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Exceptional Women: Karen Lozano, Ph. D.

One of the women we admire most is Karen Lozano, Ph. D. Ivonne had the great pleasure of studying under Dr. Lozano during her studies at the University of Texas Pan-American. Dr. Lozano was kind enough to answer some questions for us regarding her career and being a woman in STEM. Keep reading to know more about this exceptional woman, and prepare to be inspired.

Steel Chic: Where are you from?
Karen Lozano, Ph. D.: Mexico

SC: What school did you attend?
KL: Universidad de Monterrey for Bachelors and Rice University for MS and PhD

SC: Can you give us a quick rundown of your career?
KL: Julia Beecherl Endowed Professor and Founding Director of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Nanotechnology Center obtained an MS and Doctorate degree from Rice University in Houston, TX. Her research interests are focused on the processing-structure-property relationship of nanofibers and nanofiber-based devices as well as on nano-reinforced polymer composites. She is the recipient of several awards such as the Latinas of Influence; Outstanding Research Award, American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education; Engineer of the Year, Great Minds in STEM; Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award; and NSF CAREER award among others. Lozano has published over 120 refereed reviewed journal articles and has over 300 proceedings, invited talks, and conference presentations. She is a prolific inventor (with over 30 patents/patent applications), she co-founded Fiberio Technologies Corporation, a company that focused on the industrial production of nanofibers by the Forcespinning® technology. She received several awards for this invention such as the Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture granted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the R&D 100. Dr. Lozano enjoys instilling in k-12 students a passion for engineering careers, she has developed numerous summer camps, workshops, and presentations and more recently launched a YouTube Channel, “Karen’s Lab” to promote STEM-based innovation.

SC: How and when did you found out that Mechanical Engineer was your career to follow?
KL: In 5th grade, I knew something related to technology was the way to go if I wanted opportunities to help my family. During my last year of high school is when I selected Mechanical Engineering as it sounded like a career with endless opportunities though knowing it was not really meant form women, especially 30 years ago, I almost didn’t pursue it, my mom convince to follow the path less traveled.

SC: What aspect of your job is the most challenging?
KL: Challenging and at the same time most rewarding is the development of new ideas, ideas that could open up exciting opportunities for students and at the same time solve a societal challenge

SC: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
KL: Working with students, watching them develop exciting careers in industry or academia

SC: What can you say is the key to your success?
KL: Hard Work, very hard work, extremely hard work, coupled with personal responsibility and innovation

SC: What advice would you give young women who are considering pursuing a STEM career?
KL: Don’t be afraid, take on the challenge, I can tell you is not going to be easy but TOTALLY worth it.

SC: If you could tell your 15-year-old self-anything, what would it be?
KL: Be smart, be wise in your decisions and please do not pursue a passion, find an opportunity and work passionately in that opportunity