UTSA biology professor Valerie Sponsel named Romo Endowed Professor

Valerie Sponsel

Valerie Sponsel

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(April 24, 2014) -- Valerie Sponsel, UTSA professor of biology in the College of Sciences, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Ricardo Romo Ph.D. Endowed Professorship. Sponsel is the second professor to be selected for the professorship since it was created in 2009.

The endowment, named for the president of the university, is awarded to professors in the Honors College who exemplify attributes of leadership, service and research.

"Besides her teaching, Dr. Sponsel has worked side-by-side with students on their research," said Richard Diem, dean of the Honors College. "She's an excellent mentor and epitomizes what the Romo professorship is all about."

The three-year professorship will allow for new programs to be created within the Honors College, which was established in 2002. The Honors College gives students with high academic achievements rich educational experiences, which Sponsel plans to develop even further.

"I want to do things to enhance students' experiences in science and engineering," Sponsel said, adding that she would like to add more service-learning opportunities to show students how they can solve real-world problems with science.

"Honors students are always open to learning, but sometimes they need to be exposed to new opportunities for excellence," she said.

Sponsel has taught honors students since 1998 and has been involved in several collaborative research projects with faculty in the College of Engineering. She is an expert in plant growth and development.

Sponsel earned her Bachelor of Science in Botany degree and Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Wales, and a Doctor of Science degree for her research on plant metabolism from Bristol University. She has been teaching at UTSA since 1995.