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Naomi AlyafeiNaomi Alyafei ’21

Biomedical Engineering

Alyafei is a biomedical engineering major with a concentration in biomechanics. Her journey to UTSA is a remarkable one. Born in Somalia, she and her family were forced to immigrate to Yemen at an early age and resettled in Indonesia during the Arab Spring. As they awaited refugee status to move to the U.S., Alyafei was not allowed to attend formal schooling for a period of three years, a time in which she came to greatly value education.

“As a student coming from a low-income, first-generation refugee, single-mother household, education is my hope to better my life and to contribute to the development of stronger well-educated future generations,” Alyafei said. She arrived in the Alamo City with her family at the age of 17. Although she initially hoped to attend medical school with aspirations of becoming a doctor, Alyafei’s love for mathematics inspired her to pursue a major that incorporated both biology and math. Biomechanical engineering, she said, was the best choice.

At UTSA she has established herself as a talented researcher and student leader within the National Institutes of Health–sponsored MARC U*STAR pre-Ph.D. research training program for minority students. Alyafei works under the tutelage of renowned UTSA faculty Rena Bizios and Teja Guda researching the musculoskeletal system, movements of the human body and diseases that affect mobility. MARC U*STAR provides support as she attends meetings and seminars, designs experiments and validates findings.

“I was astonished by the opportunities provided for undergraduates at UTSA, especially access to hands-on research,” she said. “Research provides undergraduate students like me the opportunity to tackle masses of complex problems and solve it with simplicity and clarity as well as the potential to transform ideas into reality.”

Read the full story on UTSA Today.