STEM programs bring future female scientists to UIW

For the third consecutive year, UIW will host miniGEMS, a camp for middle school aged girls interested in STEM and STEAM programs. MiniGEMS is a student-run program led by undergraduate and graduate students from various UIW STEM programs will run from June through August. Guest speakers from throughout San Antonio will also provide information to the campers about careers in these fields.

MiniGEMS was the first camp in San Antonio for middle school aged girls that had a special focus on autonomous ground, air and underwater robots. Over 104 middle school girls will participate in the four 2017 miniGEMS camps, which were expanded to two weeks thanks to a $94,950 grant provided by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The goal of the camp is to introduce female students to the field of engineering through robotic projects, computer programming and graphic design.

The first week focuses on the EV3 Lego Mindstorms robots.  Campers will learn about robotics, sensors and computer programming. The students will also have the opportunity to build and compete using the SeaPerch underwater robots at the UIW Natatorium. The Navy Recruiting District San Antonio will help with this competition.

SeaPerch, an innovative underwater robotics program inspires and engages students and teachers through building an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The name SeaPerch came from the USS Perch, a World War II U.S. Submarine, which was the first to possess an early form of air conditioning. The program provides an opportunity to its participants in learning basic concepts of engineering with a special focus in marine robotics.

The second week of the camp focuses on programming using the MATLAB Programming Language. Art will be integrated into the programming curriculum to engage the creative side of the miniGEMS campers.

The miniGEMS campers are students from Judson ISD, San Antonio ISD and Northside ISD. An end of summer conference and banquet set for August will provide campers with an opportunity to present the fruit of their labors to their parents, teachers other camp participants.

The miniGEMS camps are managed by Dr. Sreerenjini Nair, assistant professor of physics and Dr. Michael Frye, a tenured associate professor of engineering. Drs. Nair and Frye are also the co-directors and principle investigators of the AVS Laboratory that is in the School of Mathematics, Science & Engineering at UIW.


UIW Faculty Member Brings Immersive Learning Opportunity to Life Science Students

UIW’s Dr. Veronica Martinez Acosta, associate professor of biology, has been named co-director of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass. The program meets over the summer for 10 weeks at the MBL and accepts 10 students per year. Many of the students chosen generally have few research opportunities available to them across their academic career. At least one UIW student will have the opportunity thanks to Martinez Acosta. This program is important to Martinez Acosta because of her history over her career and with the MBL.

Martinez Acosta grew up in Houston and went to Charles H. Milby High School. Not ready for the environment of a larger university, Martinez Acosta enrolled and attended the University of St. Thomas where she graduated in 1996 with a double major in biology and education. It was during this time when she was contemplating graduate school that she realized the hurdles underrepresented minority students face when entering a graduate program. She decided to take time to think about graduate school and instead chose to teach lower school science at Annunciation Greek Orthodox School. After three years of teaching and volunteering her time to research at the University of Houston, she decided to apply to graduate programs all over the country as a marine biologist. She was accepted into Texas A&M University where she switched her focus from marine biology to neuroscience after an impactful meeting with a professor enlightened her on the connection of research in biology and neuroscience. She received her Ph.D. from TAMU in 2005.

Since graduating from TAMU and working at the University of the Incarnate Word, Martinez Acosta has been fascinated and interested in the nervous system and its regeneration. She took a sabbatical from her work at UIW to research at the MBL toward this initiative. It was during this time that Martinez Acosta realized a larger scope of opportunity with the MBL to give back to underrepresented students. This was a position she had once been in as a student.

Students in this program will be placed in the laboratory of an MBL research scientist and have a full immersion experience of participating in all laboratory exercises and activities. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program will provide each student with a $5,000 stipend in addition to housing and a cafeteria pass for dining purposes for the duration of the program. The NSF wanted to provide this opportunity to university students who would not otherwise have the means to conduct research in their disciplines.

The program will benefit undergraduate students in life sciences interested in continuing their education into graduate school and intend to continue researching in different fields of biology. Information about the program can be found online at the MBL site or by contacting Dr. Veronica Martinez Acosta at

UIW Celebrates American Heart Month with the Red Dress Fashion Show & Health Fair

The 14th Annual Red Dress Fashion Show & Health Fair is from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the McCombs Center Rosenberg Sky Room. February is American Heart Month. For years, UIW has promoted cardiac health in women with a beautiful fashion show and health fair.

This year’s fashion show features unique, one-of-a-kind designs by UIW students. Along with the fashion show is a great health fair featuring 20 health and lifestyle vendors offering a variety of special activities and exhibits promoting cardiac health. Students from UIW’s professional programs will be on hand to check blood pressures, glucose levels, provide visions screenings and offer information on the importance of maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle.

