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Tag Archives: utep

NEA Grant to Help UTEP Promote Latinx Literature

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded a $15,000 grant to The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Theatre and Dance for activities tied to the annual Big Read on the Border set for spring 2020.

Adriana Dominguez, Ph.D., assistant professor of theatre arts and director of the undergraduate theatre programs, is the grant’s principal investigator.

The department will use Luis Urrea’s “Into the Beautiful North” as the basis of readings, discussions and performances around El Paso.

“We are incredibly excited about this opportunity to connect with the community through this novel,” Dominguez said.

She said the department would kick off a series of events with a reading at the Dorris Van Doren Library on April 4, 2020 and conclude with the stage adaptation of the novel April 24-May 3 in UTEP’s Wise Family Theatre.

Urrea’s 2009 novel is a tale of a young woman’s odyssey across the U.S.-Mexico border. The book, whose plot touches on the 1960 film “The Magnificent Seven,” explores internal divisions created by external borders.

The NEA initiative, done in partnership with Arts Midwest, promotes mutual understanding at the personal, community and global levels through the joy of sharing a good book.

El Paso is one of 78 communities nationwide that will participate in the NEA Big Read.  The assignment begins Sept. 1, 2019, and ends June 30, 2020.

This is the second year that UTEP will participate in the project.

“It is inspiring to see both large and small communities across the nation come together around a book,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “We always look forward to the unique ways cities, towns and organizations, like El Paso, explore these stories and encourage community participation in a wide variety of events.”

Since 2006, the NEA has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs and provided more than $20 million to organizations nationwide.

Over the past 12 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have collaborated to make NEA Big Read activities possible.

The NEA initially awarded the department’s grant to Rebecca Rivas, a former UTEP assistant professor who separated from the University in early June 2019.

UTEP reduces price for football season tickets; Sales begin Monday

UTEP football season ticket prices have been reduced for the 2019 season, and tickets will go on sale this Monday, June 17.

“We can’t wait to get the season underway,” second-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said.  “I know the passion for UTEP Football is there in the community.  Come out to the stadium and support these kids.  Your presence will really help in getting this thing turned around.”

The Miners will play six home games this fall, beginning with the season opener versus Houston Baptist on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. 

UTEP will also host former Western Athletic Conference rival Nevada (Sept. 21, 6 p.m.), as well as Conference USA foes UTSA (Oct. 5, 6 p.m.), LA Tech (Oct. 26, 6 p.m.), Charlotte (Nov. 9, 1 p.m.) and Rice (Nov. 30, 1 p.m.). 

UTEP Football season ticket prices for 2019 are as follows: Captain’s Club $1,300 (reduced from $1,320 in 2018), Gold Reserved $330 (reduced from $360), Silver Reserved $250 (reduced from $300), Bronze Reserved $100 (reduced from $120), and General Admission $60 (reduced from $66).  Family packs for two adults and two youth are available for $198 (reduced from $210).

The UTEP Season Ticket Office is located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 (next to the Don Haskins Center).  Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Tickets can also be purchased online, or by calling (915) 747-6150.

UTEP Research to Map Conditioned Fear Responses in Brain Circuits

A partnership between researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso and the University at Albany (UAlbany) in New York will attempt to understand how neural circuits that encode learned responses to fear develop in mammalian brains.

A research team led by Arshad Khan, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences and director of the UTEP Systems Neuroscience Laboratory, is partnering with Andrew Poulos, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at UAlbany, who is the principal investigator of a $1.89 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to determine how the brain circuits that underlie fear learning develop in male and female animals.

Khan is serving as a co-investigator on the grant and has been awarded a $650,000 portion to provide expertise in mapping these circuits using state-of-the-art instrumentation at UTEP.

At UAlbany, the Poulos lab will conduct behavioral experiments associated with a fearful stimulus. Khan’s laboratory will track the appearance of key biomarkers during the fear responses.

These biomarkers form an “activation pattern” that can be superimposed onto an atlas of the brain to create detailed maps of the regions that harbor nerve cell populations associated with fear conditioning.

“We have a massive medical burden where many individuals suffer from anxiety and fear to the point where it is actually debilitating,” Khan said. “There’s a growing awareness that fearful events or early childhood trauma can affect brain development. We have virtually no knowledge, at the circuit level, as to how those changes take root.”

When individuals experience life-threatening events, they rapidly associate them with their immediate environment. This knowledge of “where” a previous threat occurred can promote fear responses that minimize the occurrence of future threat. This form of fear, which is known as contextual fear conditioning, can be modeled in laboratory settings to identify how the brain learns about and remembers fearful experiences. Emerging evidence suggests that this aspect of fearful experience may largely differ among the sexes and between age groups.

