HOUSTON – Kristina Mena, Ph.D., interim regional dean of The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health in El Paso, was recently awarded the Cutting Edge Award by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes women who have a proven track record of success and have broken boundaries.
“I was humbled and honored to receive this recognition,” says Mena, who is an associate professor in the school’s Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences and joined the school’s faculty in 2001. “The awards ceremony was incredible. There are many amazing people doing innovative work in El Paso and the region. El Paso is a great place to be.”
Mena works in the school's Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.
Mena was also reappointed to serve a second term on the United States Environmental Protection Agency Chartered Science Advisory Board and the Drinking Water Committee. She has led research in water quality, food safety and human health risk assessment.
Mena, who specializes in microbial risk assessment, shared her expertise during the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After The Associated Press conducted a study on the water quality in Rio and found high levels of pathogens, the news organization asked Mena to translate those findings and provide an assessment of what the data meant for public health. Based on the numbers from the study, Mena determined that there was a high chance for infection if the water was ingested.
Additionally, Mena has conducted risk assessments to evaluate the potable water system and food safety regimen at the International Space Station.
— Written by Angie Meus and Shannon LaDuke