Newly formed Graduate Student Council Hosts BBQ for New Graduate Students

By Jon Mohl—October 10, 2008

As the fall weather started to set in, the College of Science Graduate Student Council (GSC) welcomed in the new College of Science Graduate Students with a BBQ. This event was the first annual welcoming party for the GSC and was a hit among the approximately 50 people that showed up from the different programs within the college. The festivities included eating grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, chomping away on chips, downing water and soda, and even playing a few rounds of volleyball.

The activity not only welcomed the new students, but also gave a chance for the students to meet others within the college. As research is requiring more and more collaboration across the disciplines, the development of friendships now as new graduate students will be a great jump start into the partnership of research farther down the line.

With more activities and projects in store, the GSC wants to become the bridge between the students and administration and also between other students.


Hugo Rodriguez

Hugo Rodriguez, a geophysics masters student in the Department of Geological Sciences, has been awarded three scholarships for the 2008-2009 academic year. The scholarships are the Dallas Geophysical Society's Karen Kellogg Shaw Memorial Scholarship, the Texas Energy Council Scholarship sponsored by the Pitts Oil Company LLC, and the Houston Geological Society W.L. and Florence W. Calvert Memorial Scholarship. Each of these scholarships were established by generous donors affiliated with the oil and gas industry to help students pursing a professional career in geophysics and geology achieve their academic goals.


Alejandro Villalobos-Aragon

Congratulations Alejandro Villalobos-Aragon: Recipient of the 2008 GSA Hydrogeology Division Student Research Grant Award

Alejandro Villalobos-Aragon, The University of Texas at El Paso, for "Using chromium stable isotopes to monitor reactive transport of Cr in Leon Valley, Mexico."


Guadalupe National Park Student Internship

Abby Woody, sophomore in Geological Sciences, was a Physical Science Technician at Guadalupe National Park during the summer of 2007. She docu-mented fossils at the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains, which was formally called the "Fossil Inventory" One significant type of fossils she found were Ammanoids. They are important because their sutures indicate a small timeframe. This particular one is exquisite, and came out of the Haggler Formation There were sponges, corals, and bryozoans. The coral pictured on the left startled her field partner due to its snake-like appearance. Overall she felt the experience was "awesome" and recommends the internship to anyone who loves field work, and doesn't mind spending time in the desert on solo trips.


Miriam Garcia

Miriam Garcia (B.S., Geology) received the National 2007 Minority Student Travel Grant from The Minority and Women in the Geosciences Committee. The award was presented at the National Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting held in Denver, CO, October 24-31,2007.



Ezer Patlan is currently a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso where he is majoring in Geophysics with a double minor in physics and mathematics. He was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to El Paso as a teenager. This will be his first year in the RESESS program. Ezer is currently working in a National Science Foundation fellowship program called Pathways conducting research related to a study of a deep earthquake in the subduction zone of the northern South Island of New Zealand. He received awards from the Alpha Phi Omega Engineering and Geology Social Fraternity and the Reese Rowling Foundation. In the future, he plans attain a PhD and work in academia with the intent of discovering methods to further our understanding of seismology and volcanology. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends.

His study focuses on how to develop a lightweight station that has to operate year round in the polar region where it is cold, windy, and dark during the winter. Four separate sections were performed to assist this project; involving analysis of wind turbine data, testing the power switching behavior of the GPS receiver, testing the accuracy of a battery tester, and measuring interference between Iridium and GPS antennas. From this work we obtained a relationship between wind speed and wind turbine output power, a detailed characterization of GPS receiver power switching behavior, confidence in the accuracy of the battery tester, and knowledge of the antenna separation distance needed to eliminate interference between GPS and Iridium antennas. Each of these projects contributed measurements and analyses that were valuable to the overall success of the project.


American Chemical Society - ACS Student Affiliates Chapter Reports

This week the American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, awarded the Student Affiliates chapter at UTEP with a national award: the Honorable Mention Chapter Award for its 2006-2007 chapter activities including the many community and university performances of the Chemistry CirCus. This is indeed an honor because there are many hundreds of Student Affiliates chapters in the United States; many of them much, much bigger than the chapter here at UTEP. The 2006-07 award winning chapters will be recognized in the November/December issue of "In Chemistry" magazine and at the ACS Student Affiliates Chapter Award Ceremony that will be held at the 235th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans in March 2008. A plaque will be presented to the UTEP Chapter at this ceremony. Nina Heredia, 2006-2007 Affiliates Chapter President, is standing immediately above the 'big' C in the Chemistry CirCus sign. Walter Dickson, 2006-2007 CirCus performance co-coordinator with Nina, is standing next to Dr. Gardea, Chair of Chemistry, (white shirt) on the top row. Dr. Becvar, faculty advisor for the Affiliates at UTEP and creator of the CirCus is at the far left in the top row.