Valentine’s gifts will be available from several local vendors including Zelime Matthews Jewelry and the Women’s Global Connection who sells items handmade by women in Peru and Zambia.  You also don’t want to miss the opportunity to purchase scarves hand-dyed by UIW fashion students and faculty. Scarves start at $20.

Another great aspect to this event is the photography contest. The contest is open to all UIW faculty, staff and students. Entries must be an original photograph that represents the color red and/or something related to the heart, heart health or the American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign. Photographs should be signed by the contestant and printed on a 12×14 or 14×14 canvas and not exceed a cost of $35. If the artwork includes people in the photograph, a media release will need to be signed. Canvas prints should be submitted to Dr. Michael Moon in the Nursing Building, Room 128 no later than 12 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27. Voting will take place during the Red Dress event. All the artwork will be available for purchase with proceeds helping to support future Red Dress Day activities and a prize will be given to the winner. For more information on the contest, contact Dr. Michael Moon at (210) 216-5086.

This annual Red Dress Event supports the American Heart Association and their Go Red campaign during National Heart Month in February.

A Q&A about Meteorology at UIW

UIW’s School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering offers a specialization in Meteorology through the Operational Meteorology program and Broadcast Meteorology program. We spoke with Dr. Gerald Mulvey about this area of study at UIW.

UIW: What program tracks are offered in this degree program?

Dr. Mulvey: This program offers a Bachelor of Science in Operational Meteorology and a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Meteorology.

UIW: Can you explain what the meteorology program at UIW entails?

Dr. Mulvey: The Broadcast Meteorology program prepares students to learn about and interpret atmospheric phenomenon and meteorological data, gathered by surface and upper air stations, satellites, and radar to prepare reports and forecasts for public presentation. The Broadcast Meteorology program is taught jointly between the Meteorology and Communication Arts departments. UIW has dedicated state-of-the-art weather broadcasting facilities using Weather Central software for skill development. Professional broadcast meteorologists teach the on-air broadcast program. The UIW graduate will obtain the educational training to qualify for the American Meteorological Society examination for a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist after completing 5 years in the broadcast field.

The Operational Meteorology program provides students with a comprehensive education research into the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere, weather analysis, and weather forecasting. This science includes a study of the impact of air pollution on people and the environment, the threat of changing climate due to global warming, severe weather, and world climates. Capstone work is available in both field experimentation and meteorological analysis utilizing the fixed and deployable weather stations and nine Apple workstations in the Climate and Data Analysis Laboratory. The UIW graduate will obtain the educational training to qualify for the American Meteorological Society Certified Consulting Meteorologist examination after completing 5 years in industry.

UIW: What is the overall philosophy of this program?

Dr. Mulvey: The program’s philosophy is to help develop a student’s appreciation of the Earth’s atmosphere through education and understanding. Students in the program will learn to critically analyze and evaluate the interactions of the atmosphere with the oceans and biosphere, recognize the problems and issues of local and regional air pollution, the profound implications and long-term effects of global warming on the planet, the effects of severe weather and the long-term effects human impact on weather and climate. The program offers the student the knowledge and skills to investigate adverse human impact on weather and climate and recognize how to remediate or avoid these conditions to support the needs and requirements of all life on our planet. Both Operational Meteorology and Broadcast Meteorology are aimed at supportive learning of critical work place skills enabling students upon graduation to assume jobs in industry, civilian government or the military

The spirit of Christian service is promoted by providing the student the intellectual tools necessary for making sound scientific decisions and ethical judgments and thus become enlightened citizens in society. Experiences in research activities through course work, seminars, and internships also promote within each student self-realization and spiritual guidance acquired through independent work, volunteered endeavors, and cooperative learning.

UIW: What types of career opportunities are available for graduates of this program?

Dr. Mulvey: Meteorology is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for entering a wide variety of professional careers as well as graduate programs in weather modeling and forecasting, air pollution studies, broadcast meteorology, hydrology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications in meteorology, and education. Government, industry, and private research groups also provide entry-level positions for meteorologists. A student graduating from the Meteorology program may find employment with the private and public sectors as an applied or operational meteorologist. The military also provides opportunities with forecasting centers that include flight and airborne operations, ground support for the army, and naval meteorology. There are a number of private-sector companies that provide weather service to ocean shipping firms and port operators, electric and gas utilities, farmers, ranchers and highway departments. Employment with research laboratories includes studies in global climate change including remote sensing and GIS applications. A high-profile career in meteorology includes media weathercasting for television, radio and newspapers. Related careers in meteorology include marketing and sales of meteorological equipment made by companies involved in the design and manufacture of weather instruments. The geographical focus of jobs are in California, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and Massachusetts.