“In our initial experiments, we are making a correlation between fear learning and specific activation patterns in brain regions, with an eye in future experiments to use this information to determine if this activation causes fear,” Khan said.

Khan said this research will provide a foundation of knowledge that can potentially contribute to pre-clinical models of stress- and trauma-related disorders and investigations that could render clearer understanding of clinical dimensions in human patients.

Khan expressed his delight to be able to work formally with Poulos, with whom he has been friends since their days together in Los Angeles working at the University of Southern California, where Khan was training as a postdoctoral researcher and Poulos was a doctoral student.

Khan added that Poulos is one of the rising authorities in the field of learning and memory research related to fear. The opportunity to work with him is a testament to the capabilities present at UTEP.

“We are benefitting from that excellence at UAlbany,” Khan said. “In turn, we are providing neuroanatomy expertise to them. Our students have the opportunity to take part in a project that is unprecedented. It really is a wonderful marriage. It’s an honor to be a part of this project.”

NEH selects UTEP Professor Zita Arocha as Summer Scholar

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that The University of Texas at El Paso’s Zita Arocha, associate professor of practice in the Department of Communication, will be one of 30 NEH Summer Scholars to participate in a four-week study seminar at the University of Tampa in Florida.

Arocha, an award-winning bilingual journalist, will be part of the summer institute titled “José Martí and the Immigrant Communities of Florida in Cuban Independence and the Dawn of the American Century.”

The Center for José Martí Studies Affiliate will direct the program that will run from June 17 to July 12, 2019.

Marti, a journalist, poet and politician, was a Cuban revolutionary hero. Considered by some the father of the nation, he lived most of his life in exile to include at least a decade in New York City, where he published the pro-independence newspaper Patria.

Arocha said she planned to use her time as a scholar to study the role immigrant newspapers in Florida had in building public support for the cause of Cuban independence.

She plans to share what she learns with her UTEP students to help them understand the role and significance of the immigrant press in U.S. democracy.

“I have spent most of my journalism career writing about Latino and other immigrant communities in the United States, and the institute will allow me to study the significant role played by immigrant newspapers throughout our history to present an alternative reality than that presented by mainstream newspapers,” Arocha said.

The NEH will conduct 10 seminars and institutes this summer around the country that will involve approximately 220 participants. The endowment will cover the travel, lodging and other study-related expenses of its summer scholars, who must be college or university teachers.

Arocha, who worked as a reporter for more than 20 years at such publications as The Washington Post, has taught at UTEP since 2004. The native of Cuba is the director and founder of, a multimedia web magazine produced by UTEP students.

UTEP Awarded $324k grant to expand Men’s Diabetes Program

The Diabetes Garage, a men’s diabetes management and self-care program, will offer men in Texas who have the disease the gift of health to last a lifetime.

With support from a $324,800 grant, Jeannie Concha, Ph.D., assistant professor in UTEP’s Department of Public Health Sciences, will implement the program in El Paso and in two other Texas cities by 2021.

Concha received the grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Despite the availability of diabetes treatment and management programs in clinical and community settings, men remain underserved,” Concha said. “The Diabetes Garage was created to provide men a space where they could talk about their diabetes with other men. What we are also finding is the men come to the garage with a lot of information and a lot of misinformation about diabetes. The Diabetes Garage is a place to help men organize and prioritize accurate information to meet their needs.”

Created by UTEP in collaboration with the El Paso Diabetes Association (EPDA), Southwest University, University Medical Center, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, the Diabetes Garage uses automotive maintenance and repair analogies to engage men in diabetes education and support sessions.

They learn how to manage their glucose and prevent diabetes-related complications, such as limb amputations, impotence, blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.

According to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, men of Mexican descent are 150% more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic white individuals. Hispanic men also are 50% more likely to die from diabetes or chronic liver disease.

Concha will lead the project with co-principle investigators Gregory Schober, Ph.D., visiting political science professor, and Laura Gonzales, Ph.D., English assistant professor.

They will work with Texas DSHS to implement the program in El Paso County, San Antonio, and Harlingen.

Funds also will be used to enhance the services provided by The Diabetes Garage in El Paso County. The program is currently recruiting men with type 2 diabetes to participate in sessions offered at the EPDA located at 3641 Mattox Street

The next available Diabetes Garage series will be offered from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 20, 6-8 p.m. Aug. 27, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 3, 5-8 p.m. Sept. 10, and every other month thereafter. Participants will receive a Diabetes Maintenance Manual, Diabetes Essentials Toolbox with a glucose and blood pressure monitor, and certificate of completion.

