Alumnus Josh Rodriguez receives NSF Bridge to Doctorate fellowship

University of Tulsa alumnus Josh Rodriguez (BS, BA ’16) has received research funding through the NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Program. The National Science Foundation initiative is supported by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation. Rodriguez currently is a graduate student at the University of Arizona studying optical science and engineering.

NSF BridgeThe two-year NSF fellowship is designed to help underrepresented minorities pursue doctorate degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and increase workforce diversity. Rodriguez is of Mexican descent and is the first in his late father’s family lineage to attend graduate school. He hopes to be the first in his father’s family to obtain a Ph.D. degree.

Rodriguez, a Tulsa native who chose to earn dual bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and music, preferred TU’s private school atmosphere and smaller size. As a music major, he studied the cello while studying science with intentions of making it his full-time career. His mother also is a TU alumna.

“To sum it up, science is my vocation, and music is my avocation,” he said. “All of my professors at TU were welcoming of the idea of my double major and supported me in my endeavors.”

As a member of the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC), Rodriguez gained experience in the research laboratory of TU mentor, Professor Peter LoPresti. TU’s electrical engineering program prepared him for graduate study and investigations in the STEM field.

“Professor LoPresti was especially helpful in fostering my interest in optics,” Rodriguez said. “He taught independent study optical science courses for me. I would not be where I am without him.”

Rodriguez plans to continue his graduate career by earning a doctorate. His current UA research project involves constructing an advanced optical system for adaptation to a LiDAR range finding system.