UIW: What type of person is best suited for this program?

Dr. Mulvey: Meteorology has career opportunities that range from fieldwork to observe, analysis work, forecasting and numerical modeling on the operational side and TV and radio weathercasting on the broadcast side.  In terms of the type of student best suited for these programs students selecting meteorology as a career should be interested in science and mathematics, numerical modeling and in forecasting what mother nature will do next.


Artist Roger Colombik’s Exhibition Comes to UIW

Texas artist Roger Colombik brings his art exhibition to UIW. The exhibition will run from Friday, Jan. 27, through Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Semmes Gallery of the Kelso Art Center. Colombik’s exhibition will feature his Selected Works and More Life in a Time Without Boundaries pieces.  

Colombik’s Selected Works features the artist’s diverse practices in sculpture and social engagement. The sculptures weave through the narrative of Absence/Presence, a psychological state of yearning for two disparate possibilities of simultaneous existence. The representational imagery (journals, a magic carpet, pillows and scales) awaken restless spirits navigating the space between wanderlust and responsibility.

More Life in a Time Without Boundaries was undertaken in collaboration with Jerolyn Bahm-Colombik, International Rescue Committee-Abilene (IRC) and The Grace Museum. The goal was to initiate a more profound awareness and dialogue regarding the human face of immigration and the contributions that refugees make to their new homeland. To engage with this community is to enter a realm where personal histories are inextricably linked with global crises and the simple dreams that parents have for their children. This work addresses these conflicting zones of human nature through a diverse range of applications.

An opening reception for the art exhibition will be from 6 – 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27, in the Kelso Art Center. Roger Colombik will also be giving an artist lecture from 1:30 – 2:45 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2, in the Kelso Art Center, Room 112. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on this exhibition and gallery hours, contact (210) 829-3852.

A Q&A about the Financial Planning Concentration at UIW

The H-E-B School of Business & Administration at UIW offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance with a concentration in Financial Planning. We spoke with Dr. Alicia Rodriguez de Rubio, finance coordinator, about this program at UIW.

UIW: Tell me more about the Financial Planning concentration in the Finance Program.

Rodriguez de Rubio: The Financial Planning concentration prepares students for careers in financial planning and related fields.  The program is registered with the CFP® Board. The students who successfully complete it will fulfill the education requirement that is needed to take the CFP® exam.

UIW: What types of special programs are available to students in this program that can help further their experience?

Rodriguez de Rubio: Students in the program are in close contact with industry professionals through the partnership that we have with the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of San Antonio and South Texas as well as our Financial Planning Advisory Board Members. The FPA provides guest speakers and networking opportunities for the students. We host an annual FPA symposium on Campus and the students are invited to participate.

Selected students can participate in the Student Managed Fund class, which allows them the opportunity to manage and invest a portion of the UIW endowment. The Student Managed Fund class was offered for the first time this semester (Fall 2016). Students who take the Investment Planning class can apply to participate and are approved by the faculty. Those participating can research investments using our Bloomberg terminal. They develop an investment policy statement and select investments based on their research findings. The recommendations are presented to an investment committee for approval. Once approved, the funds are invested. The students get real-life experience in investment planning and managing.

UIW: How is this concentration beneficial?

Rodriguez de Rubio: Financial planning is a career in demand due to the large number of people reaching retirement age. The CFP® certification is recognized as the most desired designation in the field. Employers are looking to hire graduates who have met the education requirement and are ready to take the CFP® examination. Research has shown that the CFP® certification offers the potential for higher income.

UIW: What types of career opportunities are available for a graduate of this program?

Rodriguez de Rubio: Wealth management, fee only financial planning firms, insurance, investment analyst.

UIW: What type of person is best suited for this program?

Rodriguez de Rubio: People who like to solve problems and have good communication skills. If you are interested in helping people meet their financial goals, then this is the career for you.

A Q&A about the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at UIW

The Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions at UIW offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program to nursing students. We spoke with Dr. Diana Beckmann-Mendez, BSN-DNP track coordinator/FNP concentration leader, about this program at UIW.

UIW: Tell me more about the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Beckmann-Mendez: The DNP is a terminal professional degree in nursing practice, an alternative to the research focused doctoral degree. The curriculum for the DNP degree builds on traditional master’s programs by providing education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership.