For residents wishing to register, call the El Paso Diabetes Association at 915-532-6280 or email

UTEP announces new Sun Bowl Party Patio, Will debut this Fall

When the UTEP Miners take to the field this fall for their first home game in the Sun Bowl, fans will have an opportunity to experience the game from a whole new perspective.

On Monday afternoon, officials announced the addition of the Party Patio, the newest VIP area in the iconic venue, for the 2019 UTEP football season.

“We are excited to add the Party Patio to the Sun Bowl environment,” UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said. “Today’s fan is looking for exclusive and unique experiences on game day and this space will provide exactly that, allowing UTEP fans to socialize and enjoy games in a way that they never have before. We anticipate it being one of the most sought after fan areas due to its atmosphere and amenities.

“This is just one piece of our overall strategy of improving game day for our fans, and our Fan Council agreed that this concept would be a hit with season ticket holders looking for a new experience on game day. We will continue to implement new initiatives and concepts moving forward. Miner Nation should be excited about what’s to come,” Senter added.

Located at field level behind the North End Zone, UTEP officials say the Party Patio will provide an “exclusive and fun-filled experience like never before.”  The Miners will kick off the 2019 season at home against Houston Baptist on August 31 at 6 p.m

Amenities at the Party Patio include two full-service bars offering draft beer, mixed drinks, wine, Pepsi products, select food/concessions offerings, premium game day beverages including draft beers from MillerCoors and Deadbeach Brewery and breathtaking views of the field and stadium.

The Party Patio will open 90 minutes prior to kickoff for each of the Miners’ six home games and close at the end of the game.

Access to the Party Patio is $99 per patron with the purchase of a season ticket.  To purchase a Party Patio pass, fans can call (915) 747-6150, visit the ticket website, or email

UTEP Women’s Basketball camps set to start June 24

In two weeks, UTEP women’s basketball head coach Kevin Baker and his staff will be hosting three different basketball camps.

Information for each of the camps is found below, with interested individuals also encouraged to visit the UTEP women’s basketball camp website.


K-5th Grade Skills Camp – June 24-27, 2019 (9 a.m.-12 p.m.)

Foster Stevens Basketball Complex – $100.00 (For Entire Camp)

The UTEP women’s basketball kindergarten through fifth grade skills camp will run from June 24-27 (9 a.m.-12 p.m. daily) at the Foster Stevens Basketball Complex. The cost for the four-day camp is $100, which includes 12 hours of instruction and a camp basketball and t-shirt.

It is open to children of all skill levels entering kindergarten through fifth grade. The UTEP women’s basketball staff as well as members of the UTEP women’s basketball team will help campers improve their game and skill in the game of basketball. Ball handling, passing, shooting and rebounding fundamentals will be emphasized daily.


6th Grade- 8th Grade Skills Camp – June 24-27, 2019 (1-4 p.m.)

Foster Stevens Basketball Complex – $100.00 (For Entire Camp)

The UTEP women’s basketball sixth grade through eighth grade skills camp will run from June 24-27 (1-4 p.m. daily) at the Foster Stevens Basketball Complex. The price of the entire four-day camp is $100. Campers will receive 12 total hours of instruction, in addition to a camp basketball and t-shirt. It is open to individuals of all skill levels entering grades sixth through eighth.

The UTEP women’s basketball staff and current players will teach and demonstrate daily to campers how to improve their basketball game and skills. Ball handling, passing, shooting and rebounding fundamentals will be emphasized. It will be a high-energy camp with individual skill instruction that will also include one-on-one and three-on-three competitive games and drills.


9th Grade- 12th Grade Skills Camp – June 24-27, 2019 (7-9 p.m.)

Foster Stevens Basketball Complex – $50.00 (For Entire Camp)

The UTEP women’s basketball ninth grade through 12th grade skills camp will run from June 24-27 (7-9 p.m. daily) at the Foster Stevens Basketball Complex. The price of the entire four-day camp is only $50, with campers having the chance to receive 12 total hours of instruction.

A camp t-shirt is also included. It is open to female players of all skill levels entering grades ninth through 12th. Campers will be able to develop their skills using the same drills and practices as the Miner student-athletes. The UTEP women’s basketball staff and current players will lead be actively involved, with an emphasis on ball handling, passing, shooting and rebounding fundamentals.

It will be a high energy camp with individual skill instruction that will also include one-on-one and three-on-three competitive games and drills.

