Four UMN faculty members receive Emmy awards for production role in University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley’s ‘Energía Y TÚ’

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (2/17/2023) – Professors Frank Bates, David Blank, Marc Hillmyer, and Aaron Massari have each received a Lone Star Emmy Award for their respective production roles in University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley’s ‘Energía Y TÚ.’ The show, a Spanish adaptation of the University of Minnesota’s own Energy and U, won the award in the Informational/Instructional – Short Form or Long Form Content category.

The University of Minnesota Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC) is connected to the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) through a Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Karen Lozano, UTRGV professor of Mechanical Engineering is the principal investigator, with UMN Chemistry professor Timothy Lodge serving as Co-PI from UMN. With the connection established by the PREM in 2009, the grant has allowed MRSEC and UTRGV to collaborate on a variety of research projects and outreach activities, including summer undergraduate research. 60 UTRGV students have visited UMN to engage in summer research since 2010. 

In 2018, Lozano and her team visited UMN to experience Energy and U in person and kickstart discussions about the possibility of bringing the production to Texas. UTRGV received an Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant from the NSF to fund the effort the following year, with Associate Professor Aaron Massari serving as the Co-PI from UMN. By 2021, UTRGV put on their first virtual performances. Lozano, Massari, and their collaborators recreated the experiments and lessons from the UMN production for audiences in South Texas, further pivoting to create a virtual experience when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented live productions. Lozano and her team also created a Spanish version of the program, ‘Energía Y TÚ,’ which would go on to win the Lone Star Emmy award in 2022. UTRGV’s work to make the program accessible through digitization and translation has proven to be truly transformative.

“Prof. Lozano and her team at UTRGV took Energy and U to a new level with this digital production, bringing the show to thousands of kids as they learned from home and COVID-restricted classrooms.  With the support of the NSF, we were able to bring the Spanish version of the show back to our own stage in Minneapolis for over 500 Spanish Immersion students last May. That’s some wonderful synergy!” Prof. Massari said.

‘Energía Y TÚ’ won a Lone Star Emmy award in the Informational/Instructional – Short Form or Long Form Content category in November of 2022. The Lone Star Emmys are the Texas Chapter of the Emmys, overseen by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Lozano – who was producer, executive producer, and actor in the show – and collaborator Jorge Vidal attended the award ceremony in Dallas. Four statuettes made their way back to UMN on behalf of Associate Professor Aaron Massari, credited as an Executive Producer; and for Regents Professor Frank Bates, Professor David Blank, and Professor Marc Hillmyer, credited as script writers. 

Professors Frank Bates, David Blank,  Marc Hillmyer, and Aaron Massari with their Emmy awards