Laura Moreno

My name is Laura Moreno and I spent my summer at the Early Medical School Selection Program at Boston University. For six weeks, I had the opportunity to interact with 14 other juniors and with 14 seniors in the program. The coordinators of the program were really encouraging and helpful to make our summer successful. Each student chose a class to take at BU to count toward their degree at home. I decided to take an elective: Religion and Science. In addition to that course, I had three non-credit classes. The first was Race, Ethnicity, and Health. This class was for both seniors and juniors and it helped everyone to interact and engage in some discussions with the guest speakers from the School of Public Health. Our second class was MCAT Prep; where all questions were answered by two medical students.

We took two practice tests and this class was helpful in shifting my focus to the upcoming MCAT. The last class we had was called Medical Terminology. In addition to the classes, the students in the program were assigned to a doctor for shadowing. This was a great experience for me and the other students to see the different specialties in medicine and to observe doctor to patient interactions. The rest of the time I had free to explore the city, and get to know my fellow students. It was great fun, and I really liked the city. I felt really privileged to be gaining so much useful information for my future and I am more enthusiastic to begin medical school than ever.


Waleed Abdelhafez

For me the Texas-Tech/ UTEP Summer Premedical Program was not just about reviewing MCAT material such as Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Physics. It was about the oppurtunity to get a glimpse of the actual life of a physician. You soon realize from day one that this profession is not exactly as glamorous as TV makes it appear. It's a life of sacrifice, beginning from the day that you start thinking of applying to medical school, till the day you retire. You never stop learning, because you will never acquire all the medical knowledge that is needed. To become a good doctor you learn how to think critically to find solutions, basically you get proficient at learning to learn.

The actual prestige that comes from being a doctor is not the title of M.D., but rather it comes from your patients. The road to becoming a M.D. is hard, and medical schools intentionally make it arduous. It is not impossible to become a doctor, but you need to have a passion for it. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be part of the Texas-Tech/ UTEP Summer Premedical Program. The experiences I have gained cannot be read in a book or seen on TV. They provided me with a clearer picture of what it means to be a doctor, and what it takes to become a good one. I am also very thankful that I was assigned to such a wonderful mentor, who made my exposure to medicine an unforgettable moment in life.


Violeta Salais

In this picture I am in the Michigan State Animal Hospital in the Large Animal sector during my Equine Clinics rotation, next to a 6 year old male, Belgian horse. The Vetward Bound summer program included clinical rotations that I was involved in such as Equine Clinics, Equine Theriogenology, Cardiology, and Small Animal Anesthesia and Surgery. I shadowed Dr. Caron, Dr. Carlton, Dr. Olivier, and Dr. Eyester during surgical procedures, consults, and out field visits for check ups.


Omar Najera

I participated in the 2007 Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School. I worked in Dr. Carmen Dessauer's laboratory in the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology. Leslie Piggott, a graduate student, worked with me on my project to identify interactions, if any, of A Kinase Anchoring Proteins (AKAPs) with different isoforms of the signal transduction enzyme adenylyl cyclase (AC). AKAPs form signaling complexes that generate and maintain specificity in cell signaling. I used purified AKAP18 to pull down AC activity from rat heart and brain extract and presented my work in front of faculty members and graduate students at the end of the program. The 10 week long program was not limited to the research we did in our labs. Every week on Tuesday we would have enrichment seminars and every Thursday we would be treated to lunch and have guest speakers come and talk about their scientific interests and areas of work. We had so many great speakers and the faculty genuinely loved to share their work and experience with students, always with the utmost energy.

Before the summer program, I had already been conducting research at UTEP in the B.U.R.S. program. I originally became involved in research to gain a richer understanding and appreciation for the moving art that is the living world of life. Although, I am a pre-medical student and plan on applying to medical school, I enjoy taking an active role in the science behind medicine by participating in biomedical research. The summer research program was another opportunity for me to do so, as well as to check out the medical school and get to know some of the faculty. My experience over the summer taught me that cell signaling is one of the most complicated and unknown areas in science, but it is the one that truly holds the answers for formulating and understanding new drugs that will treat and ultimately cure many diseases. My summer in Houston has already become one of my favorite moments in life, working hard during the week, and going to Astros games with my brother Raul on weekends."


Victoria Alexandra Castaneda

My name is Victoria Alexandra Castaneda, and I am finishing my sophomore year. This past summer I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Seattle, Washington, as a Summer Medical and Dental Enrichment Program (SMDEP) student in the University of Washington at Seattle. Sixty-two students from all over the United States traveled to Seattle for this 6 week program. We stayed at the dormitories and attended introductory classes in Microbiology, Physics, Organic Chemistry,and English development skills.

These classes took place in the mornings from 8 to 12:30 p.m. After lunch, we had speakers talk to us about how it was to be a doctor, a dentist, etc. On top of this exciting exposure to how medical school would be, we also had the opportunity to shadow a doctor/dentist once a week for five weeks. We were able to observe in the Operating Room, Emergency Room, Suture clinic, and Simulation Clinic for dental students. We are also given lectures in Health Care, Cultural Competency, Current Events, and medical cases. Just being there when all the action is taking place was just very satisfying! On our weekends, we had homework but still had plenty of time to be able to go sight seeing and hiking, kayaking, etc.

