud that our efforts to create a more diverse nursing workforce have resulted in this upward trajectory of recruiting and graduating more male nurses at UTEP,” said School of Nursing Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D. He was the country’s first Hispanic male to earn a doctorate in nursing and lead a nursing school.

“Our outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs support the development of all nursing professionals who not only provide the highest quality care, but also closely represent the diverse patient populations they serve,” he said.

In “Why the Ratio of Men in Nursing is Growing,” a story published on Nov. 7. 2017, in, Elizabeth Munnich, Ph.D., shared some of her research findings on the topic. Munnich, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said some of the reasons behind the increase include a greater high school completion rate, additional access to two-year colleges, more urbanization, and a liberalization of gender role attitudes.

Changing attitudes about gender roles prompted Ruiz to pursue his dream to become a nurse. The Puerto Rican native and U.S. Army veteran used his military education benefits to enroll at UTEP.

“In my neighborhood, especially my old friends, they always thought that being a nurse was a job for females,” said Ruiz, who plans to work as an oncology nurse. “So, I put off being a nurse for a long time. But when it comes down to doing the job, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. We can both do the job.”

Alexander echoed his classmate’s sentiments. He said men and women go into nursing for the same reason. They want to help people.

Alexander had just graduated from high school when his older brother earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from UTEP. He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives so he followed his brother’s path to the University to earn a nursing degree.

“We all want to help people,” said Alexander, a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. “It takes a special person to do this job because we see a lot more than a normal person has seen, and I feel that God has blessed me with this knowledge and skills to do this job.”

While most patients are comfortable with either a man or a woman for a nurse, Faison, who was the only male nursing student in his clinical rotation, said there are times when patients may prefer a nurse that is of their same gender, especially when it comes to treating male and female conditions.

“It helps the patient to have options,” said Faison, who graduated cum laude.

Faison had been a police officer and then a medic in the Texas Air National Guard for 10 years when he decided to expand his scope of practice and become a nurse. He decided to study at UTEP because its School of Nursing has a strong regional reputation, state-of-the-art facilities and an outstanding faculty, he said.

“(As a nurse) society looks at you like someone who can help,” Faison said. “Not every profession is like that where people come to you for help and look up to you. (When I was) in law enforcement, sometimes it was hard to see how I was helping people. Whereas in nursing, especially in the emergency room, everyone that you encounter you’re helping them in some way.”

Jennifer Hernandez, a senior nursing student, agreed that there were not many differences between what male and female nurses could do, but she wished that she had the physical strength of her male counterparts.

“You’ve got to move your patients,” Hernandez said. “You’ve got to turn them and it takes a lot of physical strength and energy, so having that physical ability would be awesome!”

Author: Laura L. Acosta – UTEP Communications

UTEP Honored by Governor’s Office for Addressing Community Needs

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is the 2018 recipient of the Higher Education Community Impact Award.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, honorary chair of the 35th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards., announced the 2018 award recipients on August 15.

“This recognition further validates the efforts of our outstanding faculty, staff and students who generously share their talents, expertise, time and energy to a variety of organizations and initiatives in our community,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

“Their sustained efforts to reach out to community partners contributes significantly to this region’s prosperity and quality of life, and creates valuable opportunities for UTEP students to apply what they learn on the campus to real-life settings across this community. Public research universities, like UTEP, have a responsibility to extend their  impact far beyond the teaching and research that occurs in their classrooms and laboratories, and UTEP has deservedly become a national model for our deep commitment to community engagement.”

Last year, UTEP’s commitment to strategically engage faculty, students and the community led to more than 1.5 million hours of community engagement: 22 percent in community service and 78 percent in service learning. To effectively engage nearly 8,000 students in academic-based service, UTEP integrated community engagement into 386 courses, and had more than 150 faculty members working with students in community-based learning and research.

“This recognition comes at an exciting time as the Center for Civic Engagement is approaching its 20-year anniversary and we are in the midst of documenting and celebrating our progress as an engaged institution over the last decade,” said Azuri Gonzalez, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at UTEP.

In 2010, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching granted UTEP the Community Engaged Classification for demonstrating institutional commitment to community engagement through its mission, identity, infrastructure, and academic, co-curricular and outreach practices.

The reclassification process occurs every five years and is required for the institution to maintain its Carnegie Foundation status as a community engaged institution. The University is reapplying for the 2020 classification.

“We are especially pleased to acknowledge our partners – the YWCA and The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) – who supported UTEP’s nomination for this award,” President Natalicio added. “Together, we make transformational social, intellectual and economic gains by helping to address the critical needs of the region.”

Presently, UTEP has more than 200 community partnerships – many of which have existed for decades. Over the past five years, CASFV and UTEP have jointly engaged in a variety of collaborative research and community service projects in the arena of sexual assault services. This work has resulted in over $4.2 million in external funding to serve victims of domestic violence while addressing related root causes and issues collaboratively with students and faculty.

“Community-based nonprofit agencies rarely have the resources, knowledge and expertise to conduct research studies that assess services and outcomes,” said Stephanie Karr, executive director of The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence. “Today, CASFV has been able to capitalize on objective research outcomes to enhance our services.”

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards, administered by OneStar Foundation, honor the contributions of individuals, businesses and organizations in Texas that have made a positive impact in their communities or across the state through service and volunteering.

The Higher Education Community Impact Award recognizes a Texas university or organization that encourages civic engagement as a core value and demonstrates how students are engaged in intentional cross-sector collaboration to address identified needs within the community.

The University will be recognized in the fall at an evening reception at the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

UTEP Chemistry Professor Featured in Renowned Scientific Journal

The work of a University of Texas at El Paso professor has been published in one of the world’s leading monthly peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Two articles focusing on nanotechnology’s impact on drinking water and agriculture co-written by Jorge Gardea-Torresdey, Ph.D., the Dudley Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering, were published in the August 2018 edition of Nature Nanotechnology.

The journal, published by Nature Publishing Group, covers all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

“This is a momentous occasion in my professional career,” Gardea-Torresdey said. “We have published more than 450 research articles. These are the only two that have appeared in Nature Nanotechnology, and they are in the same issue. It is remarkable that the editor addresses our work in his commentary. This has never happened for me, it is amazing. This a great day for all of us. It is another example of UTEP’s academic and research strengths.”

The first work that appears in the journal, “Achieving food security through the very small,” discusses nanotechnology’s potential role in increasing efficiency and sustainability of agriculture.

Gardea-Torresdey co-wrote the article with Jason C. White, Ph.D., vice director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Gardea-Torresdey’s work on the uses and potential effects of nanoparticles in agriculture has been funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) University of California Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN) as a 10-year, $48 million grant.

The article was lauded in the journal’s editorial section. Of Gardea-Torresdey and White’s research, the journal stated, “The importance of such studies … is that in their absence it remains unclear whether the improvements observed in a new agrochemical formulation are indeed related to the inclusion of nanoparticles. It is true that broadly speaking the small size and high surface-area-to-volume ratio in nanoparticles can be beneficial. But using this justification without properly understanding the mechanisms of interaction between nanoparticles and crops, hence leading to the tailored design of new nanoagrochemicals, may in the long run undermine the potential of nanotechnology in agriculture, as has perhaps already happened in other fields.”

The second piece in the journal is a thorough-review article, “Low risk posed by engineered and incidental nanoparticles in drinking water.” It assesses the health risks associated with natural and engineered nanoparticles present in tap water.

Gardea-Torresdey collaborated with a number of other field experts on the article, which was funded through a five-year grant from the NSF’s Engineering Research Center (ERC) Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment Systems (NEWT).