ConTex September Updates

ConTex staff joins CONACYT leadership for Second Annual Advisory Board meeting

The second annual ConTex Advisory Board meeting took place on August 27, 2018 in Mexico City. The agenda included a presentation of results of the second year of activities and a session on strategic planning in order to solidify this important collaboration between CONACYT and the University of Texas System.


The working session included participation from CONACYT Director, Dr. Enrique Cabrero Mendoza; Dr. Arturo Borja Tamayo, Director of International Cooperation; Dr. Julia Tagüeña Parga, Deputy Director of Scientific Development, and María Dolores Sánchez Soler, Deputy Director of Postgraduate and Scholarships.

From UT System and ConTex, attendees included Dr. Randy Charbeneau, Vice Chancellor for Research of the UT System, Dr. Guadalupe Carmona, Executive Director of ConTex; and Paloma Perry, ConTex Director of Programs.

Additional members of the board from both sides of the border included Dr. Jorge A. Schiavon, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in Migratory Studies and Executive Director of the Mexico, the Americas and the World Center at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas  (CIDE); Dr. Jesús González Hernández, General Director of the Centro de Ingeniería y Desarrollo Industrial (CIDESI); Dr. Edmundo Calva Mercado from the Institute of Biotechnology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); Dr. Ricardo C. Ainslie, Director of the Mexico Center and Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Jorge Gardea-Torresdey, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering and Department Chair and Professor of Chemistry at The University of Texas at El Paso; and Dr. Manuel Quevedo-Lopez, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas.

ConTex was established in 2016 as part of an agreement between CONACYT and UT System to provide funding to doctoral, postdoctoral, and collaborative research partners to promote binational academic collaboration for transformative research and innovation that contributes to the development of Mexico and Texas.

ConTex congratulates first graduate

ConTex is proud to announce its first graduate. Alejandra Reyes Ruiz del Cueto earned her Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning at UT Austin this summer.

Alejandra Reyes Ruiz del Cueto

Alejandra Reyes Ruiz del Cueto

Alejandra is a native of Zacatecas, Mexico. Her dissertation is titled "Mexico's Housing Paradox: The Political Economy of Inaccessibility and Vacancy." Dr. Elizabeth Mueller, of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, was her advisor at UT Austin.

Alejandra also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley and a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning from UT Austin.

We are happy to have been part of her educational journey.

2018 Collaborative Research Award Recipients Announced

Please join us in congratulating the recipients of the 2018 ConTex Collaborative Research Grants

Juan Carlos Jáuregui Correa - Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro

Krystel Castillo - UT San Antonio

Shape-Morphing Blades Coupled with Tailored Aerodynamic Add-Ons for Enhanced Wind Energy Conversion


Marcos Capistrán - Centro de Investigación en Matemáticas

Tan Bui-Thanh - UT Austin

High Resolution Magnetic Resonance Elastography with Uncertainty Quantification


Filippo Aureli - Universidad Veracruzana

Anthony Di Fiore - UT Austin

An integrated approach to protect endangered species and ecosystems in the face of climate change and increasing anthropogenic impact in the Yucatan peninsula: Combining new tools and well-established techniques              


Sergio M. Alcocer - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Juan Murcia-Delso - UT Austin

Assessment of seismically retrofitted concrete buildings following the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City


Carlos E. Aparicio Moreno - Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

Patricia Wilson - UT Austin

Sustainable Cities: Testing the Efficacy of Human-Centric Design for Urban Connectivity


Ramsés Mena - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Stephen Walker - UT Austin

Bayesian Nonparametric Time Dependent Models


Jonatan Peña Ramírez - CICESE

Justin Ruths - UT Dallas

Attack Detection for Hybrid Cyber-Physical Systems


Illich A. Ibarra - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Simon M. Humphrey - UT Austin

Synthesis and Characterization of Functionalized Metal-Organic Frameworks for the Capture of Airborne Pollutants, and for Clean Energy Applications


Adrián de León Arias - Universidad de Guadalajara

Elsie Echeverri-Carroll - UT Austin

Building a Database of New and Young Technology Firms and Their Networks with Local Influencers and Institutions as a Learning Tool to Promote Regional Entrepreneurship in Guadalajara Metropolitan Area


Alberto Simpser - Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Kenneth Greene - UT Austin

How Do Vote-Buying Attempts Influence Voters, Elections, and the Quality of Democracy in Mexico?