UTEP to receive $1.2M Grant, will help prepare future STEM Teachers

The University of Texas at El Paso will partner with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) to foster the next generation of highly skilled STEM teachers through a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

UTEP will receive support from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, an NSF effort that helps address the critical need for K-12 teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by encouraging talented students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools.

The effort is being led by Amy Wagler, Ph.D., associate chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, who is the grant’s principal investigator.

“We are grateful for this opportunity from the National Science Foundation and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to develop curriculum and opportunities that will prepare our students for long-term success,” Wagler said.

“Beyond that, this will also bolster our region as more than 8,500 teachers in the El Paso area are UTEP graduates. Our faculty work diligently to ensure that curriculum aligns with the careers and challenges that graduates will face in the workforce. Through this grant and our partnership with EPISD, we can strengthen pathways that will guide our students to success and prepare them for the meaningful work that they will conduct when they graduate.”

Wagler will oversee the program’s evolution with co-PIs Erika Mein, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate studies and educator preparation in the College of Education; Jeffrey Olimpo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences; and Nora Paugh, Ph.D., assistant professor of instruction-teacher education in the College of Education.

UTEP, along with EPISD, will establish an innovative and transformative teacher preparation program, integrating Noyce Scholars into school sites currently implementing project-based learning with support from the New Tech Network (NTN), a national, nonprofit network for comprehensive pedagogical and cultural change in public school settings.

Specifically, the partnership will establish professional development school sites where pre-service STEM teachers learn theory and practice alongside University- and school-based faculty. The intention is to innovatively prepare and graduate knowledgeable STEM teachers who understand how learning theories inform meaningful and valuable instructional practices.

The program will continually pursue several goals. The first focuses on the recruitment, certification and retention of Noyce Scholars who are STEM undergraduate majors.

Furthermore, the program will aim to design and refine coursework and field-based teaching experiences to prepare Noyce Scholars to be effective teachers.

Thirty-six Noyce Scholars are expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline and secondary STEM teaching certification and be fully prepared to teach in high-need school districts.

Tickets For UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet now on sale

UTEP officials announced that tickets to the 17th Annual UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet are now on sale.

This year’s class features Hans Hoglund (track & field), Stefon Jackson (men’s basketball), Tony Perea (football), Kayla Thornton (women’s basketball) and Brian Young (football).

They will be inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, September 20 in the Larry K. Durham Sports Center.

The social hour is at 6 p.m., with the dinner and program to follow at 7. Individual tickets are $35, and a table for 10 is $350. Availability is limited, so call the Miner Athletic Club at (915) 747-8759 or visit the website to purchase tickets.

Hoglund was a five-time NCAA champion and seven-time All-American at UTEP. He was the 1973 and 1975 NCAA indoor and outdoor champ in the shot put, the 1974 NCAA indoor champ in the event, and held the NCAA record in the shot put in 1975. In 1975, he was rated first in the world in the shot put. He took third place in the shot put at the 1972 and 1974 NCAA Outdoor Meet.

Hoglund was also a six-time WAC champion. He was a 1976 Olympic finalist (eighth place). He was a member of three NCAA Championship teams with the Miners. Hoglund is a member of the UTEP Track and Field Hall of Fame. He will be honored posthumously as he passed away in his home country of Sweden in 2012.

Jackson scored a UTEP record 2,456 points and averaged more than 23 points per game as a junior (23.6 ppg) and senior (24.5 ppg). He is also first in school history in field goals (810) and free throws (726) made. He ranked seventh nationally in scoring as a junior and fifth as a senior. He was first in the country in free throws made (312) and attempted (374) during the 2008-09 campaign.

Jackson is first in UTEP history with sixty-eight 20-point games and rates second in 30-point games with 15, one behind Jim Barnes’ 16. Jackson was a three-time All-Conference USA selection (second team 2007, first team 2008 & 2009). He went on to play overseas in Turkey, Greece and Germany. He is a member of the UTEP Men’s Basketball Centennial Team.

Perea was named first team All-WAC in 1971 and 1972, the 1972 WAC Defensive Player of the Year and an Associated Press All-American in 1971. He was the 1972 UTEP team captain. The linebacker amassed 459 career tackles, the third-best total in UTEP history.

During the 1970 season, he recorded 26 tackles versus Arizona State. He later played for the Calgary Stampeders and the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the Canadian Football League, and was also a world-ranked heavyweight boxer in his 30’s. He coached football and wrestling in the El Paso Independent School District from 1978-2006.

