(March 4, 2010)--In recognition of an academic career focused on promoting the establishment of neuroscientists from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, Joseph L. Martinez Jr., the UTSA Ewing Halsell Distinguish Chair in Neuroscience, was honored with the American Psychological Association (APA) Lifetime Achievement Award. With 148,000 members, APA is the premier association of scientific and professional psychologists in the United States and the largest professional psychological association worldwide.
For 43 years, Martinez has devoted extensive time to organizations and programs promoting neuroscientists and psychologists from diverse backgrounds. As an academician, he has sponsored 21 doctoral and post-doctoral students. He also has worked with more than 100 students as the director of SPINES -- the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics and Survival at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass. The program targets neuroscience students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds and prepares them for successful academic careers by providing training and research opportunities.
Six of the students Martinez has mentored now serve on the faculty of the UTSA Department of Biology. They include associate professor of neurobiology and department chair Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, professor of neurobiology Brian Derrick, associate professor of evolutionary biology Matthew Gdovin, assistant professor of neuroscience Carlos Paladini, assistant professor of biology Gary Gaufo and assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience Nicole Wicha.
Wicha recalls her first meeting with Martinez in 1997 when she participated in SPINES. "Joe was not only a part of the program, he was the heart and soul of the program," she said. "He had a vested interest in the success of each of the fellows and kept up with us over the years after we attended SPINES."
Wicha's career was influenced again by Martinez when she joined the UTSA faculty in 2005. Martinez took an active role in mentoring Wicha in developing a grant that eventually was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Martinez also helped shape the career of Matthew Gdovin.
"Dr. Martinez is an excellent scientist and writer, and his constructive critiques of my grant applications were invaluable to my success in funding," said Gdovin. "But, the thing I value most about my relationship with Dr. Martinez is his interest in my professional development. He has always taken the time to think carefully, provide me his opinion and guidance in an honest and straightforward manner, and support me in my decisions. I have tremendous respect for him."
Today, Martinez continues to mentor. Fifth-year doctoral student Yonas Keleta moved from Eritrea, a small country in the eastern part of Africa bordering the Red Sea, to the United States to pursue his doctoral studies with Martinez at UTSA. He said the decision has been well worth it.
"I believe a typical mentor behaves as the student's teacher, parent, friend and family," says Keleta. "Dr. Martinez is one of those few scientists who are endowed with such socially important traits. His mentorship has been quintessentially important in bringing about a turning point in my research career."
According to George Perry, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences, "Joe Martinez has played a major role in the education of Hispanics in the biological sciences both at UTSA and nationally. Attesting to his effectiveness, UTSA is first in the nation in training in the biological sciences for Hispanics."
However, Martinez is humble, counting his achievements by his students' success rather than the plaques on his wall.
"Mentoring students is a passion in my life," said Martinez. "Being recognized for lifetime achievement by your peers is as good as it gets."
UTSA Associate Dean/Associate Professor Francine Romero will sit down with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg for a wide-ranging conversation about the Mayor's vision for the City's future. Seating is at capacity but the San Antonio Express-News will stream it live.
Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics is offering four special panels open and free to the San Antonio public July 31-Aug. 3 to mark the tricentennial next year. The event is co-sponsored by UTSA Research.
Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., San Antonio
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The UTSA community welcomes students to their on-campus home! Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall are home for 2,300 students during the academic year, and Move-In event kicks off the start of Roadrunner Days.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village, Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
The College of Engineering hosts this seminar featuring Jeff Adams, Southwest Zone Quality Manager, Siemens Building Technologies Division. The event is free and open to the public.
Engineering Building (EB 3.04.30), Main Campus
After a day full of moving and getting settled into their new UTSA home, students and their families can have some refreshments and snacks at the Welcome Back Reception. The event tops off with the premiere performance of the Spirit of San Antonio, UTSA's Marching Band.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
Can you survive the library wilderness? As a part of Roadrunner Days, UTSA Libraries is hosting a mobile adventure for you to play and find out more about the library!
John Peace Library, 2nd floor, Main Campus
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