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Volume 3, Issue 2 Spring 2011




F ALL 2009

Great Expectations from the Graduate School The Graduate School partners with UTSA academic and student services departments to provide our graduate students the opportunity to take learning beyond the classroom. The spring GREAT EXPECTATIONS SERIES of workshops focuses on a wide variety of academic, research, and professional development topics, allowing graduate students the flexibility of weekend and evening workshops coupled with information that will enhance their academic experience at UTSA. Topics include a track for first semester graduate students which include basic graduate writing and presentation skills. In addition the UTSA Libraries and The Graduate School are co-hosting a series of library research workshops, including topics that are discipline specific.. The Graduate School is also pleased to announce a series of special workshop topics facilitated by UTSA’s University Teaching Fellows. For a complete list and description of the spring 2011 workshop offerings, please visit workshops. These workshops are free to students and their guests. For questions, please contact John Shaffer, The Great Expectations Web Article series is a monthly web publication, written by UTSA faculty and staff, providing our UTSA graduate students advice on how to successfully navigate graduate school. This series addresses topics on academic and professional development and career preparation to build upon or work in tandem with in-class work. Current topics include: The Strategic Literature Review, Critical Thinking, Writing for Publication, Defending Your Thesis or Dissertation, and Presenting at Professional Conferences. For more information please visit the website:

S PRING 2011 P RESIDENTIAL D ISSERTATION F ELLOWSHIPS he Graduate School is pleased to announce the availability of several Presidential Dissertation Fellowship awards, available for the Spring 2011 semester. Before submitting a Presidential Dissertation Fellowship application, The Graduate School encourages potential applicants to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Enrollment Services to confirm they are eligible to receive additional funding assistance that does not exceed their allotted financial aid budget for the Spring 2011 semester. If there is no room in the student’s financial aid award budget for the Spring 2011 semester, the student’s application will not be forwarded to committee for review. Students who are previous recipients of a Presidential Dissertation Fellowship or Presidential Recognition Scholarship through The Graduate School are not eligible to receive this award. Applications will be reviewed by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in their respective college and by committee of all Associate Deans for Graduate Studies in those academic colleges that offer at least one doctoral program. All considered applicants will be notified by letter once the committee has determined the recipient(s) of the Presidential Dissertation Fellowship. The deadline to submit your application is Monday, February 7, at 12pm in the Graduate School office, 4.01.50. For questions on submission please contact John Shaffer at 210458-4111 or email Please review the criteria to see if you are qualified:

Graduate Program Days This event will highlight all 49 Masters and 21 Doctoral programs that UTSA has to offer. You will have the opportunity to talk to faculty and staff members from all seven UTSA colleges. Event Dates March 28 Main campus March 30 Downtown campus For questions please contact Vivian Padilla at 210-458-5327 or email






he National Research Council of the National Academies sponsors a number of awards for graduate, postdoctoral and senior researchers at federal laboratories and affiliated institutions. These awards include generous stipends ranging from $42,000 - $75,000 per year for recent Ph.D. recipients, and higher for additional experience and graduate entry level stipends beginning at $30,000 and higher for additional experience. The awards provide the opportunity for recipients to do independent research in some of the bestequipped and staffed laboratories in the U.S. Research opportunities are open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and for some of the laboratories, foreign nationals. Detailed program information, including instructions on how to apply online and a list of participating laboratories, is available on the NRC Research Associateship Programs Web site at:

Doctoral Profile: Dr. Amita Shah: Operating with a New Perspective alk about busy… Early on Tuesday, June 1, Dr. Amita Shah, already a medical doctor, dropped off her doctoral thesis at the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering. Later that evening, she gave birth to her first child, a son. A week later, she defended her dissertation. “I can’t believe I did that,” she recalls incredulously. But she did, and on Saturday December 18th at 1 p.m., she crossed the commencement stage to receive her doctoral degree in Biomedical Engineering. The occasion marks the end of a 10-year journey. As an undergraduate at Trinity University, Shah was torn between medical school and graduate school. She wanted to become a surgeon, but Biomedical Engineering intrigued her and she enjoyed her undergraduate research experience. Ultimately, Shah decided to attend medical school. In 2005, she graduated and began a surgical residency.

But the prospect of graduate school still nagged her. “As a surgical resident, I could see how much we really needed the techniques and products you can develop using tissue engineering methods,” she said. As Shah was considering a doctoral program, Health Science Center Professor Mauli Agrawal joined the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering and eventually became dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. When UTSA established its Joint Doctoral Degree Program with the Health Science Center, she knew the time was ripe. While a second-year surgical resident, Shah studied for the GRE, took the exam and submitted applications to graduate schools. “I knew I wanted to attend UTSA, because I wanted to work with Dean Agrawal and Dr. [Anson] Ong,” Shah recalls. Ong is the chair of the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the UTSA/ UTHSCSA Joint Graduate Degree in Biomedical Engineering. “I’d met them at the Health Science Center. I also knew the UTSA Department of Biomedical