He was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Thornton starred for her hometown squad, culminating with helping the Miners earn runner-up honors at the 2014 WNIT in her senior season. UTEP won 96 games during her four years, including a program-record 29 victories in both the 2011-12 (29-4) and 2013-14 (29-8) campaigns.

She remains the UTEP record holder for points (1,679), rebounds (1,032), double-doubles (40), field goals made (600) and free throws made (390). She is also second in steals (217) and rebounding average (8.1). She was a three-time All-Conference USA honoree and an honorable mention All-American in 2014.

Thornton is currently a member of the Dallas Wings organization in the WNBA. She is a member of the UTEP Women’s Basketball Centennial Team.

Another El Paso native, Young was a fierce pass rusher for his hometown Miners. He closed out his college career with 32 tackles for losses and 14.5 sacks, ranking fifth in school annals in both categories.

In 1998, he became the first UTEP defensive lineman to post 100 tackles in 10 years. He also went over the century mark as a senior while registering 16 tackles for losses and eight sacks, garnering WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He played for St. Louis and New Orleans over nine seasons in the NFL, and was a part of the Rams’ 2001 Super Bowl squad. He joined the Saints coaching staff in 2009 and currently serves as New Orleans’ pass rush specialist.

He is a member of the UTEP Football Centennial Team and was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.

Bailey Heads to NCAA Championships

Sean Bailey is ready to take on the competition on Wednesday at the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.

The junior will be running in the men’s 400m semifinals at 4:30 p.m. MT. Bailey will be in the second heat of the prelims. The sprinter heads into the championships with a collegiate-best time of 45.19 registered at the NCAA West Preliminaries.

Bailey has generated a stellar season, notching five top-two finishes and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA West Prelims.

The top two from each heat plus the next best two times advance to the finals. The 400m finals are scheduled for Friday at 7:32 p.m.

Fans can watch the 400m semifinals on ESPN2 and the finals on ESPN.

For live results please visit the NCAA Website.

UTEP President closes final year with multiple awards

Many recent graduates from The University of Texas at El Paso continue to revel in their achievements, and rightly so, but they are not the only Miners who earned honors from groups at the local to national levels.

UTEP President Diana Natalicio garnered her own share of accolades as the academic year neared its end. Since April 2019, five different organizations have bestowed or plan to bestow on President Natalicio awards for her contributions to UTEP and the El Paso region. Among the groups that recognized President Natalicio are the Downtown Masonic Lodge, Visit El Paso, the Hub of Human Innovation, the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region and the University of California, Berkeley’s Division of the Academic Senate.

The awards embellish this chapter in President Natalicio’s higher education story. In May 2018, President Natalicio announced that she would retire after 31 years as UTEP’s leader. Her tenure makes her the longest-serving current president of a public doctoral/research university in the country.

In her time at UTEP, she has deftly guided the University to national prominence as a research institution, all the while being relentless to ensure access and affordability for the student population that it serves. In 2019, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designated UTEP as an R1 top tier doctoral university with very high research activity. UTEP is one of only 130 (4.5%) universities among the 2,883 four-year higher education institutions across the U.S. to earn this distinction.

Grand Lodge of Texas: Community Builder Award

The Downtown Masonic Lodge recognized President Natalicio for her tireless service to UTEP and to the El Paso community with the Grand Lodge of Texas’ Community Builder Award on May 28, 2019, at the historic El Paso Scottish Rite Temple.

“I am honored to accept the Community Builder Award from the Downtown Masonic Lodge on behalf of the UTEP team,” President Natalicio said. “This recognition reflects the efforts of the University faculty and staff who have worked diligently to make a top tier higher education accessible to the talented students of this region, and support them throughout their college journeys. Our work would not be possible without our partnerships in the El Paso community, including such fraternal organizations as the Downtown Masonic Lodge, whose members model values that we hope all UTEP graduates embody: tolerance, respect and service. On behalf of everyone on the campus, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Grand Lodge of Texas for this award and for its commitment to El Paso’s and UTEP’s promising future.”

Leaders of the Downtown Masonic Lodge, a fraternal order established in El Paso in 1915, said the award recognizes outstanding non-Masons who have distinguished themselves through their service to the community, local and state governments, places of worship, or to humanity at large. The group said it decided to honor President Natalicio based on UTEP’s physical and academic growth during her tenure, which happened in tandem with a demographic shift in student population to one that is more representative of the region.

“Dr. Natalicio is truly an El Paso treasure,” said Steve Swingle, master of the Downtown Masonic Lodge. “When we were deciding who to present this award to, she was our top choice and one that I am extremely proud to present. Her work has made our community a shining beacon that is in large part due to her dedication as President of UTEP.”

