UNT Biology Establishes Roxana Bejarano Hughes Memorial Scholarship | College of Science
July 20, 2021

UNT Biology Establishes Roxana Bejarano Hughes Memorial Scholarship

The Biological Sciences Department is starting an endowed memorial scholarship in memory of Roxana Bejarano Hughes, an instructional lab supervisor and friend to many at UNT and beyond, who passed on April 25, 2021. Roxana was a native of Bolivia, earned her bachelor's degree in pharmacy in Brazil, and then went on to Argentina to train as a medical microbiologist. After working in Bolivia for several years, she came to Texas and earned her MS degree (1997) in microbiology at the University of North Texas under the tutelage of the late G. Roland Vela. She also met her husband, Dr. Lee Hughes, while at UNT.

To honor the memory of Roxana, UNT's Department of Biological Sciences has established The Roxana Bejarano Hughes Memorial Biology Scholarship Endowment, which will help support graduate students who are studying microbiology at UNT. To help the department cherish and uphold Roxana's legacy at UNT, please consider making a gift towards this new endowment.

Roxana was associated with the UNT Biological Sciences department since 2002, and she developed and grew the Microbiology lab into what it is now. Other lab courses she updated and supervised during her employment included Applied Food Microbiology (for Hospitality students), Medical Bacteriology, Bacterial Diversity & Physiology, and the internet course, Microbes in Society, for which she also taught the lecture as Adjunct Faculty. Because of her vast knowledge and experience with parasites, she also taught the summer Parasitology lecture annually. Roxana attended and presented at the American Society of Microbiology conference each summer. She always returned with new ideas to implement and/or stories of how others were planning to implement her ideas. Roxana looked forward to summer when she could network with others in the field of microbiology.

Roxana co-authored Microorganisms: A Laboratory Manual with Dr. Lee Hughes, University Distinguished Teaching Professor and her husband. She loved working with students and her teaching assistants, who thrived under her supervision and respected the high quality of work she expected. The following thoughts from her colleagues reflect the wonderful and caring personality of Roxana.

'A flurry of activity around the glow of a Bunsen burner, the smell of tiny life growing on a plate or in a tube, the sound of several conversations going all at once, sometimes in more than one language, that is a brief glimpse into the microcosm of Roxana's lab. She had a way of making everyone around her feel heard and respected while simultaneously giving a correction or firing off a list of things to do. Her absence is palpable now, but I am comforted when I think of all the students she taught, and all the student workers, GAs and TAs who had the good fortune to experience the microcosm of her lab. She will live on in the wisdom and love she shared with us all.'

'She was a wonderful mentor, colleague, and friend. She was helpful, encouraging, and her door was always open to me to drop by for "a quick chat" or a longer discussion. I will miss her always in our department and during our TA Supervisor meetings-- where Roxana would bring chocolates, her enthusiasm for her work, and her vacation stories from all over the world. It is a deep and profound loss to lose a mind as rich and keen as hers. She was kind but sharp, funny, and fair. Her students, friends, family, and everybody in our department were touched by her spirit, by her unique way of supporting and helping others.'

'Roxana taught me not only how to work with microbes, but more importantly how to have fun while running thousands of samples. She was a bright light, every moment in every day at work. She brought cheese snacks, taught me about Bolivia, and how bacteria can be beautiful to look at. I admired the caring relationship she and Lee had. I loved watching her become a mother; she was a shining example of how to tackle a career and motherhood.'

'Roxana was the kind of friend, lab supervisor, and colleague who would always pick up right where we left off anytime we were together. Even though Roxana's passing was sudden, her impact cannot be contained in her short lifetime. Her memory will live on with us at UNT, her family, and all her friends around the word. If she was here with us today, I know she'd be smiling.'