Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Innovation in Arts & Sciences
Rivera Sandoval Awarded Time on Hubble
Liliana Rivera Sandoval, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded two observing times on the Hubble Space Telescope, along with a grant to analyze existing observations. Rivera Sandoval is one of only 11 researchers worldwide to have been granted at least three proposals in the same observing cycle in the last decade. "Since Hubble's proposal-selection process is highly competitive, it is very rare for the same person to win three awards as a PI (principal investigator) in the same program cycle," said Sung-Won Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy. "It is a highly recognized achievement for Liliana to receive multiple observing times on the Hubble Space Telescope." Rivera Sandoval will use her observing times on the telescope for three different research projects. In collaboration with fellow researchers at Texas Tech, across the U.S., and in Canada, Europe and Australia, Rivera Sandoval will study accreting white dwarfs and other compact binaries in globular clusters. Follow this link to read the full account of Liliana Rivera Sandoval's upcoming research.
Burns Leads Biology as New Chair
Texas Tech University's College of Arts & Sciences is proud to welcome Jennifer Burns, Ph.D., as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. She assumed the position effective June 1. As chair, Burns leads more than 40 tenure-track faculty and research/teaching professionals, a strong cohort of adjunct and affiliate professors and scientists, a graduate program that counts more than 120 students, and an undergraduate program of some 1,600 undergraduate student majors. “My focus moving forward will be to increase faculty and student diversity; to grow our health, ecological, and environmental related research and capacity; and to foster academic programs that will develop the next generation of STEM scientists,” she said. Burns, who joined Texas Tech from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), brings with her more than two decades of research exploring the linkages between physiology, nutrition, and performance in mammalian systems. Follow this link to read the full announcement about Jennifer Burns.
Juneja Wins Chemistry Poster Award
Navkiran Juneja, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, won an award for outstanding poster presentation at the Crystal Engineering & Emerging Materials Workshop of Ontario & Quebec. The workshop was held virtually May 30-31, 2020. Juneja is a member of Kristin Hutchins' research lab and has been working on the synthesis of boronic acid functionalized polymers and thermal expansion of materials. Another research interest is co-crystals of the drug, Dapsone, which sometimes is used in treating leprosy. She was the lead author of the research project, "Effects of dynamic pedal motion and static disorder on thermal expansion within halogen-bonded co-crystals," which published in the New Journal of Chemistry. Juneja earned her B.S. and her M.S. in chemistry at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
Cukrowicz Moves to School of Veterinary Medicine
Kelly Cukrowicz, a clinical psychologist with 14 years on the faculty of the Department of Psychological Sciences, has accepted an offer to join the faculty of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) in Amarillo as a professor of psychological health. The transition comes as a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed an increasing rate of suicide among veterinarians; to address that trend the SVM aims to prepare future veterinarians with the skills, knowledge, and mental-health resiliency to not only survive but thrive in their profession. Cukrowicz has devoted her career to research on depression and suicide—particularly in rural communities. She has been recognized for her work in this field with the Edwin Shneidman early career research award for contributions to the field of suicidology from the American Association of Suicidology, the Barnie E. Rushing Jr. Faculty Distinguished Research Award, and the Excellence in Research Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. Follow this link for a Q&A with Kelly Cuckrowicz on her move to the SVM.
Ghandour Kindles Hope for Local Children
Gabriella Ghandour, a first-year political science student, has a passion for two things: music and helping others. She combined these two passions to found Kindle Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides funding and time to enrich the lives of underprivileged children in the Lubbock community. "We use the universal languages of music and art to fundraise and teach children how to express themselves through creative, non-violent outlets," Ghandour said. At the age of 11, Ghandour became aware of the hardships that children her age were facing—especially those in Syria, where Ghandour's family is from. "In 2012 … I was watching kids my own age, my own blood, my own ethnicity literally broken in the streets of Damascus, catching fire. In that moment, I realized how truly blessed I was and decided to create an afterschool group to raise money and send it to Syrian children. Unfortunately, it was, and still is, too dangerous to send this aid to Syria, so I focused on helping children locally instead." Kindle Hope hosts the "Kindle Pop Benefit Concert" to raise money for the cause. The first concert, in September 2018, consisted of Ghandour and a friend playing guitar. The organization raised more than $7,500 that year and now partners with the Guadalupe Parkway Center and students from the East Lubbock School of Music. Follow this link to learn how Gabriella Ghandour plans to take Kindle Hope's efforts worldwide.
Larson Awarded for Spanish Distinguished Research
Susan Larson, the Charles B. Qualia Professor of Romance Languages in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, has received one of the Texas Tech Parents Association's 2020 Barnie E. Rushing Jr. Faculty Distinguished Research Awards. For many years, and particularly since the 2008 economic crisis—a problem not only in the United States but also in Asia and Europe—Larson has studied Spain through the lens of literature, film, cultural and urban studies and environmental justice. Spain was hit particularly hard by the economic downturn, Larson says, but its cities have since adjusted to the circumstances and are looking for ways to deal with what's left behind: abandoned and peripheral spaces with half-finished, yet already crumbling architectural projects, including entire airports and housing. Into these spaces, plants, insects and animals are returning in unexpected ways, for example. "I've noticed a marked tendency in all kinds of art in Spain since 2008 that, taken as a whole, says something I believe is very important about how cities are reconsidering nature," she says. Follow this link to learn more about Susan Larson's research.