Visit El Paso: Spirit of Amigo Award

Visit El Paso, an organization that oversees the city’s destination marketing, recognized President Natalicio’s role in the enhancement of El Paso’s stature as one of the country’s marquee destinations on May 9.

The group presented President Natalicio with its Spirit of Amigo Award, which recognizes a person or organization that has had a profound and positive effect on El Paso’s image. Visit El Paso presented the award during the organization’s 16th annual National Travel and Tourism luncheon at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center. UTEP’s Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Haskins is a previous recipient of the award.

“I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of UTEP’s 25,000-plus talented and hard-working students, and the faculty and staff who have enabled them to attain their highest aspirations,” President Natalicio said. “UTEP plays a major role in the development of the surrounding region, educating the next generation of leaders, conducting top-tier research that has earned us national recognition as a Carnegie R1 university, and contributing in a variety of ways to the region’s prosperity and quality of life. With its mission to continue spreading the word about this region’s many rich assets and opportunities, Visit El Paso complements our successful efforts to attract outstanding faculty and staff to this region. I thank Visit El Paso for this recognition and for its support of The University of Texas at El Paso.”

President Natalicio was selected for the award based on her work to enhance the University’s stature and the positive outcomes it has yielded for the rest of the Paso del Norte region, said Bryan Crowe, general manager of Visit El Paso.

“We are honored to recognize such an influential leader,” Crowe said. “Dr. Natalicio has not only put UTEP on the map, but has been a vital ambassador for El Paso and the region. When selecting our recipients each year, we look for individuals who have embraced El Paso and its heritage, culture and people and go the extra mile to elevate the city to everyone they come in contact with. It only seemed fitting that we select Dr. Natalicio as this year’s recipient for her dedication to the University and to El Paso.”

Hub of Human Innovation: Lifetime Innovation Award

The Hub of Human Innovation presented President Natalicio with a special Lifetime Innovation Award on May 3.

She received the award during the nonprofit business incubator’s third annual El Paso Innovation Awards breakfast at the El Paso Club.

The awards recognizes individuals who encourage business innovation and contribute to the growth and prosperity of the region.

“I am honored and grateful to the Hub of Human Innovation for this recognition of UTEP’s success over the past 30 years in preparing all talented and high-aspiring young people to contribute to the future prosperity and quality of life of this Paso del Norte region,” President Natalicio said. “We look forward to future opportunities to participate actively in regional efforts to develop locally — and attract from elsewhere — enterprises that will be aligned with this enriched pool of UTEP graduates, too many of whom now leave the area to pursue careers commensurate with their skills and career goals.”

YWCA El Paso del Norte Region: Community Impact Award

YWCA El Paso del Norte Region (YWCA) recognized President Natalicio on April 25 at the 26th Annual Women’s Luncheon with the organization’s YWCA Community Impact Award for her commitment to and passion for improving the El Paso community and for serving as a role model to women and girls everywhere. The award is also in gratitude for her 31 years of service to UTEP as its President.

“Dr. Natalicio is a pillar of strength and has been a catalyst for countless amazing accomplishments at UTEP and in our city,” said Sylvia Acosta, Ph.D., CEO of YWCA. “Beyond that, she is someone I, and the members of our Women’s Luncheon committee, have admired for her leadership and passion. We are proud to be able to honor her as a role model and empowering woman in our community.”

The annual luncheon has raised funds to support thousands of women, children and families in El Paso, including home and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence, racial justice education, affordable housing opportunities, and workforce and life skills development, to name a few.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by YWCA El Paso del Norte Region with its inaugural YWCA Community Impact Award,” President Natalicio said. “This award strongly validates the important role UTEP plays in our community – a role we could not successfully fulfill without the collaboration of individuals and organizations such as the YWCA that work tirelessly to help people of all ages achieve their dreams. It is a privilege to work closely with our local partners to elevate the quality of life for all residents of the Paso del Norte region.”

UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate: Clark Kerr Award

President Natalicio was one of two higher education leaders recognized as winners of the Clark Kerr Award from the University of California, Berkeley’s Division of the Academic Senate for their “extraordinary and distinguished contributions to the advancement of higher education.”

The division announced on April 22 that President Natalicio and Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, would receive the award, which is named in tribute to the leadership and legacy of University of California President Emeritus Clark Kerr. The award, created in 1968, recognizes those who have made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to the advancement of higher education.

The group selected the 2019 awardees for their contributions to higher education and for leading transformative change at their respective institutions. They will receive their awards this fall.