This program does not give you credits towards your degree but the exposure and the excitement of this spectacular program was just more than what I could have asked for! The application is online at and there are 12 different sites you can choose from, you must be a rising sophomore or junior to apply. The sites are schools located in Ohio, California, New York, North Carolina, Washington DC, Texas, Nebraska, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington and Conneticut. This is a great opportunity to get your summer going and start getting involved in the medical field, I learned a lot of what I want to do with my life and how I will be able to do in order to succeed at it. I would definitely recommend this program, it will only take you to another way of thinking.


Abril A. Ramirez

During the summer I participated in both the Early Medical School Acceptance Program (EMSAP) and the Research and Academic Enrichment Program (RACE) at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. During the EMSAP program, I took classes that were focused on future senior-level science course work as well as workshops about the MD and MD PhD application processes. During the RACE program, I conducted clinical research at the Schriner's Burn Hospital for Children. My research was focused on the effects of long term therapy with propranolol on scaring in severely burned children. I assessed scars in severely burned children using Doppler machines for blood perfusion measurement and the Vancouver Scar Scale Score.


David F. Rodriguez

This past summer I participated in the Summer Research Trainee Program at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. It was truly a great experience to perform research at such great institutions. Because of my interest in healthcare disparities, I was assigned to a preceptor in the Department of Health Policy. I assisted her in conducting research on "The Effects of Medicaid Reimbursement on Access to Pediatric Subspecialty Care". My main tasks were to collect data and analyze it using advanced computer generated statistical models. Although these tasks were challenging, conducting research on this topic expanded my vision on the practice of medicine. I now know that the practice of medicine has the potential to go beyond the clinical or scientific realm and into the social realm. Through this experience I learned that physicians can also act as "social healers" by implementing solutions for problems that afflict a society on a bigger scale; I would love to one day become one of such physicians.


Rachel Marinch

My name is Rachel Marinch, and I am a junior biology major here at UTEP. This summer I attended the Summer Premedical Academy (SPA)/Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP) program at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock, Texas. It was a six-week-long program, lasting from mid-May until the end of June. The program centered around making us all stronger, more well-rounded candidates for medical school. Although a large portion of our time was concentrated on MCAT preparation, we also participated in several other activities. For example, we took a physiology class that emphasized the "scenario-based learning" which is currently being heavily implemented in many medical schools. In addition, we improved our interview skills through an oral communications class and mock interviews; we also attended discussions about the lifestyle of physicians, the application process, and financial aid for medical school. Lastly, we had the opportunity to shadow physicians, become CPR/AED certified, and volunteer at an elderly care home specializing in patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. Although it was a busy and rigorous six weeks, everyone in the program had a truly invaluable and rewarding experience. This is a photo with Trevor Yates, from the Office of Admissions at Texas Tech Health Science Center School of Medicine in Lubbock, Texas.


Lorraine Melgoza

Lorraine Melgoza was in Dr. Lesser's fall 2005 Stat 5385 (Statistics in Research -- the section for MAT students) and he asked us if we would be part of a study he would conduct on us to see how we learned the statistics. We all agreed and signed consent forms, excited about getting to experience the research process from the inside (to complement what we were learning about it from the outside).

When we were learning about the technique of ANOVA (analysis of variance) towards the end of the semester, he informed the class that it would be nice if a student in the class were to help him enter and statistically analyze the results/numbers from a long survey with quantitative and qualitative questions about initial learning of underlying ANOVA concepts (e.g., the nature, roles and interplay of between-group variation and within-group variation). Lorraine was interested in it becasue she knew she was getting ready to begin my thesis writing and wanted to be more informed on writing and running statistics. Lorraine spoke to Dr. Lesser of my interest and he later asked me to take part Read full story.


Michael Feinstein

Michael was awarded the Hugh E. McKinstry Student Research Award granted to students whose projects involve studies of mines or ore districts; topical studies toward improved understanding of ore genesis; and experimental research with field applications. His project involves studying the relationships between the tectonic evolution of a basin in southwestern Chihuahua to the numerous precious metal deposits within it. So far he has confirmed his hypothesis that the basin is a "pull-apart" related to the opening of the Gulf of California. Michael hopes to ultimately age date these minerals deposits.

He graduates with a Masters in Geological Sciences in August of 2007 and plans to start his doctoral studies in September 2007 under the supervision of Dr. Phillip Goodell. He plans to continue his study of the basin (~1,200 km2). Michael was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where he was always interested in rocks. His interest turned to a vocational interest when he took a physical geology courses at North Harris Community College in Houston.

He graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Geology. He chose UTEP to continue his studies because of its interesting local geology and close proximity to Mexico. While at UTEP he has made many presentations to elementary schools, judged science fairs, and participated in the maintenance of the area arroyos. Congratulations Michael, we are proud of you.