San Francisco Named Interim Dean
Michael San Francisco, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and currently dean of the Honors College, has been named interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Texas Tech University Provost Michael Galyean announced the appointment on June 4. "Michael brings a wealth of experience to this role," Galyean said. "We all understand that our academic community will face many challenges in the days ahead, but I am confident with Michael's capable leadership, combined with partnership and support from the college, that the College of Arts & Sciences will prosper." San Francisco takes up his new duties beginning Sept. 1, 2020, and replaces W. Brent Lindquist, a professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, who has served as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences since July 2014. Follow this link for the complete announcement.
Ramkumar on Types of Face Covers
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and supervisor of the Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TTU's Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), explains the efficiency of any barrier-type mask—one that covers the nose and mouth—depends on its filtration capability, its fit and its form or comfort; and they all fall into four general categories. Follow this link for the Seshadri Ramkumar's complete description of barrier-type face masks.
McIntyre President of Landscape Group
Nancy McIntyre, a professor and associate chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, became president of the International Association for Landscape Ecology-North America (IALE-North America) on May 13 during a virtual version of the organization's annual conference. "I've been a landscape ecologist and member of this organization for more than 25 years," said McIntyre, who also serves as curator of birds for the Natural Science Research Laboratory within the Museum of Texas Tech University. "I've attended every annual meeting, and the people of this organization are my professional family, so it is my honor to be elected president. Texas Tech now has representation on an international scale in this field, putting us on the map for prospective students." Follow this link for the complete story of Nancy McIntyre's IALE presidency.
Pagotti & Marafiotti Develop Attendance App
Matheus Pagotti (above right) and Pedro Marafiotti (above left), both Texas Tech University seniors, have developed an easy-to-use—and affordable—attendance-taking app. Their brainchild, CritiColl, is one of eight startup companies accepted this spring into the 2020 Texas Tech Accelerator program. Already, CritiColl is making a difference in the courses that have adopted it. Follow this link for the complete story of CritiColl.
Long Helps Develop Contact-Free Thermometer
Katharine Long, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, is helping an engineering alumnus Senay Tewolde, PhD, develop a thermometer that can be both noninvasive and highly accurate. Until now, the thermometers that most accurately measure a person's core temperature are often the most invasive—actually going inside the body—while those that accommodate some degree of social distancing are less accurate because they measure only the body's surface temperature. Although the idea of such a thermometer has been in the works for several years, it has special relevance now because of COVID-19. Follow this link for the full account of Long and Tewolde's research.
Loya Photo Wins Hearts at C&EN
Daniel Loya, a graduate student and member of Kristin Hutchins' research group in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, took the above photo, which was featured in Chemical & Engineering News, Chemistry in Pictures. Loya was synthesizing a new monometer in the lab when the oil residue formed into a heart shape. The photo was published in honor of St. Valentine's Day.
Higgins Named Integrated Scholar
Raegan Higgins, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, is one of four from the College of Arts & Sciences to be named an Integrated Scholar for the 2019-2020 academic year. Follow this link to see a directory of all Arts & Sciences' Integrated Scholars.
Lopez on Team That Published Research
Andrea J. Lopez, a biochemistry undergraduate in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is on a research team whose project, "In vitro detection of porphyrin-producing wound bacteria with real-time fluorescence imaging," was published online Feb. 26, 2020, in the journal Future Medicine. Lopez conducts research with Allie Smith in the Honors College; and she was mentored by Anthony Cozzolino, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, through Mentor Tech. The entire research team is credited thusly: (Laura M Jones, Danielle Dunham, Monique Y Rennie, Jeffrey Kirman, Andrea J Lopez, Klara C Keim, William Little, Andre Gomez, Jessica Bourke, Herman Ng, Ralph S DaCosta & Allie Clinton Smith).
Skidmore Named Integrated Scholar
Emily Skidmore, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of History, is one of four from the College of Arts & Sciences to be named an Integrated Scholar for the 2019-2020 academic year. Follow this link to see a directory of all Arts & Sciences' Integrated Scholars.
Ramkumar Wipe Might Clean Up Virus
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and supervisor of the Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TTU's Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), originally invented the decontamination wipe, FiberTect™, to clean up toxic agents in the environment. Now, the three-layer, nonwoven wipe that features an activated carbon core sandwiched between absorbent top and bottom layers might also clean up bodily fluids contaminated with the coronavirus. FiberTect™ is widely used as the primary dry decontamination method in hospitals and ambulances, said Corey Collings, a training specialist for First Line Technology, which markets FiberTect™. "Hospitals use it in bulk and in rolls, and ambulances use it in a kit called the FastGrab to do immediate decontamination of patients contaminated with a wide variety of substances." Follow this link for the complete article.
Ribeiro Elected to Aesthetics Editorial Board
Anna Christina Ribeiro, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, has been elected to the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Aesthetics. Ribeiro specializes in the philosophy of aesthetics—particularly in the areas of literature and poetry—and has two books on the subject currently under contract: "Beautiful Speech: The Nature, Origins, and Powers of Poetry" at Oxford University Press and "The Philosophy of Poetry and Literature" at Routledge. A trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics (2017-2020), Ribeiro has been a visiting researcher at the University of Barcelona and a visiting professor at the University of Vienna.
Masoumzadeh Wins Travel Stipend
Elahe (Lili) Masoumzadeh, a third-year graduate student and member of Michael Latham's research group in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received an ENC Student Travel Award to attend the 61st Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference in Baltimore March 8-13, 2020.
Hutchins Gets New Faculty Award
Kristin Hutchins, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is a recipient of the Alumni Association's New Faculty Award from the College of Arts & Sciences for 2020. She also was selected for the Research Spotlight on Texas Tech Women Faculty Initiative for 2020.