Author:  Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications

Two UTEP Football road games selected for national television coverage

UTEP’s game at Texas Tech (Sept. 7) will be televised on FSN and the Miners’ game at North Texas (Nov. 2) will be carried on the NFL Network as part of Conference USA’s broadcast schedule for the 2019 football season, announced on Thursday.

UTEP will battle the Red Raiders in Lubbock at 6 p.m. MT.  The Miners and the Mean Green will kick off from Denton at 1:30 p.m. MT.

Nine more UTEP games will be streamed on ESPN platforms.

The Miners’ matchups versus Houston Baptist (Aug. 31, 6 p.m. MT), at Southern Miss (Sept. 28, 5 p.m. MT), versus UTSA (Oct. 5, 6 p.m. MT), at FIU (Oct. 19, 5 p.m. MT), and versus Charlotte (Nov. 9, 1 p.m. MT) will be shown on ESPN+.

UTEP’s contests versus Nevada (Sept. 21, 6 p.m. MT), versus LA Tech (Oct. 26, 6 p.m. MT), at UAB (Nov. 16, TBD) and versus Rice (Nov. 30, 1 p.m. MT) will be available on ESPN3.

Additional Conference USA football broadcast exposures will be released as soon as they are finalized.

UTEP Event Flavors History with Dash of Humanities

When The University of Texas at El Paso’s Meredith E. Abarca, Ph.D., professor of English, began to research the history of the Paso del Norte region, she decided to use a universal language: food.

Abarca will serve a portion of what she and her student researchers cooked up during “A Living History Archived in Food Practices and Memories” at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, May 30, 2019, in UTEP’s Blumberg Auditorium on the first floor of the University Library. This event is free and open to the public.

Part of the presentation will be the unveiling of the research team’s website that includes photos, recipes and videos of El Pasoans from all walks of life in their residential, commercial or temporary kitchens who talk about themselves and their family history as they prepare a dish that has special meaning to them. Every dish stirs up a memory.

“The old saying is that we are what we eat,” Abarca said after a recent hectic morning where she and her student researchers recorded the 27th “cook” to add to the website. “I think what we eat describes who we are historically, culturally, politically and socio-economically as a community. This project is a living history told in tastes, smells and flavors. Regardless of our differences, food stories highlight the things we have in common.”

The presentation, which will be informal and informative, is the latest activity organized by the Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP. The partnership is the result of a three-year, $2 million grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to UTEP and El Paso Community College to promote the study of the humanities.

Abarca, one of the first two UTEP professors selected as Humanities Collaborative faculty research fellows, said she and her team – a former UTEP graduate student who will start his doctoral studies at the University of North Texas this fall, and two EPCC students – have learned a lot as they engaged people whose ethnic roots stretch around the world.

While the focus of her research is historical, Abarca said her secondary goal is to introduce her students to more complex research methods that also involve culture, history, marketing, philosophy and anthropology.

“Each personal detail is tied to a bigger story in history, and those stories are told through the lens of food,” said Abarca, who added that she felt privileged that so many people trusted her team with their histories.

Since the fall 2018 semester, collaborative members have organized 15 events that highlight the value of humanities, which includes art and music history, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics and literature in English, Spanish and French.

One of the recent collaborative activities was Discovering the Humanities, a student-led conference conducted April 26, 2019, at EPCC’s Little Temple next to the Rio Grande campus. The conference involved presentations made by UTEP and EPCC student fellows.

Among the lead organizers was Carmen Ordaz, a graduate student in English and American Literature. The El Paso native graduated from Socorro High School in 2011 and earned her bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature with a minor in history from UTEP in 2017. She has been a Humanities Collaborative graduate fellow since fall 2018. She works with two faculty mentors from EPCC in philosophy and English.

“The main thing about a humanities degree is that it expands your knowledge,” said Ordaz, who spends most of her time researching Shakespeare. Her professional goal is to be an academic in higher education. “I’ve learned a lot by working in other fields such as philosophy. Humanities helps you to connect the dots.”

While the focus is on the humanities, the graduate student said the collaborative has strengthened the bonds between the two institutions, especially among first-generation college students who may have been a little afraid of higher education. Part of the focus of the Mellon grant is to encourage the EPCC humanities students to continue their studies at UTEP.

“My hope is that this collaborative will create confidence within the students in our orbit and direct them into specific humanities fields,” Ordaz said. “It’s a great experience.”

Brian Yothers, Ph.D., professor of English and the principal investigator behind the Humanities Collaborative, said that humanities graduates are flourishing in careers beyond academia. He said he has enjoyed reviewing their work at the different collaborative events.

