Denise Rios

PhD Candidate, ACNP- BC
UT Health San Antonio
AWIS member since 2023


“Why stop now?”

AWIS member Denise Rios

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

It’s important to build a team so strong that no one know who the Boss/Leader is.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

Succeeding at my first career as a Lead Nurse Practitioner in a Level 1 county hospital, while raising a family at the same time and going back to school to earn a PhD.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

I strive to improve the lives of traumatic brain injury survivors by improving their long-term symptoms. I want raise awareness of this population both politically and clinically. Obstacles will include funding, acknowledgement that there is problem, and political buy-in.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

As a novice PhD candidate I was honored with the award of ” Rising Stars of Research” and invited to present my research at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honer Society of Nursing’s 47th Biennial Convention later this year.

What is your favorite word?


How do you define it?

If you do not attempt do something you have always wanted to do, nothing will ever happen. There always needs to be a first step. I would rather fail than have the thought of “what if.”

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

This word has helped me throughout my personal life, my education, and in raising my family.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

Hearing about all of the great work that women are doing around the country inspires me.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

Since I am a PhD candidate, I am reading about blood protein biomarkers and listening to Adele sing her heart out.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

My employer once said to me “Why stop now?” This made me think about why would I settle if there are so many things I would like to accomplish. There is always room for improvement, and there are so many things I can contribute to society and science.

Denise Rios is an PhD candidate and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She has been in the health care working with acute traumatic brain injuries (TBI ) over twelve years. Her long term research objective is to understand symptom development in TBI by examining key insights into neuronal changes relating to the heterogeneity in recovery. Specifically, her objective is to determine the mechanism of symptoms presentation and physiological function that are affected by mild traumatic brain injury.


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