Travis Block

Travis Block

Founder/President

A native of San Antonio, Travis attended O.W. Holmes HS in Northside Independent School District.  He moved to Rochester in 2008 to study biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester where he graduated in 2012.  While completing his undergraduate studies, Travis co-founded MonoMano, Inc. in order to commercialize adaptive cycling products designed for stroke survivors and amputees. For his work with MonoMano, Travis has received a number international awards for engineering and design. After graduating, Travis returned to San Antonio to pursue a graduate degree in bioengineering.  Travis completed his PhD in biomedical engineering in the laboratory of Xiao-Dong Chen at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. Travis’ research focuses on isolating healthy stem cell populations from the elderly.  Currently, Travis works as a post-doctoral fellow at the UT Health Science Center.   Additionally, Travis serves as President of San Antonio Science, Inc., a non-profit organization he co-founded to improve awareness of and understanding of science in San Antonio.

Teresa Evans

Teresa Evans

Founder

Teresa Evans, PhD, is currently Director of the Office of Career Development within the Graduate School of Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), where she works to develop new approaches to fostering career development. The mission of the office is to provide a structured setting for the discussion and development of scientific communication skills and provide career development opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellows at UTHSCSA. Teresa is a National Career Development Association-certified Career Development Facilitator, which supports her ability to provide career guidance to undergraduate and graduate level trainees.

Teresa received her doctoral degree in neuroscience from UTHSCSA in 2014, studying the effects of novel therapies on the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and the relationship between ALS and traumatic brain injury. During this time, she was independently funded by a pre-doctoral Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Beyond the traditional classroom, Teresa has participated in several committees and programs that have cultivated her communication and leadership skills including the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Outreach Committee and Sigma Xi. Further, Dr. Evans is a co-author on a book to be released in 2017 that will focus on career guidance for STEM professionals and a research project to assess the prevalence of Stress, Depression, and Anxiety in Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows internationally.

Milos Marinkovic

Milos Marinkovic

Founder

Milos Marinkovic is a PhD candidate in the joint biomedical engineering program at UT San Antonio and UT Health Science Center San Antonio.  His research focuses on the interaction of stem cells with their environment and has been independently funded by the National Institutes of Health. Prior to joining this program Milos received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Biochemistry where he research focused on nanomaterials. Prior to going to graduate school Milos worked in materials engineering company in Austin Texas where he worked on developing novel carbon nano structures.  This work resulted in multiple patents. Milos is passionate about the power of science to build a stronger San Antonio Community and it is his goal to help support the growing biotech industry of our city through his involvement in SA Science.

Linda McManus, PhD

Linda McManus, PhD

Founder

Dr. McManus holds degrees from Blinn College, University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston, and University of Colorado Medical School.  After earning her PhD in Experimental Pathology, she came to San Antonio for a Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  She has been at the University ever since, climbing to the rank of professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor.  She maintains a strong commitment to trainee development and has received numerous grants centered around developing scientists and currently serves as the director of postdoctoral affairs.  Dr. McManus co-founded SA Science in November of 2015.  She is currently Vice-President and a member of the executive committee of the board of directors.

Michael MacNaughton, PhD

Michael MacNaughton, PhD

Board Member

Dr. MacNaughton holds degrees from Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Stanford University.  After completing his PhD in Environmental Engineering at Stanford, Dr. MacNaughton worked for the US Air Force for 6 years as director of the Human Systems Program Office.  Afterward, he joined the staff at the Southwest Research institute where he serves as Vice President of the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division.  Dr. MacNaughton has been a member of the SA Science Board of Directors since 2016.

Ahsan Choudary

Ahsan Choudary

Board Member

Ahsan Choudary is a molecular epidemiologist who researches the early factors leading to chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. He is a trainee in the Translational Science Ph.D. program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he is a Presidential Ambassador and recipient of the Ruth Kirschstein Institutional NRSA TL1 award. He received a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology from Texas Lutheran University in 1999 and a Master of Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health in 2010. He is member of Sigma Xi, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Public Health Association, and the Texas Public Health Association. He has co-authored several publications, been a guest speaker on science education at public schools, and co-founded a trainee-led bioscience technology commercialization consulting group. His diverse interests in the biological sciences include drug and biomarker development, technology commercialization, biotechnology start-ups, and science leadership, communication, and policy. He is a born Texan who served in the military, enjoys mountaineering, and is proud to call San Antonio home.

