Rice alumna Samantha Santacruz ’10 ’14 receives Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award

Accomplished professor recognized for her contributions to research and service.

Samantha Santacruz head shot

The George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Rice Engineering Alumni board recently announced Samantha Santacruz as a recipient of the Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award. This award recognizes the achievements of Rice engineering alumni under the age of 40.

Samantha R. Santacruz is an accomplished academic whose career spans multiple engineering disciplines. She is an assistant professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and has affiliations with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Institute for Neuroscience. Her research is focused on developing closed-loop neurotherapies and brain-machine interfaces to treat neural pathologies. 

Santacruz completed her bachelor’s degree with honors in applied mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Rice University in 2010 and 2014, respectively. During her time at Rice, she received a Texas Instruments Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, Schlumberger Graduate Fellowship, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Additionally, in 2014 Dr. Santacruz was awarded the Best Thesis Award for her doctoral research on engineering new methods of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. 

In addition to her professional accomplishments, she is committed to creating an inclusive community for populations historically excluded from STEM careers. While a graduate student at Rice, she co-founded and served as the inaugural president for Women ExCEL, a student organization for women graduate students in the field of electrical and computer engineering. She continues to support and raise visibility for women and other underrepresented communities in STEM through service, mentorship, and leadership in her work today.

The Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award was established in 1996 with William H. White ’86 as the first recipient. Santacruz and other 2023 alumni award recipients will be honored at the 2024 George R. Brown School of Engineering Alumni Awards Celebration.