The DNP program at the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions began in 2011 with the MSN to DNP track.  Initially, the program was for students who already had a master’s degree in nursing and were recognized by the State of Texas as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN).  (APRNs are registered nurses educated at either a masters or doctoral level and in a specific role/patient population. APRNs are prepared by education and certification to assess, diagnose/treat patient problems, order tests, and prescribe medications. Types of APRNs include Nurse Practitioners (NP), as well as Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS)).

In 2014, the school opened the BSN to DNP track within the DNP program that prepares registered nurses who have a bachelor’s degree and are seeking to advance their education by earning a doctorate in nursing.  Moreover, this track prepares students to become APRNs who are then eligible to sit for the board certification exam depending on their concentration (Family Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner).

The outcomes of both tracks within the DNP program are to develop expert practitioners to improve patient outcomes and health.

UIW: Can you explain more about the two fields of study in the DNP program?

Beckmann-Mendez: As was described above, there are two different tracks within the DNP program.  However, within the BSN to DNP track, students can choose which concentration they would like to prepares themselves in for their future role as an APRN.  The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse with specialized educational and clinical training in family practice. FNPs are trained to work with both children and adults, most often in the context of a family practice or clinical setting. FNPs work with patients on maintaining health and wellness over the long term with a particular focus on preventative care. Many FNPs serve as the patient’s primary care provider since their scope of practice is very broad and they can treat patients of all ages.

Similar to the FNP, the other concentration that students may choose is that of a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).  PMHNPs are advanced practice registered nurses who are trained to provide a wide range of mental health services to patients an their families in a variety of settings. PMHNPs work with patients with patients across the lifespan who have mental health issues requiring treatment.

UIW: How can this program be beneficial to current nurses?

Beckmann-Mendez: Completing a doctoral degree in nursing will help nurses advance their career on the clinical side.  Different from the PhD in nursing that focuses on research, the DNP degree will prepare the student for a leadership role in nursing while maintaining an emphasis on clinical practice.  There is a growing need for highly-trained nurses and enrolling in a DNP program will make the student more marketable to future employers.  Furthermore, with advanced education, nurses prepared at a doctoral level can positive impact their local community, improve patient care/treatment, and affect patients’ healthcare outcomes.

UIW: What type of person is best suited for this program?

Beckmann-Mendez: This program is best suited for highly motivated and dedicated nurses who would like to advance their careers.  The BSN to DNP program is an extremely rigorous program offered on a full-time basis only and takes 3 years to complete.

A Q&A about Cyber Security at UIW

UIW’s School of Media & Design offers a specialization in Cyber Security Systems through the Computer Information Systems program. We sat down with the coordinator, Phil Youngblood, to talk more about this area of study at UIW.

UIW: Why is cyber security an important field right now?

Youngblood: Cyber security has always been an important field, however, it’s been more in the news lately because we’re more connected. October was Cyber Security Awareness Month, and there was a national campaign to “Stop.Think.Connect.” Items connected to a network that you can reach with a device, whether it’s a closed circuit television, a baby monitor, refrigerator, a car, whatever, it goes out over the network. We don’t control the network. With the internet, everything you do could be going who knows where, literally one little part could be going to San Francisco or to London, because it all goes pretty much at the speed of light, and it all goes out, little pieces of it and then comes back together, so there’s no control over where it goes. Those devices are not as secure. In the future, with all the wireless technology and such, we need to have people who understand networks, hardware, software, websites and all of the vulnerabilities there are because one tiny percent, like a percentage of a percent, are people who don’t play by the rules and can cause harm.

UIW: Can you explain the cyber security systems specialization of the CIS program here at UIW?

Youngblood: There are two degrees available in the program: a B.S. in Cyber Security Systems and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems (CIS). When we created this program, I looked at all the stuff the NSA said, what Homeland Security said, all the bigger programs around the United States, and what I found was that there were a couple of ways of looking at it.

What universities generally do is look at it from a business standpoint, protecting business data, customer information, supplier information, employee information, etc. Businesses are looking for education, policies and controls. So CIS is about understanding the hardware, software, networks, how it all connects and works. The students need to know how to secure networks. On top of that, cyber security is that extra layer. You take a lot of the stuff that you already need to know for the CIS degree, and you learn how to secure networks, and systems, you learn how to build a secure design with encryption. Building layers of defense to control access. The bottom line of cyber security is controlled access, who you want to have access to the equipment and the data.

