BUILDing SCHOLARS at UTEP is pleased to announce the first class of the Supermentor Program. This is a mentoring resource whereby Research Partner faculty with proven excellence in mentoring students and gaining external funding are paired with UTEP and Pipeline Partner faculty as well as UTEP post-docs.
The inaugural class includes five faculty mentees from the University of Texas at El Paso, Northern New Mexico College, El Paso Community College, and Texas Southern University and five supermentors from University of Texas at Austin, University of New Mexico Health Science Center, Clemson University, and UT Southwestern Medical Center. Each mentee will receive one-on-one mentoring from their supermentor over the next six months, which will further their research productivity and their mentoring skills. In what follows, we introduce each mentee-mentor pair:
Mentee Dr. Binata Joddar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Program at UTEP. Dr. Joddar’s research expertise is in the areas of biomaterials and stem-cell based tissue engineering to explore and solve problems in cardiovascular and neural tissue regeneration.
Supermentor Dr. Laura Suggs is an Associate Professor and Temple Foundation Endowed Teaching Fellow in Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin; her research area is Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering; the motivation for the research in the Suggs lab is the wides preadmorbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Joddar will be mentored on writing grants to secure extramural funding, primarily through the NIH Innovator and the R21 award programs. She also looks forward to receiving feedback on her research using biomaterials to mimic the stem cell niche to explore stem cell differentiation on various substrates.
Mentee Dr. David Torres is an Associate Professor and Chair of Math and Physical Science at Northern New Mexico College. His interests are computational fluid dynamics, parallel programming optimization and honey bee modeling. His goal as a mentee is to strengthen his knowledge of the biology, statistics and computing techniques used in Bioinformatics
Supermentor Dr. Judy Cannon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of New Mexico. Her areas of research are molecular regulation of T cell migration, chemokine signaling in T cells, and the role of signaling molecules in infectious disease. Dr. Cannon’s laboratory is focused on defining and understanding the fundamental mechanisms that control T cell migration to and within lymph nodes.
Dr. Torres' goal as a mentee is to strengthen his knowledge of the biology, statistics and computing techniques used in Bioinformatics. His grant proposal idea would be to submit a NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) proposal on bioinformatics in collaboration with the biology department at NNMC.
Mentee Dr. Veronica Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at El Paso Community College. She participated in the American Chemical Society, the Medical Professionals Organization, AmeriCorps National Service and undergraduate research where she studied the role of Inositol Monophosphatase in Bipolar Disorder. Her ultimate goal is to establish chemical, biochemical and environmental research program at EPCC.
Supermentor Dr. Jeoung Soo Lee is a Research Assistant Professor in the Bioengineering Department at Clemson University. Her research focuses on the understanding of drug and gene delivery in biological systems and developing new therapeutics and biomaterials for the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.
Since El Paso is the location of a major refinery and residents living in close proximity to the site have reported health effects, Dr. Gonzalez is interested in creating research proposals on the effect of refining contaminants on human health. She would like to capture and identify some of the toxins released into the soil and water and test them on cellular model
Mentee Dr. Guillermina Solis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at UTEP where she teaches in the graduate program. Her nursing careers pan over two decades and is the foundation for continuing her research aimed at improving the life of older adults. Dr. Solis' research interests are safety concerns in older adults including medications and unintentional injuries.
Supermentor Dr. Jane Champion is an expert researcher from UT Austin who has maintained a primary care-based practice throughout their academic career. Over the past 20 years, she has practiced in a rural primary care-based practice on the medically underserved Texas-Mexico border.
Dr. Solis is looking for mentorship in a project to design a conceptual model that will guide her research on unintentional fall injuries among older adults. She seeks a sound model that will allow a more logical approach for planning feasible and culturally appropriate interventions at various stages.
Mentee Dr. Munder Zagaar is an Assistant Professor of Geriatrics at Texas Southern University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He has produced eight peer-reviewed publications in addition to co-authoring a book chapter on the neuroprotective effects of caffeine in sleep deprivation in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food and Nutritional Components in Focus. Dr. Zagaar’s research background is mainly in neuropharmacology and mental health.
Supermentor Dr. Ann Stowe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her research at The Neurorepair Lab focuses on the investigation of mechanisms of injury and recovery following damage to the central nervous system, mainly following stroke and perinatal hypoxia.
Dr. Zagaar is looking for mentorship in his current research interests which includes the inflammatory mechanisms that contribute to disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease with the long-term goal of developing more effective clinical screening and treatment interventions. His plan involves a translational approach to this complex problem by first identifying opportunities for basic discovery in the laboratory then seeking to move these findings toward a clinical health application