Konopa A Profile in Diversity
Robert Konopa of San Antonio is a first-year student majoring in physics with an astrophysics concentration in the College of Arts & Sciences. Now entering his second semester, he's sharing highlights of his involvement in several academic and social groups. "I'm currently involved in the Texas Tech Society of Physics Students (SPS), as well as the Texas Tech Gender and Sexuality Association (GSA)," Konopa said. "I also have volunteered alongside the Black Student Association (BSA) a couple of times, although I am not a black student." Konopa said his involvement in each group relates to a different aspect of his life. "I relate SPS to my major, and GSA creates a safe space for my identity as a transgender man," he said. "I can share nerdy jokes with my fellow physics majors, and offer and gain support from those in GSA. "BSA has given me multiple volunteering opportunities. I've volunteered with them at the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock, Rise Academy Charter School and a local church to help others in the community." Follow this link for the complete article about Robert Konopa.
Ramkumar Receives 3rd Distinction From TAPPI
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and director of the Advanced Materials Laboratory in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, has been recognized by the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Association (TAPPI) with its 2020-Nonwoven Divisions' Leadership and Service Award. With this award, Ramkumar becomes only the second academic to have received all three recognitions of the division: the Mark Hollingsworth Prize and Technical Achievement Award (deemed highest in the field; Division Chair (elected); and Division Leadership Award. The other academic is Behnam Pourdeyhimi, the Klopman Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Ramkumar says this new distinction shows that Texas Tech University is being recognized on par with an established research-intensive unit in the field of textiles.
Mechref Co-Chairs NCI Steering Committee
Yehia Mechref, Horn Professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been elected co-chair of the Steering Committee of the National Cancer Institute Alliance of Glycobiologist for Cancer Research.
Hutchins Gives Seminar at UTA
Kristin Hutchins, an an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave an invited seminar at the University of Texas at Arlington entitled, "Dynamic molecular motion, phase transitions, and thermal expansion properties of organic crystals," on Jan. 24, 2020.
Shu Gives Panel Presentation in Seattle
Yuan Shu, associate professor and director of Asian Studies Program in the Department of English, attended the 2020 MLA Awards Ceremony Jan 9-12 in Seattle. While at the conference, Shu showcased his work in the MLA Innovation Room and gave a presentation at the panel entitled, "World Orders and Geopolitics of the Transpacific."
Korzeniewski Joins 2 Advisory Boards
Carol Korzeniewski, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been invited to serve on the editorial advisory board for the journal ACS Applied Energy Materials. Korzeniewski also has become a member of the advisory committee for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Chemical Transformations Initiative.
Ramkumar Finds Success With Towelie™
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and director of the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory in Texas Tech University's Department of Environmental Toxicology, reports on the successful use of the Towelie™, a cotton-based oil absorbent wipe. On Nov. 2, the wipe was used to remedy a minor oil spill at a National Thermal Energy Corporation (NTEC) plant near Chennai, India. "Towelie™ wipe instantaneously absorbed heavy furnace oil and light crude oil," said Nambi Srinivasan, vice president of marketing for Chennai-based WellGro United. At California-based Davis Wire, Towelie™ is used to clean-up oil spills during the manufacture of products such as metal fences. Ramkumar is the scientist behind Towelie's™ development, and it is marketed by Lubbock-based E Innovate. Ronald Kendall Jr., president of E Innovate, says, "Towelie™ has been widely accepted by companies in the oil and gas, auto mechanic, manufacturing and marine industries who care about reducing their impact on the environment."
Salazar-Bravo Named Interim Director of ICASALS
Jorge Salazar-Bravo, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been appointed interim director of Texas Tech University's International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies (ICASALS). His term is effective Nov. 1; and his mission will be to lead in stimulating, coordinating, and implementing teaching, research, and public service activities concerning all aspects of the world's arid and semiarid regions, their people and their problems. Salazar-Bravo's research specializes in the evolution and systematics of Neotropical mammals and the interplay between systematics and disease ecology. He teaches courses such as Evolution and Ecology & Environmental Problems. ICASALS was created in 1966 to promote the university's special mission toward the interdisciplinary study of arid and semiarid environments and the human relationship to these environments from an international perspective.
Reyes Makes Most of First-Gen Opportunities
Ximena Chavez Reyes of San Antonio is an anthropology major who is sharing highlights of her experiences as a nontraditional, first-generation and international student. Chavez said being active in the first-year program in First Generation Transition & Mentoring Programs (FGTMP) led her to some of the best friends she has made in college and also allowed her to become engaged with local organizations. "Through this program, I was given opportunities to network, develop academically and professionally and give back to my community," Chavez said. "We had volunteer opportunities at South Plains Food Bank, Lubbock Impact and Ronald McDonald House, to name a few." Follow this link for the complete story about Ximena Chavez Reyes.
Ribeiro to Pursue Research in Germany
Anna Christina Ribeiro, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, has been invited to spend June 2020 in Frankfurt, Germany, as a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. Ribeiro specializes in the philosophy of aesthetics—particularly in the areas of literature and poetry—and has two books on the subject currently under contract: "Beautiful Speech: The Nature, Origins, and Powers of Poetry" at Oxford University Press and "The Philosophy of Poetry and Literature" at Routledge. A trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics (2017-2020), Ribeiro has been a visiting researcher at the University of Barcelona and a visiting professor at the University of Vienna.
