Thursday, November 26, 2015


Theresa Cantu '10, the making of a scientist in marine biology


Theresa Cantu '10 at Mote Center for Shark Research in Sarasota, Fla., in summer 2010

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(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.



Dec. 1, 9 a.m.

CITE Venture Competition & Exposition

The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus

Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m.

UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert

This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus

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Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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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.

UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

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