Natalia Rodriguez (’17)

University of Houston Class of 2017 College of Natural Science and Mathematics (NSM) alumna, Natalia Rodriguez, awarded the 2019 Paul C. Boyle Award of Excellence by University of Texas Health Science Center School of Biomedical Informatics (UTHealth SBMI).

Rodriguez was an undergraduate mathematical biology major while at the University of Houston (UH). Because of her interests in mathematics and health, Rodriguez was encouraged by her UH professor, Dr. Jiwen He, Chair of Mathematics for College of NSM, to consider the field of biomedical informatics. Thanks to his encouragement, she is currently a UTHealth graduate student studying epidemiology and public health informatics.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Monisha Arya, faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, Rodriguez won her first-ever research poster presentation at the annual UTHealth SBMI Connect Day 2019. Her oral presentation was among many judged by students, alumni, and faculty. Her poster, “Acceptability and Feasibility of Video Visits for Weight Management Care,” featured health informatics research she completed as an intern at Houston Methodist Hospital.

While Rodriguez learned communication skills as a UH Resident Advisor, she learned research and health communication skills from Dr. Arya, who is an expert in this specific field of communications. Rodriguez learned how to convey research results for an academic poster, how to write a script for a poster presentation, and how to deliver an effective and engaging presentation. When Rodriguez was asked to reflect on her recent presentation, she attributed her win to excellent mentorship. “Dr. Arya taught me to initiate dialogue with poster visitors to engage them in a conversation, avoid jargon, and she coached me through script practices.” She added, “I am so thankful to have had her mentorship and coaching through the process. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

After winning her research poster award, Rodriguez was asked by Arya to help launch an academic writing primer series. Their first primer released in May titled, “Tips for Designing a Winning Poster,” reflects on Rodriguez’s winning poster design. Rodriguez added, “I was honored to write alongside Dr. Arya and release this primer to help others succeed in this aspect of academia. I’ve had so much fun collaborating and working with her on so many different writing projects. This has been a great opportunity for me to build on my academic achievements since graduation from the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.”

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