Gillermo Vela

Gillermo Vela

Board Member

Guillermo Vela is the founder and CEO of Nebulab, a San Antonio-based software company building data management software for scientists.  Guillermo is a current Career Advisory Council Member for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, as well as an active Board Member for the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio.  Guillermo is also an advisor to Hecate OncoSolutions, a biotech company focused on developing a new drug targeting peripheral nerve tumors, and winner of its category in The Neuro Startup Challenge — an international competition aiming to commercialize NIH-owned innovations through early startup ventures.

Previously, Guillermo worked as a brain cancer and stem cell researcher for the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  Guillermo received his Bachelor of Arts and his Masters in Biotechnology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Rafael Veraza

Rafael Veraza

Board Member

Rafa J Veraza, originally from Mexico City, has spent most of his early career working with non-profit organizations and international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, Caritas Internationalis. He is a graduate from the Honors College at the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in Biology were he focused on Neurobiology studies. He was the recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship to represent Rotary International in Botswana and Southern Africa after his undergraduate degree. While in Botswana he worked with the World Health Organization, and Baylor College of Medicine on several HIV public health projects. After completing one year in Botswana he was the recipient of an NIH Fogarty Fellowship to study his Masters in Public Health at Emory University. After his studies, his passion for serving others led him to participate as a consultant for UNICEF and the World Health Organization to work with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Angola. Rafa currently resides in San Antonio with this wife Lisa, he is pursuing a PhD in Translational Science at the Health Science Center focused on novel therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of brain damage and stroke related illness. On the side he is passionate about entrepreneurship, helping translate discoveries from the lab into patients quicker and help grow Biotech industry in San Antonio, TX.

Natasha Wilkerson

Natasha Wilkerson

Board Member

Natasha Wilkerson is passionate about providing quality STEM learning opportunities to at-risk youth. As the Communities In Schools of San Antonio STEM Project Director, Natasha develops and implements STEM programs throughout San Antonio including an afterschool Space Club program for 160 middle school students in Harlandale ISD. She collaborates with school districts and local organizations to expand STEM programming and impact through curriculum development, program partnerships, and outreach events. Prior to CIS-SA, Natasha worked as an engineer for the Department of Defense including nanomaterials research, Navy radar electromagnetic interference testing, and satellite spectrum management.  Natasha has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Peggy Vroman-Gracy

Peggy Vroman-Gracy

Board Member

Peggy was born and raised in the metropolitan New York City area and comes from a family of scientists and educators.  Her father was Leo Vroman, one of the most beloved Dutch poets and artists, and a highly acclaimed biomaterials scientist.  She was immersed in the combined expressions of science and art from an early age.  After she received a BA from Hunter College and a MS in immunology from Tufts University Medical School, Peggy worked for over 20 years in biomedical research and academic research administration  During that time she also served on the boards of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and American Cancer Society in Fort Worth.  Peggy took an early retirement and in 2006 she and her husband, Bob, relocated to San Antonio where he served first as Vice President for Research at UTSA and then President and CEO of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.  She graduated from the Masters Leadership Program (Class V) and later helped establish the Vroman Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands.  Peggy is currently on the board of directors of Impact San Antonio, a women’s philanthropic collective, is an honorary trustee of the Texas Biomedical Forum, and is a patient ambassador for a major pharmaceutical company.

Justin Wilkerson

Justin Wilkerson

Board Member

Dr. Wilkerson’s research and teaching interests lie at the interface of solid mechanics, material science, and physics. He enjoys working on a range of topics across the length and time scales, from the ultra-fast atomistic mechanisms governing deformation and failure in materials to the evolution of asteroids in our Solar System over billions of years.

In 2014, Dr. Wilkerson joined the faculty at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) with a desire to play a vital role in the university’s transformation into a Tier One Research Institution. Prior to coming to UTSA, he obtained his B.S. with highest honors from Texas A&M followed by an M.S.E and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Wilkerson’s academic achievements have been recognized and supported by a number of honors and awards, including the 2016 Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award, the 2015 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, and the Ammon S. Andes Award presented annually to recognize the nation’s top aerospace engineering graduate.

Laura Cox, PhD

Laura Cox, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Cox earned her PhD in Cell & Structural Biology at the UT Health Science Center in 1993.  Since then she has worked in the department of genetics at Texas Biomedical Research Institute.  Dr. Cox works mainly on the identification and characterization of genes involved with development of cardiovascular disease. For that, the Cox lab develops genetic and genomic tools and methods for Non-Human Primate (NHP) research, including large-scale baboon studies in the pedigreed, phenotyped colony at SNPRC. These essential tools for molecular genetic and genomic studies in baboon allow studies of cardiovascular and other complex diseases.  Dr. Cox is committed to developing young scientists, and to communicating science effectively.  She has been a board member for SA Science since 2016.