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Brandon Okeke Wins Student Legacy Award

Brandon Okeke headshotBrandon Okeke, a biochemistry senior, is one of two accomplished undergraduates who will be honored with the Student Legacy Award at our annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights. He is also the 2020 recipient of the Texas Exes’ Edward S. Guleke Student Excellence Award. Read on to learn more about his experience here on campus, the life wisdom he gained in Beijing, China, and how his hard-working mother inspired him to pursue a rewarding career in medicine.

Programs and activities: Afrikan American Affairs, Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males (formerly AAMRI), Texas Blazers, Black Health Professions Organization, Summer Health Professions Education Program in New Orleans, La.

Finding his center…Early into his freshman year, Okeke found his community within the Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC), a space on campus that educates and empowers students to become leaders and future gamechangers. “The staff are great at finding us opportunities. Whether it’s scholarships, internships or study abroad, they provide so much in one space. While working with students and advisors and staff, especially Malik Crowder, I learned so much about myself and about how other people think.”

Getting organized and mobilized…Among his many duties, he planned and organized a number of events—from New Black Student Weekend to professional development workshops to Title IX info sessions. “It’s easy to get lost on a campus with 50,000 students, so we’re reaching out to students early on to let them know that the MEC is here for them. It has really helped me feel more comfortable with my surroundings and helped me realize that I belong here.”

Beijing bound…In spring 2017, Okeke traveled to Beijing, China with his fellow study abroad students participating in the DDCE’s signature Entrepreneurship in China and the U.S. program. Along the way, he gained new perspectives about himself and others. “I’ll never forget the moment when I climbed to the top of the stairsteps to the Forbidden City that overlooked the entire city of Beijing. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I’m here—and there’s really nothing I can’t do.’ I made this reality for myself.”

A scientist at heart… After his trip abroad, Okeke followed his career path with a renewed sense of confidence—a path that aligns with his lifelong passion for science. “Science has had my heart right from the jump. When I was young, I used to make my own chemistry sets and conduct experiments to see how things worked. During my freshman year, I read my biology book just for fun.”

Rising to greatness…Now as Okeke closes in on his senior year, he’s excited to study medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. His interest in the medical field stems from his admiration of his mother, who overcame a great deal of adversity to become a senior-level nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston, Texas. “She was one of the best nurses in the hospital. She worked really hard and I’ve always looked up to her. I know that if I work just as hard, I could be great as well.”

 

Cross-posted from the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement.

Ellington, Agarwala Receive UT BRAIN Seed Grants

Forty-five new research teams from across the University of Texas System have been awarded $100,000 seed grants each as part of a UT System initiative to jump-start multi-disciplinary and innovative research on the human brain.

A total of $4.5 million was awarded through the UT System Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Research Institute, which was created by the Board of Regents in 2014 to facilitate team approaches to brain research and leverage the broad scientific expertise and resources available throughout the UT System.

The UT System effort is aligned with the national BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative, which was established to revolutionize understanding of the brain and help treat, cure and prevent neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease and autism.

In the Department of Molecular Biosciences:

Read the entire news release on the $4.5 Million brain research effort here: https://www.utsystem.edu/news/2015/09/02/45-million-seed-grants-awarded-ut-brain-researchers

Adapted with permission from a post from the UT Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology.

 

Dr. Stanley Roux Wins National Teaching Award

In the span of a few months, Molecular Biosciences Professor Stanley Roux was elected not only to the prestigious AAAS - The American Association for the Advancement of Science, he also won the national "Excellence in Education" award from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).Stan Roux

According to ASPB:

The 2015 Excellence in Education Award acknowledges the outstanding contributions of Dr. Stanley Roux. During a career spanning more than thirty years, Stan has made a considerable impact at his institution by expanding the curriculum while developing and adopting innovative pedagogical methods. Both in the classroom and in his laboratory, Stan has emphasized meaningful hands-on research for students.

The recipient of several past teaching awards, Stan was one of the first to challenge the notion that freshmen cannot conduct "real" research. The results of his efforts have been manifest in the form of peer-reviewed publications with many student coauthors, as well as conference awards and further modeling of this paradigm. Stan has offered innovative courses in the realm of plant biology while mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students and participating in various science outreach organizations, thereby making lasting impacts in the field.

Dr. Ilya Finkelstein Selected for Awards

Dr. Ilya Finkelstein, an assistant professor in the department of molecular biosciences, has been selected as a Fellow by the American Federation for Aging Research. More can be found here.

Dr. Finkelstein also was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. CAREER awards are intended to recognize promising young faculty and support their research with five years of funding. Learn more here.

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Dr. Stanley Roux Elected As American Association For The Advancement Of Science Fellow

Stanley Roux, professor of molecular biosciences in the College of Natural Sciences, is among five faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin who have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS fellows are chosen annually by their peers to recognize their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Roux was recognized for his innovative experiments to elucidate the key role of extracellular nucleotides and apyrase enzymes in regulating plant growth and development. Roux is a Distinguished Teaching Professor who has received funding from the NSF and NASA for his research on how the environmental stimuli of light and gravity alter patterns of growth and development in plants.

 Four other fellows were also elected from the University of Texas at Austin. Learn more here.

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MBS-graduation-flickrMBS Graduates 2014

Events

17Aug
17 Aug 2020@ 04:00PM - 05:00PM
Promotion Seminar Dr. Zhang
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20 Aug 2020@ 09:00AM - 01:00PM
Graduate Program Annual Retreat
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