This has been an interest in San Antonio for quite some time. San Antonio has the highest concentration of cyber security experts outside of Washington, D.C. because of the confluence of military, business, high tech and all of the universities coming together.  Our CIS and Cyber Security Systems degrees are overlapping and supplementary programs. We take the tech approach with a little bit of business on the side. We want to provide our students with information that makes them as smart as the people that are hacking into places. And not just hacking in, but if our students go to work in a company, they can suggest what password to use, help make the place more secure, help to guard against vulnerability.

UIW: What kind of individual is well suited for this program?

Youngblood: It is a science degree, so it needs to be someone who is analytical, likes details, is trustworthy and cares about the company they’re in. That’s why they go to UIW. We have certain values, integrity, trustworthiness and responsibility.

UIW: Why should someone choose this program over similar programs at other universities?

Youngblood: There are some fine programs out there, but if you look, we are the only main campus, dedicated B.S. in cyber security systems in San Antonio. Other programs may have online programs but not a dedicated main campus program. We are also trying to help and support students left hanging by the closure of ITT Tech integrate into our program and be able to complete their studies. We have a proven successful program, we have the facilities, we have the experts and we have the only main campus program. The other programs are all concentrations of degrees. We worked with and talked with the NSA and Homeland Security to really understand what they were looking for and what needs to be done.

UIW: What types of courses can one expect?

Youngblood: In addition to the courses in a very robust IT degree, you also have courses that deal in three areas: 1) secure design, what can you do to make systems more impervious to unauthorized access in addition to understanding how to secure a network, 2) cryptography, understanding where data resides on the cloud, and 3) risk management, securing the organization itself, understanding the risk and vulnerabilities and applying the resources to one or the other.

UIW: What types of careers can one obtain with this degree?

Youngblood: You can get any kind of IT job. Everything from medical centers, military, to anybody that does anything with networking like Rackspace, oil companies, H-E-B, etc. But the cyber security degree has added value because safeguarding your computers, data and equipment is an integral and routine part of IT because we are so connected.

We have to understand where our data is going and where we are vulnerable. You can replace equipment, but you can’t replace information. From a business standpoint, if you lose the data, you could inadvertently give access and information to someone you don’t want to have it and suddenly the business and its reputation are damaged.

UIW Hosts Dolores de Crecimiento Exhibition

A unique art exhibition showcasing memories from childhood, death and cultural folklore is on display in the Semmes Gallery of the Kelso Art Center at the University of the Incarnate Word. The exhibition, titled Dolores de Crecimiento, runs through Friday, Nov. 4.

Semmes Gallery, Kelso Art Center

Artists Lisette Chavez and Coco Rico explore memories and tragedies that become lifelong lessons shaping adulthood transcending physical growth. While Chavez and Rico desire to reminisce about fonder times, often their work is fueled by tormented memories. Rico’s childhood includes witnessing animal slaughter and cruelty. Chavez felt forced to go to stranger’s funerals and to church with her mother.

Semmes Gallery, Kelso Art Center

To express these details from their past, both artists expose their vulnerable positions of worries and sadness through beautiful drawings and lithographs. An exhibition closing reception will be held in the Kelso Art Center from 6 – 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding UIW holidays). For more information about this exhibit, contact (210) 829-3852 or


Interior Design Students Win Big

Students from the UIW Interior Design program had a great week of recognition for their creative work and dedication. Interior Design students placed in both the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Pinnacle of Design Awards as well as the Fall 2016 San Antonio Home & Garden Show, which took place at the Alamodome.

ASID Pinnacle of Design Awards
UIW Interior Design students entered projects from their classes, and professional designers from other locations judged them. Ashley Shirley, who graduated in 2016, entered her senior capstone project and won first place. Kory Lipscomb, who is currently still in the Interior Design program, took second place for her Residential Design II project.



Ashley Shirley, ASID Pinnacle of Design Award first place winner
Kory Lipscomb, ASID Pinnacle of Design second place winner

Fall 2016 San Antonio Home & Garden Show
UIW Interior Design held a student competition to determine which three students would design and furnish a 10’ x 20’ room vignette at the Fall 2016 San Antonio Home & Garden Show. Five professional interior designers came and judged students’ presentations of their concepts. The three students who won were: Kory Lipscomb, Cody Rackley, and Danielle Reyes. Sherwin Williams donated paint. Home Depot at SE Military HWY & Godiad gave each student a $50 in-store credit. The At Home store in Live Oak allowed students to select furniture and accessories and Cort Furniture allowed students to select furniture to be used. Show Technologies, who puts on the Home & Garden show, had three 10’ x 20’ space built and ready for students to begin their work on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Show Technologies also constructed a stage area for Interior Design speakers next to the students’ vignettes.