Pal Has NASA Grant to Study Greenhouse Gases
Sandip Pal, an assistant professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences, has received a new grant from NASA for research entitled, "Multi-instrument observations of greenhouse gases across frontal boundary and comparison with WRF-Chem simulations." The project, connected with NASA ACT-America (Earth Venture Suborbital Mission, Atmospheric Carbon and Transport - America), is funded at $159,077 and runs from 2019 to 2021. In news from earlier this year, Pal was named associate editor for Atmospheric Sciences Letters, a publication of the Royal Meteorological Society.
Watson Develops Programs for Latinx Youth
Brandy Piña-Watson, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, launched the Latinx Mental Health and Resiliency Lab with only one student. Now, five years later, her lab has grown from a bare room upstairs in the psychology building to a full, running lab with more than 20 team members. Follow this link to learn how the lab is serving the Texas Tech community.
Hernandez's Success as First-Gen Nontraditional
Colton Hernandez, a biochemistry senior, sat down with us to share some of his experiences as a first-generation and nontraditional Red Raider. A Lubbock native, Hernandez is an undergraduate researcher in the Texas Tech McNair Scholars Program, a graduate school preparatory program for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups who demonstrate strong academic potential for graduate research and studies. Follow this link for details of Colton Hernandez's interview.
Morales Receives NIH Grant
Jorge Morales, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received a $440,768 research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The project, titled "Computational Studies of Ion-Induced Water Radiolysis and DNA Damage," The project starts Sept. 20 and will run for three years, concluding Aug. 31, 2022.
Harris Named to Teaching Academy
Breanna Harris, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was inducted into the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy on Sept. 18. Harris says, "Biology is fun, engaging, exciting, and relevant to our lives. As an educator, I want to help my students get excited about science, about using the scientific method and critical thinking, and about appreciating evolution and the shared ancestry of life on earth. I strongly believe that teaching, especially engaging, active teaching, is paramount for the success and reputation of a university, thus I want to do my part to make Texas Tech University an exceptional place."
Lockwood Named to Teaching Academy
Stephanie Lockwood, an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Biological Sciences at TTU at Waco, was inducted into the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy on Sept. 18. Lockwood says, "Opening students' eyes to the beauty of the natural world around them inspires me to teach. I want to make biology accessible and enjoyable to everyone, especially students who may think they do not like biology. With a solid foundation students can evaluate scientific ideas and formulate their own points of view and make knowledgeable, healthy, and environmentally sound decisions."
Lumpkin Featured for Academic Assessment
Angela Lumpkin, professor and chair in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management (KSM), is Texas Tech University's Fall 2019 Assessment Spotlight recipient. Because of her commitment to academic assessment, she was chosen unanimously for the honor by the Office of Planning & Assessment (OPA). "Dr. Lumpkin is a champion for improving student learning, and we applaud her for creating departmental assessment procedures that put KSM students first," Jennifer Shaulis-Hughes, president of the Texas Association for Higher Education Assessment (TxAHEA) and managing director of OPA, wrote in announcement. "It's an honor for me personally to work with Dr. Lumpkin, and Texas Tech is better because of Angela's commitment to assessment excellence." To read more about Lumpkin's approach to academic assessment, follow this link.
Larson Plans Luso-Hispanic Conference for October
Susan Larson, the Charles B. Qualia Professor of Romance Languages in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, is bringing an international group of teachers, scholars, activists and students to Lubbock for the "Language, Image, Power" conference. From Oct. 10-12, 2019, the conference will take up the history, evolution and future of Luso-Hispanic Cultural Studies as a discipline, a pedagogical tool and a set of working practices from October 10-12, 2019. Speakers and attendees will share ideas about how Luso-Hispanic Cultural Studies has grown out of and radically reconsidered some of the basic principles of British Cultural Studies since the 1960s to address the many cultures of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world. More information on "Language, Image, Power" is available by following this link.
Acosta Headed to Russia on Fulbright
Nicholas Acosta, a grad student and adjunct instructor of applied linguistics in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, has won a scholarship on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. He will head to Moscow for an academic year beginning fall 2019, as yet uncertain of the university where he will teach. Acosta, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from Texas Tech, switched disciplines to further his education by applying to the linguistics master's program. He says the transition to applied linguistics took some getting used to, and that he took up the Russian language on a dare. "One of my friends was taking Japanese, another was taking Italian and another was taking Spanish," Acosta says. "Then, they said, 'You should take Russian,' and I said, 'OK, I'll do it.'" His Fulbright application was for an English teaching assistantship in Moscow. Though competition was fierce, he won. "I will be teaching English as a second language while also doing a cultural unit with Russian speakers to help them understand American culture a little bit more," Acosta says. "I'll focus more on American movies and books, and maybe some music, art and poetry." A detailed story about Acosta may be found by following this link.
Ramkumar & Lou Remove Toxic Dyes From Wastewater
Seshadri Ramkumar (above right), a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and doctoral candidate Lihua Lou (above left) have found a way to remove toxic dye from textile wastewater. Their method decays the dye by filtering the water through special nanofiber webs and exposing it to visible light—a process called "photodegradation." Previously, the process of decaying the dye has used predominantly ultraviolet (UV) rays. Ramkumar is director of Texas Tech's Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, which specializes in technical textiles. He says there are several reasons using visible light is superior to using UV rays. "It is green, renewable and environmentally friendly," Ramkumar said. "Using visible light for photodegradation is not harmful, and it's cost-effective and easy to operate. It makes the color removal in the industry economical." For this study, Lou added nanoparticles into a polymer solution, which was then electrospun into nanofibers. When the composite nanoparticle/nanofiber webs were immersed in water containing a reddish dye called Rhodamine B (RhB), a chemical reaction occurred. The research team, including scientists from the departments of chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, found that 80% of RhB was degraded within six hours, and the remaining 20% degraded slowly, completely disappearing after 49 days. "The research focused on toxic dye removal because it is a persistent challenge for the textile industry," Ramkumar noted. An in-depth article on Ramkumar and Lou's dye removal research can be found by following this link.
