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UTRGV expands its horizons, programs and research in eventful 2017




By Maria Elena Hernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS - DEC. 28, 2017 - The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will remember you well, 2017. The work accomplished in the past 12 months literally stretched from a discovery in the cosmos to the identification of a new species of snail in our own backyard.

Along the way, the university unveiled its first class ring, named the dean of the School of Medicine, opened a residency clinic in Mercedes, helped Hurricane Harvey victims and celebrated 50 years of its nursing program.

More than 10,000 degrees have been awarded since the university opened in 2015, and this year, UTRGV expanded with even more programs. In May, The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved graduate degree programs for a Master of Science in civil engineering and a Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology. This summer, the School of Medicine's psychiatry residency program started.

In addition to serving on national committees and panels throughout the year, faculty members garnered honors.

  • In April, Dr. Art Brownlow, professor of music, was one of just four UT System faculty members inducted into The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of almost $500,000 to Dr. Marie Mora, associate vice provost for faculty diversity and professor of economics, to help mentor minorities completing doctoral degrees in economics.
  • Dr. Angela Chapman was one of six faculty members from five Texas universities named a Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellows. As a GTF Fellow, she will receive up to $30,000 per year for three years to support a research agenda aligned with the foundation’s mission to support postsecondary preparation, access, persistence and completion for Texas students.
  • Dr. Daniel Riahi, professor of mathematics, was named a 2018 Fellow by the Society of Engineering Science in November.

Even Google paid tribute, in September, to a legacy institution graduate. A Google Doodle of author and Valley native Gloria Anzaldúa marked the 30th anniversary of the publication of her groundbreaking book, “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.”

With the funds awarded this year to the university, UTRGV is on track to make 2018 another memorable year. The university will receive almost $14 million for Upward Bound programs to help Valley high students prepare for college, and a $15 million gift from The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation will help create a new UTRGV Institute of Neurosciences.

In its third year, the university has made important strides in its mission to transform the Valley community through education.

Read more about the highlights mentioned and others in the links below.


The NEA Big Read in the Rio Grande Valley will focus on the novel ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ by Julia Alvarez. Holding copies of the book are Leticia Leija, the director of the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library and Dr. Steven Schneider, professor of Creative Writing in the College of Fine Arts at UTRGV. This is the fourth successfully funded NEA Big Read grant written by Schneider.

CHAPS Program lands international recognition for uncovering RGV history

UTRGV professors to participate in new CDC research center

UTRGV professor's co-research with USGS on climate change and coastal wetlands published in leading journal

UTRGV one of 77 organizations nationwide to receive NEA Big Read Grant


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday morning, Feb. 3, 2017, announced a $15 million gift to the School of Medicine from The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation that will help establish the UTRGV Institute for Neurosciences. Shown from left, Dr. Steven Lieberman, UTRGV School of Medicine interim dean; Dr. Kelly Cronin, UTRGV vice president of Institutional Advancement; Randall Baker, executive director of The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation; UTRGV President Guy Bailey; Judy Quisenberry, grants director, Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation; Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell; and Manuel Vela, CEO of Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

UTRGV announces $15M gift from The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation to create the new UTRGV Institute for Neurosciences

Estrada earns McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholars Award

UTRGV professor participates in international panel in Washington, D.C.

UTRGV: Research - Students study indigenous Zapotec language, aid in its preservation

UTRGV named among Top 50 Schools for Latinos by Latino Leaders Magazine


The new UTRGV class ring was unveiled March 23 on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses

UTRGV’s Office of Community Engagement partners with U.S. Census on newest campaign, The Road to 2020

UTRGV School of Medicine gains 56 new residents, three new residency programs

First UTRGV class ring revealed

UTRGV ranks in Top 30 ‘most beautiful’ campuses in Texas

UTRGV hosts Hispanic Heritage Foundation and U.S. Army’s first Coder Summit


“Bug Joy” celebrates the life cycle of cicadas – the largest and loudest of all insects, often heard “singing” throughout the Rio Grande Valley in the spring – and the pleasures of being alive.

