Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Research recap: UTSA’s latest research impact

Kara Lee

During October, UTSA climbed the world rankings in research quality and industry impact, in tandem with grants awarded to UTSA staff to study language barriers in engineering and new technology to combat carbon emissions. Catch up with the latest updates in Roadrunner research with The Paisano’s monthly recap.

UTSA climbs the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings reflect “the diverse range of research-intensive universities worldwide,” including 1,904 universities throughout 108 countries and regions. 

In the U.S., “UTSA ranked 114 out of 169 U.S. universities, up 20 places over last year. In the world, UTSA is placed within the 501-600 bracket.”

To meet the criteria to be considered in this ranking, institutions must teach undergraduates, work across a diverse variety of subjects and publish 150 papers per year, along with having published at least 1,000 papers total.

The method used to rank institutions is based on five distinct core missions: teaching, research quality, research environment, knowledge transfer throughout the industry and international outlook. UTSA’s highest scores were represented in our research quality, industry impact and international outlook.

Many of these achievements can be attributed to the selective recruitment and retention of the “most promising and accomplished faculty from diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

“UTSA remains steadfast on its journey to becoming a great public research university focused on driving San Antonio’s knowledge economy, living out the notion that great universities need great cities and great cities need great universities,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “Over the last decade, we’ve worked diligently to grow our federal portfolio and foster and create new strategic partnerships that connect academia to public and private industries to advance our research footprint. We’re honored for the recognition of this work and look forward to building even more pathways of success for our faculty, students and strategic partners.”

$3.6 million awarded for minorities pursuing engineering degrees

A pair of UTSA professors, Joel Alejandro Mejia and M. Sidury Christiansen, were recently awarded a $3.6 million grant by the National Science Foundation to strengthen a sense of belonging among multicultural students, in an effort to encourage them to pursue engineering degrees. 

The project takes an ethnographic approach, a qualitative research method through participant observation, with the intent of recording and analyzing a culture or society. The incentive is that both Mejia and Christiansen personally experienced biases throughout their careers in STEM and are striving to create a more inclusive learning environment for incoming students.

To accomplish this goal, the researchers will explore “how race influences language use and race-related language creates barriers for minority students pursuing engineering degrees.” Christiansen states that this data “will be able to [aid in creating] materials and strategies to help faculty members and teaching assistants understand language’s impact on students pursuing STEM careers.” 

This grant will hopefully foster a cohesive and productive environment that motivates minorities to continue furthering their education and set the precedent for generations of engineers to come.

UTSA chemistry professor combating carbon emissions

UTSA chemistry professor Zachary Tonzetich and his collaborator, Anthony Cozzolino from Texas Tech University’s chemistry department, were the most recent recipients of a $100,000 grant from The Welch Foundation for a project that could remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere.”

Tonzetich recently attended the WelchX Collaboration Retreat with a focus on the theme “Chemistry for Sustainability” and was tasked with designing creative and innovative ideas to “address the most challenging and unexplored issues in climate-smart chemistry.”

The retreat participants partnered up to produce a research proposal in an accelerated ten-day time frame, ultimately leading to funding from the Welch Foundation.

 The funding will investigate a new paradigm, taking advantage of converting the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to “an unprocessed raw material that could be used to produce new chemical products such as fuels or polymers.”

If this project proves effective, this new technology could catalyze more chemistry-centric solutions to climate change.

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About the Contributors
Kylar Royer
Kylar Royer, Assistant Photo Editor

Kylar Royer (he/him) is a class of 2023 biology major  and a minor in psychology graduating this fall. He will be attending Parker University next summer pursuing a doctorate of chiropractic and masters in clinical neuroscience. Kylar has been a photographer for over 5 years and joined The Paisano staff in fall 2022, this is his first semester as the assistant photo editor. Outside of school, you will Kylar reading about natural medicine and philosophy accompanied by Dixieland jazz music.

Kara Lee
Kara Lee, Graphic Editor
Kara is a communication major on track to graduate in 2025. After graduating they hope to work for non-profits that specialize in environmental concerns so they can give back to the planet that provides so much for us. When Kara is not in school or working they can be found either drawing or hiking.

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