DECEMBER 19, 2022 — Rena Bizios, UTSA’s Lutcher Brown Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering, was honored by Sigma Xi, the international scientific honor society of science and engineering, with the William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement. This award recognizes visionaries who have made outstanding contributions to scientific research and successfully shared their research with colleagues in other disciplines.
Sigma Xi awarded the prize to Bizios at its inaugural International Forum on Research Excellence. According to the requirements of this award, Bizios had the opportunity to designate a junior colleague to receive a $5,000 Grant in Aid of Research. She chose to designate that prize to fellow UTSA biomedical engineer and assistant professor Marissa E. Wechsler ’15, who will use the funds to expand her research in biomedical engineering using soft biomaterials in biosensing, drug delivery and tissue engineering.
The William Proctor Prize marks the latest achievement for Bizios, who is a professor of biomedical engineering in the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design (Klesse College).
the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design (Klesse College).
“Rena Bizios continues to exemplify what it means to be a pioneer in biomedical engineering,” said JoAnn Browning, the David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering. “The William Proctor Prize is a testament to the impact Bizios has had on her profession and on the undergraduate and graduate students she has educated, guided and inspired.”
Among those Bizios has inspired is Wechsler, who says she was fortunate to have Bizios as her undergraduate research advisor.
“She encouraged me to pursue training in biomedical engineering and research as a career,” Wechsler said. “She opened doors for me. She led me on a great path.”
In Bizios, Wechsler saw a strong, female role model—someone who “saw potential in me I never knew I had,” she said.
Wechsler was the first student to enroll in UTSA’s undergraduate program in biomedical engineering and was part of the program’s first graduating class in May 2015. She participated in UTSA’s Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) and the Maximizing Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR) programs, where her research focused on optimizing the effects of electric current on the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells.
Wechsler was also the first UTSA engineering student to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
After graduating from UTSA, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and completed a year of postdoctoral training at the University of Colorado Boulder.
In 2021, Wechsler returned to UTSA and joined the biomedical engineering faculty—where she now counts her mentor as one of her colleagues.
Asked about her future in academia, Wechsler says that, like her own role model, she is a mentor first.
“Having received so much support and guidance, I want to be an impactful mentor,” she said. “The students I mentor, I see in them what Dr. Bizios saw in me. They have so much potential.”
“Both Drs. Bizios and Wechsler represent the groundbreaking research taking place at the Klesse College—work that is advancing the reputation of UTSA as a Tier One research university and is crucial to solving society’s grand challenges,” Browning said.
“Grand challenges are frequently grand research challenges,” Browning said. “Innovators like Drs. Bizios and Wechsler will ensure that UTSA continues to fulfill its mission to meet humanity’s needs.”
UTSA is preparing to submit an application package to establish a dedicated UTSA Sigma Xi chapter for fall 2023.
Come celebrate the doctoral students graduating this commencement season.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms, UTSA Main Campus
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the College for Health, Community and Policy, College of Liberal and Fine Arts and College of Sciences.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
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