(Jan. 25, 2011)--Upon graduation from Earl Warren High School, native San Antonian Theresa Cantu '10 had an undetermined career path. She enrolled at Northwest Vista College (NVC) in the music and pre-med classes she thought she would like, but they bored her. The concepts were familiar and repetitive, and she yearned for something new.
Eventually, she crossed paths with NVC biological sciences professor Brian Stout. He urged her to consider a career in scientific research and invited her to collaborate with him on a research project.
Through NVC's Sustaining Talent in Education to Launch Learning and Research in Science, Engineering and Math (STELLAR) program, Cantu began assisting Stout, who was researching the correlation between the brain's serotonin 5H2C receptors and obesity, anxiety and depression. The experience gave her a taste of scholarly life.
"Dr. Stout gave me the push I needed to go into science," she said.
As Cantu neared her transfer to UTSA, a friend urged her to continue her research training by applying to the UTSA MARC-U*STAR program, also known as Minority Access to Research Careers -- Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research or MARC. Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the training program helps outstanding UTSA juniors and seniors majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, computer science and engineering fine-tune their research and leadership skills to prepare for success in doctoral programs.
Cantu applied and, in the process, she met Gail Taylor, assistant program director of the UTSA MARC-U*STAR and MBRS-RISE programs. Taylor is a well-known mentor to UTSA science students seeking training to prepare for graduate programs. Taylor allowed Cantu to participate in the 2008 Summer Research Experience for Pre-Meds, a summer program funded by the San Antonio Area Foundation's Semp Russ Foundation. She performed research in the infectious diseases laboratory of G. Jilani Chaudry, UTSA assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology. Under his supervision, Cantu would research anthrax toxin receptors and their role in anthrax toxin entry.
In fall 2008, Cantu transferred to UTSA as a junior majoring in biology. She chose to continue her research with Chaudry and remained in the MARC program during her junior and senior years, growing tremendously as a scientist and scholar. In addition to providing training opportunities, MARC helped Cantu attend research conferences in California, Florida and San Antonio.
"While I was in MARC, I was able to network with scientists from around the world and gain technical skills needed for graduate school," said Cantu. "It definitely gave me an edge over the competition."
In summer 2010, Cantu was accepted into the Mote Marine Laboratory Summer Research Program and was placed in a marine biomedical research laboratory at the Mote Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, Fla. While at Mote, she researched human cells and shark cells to better understand why shark cells are so much more effective at providing immunities against tumors.
"My summer research was lots of fun," said Cantu. "And it introduced me to marine science."
On Sat., Dec. 18, 22-year-old Cantu crossed the UTSA commencement stage to receive her bachelor's degree in biology. But her work is hardly over.
She is in the midst of a competitive application process expected to last through late February. Determined to study marine biotechnology, she has applied to top graduate programs on both coasts. Her first choice is UCSD's Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Holy Grail for graduate students interested in marine science careers.
Ultimately, Cantu may settle down in an academic career. Or, she may open her own research and development company to commercialize marine biomedical technologies. Either way, she is certain to accomplish great things.
The UTSA Consortium for Social Transformation; African American Studies Program presents guest speaker Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, and African American Studies, University of California at Los Angelesand author of "Spaces of Conflict Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spacial Entitlement in Los Angeles" and "Futures of Black Radicalism." The event is free and open to the public.
University Center, Denman Room (UC 2.01.28), Main Campus
Put on drunk goggles and navigate a pedal cart at the U in the Driver Seat Alcohol Awareness event, hosted by UTSA PD and Sigma Lambda Gamma.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
The UTSA Honors College hosts a sneak CineFestival preview of the documentary Somos Lengua, a new documentary about the Mexican hip hop scene. Jim Mendiola, the CineFestival Director, will screen the movie and present a festival overview.
University Center, Bexar Room (UC 1.102), Main Campus
Grab your friends, family, kids and dog for this annual fun run on the UTSA Main Campus benefititng the UTSA Alumni Association.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 13th annual Storytelling Festival. The festival will feature keynote speaker Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, a Colombian Storyteller and journalist. This event is free and open to the public.
Main Building, ground floor, Main Campus
The IDS Colloquium showcases the excellent scholarship done by the IDS students in the College of Education and Human Development at UTSA. In addition, this event also honors the legacy of Dr. Marian Martinello.
Business Building, University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
The Department of Biology and the Be the Match Team will collaborate to engage and educate our students in the importance of a life saving donation through peripheral blood stem cells and a marrow harvest.
UC Paseo and Central Plaza, Main Campus
UTSA welcomes the Italian-born duo Bandini-Chiacchiaretta. They've toured the world performing Argentine Tango music on guitar and bandoneon, the instrument of Astor Piazzolla. Tickets are $10 or free with UTSA Student I.D.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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