UTRGV Family Medicine resident at DHR named Resident of the Year by NHMA

UTRGV’s Brownlow named to UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers

UTRGV BMED major presents diabetes research at Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

UTRGV anthropology program ranked among best values in the country

UTRGV University Productions presents “Bug Joy” by 2012 Texas Poet Laureate Jan Seale


Dr. Christopher Gabler gave students, staff, faculty and the community a tour of Project CRAWFISH, a new research garden on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the community garden and agroecological wetlands experiment. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

UTRGV Zika experts sit on panel with Gov. Greg Abbott in Brownsville

Crawfish take up residence in new agroecological garden at UTRGV

Gadson named UTRGV Dean of Students

UTRGV gets green light from UT System Board of Regents for two new graduate degree programs

UTRGV names Dr. John H. Krouse new dean of the School of Medicine

UTRGV to receive almost $14M in federal funding for Upward Bound programs across the Valley

UTRGV professor and student researchers discover, name new species of South Texas snail

Manufacturing Innovations Hub established by UTRGV, GBIC to bring manufacturing to RGV


This Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot was built by Sharyland elementary school students during the UTCRS Railway Safety camp. UTRGV is hosting its fourth annual University Transportation Center for Railway Safety summer camp from June 5-30. This year, more than 1,000 students grades 3-12 are learning the fundamentals of science through hands-on activities. (UTRGV photo by Silver Salas)

UTRGV assistant professor wins Fulbright award to study in Ecuador

City of Pharr continues commitment to UTRGV School of Medicine with $500,000 contribution

1,000 future engineers participate in UTRGV Railway Safety summer camp

UTRGV student engineering team designs device to help patients with Parkinson’s disease

UTRGV Continuing Education to offer innovative new Alternative Teacher Certification Program


Construction continues on the RGV Reef by researchers from the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences and collaborators from other organizations and universities. The reef is one of the biggest artificial “low-profile” reefs in the area, designed to help maintain and grow habitat for juvenile red snapper and other fish. Referred to as the “RGV Reef,” the structures are made up of limestone rubble, oyster shells and concrete. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

UTRGV’s work and research are ongoing to help build artificial reef

UTRGV, Knapp Medical Center unveil family practice residency clinic in Mercedes

UTRGV SEEMS professor completes major sea trial of the first CLIO, new class of AUV

UTRGV ranks No. 1 in nation for accelerated online Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Vela announces $2.25 million federal grant to UTRGV for CAMP services


Members of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley community gathered on the Edinburg Campus on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, along with families with small children, Boy Scouts, soccer players and others, to watch the historic total solar eclipse. The total eclipse is when the New Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and casts its shadow on Earth, appearing to block out the sun. In Edinburg, only about 50 percent of the sun was blocked out at its peak hour, with totality experienced in other parts of the country. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

Father’s example guides UTRGV mechanical engineering student to dream internship at NASA

Art, science and technology meet in UTRGV’s newly founded “fab lab”

UTRGV ranked sixth in the nation for its online MBA in financial planning

Watch party: Hundreds gather at UTRGV to witness solar eclipse


In Houston, the Unimóvil team has been providing care for allergies, coughs and pneumonia, skin diseases, cuts, chronic diseases, diabetes and other illnesses.

UTRGV School of Nursing celebrates 50 Years of Caring

UTRGV School of Medicine mobile clinic is in Houston, providing medical aid to hurricane victims

UTRGV, US and Mexican health officials discuss results at binational Zika conference

UTRGV School of Medicine awarded $3.75 million to provide healthcare to underserved areas


Dr. Gabriel De Erausquin (back row, at left), professor and founding chair of the UTRGV School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosciences, is shown here with the first cohort of UTRGV psychiatry residents: (front row, seated) Dr. Andry Shalomov, 35, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Sint Maarten; (standing, middle row, from left) Dr. Lessley Chiriboa, 28, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Dr. Karel de Leon, 34, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Facultad de Medicina; Dr. Scott Wallace, 28, University of Arizona – Tucson College of Medicine; (back row, center) Dr. Camille Merhi, 25, University of Balamand, Faculty of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Lebanon; and Dr. Karachí Igwe, 29, St. George’s School of Medicine, Grenada. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

UTRGV receives $21.2 million GEAR UP grant

UTRGV’s Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy part of first observation of neutron stars collision

Six doctors enter UTRGV School of Medicine inaugural psychiatry residency program

UTRGV Center for Mexican American Studies celebrating 30th anniversary of Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands” with yearlong series


UTRGV listed fourth in Top 20 Best Online Colleges in Texas ranking

UTRGV School of Medicine dean participates in Texas Tribune’s Conversation on Health Care Reform

UTRGV Texas OneGulf research grant will focus on Lower Laguna Madre ecosystem

Counseling Services, Medical Care Available at New Clinic in Mercedes

UTRGV medical student offers advice to aspiring doctors via YouTube videos



It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as snow falls on UTRGV campuses and locations from Brownsville to Edinburg and beyond.

UTRGV addresses sexual harassment awareness with special panel discussion

Cross-border trade, regional growth hot topics at 2017 BEDES seminar

UTRGV enjoys winter wonderland

UTRGV chemistry professor receives worldwide acclaim over avocado seed husk research


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

PHOTO CREDIT: (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-882-8787 
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742