Saturday, November 28, 2015


UTSA Commencement Close-Up: Viridiana Estrada, Honors College

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(Dec. 16, 2013) -- Meet Viridiana Estrada. She's building a research career with the help of UTSA neuroscientists.

While a student at John Marshall High School, Estrada earned automatic admission to UT-Austin. Despite being accepted at various universities, she ultimately decided on UTSA, opting to remain close to her San Antonio family.

"What I really liked about UTSA -- it's something that I didn't realize at first," Estrada recalls. "I liked that there are a lot of great researchers to work with and learn from here, especially those in the Neurosciences Institute."

And Estrada is taking advantage of every opportunity.

The undergraduate is pursuing a psychology degree, medical courses and highest honors through the UTSA Honors College. To achieve those goals, she's intensely focused on academics.

She's also taking advantage of UTSA's access to great research opportunities such as the MBRS-RISE program and the McNair Scholars program. Under the supervision of UTSA neuroscientist Nicole Wicha, Estrada has learned how to use event-related potentials to study how older Spanish-speaking adults predict language. Her findings are presented in her honors thesis.

Outside of the classroom, the undergraduate has networked with UTSA researchers and students through Neuroscientists Evolving Undergraduate Research Opportunities (NEURO), the Neuroscience Institute's student organization.

Though seemingly disparate, Estrada's collective experiences at UTSA prepared her for a career-altering placement in a summer research program offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She applied to work in one of two laboratories, but fate placed her in a third.

That summer, Estrada learned how to implant cannula into the ventral medial prefrontal cortices of rats, a surgical procedure that allows researchers to manipulate and study the rats' eating patterns in response to various chemicals such as amphetamines. The technique merged Estrada's academic interests, calling her attention to a new career path in neurosurgical research.

"Since I've been little, I've always been involved in learning," she says. "Science has that ability to lead you to more learning. Science builds the foundation for increasing knowledge."

She now hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. to fully pursue a neurosurgical research career. She admits it won't be an easy road, because so much more education is required, but she says she's determined to weather the challenge because she knows now from experience that a career in neurosurgical research is exactly what she wants.


Do you know a fascinating UTSA student who is planning to graduate in May 2014? Share that story with us at



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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UTSA's Mission

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.

UTSA's Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

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