The 2024 TXST STEM Conference

The 2024 TXST STEM Conference will be held April 8-12th with online programming available April 8-11 and Friday, April 12, 2024 at the TXST LBJ Student Center.

2024 Conference Theme: One Health

Student holding goat

The 2024 conference theme will be “One Health” as described by the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP).

One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.

The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines, and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for healthy food, water, energy, and air, taking action on climate change and contributing to sustainable development.” 

We are excited to host another conference that brings together all colleges at TXST towards collaborating over a unifying topic. 

What is One Health?

An explanation of One Health explained by the University of Arizona UMASH Center

Keynote Speakers

Bryan Dewsbury, Ph.D.

Dr. Bryan Dewsbury

Bryan Dewsbury is an Associate Professor of Biology at Florida International University (FIU). He is the Principal Investigator of the Science Education And Society (SEAS) research program, which blends research on the social context of teaching and learning, faculty development of inclusive practices, and programming in the cultivation of equity in education. He is an Associate Director of the STEM Transformational Institute where he directs the Division of Transformative Education. He is also a Fellow with the John N. Gardner Institute where he assists institutions of higher education cultivate best practices in inclusive education. He is the creator and executive producer of the Massive Open Online Course called Inclusive Teaching. He is a co-editor of the book the Norton Guide to Equity Minded Teaching. He has led faculty development workshops in over 150 institutions across North America, Europe and Western Africa. Dewsbury grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and immigrated to the United States in 1999. He received a BS in biology from Morehouse College and an MS and PhD in biology from FIU.

Seth Feder

Seth Feder

Seth was Senior Director Healthcare Analyst at Gartner for 3 years prior to founding OnTarget Advisors in 2022. He advised healthcare technology companies on technology product strategy and market execution in the global healthcare ecosystem.  He covered healthcare information technology including medical imaging, data analytics, population health, and telehealth solutions.   Prior to Gartner, Seth was Director of Information Management and Technology at the University of Texas Dell Medical School. He was the first IT hire at the new school; credited for bringing it from a startup to being a true enterprise. Among his varied IT responsibilities, he managed a team delivering business intelligence focused on clinical and operational insights.  He spent 10 years at Dell, as Director of Research for Healthcare and Life Sciences, a Director of Healthcare Cloud Strategy, and Healthcare Product Manager in the Office of the CTO.  Seth earned an MBA from University of Texas at Dallas, a MS in Biomedical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, and a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Arizona State University.


Keynote Panel

Shannon Weigum, Ph.D.

Dr. Shannon Weigum

Dr. Weigum holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Science Education from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in Biology from Texas State University, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Bioengineering at Rice University before arriving at Texas State.

Dr. Weigum joined the Texas State faculty in 2011 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and faculty within the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization Program. She was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. That same year, she was appointed as Vice President of Biological Sciences at Paratus Diagnostics, LLC in San Marcos where she was able to obtain direct startup industry experience. In 2018-2019, Dr. Weigum returned to Texas State and served as the Presidential Fellow where she focused upon the development and implementation plan for a university-wide Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. 

Dr. Weigum is an active researcher, scholar, and biotech entrepreneur. Her line of research focuses on the development of point-of-care diagnostic methods/devices and novel high-sensitivity in vitro diagnostic biosensors. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, including IEEE Sensors, Journal of Nanoparticle Research, Advances in Modern Oncology, Journal of Chromatography A, Brain Research, and Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Her work has been featured nationally in Popular Science, CNET news, Genome Web and on the cover of the journal Lab-on-a-Chip. In addition, she has presented at numerous national and international conferences, secured both internal and external grant support for her research, published four book chapters, and is an inventor on two issued patents. 

Rodney E. Rhode, Ph.D.

