Lyle Hood is an Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering Department.
Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a native Texan originally from the Corpus Christi area. I went to the University of Houston for my bachelor’s degree, Virginia Tech/Wake Forest (joint program) for my MS and PhD, and Houston Methodist Research Institute as a postdoc.
What is your job title and what do you do?
I am an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, but I also work within the Biomedical, Electrical, and Computer Engineering Departments. I teach classes, conduct research on medical device development, and undertake service activities on behalf of UTSA and the greater community.
What brought you to UTSA?
I wanted to join an up and coming university. University of Houston was in a similar push to Tier I status when I attended in the 2000s, and also shares UTSA’s diverse student body and big city campus. I feel at home here and am happy to be part of a public university so focused on community service and impact.
Tell us about your research and what led you to your field.
I was raised with a focus on clinical care in a family of many medical professionals, but my talents and passion were more directed at technologies that enable that care. That is reflected in the research program and laboratory community I started here at UTSA (shout out to the Medical Design Innovations Lab!), which is dedicated to developing innovative medical devices, with particular emphasis on treating cancer, military medicine, and airway management in emergency trauma situations.
What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
I am fortunate to be working in a field whose importance is readily understood. Cancer is terrible and tragic. Our soldiers need medical care, both for our own wounded and to offer others they are protecting abroad. For airway management, one of the American Lung’s Association’s mottos say it best: “If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.” The MDI Lab and I are privileged to work closely with brilliant medical doctors at leading institutions like UT Health SA and the Institute for Surgical Research to develop innovative, practical technologies to arm them for the complex patient issues they face daily.
What projects are you working on now?
I am fortunate to be working on several fascinating (at least to us), high-impact potential projects. A few highlights include an improved limb and organ transport system for keeping transplantable tissues alive longer, innovative methods for pancreatic cancer treatment and cancer immunotherapy, and compact but powerful design improvements to medical devices used by first responders.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Watching my students succeed. I have only been here a few years, but I have had the privilege of watching my students win competitions, start companies, and transition to high impact jobs around the country. My first PhD student, Dr. Corinne Nawn, finished her dissertation this year and took a consulting job in Boston. Robert Brothers started a position at the Naval Medical Research Unit here in San Antonio, and Andrea Afanador is using her UTSA-learned mechanical engineering skills working for UPS in the Midwest. These students are powerhouses that would have succeeded without input from me, but being able to contribute to their careers and see them reach their goals is my favorite part.
What book are you currently reading (or read last)?
I’m a big fan of fiction. I’m currently finishing The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, which is book two in one of my favorite series. I recommend the books to my girlfriend, who started listening to the audiobook around me, which made me re-read all of them. We recently finished the Dresden Files, which are also amazing.
Describe what you were like at age 10.
I called in to consult on this one. I have it on parental authority that I was mostly an annoying ball of energy. Very competitive. Into baseball and basketball, wanted to be a fighter pilot, and read a lot. Pretty normal overall.
Is there anything else in your life that you’d like to share?
I haven’t checked in many years, but I used to hold the record for consecutive time juggling back at my high school. A “friend” clapped in my face after 20-30 minutes and made me drop one.