Oscar Esparza del Villar - Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez

Jennifer Eno Louden - UT El Paso

The Self-Stigma of Mental Illness Among Latinos on the U.S.-Mexico Border


Jaime Urrutia Fucugauchi - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

James Austin Jr. - UT Austin

A Gateway Revealed: Understanding the History of Flow Through the Florida Straits

UNAM/UT Austin engineers receive ConTex collaborative research grant to analyze structures affected by Mexico City earthquakes

On the morning of September 19, 1985, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City resulting in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

UNAM professor and researcher, Sergio Alcocer, remembers that morning – he had dropped his sister off at school and was taking a final exam in planning as an undergrad student. He recalls the shaking, but did not realize at first the magnitude of what had happened. Halfway across the world, in Spain, Juan Murcia-Delso, UT Austin Assistant Professor, was only a child in grade school.

Dr. Sergio Alcocer, Universidad Autónoma de México

Dr. Sergio Alcocer, Universidad Autónoma de México

There was no way the two could know that 32 years later, on the anniversary of the 1985  earthquake, another would strike and their collaborative work to make Mexico City more prepared for such a disaster would begin.

Dr. Sergio Alcocer and Dr. Juan Murcia-Delso are the recipients of a ConTex Collaborative Research Grant that will help them evaluate how structures in Mexico City that were retrofitted after the earthquake in 1985 fared in 2017, and how those rehabilitation efforts can improve.

The 2017 earthquake represented the first severe test for structures that had been repaired and retrofitted after the 1985 earthquake.

Alcocer and Murcia-Delso, along with Dr. David Murià-Vila, also from UNAM, will take their combined expertise in concrete structures, earthquake engineering, computational simulation, structure rehabilitation, and structural health monitoring to help reduce vulnerabilities in buildings and enhance disaster resiliency in Mexico City.

Dr. Juan Murcia-Delso, UT Austin

Dr. Juan Murcia-Delso, UT Austin

“I think the reaction of society, to organize – especially with social media – was very impressive in Mexico City after the 2017 earthquake,” Murcia said. “As an engineer, you feel you have to contribute to support that kind of community response. As a researcher, there is a lot to be learned from things that didn’t work and, in this case, to learn of things that worked. That’s one of the motivations of this project – to look at buildings that were upgraded after the earthquake in ’85 to see if those upgrades worked. And, in many cases, they did work.”

Though Alcocer and Murcia knew each other prior to last year’s earthquake, this event brought them together to assess how Mexico City’s structures fared after the 7.1 earthquake.


“In 1985, studying hydraulics was close to my heart, but because of the tragedy of the earthquake I became more interested in structural engineering,” Alcocer said. “When the earthquake hit in 2017, I was part of a team that helped aid people, but also helped the government in identifying buildings that were safe. That led me to learning of the importance of the behavior of these structures.”

As part of their research, the team will take an inventory of pre-1985 retrofitted and un-retrofitted concrete buildings to build a database that will help monitor resilience plans, conduct a detailed assessment of retrofitted concrete building’s performances, and document current interventions in concrete buildings in both Mexico and the U.S.

Though certain characteristics of structures are unique to Mexico City, particularly the soil on which they are built, the results of the research should benefit communities beyond Mexico, including those with lower seismic hazards like Texas. By investigating the performance of existing rehabilitation methods, along with conditions of the environment and the earthquakes themselves, data will help characterize challenges and opportunities for future seismic and non-seismic events.

“We are very grateful for the ConTex grant because it is very timely and it enhances our commitment as civil engineers to provide a social service that will eventually lead to a much safer and more sustainable society,” Alcocer said.


Ingenieros de la UNAM/UT Austin reciben beca colaborativa de ConTex para evaluar las estructuras afectadas por los sismos en la Ciudad de México

La mañana del 19 de septiembre de 1985 un sismo de 8.0 grados de magnitud sacudió la Ciudad de México causando miles de muertes y billones de dólares en daños.

El profesor e investigador, Sergio Alcocer, se acuerda de esa mañana- había dejado a su hermana en la escuela y estaba tomando un examen final de planeación en la universidad.  Recuerda que percibió el temblor pero no se percató en ese momento de la magnitud de lo sucedido.  Al otro lado del mundo, en España, Juan Murcia-Delso, actualmente profesor en la Universidad de Texas en Austin, era apenas un estudiante de primaria.

No había forma de saber que 32 después, justo en el aniversario del sismo del ‘85, otro temblor sacudiría nuevamente a la Ciudad de México y que comenzaría así su colaboración para ayudar a preparar mejor a la Ciudad para enfrentar estos desastres naturales.

El Dr. Sergio Alcocer y el Dr. Juan Murcia-Delso fueron seleccionados para recibir una beca colaborativa de investigación de ConTex que les permitirá evaluar cómo se comportaron durante el sismo de 2017 las estructuras que fueron reforzadas después del temblor de 1985.

Alcocer y Murcia-Delso, junto con el Dr. David Murià-Vila, también de la UNAM, utilizarán sus conocimientos de estructuras de concreto, ingeniería de sismos, simulación por computadora, rehabilitación de estructuras, y monitoreo de condiciones estructurales para ayudar a reducir la vulnerabilidad de los edificios en la Ciudad de México y mejorar la capacidad de respuesta frente a los desastres naturales.