Chatterjee Offers Novel Theory for Origin of Life
Sankar Chatterjee, a Horn Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech University, has created a simulation showing how the genetic code may have evolved—thus building upon his groundbreaking theory on the beginning of life on Earth he originally released six years ago. Based on theories of chemical evolution and evidence from the Earth's early geology, Chatterjee's earlier proposal—where a young Earth, bombarded by icy comets and carbon-rich asteroids, was pockmarked with craters that became the cradles for the first simple organisms—still left one gaping question unanswered: exactly how these primordial organisms developed information systems. As Chatterjee explained, the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, and the many scientists responsible for cracking the code were awarded Nobel Prizes. But since that time, there has been no comprehensive theory about why the genetic code evolved in the first place, before the origin of DNA and the first life. Until now. "The question of the origin of the code is the greatest challenge in modern molecular biology and origin-of-life research," Chatterjee said of his latest research, which he is pursuing in collaboration with Surya Yadav, a professor of information systems in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business. "We have provided a novel model: how the genetic code might have evolved gradually with the improvement of the translation machine during protein synthesis." To read the in-depth account of Chatterjee's evolutionary research, follow this link.
Nagihara Builds Moon Probe for NASA
Seiichi Nagihara, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, has been working for more than a decade to design an instrument that could sit on the surface of the moon and accurately measure the amount of heat coming out from its interior. Now, thanks to a nod from NASA, Nagihara will actually get to build his instrument and watch it in action, according to a July 2 report in Texas Tech Today. Through a program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), NASA is selecting instruments for future missions. Nagihara's lunar heat flow probe was announced July 1 as one of these instruments. "Each CLPS landing mission is expected to have only 8-10 Earth days of work time on the moon, so each of the payload instruments must complete its work very quickly," explained Nagihara. "For the last couple of years, my team has been developing a lunar heat flow probe that can be deployed quickly in order to meet the CLPS landers' requirements." A complete report of Seiichi Nagihara's lunar probe may be found by following this link.
Guengerich Receives Travel Grant for Bolivia
Sara V. Guengerich, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, received a research travel grant from TTU Office of Research & Innovation to conduct archival research at the Bolivian National Archive in Sucre, Bolivia, in July 2019. She also received the Publication Subvention Award from the Texas Tech Humanities Center. That award is earmarked toward publication expenses for her upcoming book, "The Cacicas of Colonial Latin America, 1492-1825."
Korzeniewski Receives NSF Grant
Carol Korzeniewski, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is Principal Investigator (PI) on a new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Shelley Minteer of the University of Utah is a co-PI. The grant project, entitled "Advancing Strategies for In-Situ Determination and Spatial Mapping of Components within Membrane Systems for Energy Conversion," represents a total award of $558,362 for three years, with $302,300 of that amount coming to Texas Tech. Yehia Mechref, Horn Professor and department chair, said the project supports the construction a confocal Raman microscope with oil-immersion optics to enable high spatial resolution imaging and measurements on single, micron-scale particles in Korzeniewski's lab.
Wu Wins Goldwater Scholarship
Oscar Wu, above right, a junior majoring in cell and molecular biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. Wu's research interest is in the field of cancer immunotherapy. "Whether it's the National Institutes of Health or companies like Merck, there is a huge public and private interest in cancer immunotherapy," Wu says. "In fact, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded for developing the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug, ipilimumab. This is because decades of basic science research in this field has finally allowed us to utilize that data for drug development and translate them to patients." Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec praised Wu's hard work and dedication to research, saying that the scholarship speaks to Wu's commitment and talents as an undergraduate researcher and exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit the university encourages in all its students. "I started conducting research when I was a sophomore," Wu says of his high school days. "I emailed 50 laboratories when I was 15 years old, and I was accepted into only one, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. After that, everything was history." A detailed story about Wu may be found by following this link.
Ardon-Dryer Speaks at Science by the Glass
Karin Ardon-Dryer, an assistant professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences, spoke at the May 14 meeting of "Science by the Glass." Ardon-Dryer's topic was "Haboobs: Because Everything's Bigger in Texas." The meeting was hosted by the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center and held at Local Bar and Grill.
Prada Awarded for Work in STEAM
Paola A. Prada, a research assistant professor and graduate program director at the Institute for Forensic Science in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, received the Outstanding Woman Leader (OWL) Award from the West Texas Association for Women in STEAM (WTAWIS). News of her win was published May 8. The group exists to recognize Texas Tech University faculty members for their support and encouragement of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). "As a double-minority scientist—female and Hispanic—it is truly rewarding that my student mentoring has helped young women gain the tools and inspiration necessary to pursue a career in the STEAM fields," Prada said. "Personally, it is a recognition that I am on the right path, that following my heart and passion for forensic science does work, that doing what I am passionate about works. Professionally, it means I can connect with more young, women students on a bigger scale, help more people and create positive change on a bigger scale. I put my heart and soul into my work at the Institute for Forensic Science, and to know that I have been rewarded by the young students I mentor truly means the world to me and is very humbling. I feel very proud to be able to set an example for my students and be an example that hard work and being passionate about what you do leads to success." Those who nominated Prada called her "an amazing woman leader who showcases integrity, perseverance and joy" both in and out of the classroom.
