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Alumni Speakers


NRConley headshot for webNick Conley: 8 a.m. and Noon Ceremonies


Dr. Nick Conley is CEO & co-founder of EpiBiome, a venture-backed startup based in South San Francisco whose mission is to curb the growing threat of multi-drug resistant “superbugs” by eliminating the use of shared-class antibiotics in agriculture.

Prior to receiving his B.S. in chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin, Conley conducted research as an undergraduate and as a Beckman Scholar in the College of Natural Sciences with the late Prof. J. J. Lagowksi and Prof. C. Grant Willson. This research resulted in four first-author publications and several awards, including the UT Co-Op George H. Mitchell Award, the Dorothy B. Banks Scholarship, the Chemistry & Biochemistry Authors’ Scholarship, the Linus Pauling Award, and the American Chemical Society Outstanding Senior Award. In 2004, Conley won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and entered the chemistry graduate program at Stanford University. He worked under the direction of Prof. Robert Waymouth and Prof. W. E. Moerner, who later won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He later did postdoctoral research with Prof. Matthew Scott in Stanford University’s School of Medicine. At Stanford, Conley developed techniques to label living cells and to image them at a resolution previously unattainable by conventional light microscopy. His later research focused on Hedgehog signal transduction, a biological signaling pathway necessary for the patterning of every tissue and organ in the human body and one which is frequently hijacked by cancer cells.

Before founding EpiBiome, Conley developed next-generation hard disk drive (HDD) technologies as a research staff member at HGST, a Western Digital Company. He has published 17 peer-reviewed journal articles, holds several patents, and has founded several skin care and oral health companies. During his free time, he enjoys competing in triathlons and spending time with his basset hound.



SoHE Krauter Headshot for webLana Cain Krauter: 3:30 p.m. Ceremony


Lana Cain Krauter is CEO and chair of the board for Charming Charlie, a Houston-based specialty retailer focused on fashion jewelry, handbags, apparel, gifts and beauty products sold online and in 264 stores nationwide. A native Texan, she is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she received a B.S. in interior design.

In decades of work in retail for public and private companies, she has served as president and chief merchandising officer at Sears, Bealls Florida and Goody’s, as well as executive vice president at J.C. Penney. Krauter also consulted, acted as chief merchant and was an independent board member for private equity firm Alvarez & Marsal, supporting the firm’s acquisition of retailer Gabriel Brothers. She has successfully led turnarounds and business transformations for department and specialty stores by specializing in customer insights, supply chain efficiencies, product development, sourcing, trends and speed to market.

Krauter presently serves as a member of the Council of National Trustees for the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and she is on the board of directors for Exenta, a software solutions company based in New York. She previously sat on boards for the American Cancer Society, United Way, and Florida State University. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including, the National Humanitarian Award from the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Woman of the Year Award from the Joel Finkelstein Cancer Research Foundation, the Femmy award from the Underfashion Club, DNR’s Power 100 and Retailer of the Year recognition from the YMA FSF Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Foundation.


Student Speakers

Rachel Obimah is a Dean’s Honored Graduate in Biochemistry, graduating with a B.S.A. in Biochemistry and a Business Foundations Certificate. She has conducted a series of notable research projects, including in the National Science Foundation Research Infrastructure Science and Engineering Program and at the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab in Washington D.C. Rachel served as a mentor and program assistant for the Women in Natural Sciences program, as a camp counselor with the Dell Medical School Health Science Summer Camp, as president of the African Students Organization and as a student representative on the College Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She has also conducted extensive volunteer work, while maintaining a perfect grade-point average. In the fall, she will attend the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She will address the 8 a.m. ceremony.

Nick Walker is a Dean’s Honored Graduate in Computer Science, graduating with an Honors B.S.A. in Computer Science, an Evidence and Inquiry Certificate and a Digital Arts and Media Bridging Disciplines Program Certificate. He is a student in the Polymathic Scholars Honors program who has conducted extensive research in robotics, including contributing to four manuscripts as a coauthor. He also participated in UT’s RoboCup@ Home team, which competes at international contests by programming robots to complete housekeeping tasks. He previously served as a mentor for the Autonomous IntelligentRobotics stream of the Freshman Research Initiative and as an officer in a Mobile App Development student organization. Nick is the recipient of numerous scholarships and fellowships and is a member of the Engineering Chamber Orchestra. After graduationNick will pursue a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Washington. Nick will address the 12 p.m. ceremony.

Katherine Griss Kykta is a Dean’s Honored Graduate in Textiles and Apparel, graduating with a B.S. degree in Textiles and Apparel with a focus in Merchandising and Consumer Sciences, a Business Certificate and a Digital Arts and Media Certificate. Katherine has won awards the past two years in the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Case Study Competitions. In her time at UT, she also has participated in UT in NYC, served as editor in chief for Spark magazine, and encouraged sustainability efforts through the Youth Fashion Summit Program. She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including the Cotton Incorporated Trend Forecasting Award and the Donna Smith Cherek Alpha Chi Omega Scholarship. After graduation Katherine plans to explore fashion and culture in Asia and will then continue on to work with retail and technology at IBM in August.