“Creo que la respuesta de la sociedad para organizarse- especialmente a través de las redes sociales- fue impresionante en la Ciudad de México después del sismo de 2017,” comenta Murcia. “Como ingeniero, sientes la obligación de apoyar esa respuesta de la sociedad.  Como investigador, hay mucho que aprender de las cosas que no funcionaron, y en este caso, de las cosas que si funcionaron. Ese es uno de los objetivos del proyecto- evaluar los edificios que fueron reparados y reforzados después del sismo del ´85 para ver si esos arreglos funcionaron.  En muchos casos, si lo hicieron.”

Aún cuando Alcocer y Murcia se conocían desde antes del sismo del año pasado, este evento los motivó a trabajar juntos para evaluar el comportamiento de las estructuras en la Ciudad de México frente al temblor de 7.1 grados.

“En 1985 mi pasión era estudiar hidráulica, pero debido a la tragedia del temblor me interesé en ingeniería de estructuras,” comentó Alcocer. “Cuando sucedió el sismo de 2017 me uní a un grupo de auxilio a los damnificados, pero también ayudé al gobierno a evaluar las condiciones de seguridad de los edificios impactados por el temblor.  Eso me motivó a aprender más acerca del comportamiento de las estructuras.”

Como parte de su investigación, el equipo hará un inventario de edificios de concreto reforzados y no reforzados pre-1985; construirá una base de datos que ayudará a valorar la eficacia de las medidas de reforzamiento de las estructuras, realizará una evaluación detallada del comportamiento de las estructuras de concreto reforzadas, y documentará trabajos actuales de reforzamiento en edificios de concreto en México y Estados Unidos.

Aun cuando algunas características de las estructuras son específicas de la Ciudad de México, particularmente el tipo de suelo en el que se construyen, los resultados de la investigación deben beneficiar a otras comunidades, incluidas zonas con riesgos sísmicos menores, como Texas. La evaluación del desempeño de los métodos existentes de reforzamiento estructural, junto con el análisis de las condiciones ambientales y del evento sísmico en sí mismo, debe contribuir a generar datos que ayuden a determinar oportunidades y desafíos para futuros eventos sísmicos y no sísmicos.

“Estamos muy agradecidos por el financiamiento de ConTex ya que es muy oportuno y nos permite fortalecer nuestro compromiso como ingenieros civiles para proveer un servicio a la comunidad que eventualmente generará una sociedad mas segura y sustentable,” comentó Alcocer.

ConTex congratulates 2018 postdoctoral award recipients

ConTex announced the 2018 postdoctoral award recipients earlier this week. Congratulations to all recipients! Click here for a downloadable list. 

Roberto Cárdenas Zúñiga


MD Anderson Cancer Center


Abdiel Keni Cota Ruiz

Environmental Sciences

UT El Paso


Clara Luisa Domínguez Delgado

Health & Technology

UT Austin


Yolanda Guadalupe García Huante


UT Austin


José Francisco Herbert Acero


UT San Antonio & UT Dallas


Heber Hernández Arriaga

Technology Development

UT Dallas


Karla Selene Morán Santibáñez


UT El Paso


Silvia Fernanda Psihas Olmedo


UT Arlington


Irwing Moisés Ramírez Sánchez


UT Austin


Carlos Alberto Rivera García


UT Austin


Susana Alejandra Torres Hurtado


UT Austin

ConTex team meets with CONACYT leadership / Equipo de ConTex se reúne con altos directivos del CONACYT

CONACYT recently hosted an introductory meeting for ConTex Executive Director Dr. Guadalupe Carmona and Program Director Paloma Perry in Mexico City.

Guadalupe Carmona, Ph.D., Executive Director

Guadalupe Carmona, Ph.D., Executive Director

Carmona and Perry were named to their positions on the ConTex leadership team and the meeting ensured a smooth transition for the partners in research.  One of the meeting’s highlights was the confirmed support from CONACYT on this collaboration with the UT System to continue funding ConTex.

Paloma Perry, Director of Programs

Paloma Perry, Director of Programs

“ConTex is one of the most important international initiatives of this administration that will provide a legacy for many years to come,” said Jesús Arturo Borja Tamayo, CONACYT International Cooperation Director.

In attendance were Borja and Carmona, Perry, Marcela Cruz Caballero, Samuel Manterola, Veronica Barrientos, Diana Ninoshka Castillo Morales, Pablo Rojo, Alejandro Uribe and René Zenteno, who recently stepped down from his role as ConTex Executive Director.

