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Michelle Valero
Michelle Valero

Beldon scholarship helps student research hearing

By Lisa Palacios
Director of Recruitment and Retention, UTSA Graduate School

(June 27, 2008)--Michelle Valero, a newly admitted Ph.D. student in the UTSA College of Sciences neurobiology program is the second recipient of the Louise and Michael Beldon Doctoral Scholarship. The $5,000 merit-based scholarship goes to a Texas resident entering a UTSA doctoral program.

Valero continues her studies at UTSA after receiving both her bachelor's degree (2004) and her master of science degree (2008) in biology. In her Ph.D. program, she plans to continue her work investigating human hearing with the help of the marmoset primate, the world's smallest monkey.

Valero's studies matured after her internship at the Southwest Primate Center, where she developed a project into a master's thesis and was awarded a Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) grant through the National Institutes of Health. She published the results of her thesis in a professional journal as a first author. In addition to this exceptional achievement, she has two conference abstracts.

In her application essay, Valero detailed her research goals. "While completing my dissertation, I intend to continue using the common marmoset as a model for human hearing research," she wrote. "Through this research, I plan to determine whether there are age-related effects on marmoset ototacoustic emissions (or sounds that the ear produces itself), auditory brain-stem responses and behavioral audiograms, all of which I will compare to normative data that I obtain."

Valero's mentor and graduate adviser, Rama Ratnam, UTSA assistant professor of biology, wrote in her Beldon nomination letter, "Her goal is to obtain a faculty position, and she is certainly headed in the right direction. She has qualities that she came with -- independence and initiative -- and qualities that she has developed -- learning scientific method and scientific writing. She has the potential to become a truly outstanding scientist."

Michael Beldon and his wife of 44 years, Louise Beldon, a UT Austin graduate, are longtime San Antonio residents with an exceptional record of community service. In March 2006, they were inducted as business partners into the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame in recognition of their entrepreneurship, leadership and community support.

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Read more about UTSA graduate student scholarships at the UTSA Graduate School Web site or contact Lisa Palacios at (210) 458-6406.

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