Beu Primavera Oropeza
NSF Research Fellow Prints Human Tissue
Every year thousands of students from universities across the nation apply for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP). The federal agency received over 13,000 applications in the 2016-17 cycle, and UTEP's own Beu Primavera Oropeza was one of the 2,000 awarded. A second-year Biomedical Engineering PhD student, Beu is breaking new ground in the emerging field of vascular tissue printing. With deep roots in the Paso del Norte region, Beu is also committed to the advancement of science and health in her community.
After completing her Bachelors in Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry at UTEP, Beu was torn between her new love for research and her life-long goal of going to medical school. "I didn't just want to go to medical school and cure someone's cough," she said, "I want to do something different." Fortunately, UTEP's Biomedical Engineering program offered Beu a way to do just that. Pioneered by Beu's mentor, Dr. Thomas Boland, this technique uses an Inkjet printer to print human cells into tissues. "When I heard about tissue engineering," she remembered, "I saw it as a way to combine the research aspect that I love and the medical aspect which I also love." After completing her PhD, Beu plans to attend medical school so she can apply this novel approach to treat patients with aortic valve and other cardiovascular problems. "Hopefully I can finish the Ph.D. to become a tissue engineer, then do a M.D. to actually engineer the tissues for the patients that I have, Beu explained; "[I can] then transplant those tissues to those exact patients, kind of like personalized regenerative medicine.
Born in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua and raised in El Paso, Beu plans to continue her family's tradition of working in medicine, while incorporating her own passion for research. Ideally, she would like to attend the Texas Tech Paul Foster School of Medicine while still advancing her research through collaboration at UTEP. In addition to applying her research to clinical practice in her hometown, Beu hopes to give back by opening a small general care clinic in Juarez." Already leaving her mark in the El Paso community, Beu volunteers by tutoring and giving talks to high school students about how research plays a vital role in everyone's lives. She also hopes to one day start a STEM program for at risk youth in the El Paso community. Houston and Phoenix are great medical hubs, she remarked, "because someone stayed there and started something great."
Senior undergraduates, master's students, and first-year doctoral students interested in the NSF Fellowship should make plans to attend the workshop "Applying for the NSF-GRFP" on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 from 3 to 5 pm in the Mike Loya Academic Services Building, room 131. Click here to register for the workshop, and learn more about NSF-GRFP at www.nsfgrfp.org. "People need to believe in themselves and try for things," Beu insisted, "Even if you think you have zero chance, if you don't try you miss out on a lot of opportunities.