ConTex was established by the UT System and CONACYT in 2016 in a groundbreaking agreement that provides funding for doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships as well as for collaborative research grants in an effort to increase binational cooperation between Texas and Mexico.

In its first cohort, ConTex is funding 25 doctoral fellows, 10 postdoctoral fellows and nine collaborative research grants.

ConTex is currently accepting proposals for its 2018 cohort and Perry will soon be traveling to Mexico to recruit and meet with prospective applicants.

For more information on ConTex, email with any questions.


CONACYT recientemente organizó una reunión introductoria para la directora ejecutiva de ConTex, la Dra. Guadalupe Carmona, y la directora de programas, Paloma Perry, en la Ciudad de México.

Carmona y Perry fueron ratificadas en sus nuevos puestos de liderazgo de ConTex, asegurando una transición continua para con sus colaboradores de investigación. Dentro de los temas más importantes que se abordaron, CONACYT confirmó su compromiso con el Sistema de la Universidad de Texas para el financiamiento en conjunto de ConTex.

"ConTex es una de las iniciativas internacionales más importantes de esta administración y proporcionará un legado durante muchos años", dijo Jesús Arturo Borja Tamayo, director de cooperación internacional del CONACYT.

En asistencia estuvieron Borja y Carmona, junto con Perry, Marcela Cruz Caballero, Samuel Manterola, Verónica Barrientos, Diana Ninoshka Castillo Morales, Pablo Rojo, Alejandro Uribe y René Zenteno, quien con anterioridad fungió como director ejecutivo de ConTex.

ConTex fue establecido por el Sistema de la Universidad de Texas y CONACYT en 2016 en un acuerdo que proporciona fondos para becas de doctorado y posdoctorado, así como para becas de investigación colaborativa en un esfuerzo por aumentar la cooperación binacional entre Texas y México.

En su primer año, ConTex está financiando a 25 becarios doctorales, 10 becarios posdoctorales y nueve becas de investigación colaborativa.

ConTex está aceptando propuestas para la Generación 2018 y Perry pronto viajará a México para reclutar y reunirse con posibles candidatos.

Para obtener más información sobre ConTex, envíe un correo electrónico a

ConTex announces UT System and CONACYT recipients of first binational research awards, postdoctoral fellowships, and doctoral fellowships


AUSTIN – After receiving 250 submissions and applications in the first ever call for proposals, ConTex is pleased to announce the first recipients of funding through its research and education programs. ConTex, which is housed at the University of Texas at San Antonio, was created to foster collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico through training, research and scientific discovery. As a joint initiative between UT System institutions and Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), ConTex supports bilateral efforts to enhance academic and research cooperation between Texas and Mexico.

The awards include funding for 9 collaborative research grants, 11 postdoctoral fellowships and more than 20 doctoral fellowships for Mexican Ph.D. students in the UT System and total more than $2 million. Researchers and students from across multiple disciplines and institutions were chosen to be part of ConTex’s first cohort of award recipients. ConTex exists as a long-term commitment to expand cross-border partnerships and to create opportunities to share knowledge relevant to issues of common interest to the United States and Mexico.

“Since its creation last fall, the staff at ConTex has worked hard to attract some of the best researchers in Texas and Mexico to participate in our programs,” said Dr. René M. Zenteno, Executive Director of ConTex. “We are thrilled about the exciting research that will be completed through this funding. Through these projects, the relationship between UT System and CONACYT will continue to grow and both of our countries will benefit.  We only wish we had more resources to support all of the worthwhile proposals that were submitted.”

Researchers and Ph.D. students from the following institutions were selected:

UT Arlington                                                    CINVESTAV

UT Austin                                                         UNAM

UT Dallas                                                         INSP    

UT El Paso                                                       Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

UT Medical Branch                                         Universidad Veracruzana

UT Rio Grande Valley                                     UANL

UT San Antonio                                               Universidad de Guanajuato

UT MD Anderson                                            ITESO

COLMEX                                                          Universidad La Salle

Universidad de Sonora                                    ITESM

UACdJ                                                              El Colegio de Michoacán

Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora                     Universidad de Monterrey

UAM                                                                COLEF

Instituto Tecnológico de Saltillo                     CIESAS

For more information on individual research projects, contact the ConTex office at 210-458-7240 or via email at


ConTex hosts Roundtable between UT System and CONACYT

Representatives from 14 UT System institutions and 26 National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) research centers in Mexico will come together on May 4 and 5 in a groundbreaking meeting hosted by ConTex, the UT System center for collaboration with Mexico.

The meeting comes during the first year of an agreement between CONACYT and the UT System that provides funding for graduate education and research programs. ConTex, which is housed at the University of Texas at San Antonio, was created to foster collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico through training, research and scientific discovery. The meeting will be held at the UTSA campus on May 4 and 5.

Click here for the event's full agenda.