Dr. Lydia M. Contreras is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas-Austin and a member of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology. Dr. Contreras obtained a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 2003, where she graduated Cum Laude. She completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 2008, 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 driven by noncoding RNAs. She began her career at the University of Texas-Austin in 2011 and has received several awards including: an NSF CAREER, ACS BIOT Young Investigator Award, Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Award, Department of Thrust Reduction Agency (DTRA) Young Investigator, Airforce Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator, 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, Tx and is a proud mom to toddler twins.