Pati Wins People's Choice Award
SivaTeja Pati, above center, a biology major in the Department Biological Sciences, is the founder of a new, non-profit company that designs and produces customized 3D-printable prosthetic hands for children. During Texas Tech University's inaugural "Discoveries to Impact Week," Pati won the $500 Spark Conference Poster Showcase People's Choice Award for developing the adaptive grip mechanism with gross- and fine-grip switchability for 3D-printed prosthetic hands. A detailed story about Pati may be found by following this link.
Al-Hmoud Named 'Raider Who Rocks'
Rula Al-Hmoud, coordinator and instructor for the Arabic program in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, is the 2019 recipient of the Raiders Who Rock "Above and Beyond Award." Also, two of her students who were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society have named her one of the most influential teachers at Texas Tech.
Brown Awarded for Work in STEAM
Amanda M.V. Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, received the Outstanding Woman Leader (OWL) Award from the West Texas Association for Women in STEAM (WTAWIS). News of her win was published May 8. The group exists to recognize Texas Tech University faculty members for their support and encouragement of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). "I feel so honored by this award," Brown said. "This supportive group is well-aligned with my goals to increase equity and help women succeed at the leading edges of science." One of Brown's nominators wrote, "She tailors her mentorship by adapting to the needs of the trainee through listening and gauging their interests and skill-development so they can be genuinely productive at their experiments—so the rewards of their work will be real and earned."
Wong Selected as Piper Professor
Aliza Wong, an associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of the Honors College, was selected as a 2019 Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. She is one of only 10 selected in the State of Texas. Her selection was reported May 1 in Texas Tech Today. The Piper Professor Program began in 1958 to recognize outstanding professors from public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities in Texas. "I am very honored and humbled to be chosen as a Piper Professor," Wong said. "It's been several years since someone from Texas Tech was selected, so I am very fortunate to have been the candidate put forward for consideration and even more privileged to have been chosen as a Piper Professor." Sean Cunningham, an associate professor and chairman of the Department of History, wrote one of the recommendation letters endorsing Wong for the award. "There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Aliza Wong," Cunningham said. "I've been on faculty at Texas Tech since 2007, and consistently—each year—Aliza Wong is the most active, amiable, engaged, caring and productive educator I know. Students love her, even when she challenges them. She's an asset to Texas Tech, and I'm glad the Piper Program sees it that way, too." The award comes with a $5,000 honorarium, a gold pin and a certificate. Wong said that being named a Piper Professor also brings with it the distinction of standing among faculty who are committed not only to to pedagogy but also to mentoring and research, adding that her students have impacted her as much as she has them. "I think it's the students who make the teacher," she said. "I have been very privileged and extremely fortunate to work with diverse, intelligent and incredibly generous students who have taught me how to teach."
Phillips Awarded Lyerla Travel Grant
Lisa Phillips, professor in the Department of English, received a $750 Gloria Lyerla Library Memorial Fund Research Travel Grant from Texas Tech University Libraries. The grant supports TTU scholars by helping them meet the costs of travel to reach rare or difficult-to-retrieve research materials in libraries, archives, museums and other repositories worldwide. Phillips' 2019 research project is "Embodied Sovereignty: The Story of Ishi's Life and Death as a Living Object on Display." Phillips was recognized as a recipient during the Spring 2019 Faculty Convocation, held April 17.
Flores-Yeffal Participates in 3 Presentations
Nadia Y. Flores Yeffal, assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, participated in three presentations at a meeting of the Population Association of America April 11-12. Flores-Yeffal was one of several in the session, "How (In)Visible Are the Health Risks of Climate Change?" And she was co-presenter of two posters: "The Effects of 287(g) and Sanctuary City Agreements on the Foreign-born Population in the United States" and of "A New Type of Urbanization? Climate Change Population Displacement and Urban Space Problem in Dhaka, Bangladesh."
Mechref Wins Mentoring Excellence Award
Yehia Mechref, professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is winner of the 2019 Nancy J. Bell Graduate Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Award. Winners of this award are nominated by doctoral students. The Graduate School at Texas Tech University created this award to recognize those mentors who embody the spirit of a great mentor and have gone above and beyond in helping graduate students on their educational journey.
Wang Receives Teachers Association Award
Yanlin Wang, an assistant professor of practice of Chinese and Applied Linguistics and coordinator of the Chinese Language Program in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, has received the 2019 SIG Award from the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA). While at the 2019 CLTA Annual Conference, held April 5-7 in Seattle, she also gave a presentation entitled "Design and Principle of Hybrid Chinese Beginning Course."
Al-Hmoud Named Study Abroad Runner-Up
Rula Al-Hmoud, an instructor in Arabic Language & Area Studies in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, was named runner-up for the The Donald R. Haragan Study Abroad Award, which recognizes the development and implementation of study abroad programs that support Texas Tech's commitment to providing high-quality international education opportunities. Her recognition came during the Global Vision Awards, held April 4, 2019, at the International Cultural Center. Al-Hmoud was noted for her passion for her culture and her dedication to helping shape the diverse study abroad opportunities for Texas Tech students. In addition to directing and teaching within the Arabic program, Al-Hmoud is the founder and director of Texas Tech's study abroad program in Amman, Jordan; founder of a study abroad program to Spain and Morocco to study Arabic; founder and adviser of the Arabic Language Student Organization; and co-founder of the Arabic Club of Texas Tech University. Winner of the Donald R. Haragan Study Abroad Award was Deborah Fowler, a professor and director of the Retail Management Program and associate chairperson in Hospitality and Retail Management in the College of Human Sciences, for bringing international diversity to study abroad programs.
