Alumni Spotlight


 

Alejandra Lorenzen
Awesome Alum: Alejandra Lorenzen
April 2022

Meet Alejandra Lorenzen, UTSA alumna and research technician at the Naval Medical Research Unit of San Antonio (NAMRU-SA).

Alejandra graduated from UTSA in December of 2019 with her B.S. in Biochemistry. She was initially drawn to UTSA and its Department of Chemistry because the opportunities they offered aligned with the vision she had for her future. Additionally, the university’s proximity to family was an influencing factor and added bonus. Upon applying to UTSA, Alejandra found a perfect fit with the biochemistry degree track.

"When I first visited the campus during 'Fiesta at the Sombrilla' I immediately connected with the vibes and culture," said Alejandra. "It solidified my decision to be at UTSA."

Alejandra notes that UTSA encourages students to find their niche and prioritize what is most important to them. "The opportunities to explore one’s interests sets UTSA apart," said Alejandra. "Whether it is joining a research lab, professional development programs, community outreach, conference participation, UTSA provides countless outlets for students with a range of interests."

In 2021, Alejandra began her career as a contractor for Leidos, a global pioneer for practical applications of information technology, science, and engineering. Currently, she works as a research technician at NAMRU-SA. NAMRU-SA serves as one of the leading research and development laboratories of the U.S. Navy under the DoD and is one of eight subordinate research commands in the global network of laboratories operating under the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), Silver Spring, MD. Alejandra’s responsibilities include supporting the missions of the Expeditionary Trauma Medicine group under their Combat Casualty Care department.

Alejandra credits part of her success to the numerous experiences she encountered while at UTSA. During her second year, Alejandra was mentored by Soo Chan Lee, lab supervisor and assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Alejandra was willing and pleased to learn about the inner workings of the lab. She was eventually able to work alongside graduate students and present projects of her own at state and national conferences.

During her third year, Alejandra attended the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She started the program in a biophysics lab and presented her findings at a symposium where she created many lasting connections with students and professors. Upon returning to UTSA, Alejandra had a stronger sense of purpose and belonging, which translated to being more confident in and out of the lab.

Alejandra enjoyed the diversity of topics she studied at UTSA. Among her favorite courses was special topics in biochemistry. It was taught by a team consisting of Aimin Liu, Francis Yoshimoto, and many other prominent researchers at UTSA. During her first semester at UTSA, Alejandra met her fiancé, Daniel Hinojosa, at the John Peace Library during a Rising Researchers-FAST program meeting. "We supported each other throughout our time at UTSA, grew as scientists, and are now working in our respective fields," said Alejandra.

Alejandra notes that biochemistry is interdisciplinary. Understanding fundamental concepts throughout the courses is crucial to success in more advanced courses, so she suggests utilizing the spaces available to students and finding a good study spot. She also stresses the importance of networking. "If you are interested in working in science, then grow your network. Putting yourself out there is important to build those lasting relationships."

Next fall, Alejandra will be starting the Pharmacology and Physiology Ph.D. program at UT Health San Antonio. She feels that her experiences at UTSA have equipped her with the skills and confidence to excel. "I've been fortunate to have supportive advisors, mentors, and colleagues, whom I can rely on as I continue my career as a scientist."

When looking towards the future, Alejandra recalls the words of Hector Aguilar, Professor of Instruction in the Department of Chemistry, "If you are going to do something then do it con ganas!"

With this passion and gusto, Alejandra continues onward.

 

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