Dr. Rodney E. Rhode

Rodney E. Rohde, Ph.D., SM(ASCP)CM, SVCM, MBCM, FACSc, is University Distinguished Regents’ Professor and Chair of the Medical Laboratory Science Program in the College of Health Professions at Texas State University where he also serves as the Associate Director of the Translational Health Research Center. He is credentialed as a Specialist in Virology, Specialist in Microbiology and Molecular Biologist from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Rohde is considered a subject matter expert in rabies and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as other public health and medical laboratory topics. Rohde has over 30 years experience, including a decade with the Texas Department of State Health Services – Zoonosis Control Division and Bureau of Laboratories and the CDC as a Visiting Scientist [1992-2002] prior to TXST.

With over 100 published research articles and abstracts, two published books, and well over 100 international, national, and state presentations, Dr. Rohde is a highly sought-after keynote and author for Public Health and Medical Laboratory professionals as a strong advocate of the professions.  Dr. Rohde was the highest quoted science communication expert during the COVID-19 pandemic and Mpox emergency, in which he conducted over 200 interviews and podcasts and delivered webinars, articles, and workshops at the international, national, state, and local level. Dr. Rohde is an invited Scientific Advisory Board member, reviewer, scholar, and contributing author for the American Society for Microbiology, Healthcare Hygiene Magazine, Elsevier, and The Conversation and has been featured globally including the BBC, Scientific American, PBS, CNBC, National Geographic, and more.

Micaela Vargas, Ph.D.

Dr. Micaela Vargas

Dr. Vargas is a first-generation trailblazer in the intersection of STEM and entrepreneurship, within the biotech and healthcare sectors. With a solid background, she established a medical laboratory specializing in point-of-care diagnostics and possesses over a decade of hands-on experience as an operational executive in the medical device and diagnostics industry. Her expertise spans strategic growth, automation, regulatory affairs, and compliance, particularly within the startup ecosystem.

Expanding her horizons, Dr. Vargas has ventured into consultative services, offering support in testing, licensing, and operational frameworks. She has spearheaded the development and launching of numerous clinical tests aimed at diagnosing and treating patients, demonstrating her proficiency in building clinical laboratories from scratch. Notably, during the global pandemic, she played a crucial role in implementing COVID-19 clinical testing protocols across multiple laboratories nationwide.

Beyond her entrepreneur endeavors, Dr. Vargas dedicates herself to academia as a respected faculty member in the Department of Biology at Texas State University. She was instrumental in establishing the annual Fist-Generation Latinas in STEMpreneurship colloquium. Additionally, she assumes a multifaceted role as a faculty facilitator for the Faculty Innovation Accelerator Program (FIAP) and Texas State’s Innovation Corps site. Through these initiatives, she mentors both faculty, student, and community startups, further enriching the entrepreneurial landscape within the university community and beyond. 

Melinda Villagran, Ph.D.

Dr. Melinda Villagran

Dr. Melinda Villagran is a professor and executive director of the Texas State Translational Health Research Initiative, a program supporting faculty seeking to improve health through applied research and sponsored programs. Dr. Villagran is also currently principal investigator on two community-based research programs. S.H.A.R.E. (Sexual Health Assessment and Risk Education), is a multi-year community-based partnership funded by SAMHSA to reduce sexual risk behaviors among at-risk young adults in our community. Networx is a translational research program funded by St. David’s Foundation to develop a health communication and social support network among underserved women in Hays County.

Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Villagran worked for U.S Representative Mike Synar in Washington D.C. In 2001, she joined the Texas State Communication Studies faculty where she worked from 2001-2004, before leaving to work at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, University of Texas San Antonio, and George Mason University. At Mason, she served as graduate director and inaugural faculty member for their top rated PhD program in health communication. She returned to the faculty at Texas State in 2012.

Dr. Villagran has authored two books and published over 65 peer-reviewed publications on communication and health. She has been quoted as a communication expert in numerous regional and national media outlets, including the Washington Post, Washington Examiner, AARP Magazine (bilingual edition), ABC News, and the Wisconsin Law Review. Her work has been funded by the Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control National Cancer Institute, Department of Homeland Security, Merck Pharmaceutical, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and several other funding agencies.


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