Dr. Lydia M. Contreras is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and a member of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas-Austin. She teaches Thermodynamics, Introduction to Chemical Engineering Analysis, and Fundamental and Applications of Cellular Regulation. Dr. Contreras obtained a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, where she graduated Cum Laude. She completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, focusing on engineering bacterial cells for improved production of therapeutic proteins. As a postdoctoral associate at the Wadsworth Center (New York State Department of Health), she focused on understanding mechanisms of infection in pathogenic bacteria. She began her career at the University of Texas-Austin in 2011, where she leads a research team focused on RNA biochemistry to study gene regulation mechanisms associated with stress-responses for applications in health and biotechnology. She has received several academic, teaching and service awards including Department of Thrust Reduction Agency (DTRA) Young Investigator, Airforce Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator, NSF CAREER, Health and Environmental Institute (HEI) Walter E. Rosenblith New Investigator, Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program (NHARP) Early Career, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Young Investigator Award, and an Innovative Early-Career Frontiers of Engineering Educator. She lives in Austin with her husband Chris and their one-year-old twins Caysa and Riley.