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Congratulations MBS recipients of the CNS Excellence Awards

2020 Teaching Excellence Award:

Congratulations Dr. David Taylor, Assistant Professor
David Taylor

The College of Natural Sciences is home to a large number of committed, innovative educators that help our students learn a demanding curriculum. The College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award celebrates the members of our faculty that excel in the classroom.

 

2020 Staff Excellence Award:

Congratulations Yvette Cañedo, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist

Yvette Cañedo


The College of Natural Sciences Staff Excellence award recognizes members of our community who go above and beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of their job, including outstanding dedication, competence, resourcefulness and customer service. 

Three MBS Faculty Receive Named Professorships, Chair

The Department of Molecular Biosciences is celebrating three professors who recently received honors in the form of named professorships and chairs. To celebrate their appointments MBS has scheduled zoom seminars by each of the new endowment holders. Harshey, Huibregtse and Payne will speak during the MBS Fall 2020 seminar series (listed below).

Photo of Rasika HarsheyRasika Harshey is now the Lorene Morrow Kelley Professor of Microbiology

Seminar date: December 9th, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

 

 

Photo of Jon Huibregtse


Jon Huibregtse
is now the Benjamin Clayton Centennial Professor of Biochemistry

Seminar date: November 18th, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

 

Photo of Shelley Payne



Shelley Payne
is now the Marie Betzner Morrow Centennial Chair

Seminar date: October 28, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

 

 

 

Congratulations!  

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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.

UT Bioscientist Receives Antiviral Research Award

Jason McLellan, molecular bioscience associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, was the 2020 recipient of the William Prusoff Memorial Award from the International Society for Antiviral Research, which honors a young scientist who has shown excellence in antiviral research and promise for future contributions to the field. 

McLellan’s research focuses on the structure of certain proteins as infections progress, which informs the development of medicine used to treat disease. One of his research interests focuses on human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is a virus causing severe lower respiratory tract infections, particularly in young children and the elderly. A certain part of RSV, called the F protein, changes shape during an infection. If the immune system encounters the F protein in this altered shape, the antibodies it produces are less effective than when the F protein is in its pre-infection shape. Using a structure-based approach, McLellan engineered the F protein to take away its shapeshifting ability and in turn allow the body to produce more effective antibodies in response. 

McLellan previously received the Etter Early Career award from the American Crystallographic Association in 2017 and the 2019 Viruses Young Investigator in Virology Prize for his work on RSV. 

McLellan graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in chemistry, and earned his Ph.D. from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. He joined the biochemistry department at Dartmouth Medical School, and in 2018 moved his lab to the University of Texas at Austin, where he became an associate professor in the department of molecular biosciences. 

Georgiou Honored with Chemical Engineering Literature Prize

George Georgiou, a professor in the Departments of Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, received the William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature at the annual American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting this month.

The award is given to a member who has made an outstanding contribution to chemical engineering literature which is of interest and importance to the chemical engineering profession. 

Georgiou’s research focuses on the development and discovery of protein therapeutics, which are proteins engineered in a laboratory for pharmaceutical use to supplement essential proteins for a variety of purposes like insulin for diabetes and erythropoietin for anemia. These proteins can be used in vivo (that is, on living organisms) rather than tissue samples for testing, which allows scientists to see the overall effects of an experiment on a living subject.

Georgiou graduated with his doctorate in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1987. After coming to UT Austin as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1986, Georgiou became a professor in chemical and biomedical engineering, and in molecular biosciences, and served on various chairs for the University. Georgio currently serves as a Dula D. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering.

Among his many honors, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors (2015), American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2015) and the National Academy of Medicine (2011). He was also named UT Austin’s Inventor of the Year in 2014.

Photo Gallery

MBS-graduation-flickrMBS Graduates 2014