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Touching Lives. Transforming Health Care.

UTA professor receives top honor from engineering association

Rhonda Prisby, an associate professor of kinesiology at UTA’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, has received a “Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top STEM Influencers” award from the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Prisby was selected because of her contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM). She was cited for her efforts in promoting and exemplifying the importance of STEM education and initiatives.

The award is named after the main characters in “Hidden Figures,” a 2016 film about three black female mathematicians who helped the United States win the space race in the 1960s.

“It’s really an honor,” said Prisby, who rejoined the UTA faculty in 2016 following a stint at the University of Delaware. “I keep thinking back to the main characters in the movie “Hidden Figures” and their accomplishments. To be given an award dedicated to them is really humbling. Hopefully awards like these can pique the interests of upcoming students and let them know they can be successful.”

A prolific researcher, Prisby has attracted more than $2 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the National Science Foundation and private industry. Last year, she and a collaborator received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a device that could stimulate bone growth and be used as a weapon in the fight against osteoporosis.

Prisby, who is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Bioengineering and director of the college’s Bone Vascular and Microcirculation Laboratory, is the President of the Bone Vascular and Microcirculatory Society (www.bonebloodvessels.org). She founded the organization in fall 2017 in an effort to call more attention to this research area, identify researchers and scientists engaged in similar work, and promote collaboration.

As a researcher, she has mentored women and students from all racial backgrounds.

“To make strides as people of color, it is my belief that the perception concerning our scientific capabilities must be altered,” she said. “After all, we do not navigate the workspace with invisibility cloaks. As evident from the movie, we have and will continue to make contributions to STEM. It is a matter of recognition.”

Anne Bavier, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, called Prisby an amazing addition to the faculty.

She is an exceptional teacher and researcher who believes in paying it forward as exemplified through her mentoring,” Bavier said.

Prisby and the other honorees will be feted at the organization’s scholarship gala on Saturday, March 31, 2018, at 6:30 PM at the Four Seasons Las Colinas.