Higgins, Williams Get $1.1 Million for Math Teachers
Raegan Higgins and Brock Williams, both professors in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, are co-principal investigators on a team that has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The money will fund their proposal that responds to the local shortage in qualified mathematics teachers. Over the five-year duration of the award, their proposal, "Leveraging Learning Assistantships, Mentoring, and Scholarships to Develop Self-Determined Mathematics Teachers for West Texas," aims to produce 27 new, certified mathematics teachers who will teach in high-need school districts in West Texas. The work will be done by a partnership that includes Texas Tech University, South Plains College, Midland College, and the Lubbock Independent School District. The project will recruit first- and second-year undergraduates and provide them with an early teaching experience through work as learning assistants in college-level math classes. By providing the learning assistants with financial support, near-peer mentoring, and direct classroom experience, the recruitment strategy is expected to encourage students to pursue a career in secondary mathematics teaching. This new NSF grant begins June 1, 2019, and is supplemental to an already existing Noyce Scholarship program that fosters high-quality STEM teacher recruitment. Other faculty on the team are principal investigator Jerry Dwyer, professor in the College of Education and director of CISER; and co-principal investigators Michael Galyean, TTU Provost, and Jill White, associate program director of STEM outreach for CISER.
Surliuga Speaks in Dallas
Victoria Surliuga, an associate professor of Italian Studies and Italian Program Coordinator in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, spoke about contemporary Italian artist Ezio Gribaudo on March 29 at the University of Dallas. Surliuga has written extensively about Gribaudo, having authored several publications in both Italian and English about his works. In 2016, Surliuga curated the exhibition "Ezio Gribaudo's Theaters of Memory" held at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock. And her book, "Ezio Gribaudo: The Man in the Middle of Modernism" (New York-London: Glitterati, 2016), won First Place in the Texas Tech University President's Faculty Book Award for 2017-2018.
Gittner Awarded by Lubbock YWCA
Lisa Gittner, an associate professor in both the Texas Tech Department of Political Science and the TTU Health Sciences Center Julia Jones Matthews Department of Public Health is recipient of the 2019 Women of Excellence Award for Science from the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Lubbock. The presentation took place during an awards dinner March 19 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Gittner is a member of The American Society of Public Administrators and The American Public Health Association and an associate member of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health within TTUHSC. She is an expert on peer social support to improve health outcomes. Her research focuses on the management of life-course disease risk through networks. She currently is working on a collaboration with the Lubbock County Detention Center, funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, to analyze trends in and reduce incarceration of individuals with serious mental illness. More about Lisa Gittner may be found by following this link.
Wong Receives Award for Excellence
Aliza Wong, associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of the Honors College, received the 2019 Professing Excellence Award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing and announced in March. Recipients are nominated by students for having demonstrated exceptional educational skills. Electrical engineering senior Ryan Clark nominated Wong, remembering in a YouTube video the time she invited a prince for lunch with the class. "It was the first time and only time I've ever met a prince, and we just all sat down and I think we either ate pizza or lasagna with him," Clark said pf the prince. "He just kind of talked about the EU and how Brexit was affecting everything, and that was amazing." Clark also studied abroad in Italy with Wong, saying, "I learned to speak Italian to Italians, and I'm someone who's not necessarily (comfortable) speaking English to people who speak English. She really helped me through that, and she helped me pursue leadership opportunities and pushed me to the best person I could be." Clark said he now has roots at Texas Tech: "And one of those is definitely Aliza Wong."
Pal Named Editor, Awarded R&D Grant
Sandip Pal, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geosciences, was awarded an International Research and Development Seed Grant 2019 from TTU's Office of International Affairs. His country of interest is Bulgaria and his project is "Impact of Advected Urban Boundary Layer on the Atmospheric Dynamics and Convection Initiations over the Adjacent Sub-urban and Rural areas." The International Research and Development Seed Grants were awarded March 15 and are intended to enhance international research and development activities at Texas Tech University and support faculty in developing new, long-term international relationships that are interdisciplinary and multi-institutional. Pal also recently was named associate editor for Atmospheric Sciences Letters, published by the Royal Meteorological Society.
Godard-Codding Studies Endangered Whales
Céline Godard-Codding, associate chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology and an associate professor of endangered species toxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), is leading a worldwide research effort to study the health of the western gray whale, a critically endangered species found only along Russia's Pacific coast, and has developed a new method that could impact her entire field along the way. Her part in the research began five years ago after ExxonMobil asked the Russian government for permission to drill in the waters where the western gray whales feed. As part of the subsequent government-mandated environmental assessment, which examines how such activity might impact the already endangered species, Godard-Codding was hired to lead a study of whether the whales also reproduce in those waters. "There are only about 300 or so left, so there's a lot of concern about that population of whales," Godard-Codding said. The trouble is, western gray whales are extremely shy and avoid human interaction, so it's difficult to obtain information about them. In contrast, their so-called "sister" population, the eastern gray whales, found all along the Pacific coast of the United States, are much more comfortable around humans. "It started as only whether the whale was pregnant or not; that's it," Godard-Codding said. "I've since expanded that part of the program because, with hormone analysis, you could potentially look at more than just if the whale is pregnant or not. The more information we have about these animals, the better we can have science-based conservation efforts." For a full account of Céline Godard-Codding's whale research, follow this link.