“Our goal is to allow students to share their humanities research, which comes in a variety of forms, and to enhance and support new and/or existing programs,” Yothers said. “These activities are community focused and give a voice to that community.”

Events slated for the next academic year include activities tied to indigenous El Paso, he said.

People can learn more about the partnership via this link.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

Jordan Palmer to headline “Morning With the Miners” football kickoff event

Fans can get a sneak peek at the 2019 UTEP football season at the all-new “Morning With the Miners” on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7 a.m. in the Sun Bowl.

“Morning With the Miners” is a fresh take on the long-running UTEP Kickoff Luncheon. This year, fans can enjoy breakfast in one of college football’s most picturesque venues and get the lowdown on the 2019 Miner squad from Director of Athletics Jim Senter and second-year head coach Dana Dimel.

The event will take place on the field of the Sun Bowl, providing a one-of-kind experience for attendees. Event-goers will also enjoy a delicious meal as they take in an El Paso sunrise and receive exclusive insight into UTEP Athletics and the Miner football program.

Additionally, former UTEP star quarterback Jordan Palmer will be the celebrity guest speaker.

Palmer played for the Miners from 2003-06 and threw for a school-record 3,595 yards as a senior. He ranks first in school history in passing efficiency (136.26), completion percentage (65.7) and 300-yard passing games (16), and second in total offense (11,041 yards), passing yards (11,084) and passing touchdowns (88).

Palmer, who led the Miners to two bowl games and 21 wins over his last three seasons, was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 2007 NFL Draft and also spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.

After concluding his playing career, he has served as a quarterback consultant and entrepreneur.

Get your tickets today, as “Morning With the Miners” is expected to sell out! Tables of 10 are $650 and individual tickets are $65. To sign up, call the Miner Athletic Club at (915) 747-5841 or visit

All proceeds will benefit student athlete scholarships.

The Miners will launch the 2019 season at home against Houston Baptist on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.

UTEP Postdoctoral Researcher receives Microsoft’s AI for Earth Grant

Microsoft has awarded a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at El Paso with a grant to extend the efforts of the College of Science’s Systems Ecology Laboratory in understanding how widespread and ongoing change in Arctic terrestrial ecosystems might threaten not only local natural landscapes and Arctic native communities but also global Earth system processes.

Sergio A. Vargas Zesati, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences, was named a recipient of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth grant from the tech giant.

“I’m truly excited and fortunate for this unique opportunity to work with the best scientists and engineers toward testing the application of the latest machine learning and image processing approaches,” Vargas Zesati said.

“Understanding how widespread and ongoing change in Arctic terrestrial ecosystems will trigger a cascade of Earth system processes (i.e. global carbon and energy balance) remains an urgent and transdisciplinary challenge. Climate change impacts are threatening Arctic plant community composition, structure and distribution and the magnitude of change has proven to be difficult to quantify at optimal resolutions using conventional approaches.”

Vargas Zesati added, “We are hoping that Microsoft’s advances in machine and deep learning as well as cloud computing resources can help us address well-recognized research gaps in a manner not previously possible and at the same time contribute knowledge that might help society better prepare for future anticipated ecological changes worldwide.”

The innovative project is a collaborative effort between two UTEP professors: Miguel Velez-Reyes, Ph.D., professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering, and Craig Tweedie, Ph.D., professor and director of UTEP’s environmental science and engineering program, and external collaborator Chandi Witharana, Ph.D., professor from the University of Connecticut.

The grant will allow Vargas Zesati to accelerate research on the Northern Alaska Landscape Mapping project in an effort to utilize AI to fuse decades of environmental and vegetation data with high spatial resolution satellite imagery of the Arctic region of northern Alaska, and to develop a range of maps detailing landscape characteristics.

In turn, these maps can be used as inputs for ecosystem, land surface and global climate models that can lead to a better understanding of the rates and magnitudes of change and help assess how society may need to adapt to mitigate further change occurring at unprecedented rates across Earth.

Arctic ecosystems have been recognized as sentinels of change for other biomes. There is significant evidence of the impact fluctuations in Arctic environments have on the rest of the planet. As such, a wide range of disciplines and sectors of society have sought a higher capacity for detecting change in ecosystems, particularly for the Arctic.

AI for Earth is a $50 million, five-year program that allows researchers to fully utilize Microsoft technology in applications to solve global environmental challenges in the key focus areas of climate, agriculture, water and biodiversity.

To learn more about the AI for Earth program, click here.

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