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TLU Alumni Association Announces 2023 Alumni Award Recipients

The Texas Lutheran University Alumni Association has announced its 2023 Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni award recipients.

This year’s honorees include 2001 graduate, Dr. Geoffrey Eldridge, and 2017 graduate, Dr. Vanessa Espinoza. Dr. Eldridge has been selected as the Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Dr. Espinoza has been selected as the Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient.

The Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges an alum whose career, personal achievements, or dedication to community service have been exceptional. The recipient embodies the core spirit of Texas Lutheran University, setting a benchmark as a role model for both current students and fellow alumni. Similarly, the Outstanding Young Alumni Award celebrates a graduate from the last decade, honoring their remarkable achievements and notable contributions to civic engagement.

This year’s honorees signify not just their individual achievements but their commitment to excellence, service, and education. Their stories serve as an inspiration, igniting the aspirations of future generations and embodying the values of dedication, innovation, and leadership. “It is an honor to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of Dr. Eldridge and Dr. Espinoza with this year’s Alumni Awards. Their achievements speak volumes, and they each have set a fantastic example for all of us in the Bulldog community”, said Gaby Alvarado, Director of Alumni Relations.

Join us in celebrating the achievements of Dr. Geoffrey Eldridge and Dr. Vanessa Espinoza, whose contributions continue to share and enrich our communities.

Dr. Geoffrey Eldridge ’01 – Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Geoffrey Eldridge '01

Geoff Eldridge currently serves as the Propulsion & Power Systems Flight Safety Critical Item Management Expert for the United States Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and as an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Dr. Eldridge earned his B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Political Science from Texas Lutheran University, and his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee.

After completing his doctoral studies, Dr. Eldridge chose to serve his country and joined NAVAIR as a career civil servant. He played a key role in the Navy’s alternative fuels program and led the team which mixed the fuel for the world’s first supersonic flight powered by an alternative fuel blend. Other significant milestones in that program include the Blue Angels conducting an entire airshow performance using an alternative fuel blend, and the sailing of the Great Green Fleet in which the conventionally powered surface vessels and the entire air wing of a Carrier Strike Group used alternative fuels.

Dr. Eldridge went on to lead the Navy Fuels & Lubricants Laboratory. Building on the love for chemical instrumentation he developed at Texas Lutheran, Dr. Eldridge authored several grants which brought state-of-the-art equipment to the laboratory. Under his leadership, the laboratory team developed several revolutionary test methods and evolved into one of the leading facilities in the field.

Dr. Eldridge has also volunteered with STARBASE Atlantis, a Navy STEM outreach program for 5th grade students, spoken to local high school chemistry classes, and mentored many interns.

Dr. Eldridge has two wonderful daughters, Samantha, 8, and Leanna, 20, who last summer interned with Microsoft’s X-Box Studios.

Dr. Vanessa Espinoza ’17 – Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Dr. Vanessa Espinoza '17

Vanessa Espinoza is a first-generation college student who pursued degrees in Chemistry and Physics while at TLU. During her time as a bulldog, she was a member of the Women’s soccer team, President of the Society of Physics Students, and SGA president. Thanks to the support of the TLU faculty she was also able to pursue summer research experiences beyond TLU at National Labs in Pittsburg and Washington DC.

Following the completion of her degrees, she pursued a PhD in Chemistry at Rice University. While at Rice, she was also named a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, a prestigious graduate student fellowship with a ~16% awarding rate. In addition to her graduate work, she also created new organizations and workshops that focused on educating undergraduate students about graduate school and the opportunities in higher education.

In July 2022, she obtained her PhD and accepted a postdoctoral position where she focused on enhancing her teaching pedagogy and developed programming that created more inclusive spaces for graduate students.

She is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Schreiner University where she teaches a variety of chemistry courses and is developing her lab to inspire the next generation of scientists.