Engineering had a great relationship with the Health Science Center and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR),” Shah adds. UTSA accepted Shah, and she matriculated in fall 2007. Immediately, she began to conduct tissue engineering research for the Department of Defense in Dean Agrawal’s laboratory. She studied the role of endothelial cells and osteoblasts in improving the growth of blood vessels and bone tissue in a synthetic bone scaffold. Her findings will contribute to better treatments for soldiers who sustain large, segmental bone injuries as a result of rocket-propelled grenades or IEDs. Current treatments often result in amputation, she says. On July 1, 2010, Shah returned to the operating room, resuming the sleepless life of a surgical resident. However, she now brings a new perspective to the operating room. “Now, when I’m doing surgery, it’s more ‘how can we make it

better’ than just ‘how can we do it?’” she says. “The doctoral program taught me to look at things critically, including journal articles. I’m able to read them better and pull out more information

than before. And my practice of medicine is more evidence-based than it was before.” Ideally, Dr. Shah envisions a career where she can combine her surgical skills with her passion for biomedical engineering. She is eager to create new devices that she can use to improve the lives of her patients. Her mentor, Mauli Agrawal, has no doubt she will accomplish her goals. “Dr. Shah is a perfect example of the brilliant young minds who will lead us into the future,” he said. “She is a young, critical thinker who is well-educated and driven. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”

Article by Christi Fish As seen on UTSAToday December 21, 2010

To apply for graduate school visit For graduate school inquiries, please call 210.458.5327



UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute seeks graduate students o expand the UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute and support a major CPS Energy partnership, graduate students are needed to become involved in all phases of the institute. Students are being recruited locally, nationally and internationally. Multidisciplinary research programs will be developed in the areas of energy, water, climate change and sustainability. The programs will encompass a continuum from discovery-based research and engineering innovation to policy deliberations, economic, social science and systems analyses, education programs and other activities. Each of these programs will involve faculty and staff from multiple UTSA colleges. The Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute was created by UTSA to address the grand global challenges of the 21st century pertaining to energy, water, climate change and sustainability. The institute draws on expertise and capabilities from across the entire university through each college and is actively partnered with CPS Energy, the largest wholly owned public municipality in the nation, to address key energy challenges for the coming decades. The challenges are focused on a number of themes including energy efficiency and conservation; renewable energy technology and storage; carbon capture; management and storage; a smart, secure distributed electrical grid and electrification of the transportation sector. The institute will emphasize key elements of the energy-water nexus as it relates to assuring cost-competitive, reliable supplies of energy and water to support continued economic prosperity for San Antonio, Texas and the nation.



To participate or learn more, submit a resume and a statement of research interests as they relate to the themes and programs identified above to Christine Olejniczak, Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX, 78249-0668 or Article as seen on UTSA Today November 22, 2010.

UTSA R ECEIVES AAALAC I NTERNATIONAL A CCREDITATION he University of Texas at San Antonio announced that it has received full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International, a nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in scientific research. More than 800 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and research institutions in 33 countries are AAALAC accredited including the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The American Red Cross and the National Institutes of Health. “AAALAC accreditation is the gold standard for animal research facilities,” said Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research. “Our Laboratory Animal Resources Center has worked diligently for three years to earn this accredita-

tion. It is a mark of distinction and an exceptional accomplishment that demonstrates UTSA is committed to the highest standards in animal research.” Led by University Veterinarian Marcel Perret-Gentil, D.V.M., M.S., UTSA’s Laboratory Animal Resources Center (LARC) oversees the care and use of UTSA research animals such as rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians. In addition, the LARC serves as a facilitator for UTSA’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), a federally mandated and internal regulatory body that includes individuals affiliated with UTSA and representatives of the general public. The IACUC regularly reviews the entire UTSA animal care program to ensure that (1) the use of animals is justified, (2) the number of animals used

is minimized and (3) each animal research project stays within the prescribed limit of the approved proposal. To earn AAALAC accreditation, Perret-Gentil and the LARC team developed and implemented dozens of internal processes designed to ensure UTSA’s animals receive the best possible care. Among those processes are standards to ensure the animals receive proper bedding, feed and enrichment materials from vendors that the LARC team has evaluated prior to doing business. In addition, the animals are monitored daily and sick animal reports are attended to immediately to ensure all reported animals receive prompt and adequate veterinary care. To avoid placing undue stress on the animals, species are separated. The LARC staff

Article by Christi Fish As seen on UTSAToday December 21, 2010

also adheres to a strictly timed routine and provides animals with exceptional post -operative care. The processes not only ensure humane care, but they collectively ensure that UTSA researchers obtain reliable data using the least number of animals possible and minimize repeat testing. Albeit controversial, Animal research has led to the development and/or improvement of a variety of medical treatments including, but not limited to blood transfusions, anesthesia, pain killers, antibiotics, insulin, vaccines, chemotherapy, CPR, coronary bypass survey, reconstructive surgery and orthopedic surgery.

Spring 2011 UTSA Graduate Newsletter  
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