Wednesday, June 28, 2023
  Awards and Recognitions, Faculty Focus

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JUNE 28, 2023 – The Carnegie Corporation of New York has named UTRGV’s Dr. Karen Lozano, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Julia Beecherl Endowed Professor, a “Great Immigrant, Great American.”

Each Fourth of July, Carnegie celebrates contributions by immigrants to American life. This year, the foundation honors 35 naturalized citizens whose contributions and actions have enriched society and democracy. 

Lozano, born in Monterrey, Mexico, came to the United States in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. She graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1993 from the Universidad de Monterrey, where she was the only woman in her class.

In 1996, she graduated with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University in Houston, and in 1999 received a Ph.D. in all Science and Mechanical Engineering departments, also from Rice. She was the first woman from Mexico to earn a Ph.D. from Rice.

This year marks her 25th year working at UTRGV.

She said she does not know who nominated her for the Carnegie recognition, but hopes it shows other naturalized citizens that their efforts are valued and their dreams achievable.

“It is truly an honor, beyond the recognition itself,” she said. “This distinction serves as a powerful opportunity for me to convey an important message to our UTRGV students – that their hard work truly matters, their contributions will be seen, and that it is worth embracing challenges as they strive for excellence.”

The 2023 Great Immigrants are citizens from 33 countries of origin and a wide range of backgrounds and fields. Carnegie states that, immigrants for generations have come to the United States seeking opportunities for themselves and their families.

Among this year's honorees are individuals who have fostered opportunities for others through their work as educators, mentors, philanthropists, job creators, public servants, storytellers, and advocates.

Lozano has been inducted alongside actor Pedro Pascal, computer scientist Timnit Gebru and Grammy winner Alanis Morissette.

All the 2023 honorees are recognized leaders in their fields. View a full list of all the inductees here.


This latest honor follows a string of recent recognitions for Lozano. In February, she was honored as the first UTRGV professor ever to be elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and one of only three Texans in this year’s NAE cohort of electees. She is also the first Mexican woman to be elected to NAE. 

Lozano’s commitment to engage hundreds of undergraduate students from the Rio Grande Valley in high-tech research has resulted in more than 170 peer-reviewed journal publications; more than 500 presentations at local, national and international platforms; along with numerous patents and technology transfer opportunities. 

In November 2022, Lozano and her team brought home a Lone Star Emmy for the Spanish adaption of “Energy & U,” a collaborative film that includes chemical demonstrations and natural connections between energy and STEM education.

Lozano was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2020, and her name will be on permanent display, inset on a plaque with fellow inductee’s names at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.

Also, in October 2019, Lozano was honored by the White House – one of just 15 recipients in the country – with the 2019 Presidential Excellence Award in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. 

Lozano said the Carnegie recognition is a wonderful opportunity to show UTRGV students and the surrounding Valley communities that efforts to work hard are never in vain and that hard work does not go unnoticed.

“They have the power to make a difference,” she said. “I hope to serve as an inspiration for members of our community to recognize their own potential and to keep moving forward.

“Beginnings do not matter,” Lozano said. “Only the heart that you put into your effort matters. The heart has the power to make a difference.”  

The recognition comes with a full-page ad that will run July 4 in the New York Times.


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.