Erika Tatiana Camacho, Ph.D.
Manuel P. Berriozábal, Ph.D. and María Antonietta Berriozábal Endowed Chair

UTSA established the Manuel P. Berriozábal, Ph.D. and María Antonietta Berriozábal Endowed Chair in 2023 to honor and recognize the couple for their outstanding commitment to creating equitable opportunities for students of all backgrounds. The endowment will support research-related activities and educational programming designed to inspire students to consider future careers in STEM.

Erika Tatiana Camacho, Ph.D.

Manuel P. Berriozábal, Ph.D. and María Antonietta Berriozábal Endowed Chair

Professor, Mathematics

Professor, Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology

Highly accomplished mathematical biologist, educator and advocate for equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Erika Tatiana Camacho is the inaugural holder of the Berriozábal Endowed Chair as well as a professor in the UTSA College of Sciences’ mathematics and neuroscience, developmental and regenerative biology departments.

Camacho has a long and successful career in and outside of academia as a researcher, educator, mentor and advocate for racial and gender equity.

Prior to joining UTSA in Fall 2023, she held a three-year position as a program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she supported several programs advancing racial and gender equity in STEM disciplines, including the ADVANCE program, the Racial Equity in STEM Education program and the Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Program.

As co-lead of the HSI Program, Camacho created new funding opportunities and cultivated connections with several leading national organizations that support HSIs such as Excelencia in Education, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and UniversitiesSociety for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)Society for Hispanic Professional EngineersAmerican Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institution Educators.

Prior to working at the NSF, Camacho spent 16 years at Arizona State University (ASU), most recently as a professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. At ASU, she co-directed multiple summer research programs dedicated to the recruitment and training of women, underrepresented minorities and others who might not have had the opportunity to pursue higher education in STEM.

Camacho is a recipient of several national and regional awards for her merits in leadership, research, scholarship and mentoring. These recognitions include the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House, the 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mentor Award, the 2020 SACNAS Presidential Award and the 2023 Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) M. Gweneth Humphreys Award. In 2022 she was awarded a year-long Fulbright Research Scholarship to conduct research at L’Institut de la Vision-Sorbonne Université in Paris, France.

Camacho’s research includes using mathematical modeling to understand physiological processes. Her current work focuses on modeling and investigating healthy and diseased retinas at the cellular and molecular levels. She pioneered a modeling approach to investigate the steps of aerobic glycolysis in the retina’s cone photoreceptors, which allow humans to differentiate between colors and contribute to high visual acuity.

Camacho’s mathematical model, calibrated with real-world data, provides new insights into methods that can reduce vision impairment. Her work is reported in more than 30 peer-reviewed publications with several including mathematical models and the investigation of healthy and diseases retinas. She published the first set of models that directly addressed photoreceptor degeneration, a leading cause of visual impairment in adults, and established a new framework to help mitigate blindness. 

She has received over $7M in funding to support her research and the advancement of faculty and student success in STEM, from organizations such as the NSF, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Education.

A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Camacho migrated to the United States at the age of seven and grew up with her family in East Los Angeles.

Camacho became the first in her family to graduate from high school and then, as a first-generation college student, went on to graduate magna cum laude with a B.A. in mathematics and a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Cornell University.

After finishing her studies, Camacho secured a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory and then a tenure-track position at Loyola Marymount University before she was recruited to ASU.

"The Berriozábals have been active advocates for equity and access in higher education," Camacho said. "I am one data point of the impact that efforts like theirs have made in this space, particularly in STEM. Their work has been pivotal in transforming our communities. They reflect the same values that I have. I’m humbled by this recognition and opportunity to exemplify the work the Berriozábals have done. They give me something to aspire to and I feel very honored and fortunate to be associated with their legacy."