Cardenas Wins Teaching Award
Zachary Cardenas, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, received the 2019 Professing Excellence Award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing and announced in March. Recipients are nominated by students for having demonstrated exceptional educational skills. Mechanical engineering sophomore Grant Tekell, who nominated Cardenas, described in a YouTube video how Cardenas gets to know the students in his lab by asking about how their week is going or what sports they like, for example. "I forget exactly what he said to me, but I remember he made me feel genuinely cared for." Tekell said Cardenas answers student's questions in a way that makes the subject matter easy to understand. "To teach it well, you have to understand it well. And he teaches and makes things clear."
Piña-Watson Receives President's Excellence Award
Brandy Piña-Watson, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, received the President's Excellence in Diversity & Equity Award for Tenure-Track Faculty during a ceremony on April 30. Piña-Watson also is an affiliate of the Department of Human Development & Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The awards celebrate faculty, students and staff who exemplify Texas Tech University's commitment to advancing diversity and promoting equity and inclusiveness. The program was held in the Hall of Nations at the International Cultural Center, with Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec addressing the nominees and winners. "A commitment to diversity not only grows the pool of talent on a campus, but supports an environment that makes greater use of our human resources," Schovanec said. In addition to recognition at the ceremony, Piña-Watson will receive a $2,500 research award in September. The awards were created by the Office of the President and administered by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Levario Wins Lyerla Travel Grant
Miguel Levario, professor in the Department of History, received a $750 Gloria Lyerla Library Memorial Fund Research Travel Grant from Texas Tech University Libraries. The grant supports TTU scholars by helping them meet the costs of travel to reach rare or difficult-to-retrieve research materials in libraries, archives, museums and other repositories worldwide. Levario's 2019 research project is "Standing Our Ground: Mexican American Agrupaciones Protectoras and Racial Violence." Levario was recognized as a recipient during the Spring 2019 Faculty Convocation, held April 17.
Gamez Chosen for Spectrochemistry Award
Gerardo Gamez, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has won the Winter Conference Young Scientists Award in Plasma Spectrochemistry. The award is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific and will be presented at the January 2020 Winter Conference in Tucson. Recipients of this award are recognized for their noteworthy achievements in conceptualization and development of novel instrumentation as well as the elucidation of fundamental events or processes involved in plasma spectrochemistry. The award also acknowledges the authorship of significant research papers or books that have had an influential role in new advancements and outstanding applications that open new fields of use for plasma spectrochemistry. Along with the recognition, Gamez will receive a certificate, a trophy and a $5,000 prize.
Chang Receives Horn Professors Award
Yu-Wei Chang, from the Department of Environmental Toxicology, has won the Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award for 2019. Chang's national award-winning research focuses on the adverse effects of environmental contaminants in kidney diseases and cancer. Most recently, she has been conducting research on the adverse affects of small amounts of arsenic in tap water. Her creative and impressive work not only looks at cause, but it also examines therapy approaches to reduce or prevent the negative effects of certain environmental contaminants. Her ground-breaking research is directly relevant to clinical patient care. The Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award was established by the Paul Whitfield Horn Professors at Texas Tech University to recognize and reward outstanding research or creative activity performed by graduate students while here. She was was nominated by her research mentor Kamaleshwar Singh. A detailed story about Chang's research may be found by following this link.
Andrews Speaks on Sexism in STEM
Miranda Andrews, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave a talk entitled "Effects of photochromic moieties on pendant groups that participate in secondary bonding interactions" at the American Chemical Society's Spring 2019 National Meeting in Orlando on April 4. Andrews coauthored the research with Anthony Cozzolino, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.
Farooq Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Hira Farooq, a Ph.D. candidate in Condensed Matter Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Texas Tech University.
Wang Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Tyler Wang, a Ph.D. student in High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has received a Graduate Student Research Support Award of $1,000 from Texas Tech University Graduate School.
Borges Runner Up for Research Award
Pablo Hernandez Borges, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, was recognized as the first runner-up for the Student International Research Award, which recognizes international scholarship by a graduate student and is based on the annual Graduate School poster competition. His recognition came during the Global Vision Awards, held April 4, 2019, at the International Cultural Center. Borges was recognized for his research "Playing the Musical Chairs: A case study of corruption and cabinet rotation in Venezuela." His research examines the relationship of the high rotation of government ministers, a larger gross domestic product and the party in power running counter to the stability of the executive branch in government while at the same time increasing the level of governmental corruption. Winning the award was Grace Hyunjung Lee, a graduate student in Nutritional Sciences, for her research and cross-sectional study conducted in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Gard Lands Graduate Fellowship
Shipra Gard, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Helen DeVitt Jones Graduate Fellowship. The Fellowship award is $3,500 per year for three years to pursue a doctoral degree starting fall 2019.
Brar Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Amandeep Brar, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Tahmouresilerd Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Babak Tahmouresilerd, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of assistant professor Anthony Cozzolino's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Rajkumar Gets International Internship
Priyadarshini Rajkumar, an undergraduate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been accepted into the Caltech GROWTH international summer internship project, where she will spend the summer of 2019 conducting research with data from the Liverpool Telescope. The Liverpool Telescope, while physically located in the Canary Islands, is owned and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, John Moores University, in Liverpool, England. Texas Tech University is one of 14 institutions and multiple observatories around the world that have created a network of telescopes that can observe fast changing cosmic events. Called the GROWTH project for short, the acronym stands for Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
Elmassry Wants to Nip Sepsis in the Bud
Moamen Elmassry, a graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in microbiology in the Department of Biological Sciences, is focusing on the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can lead to sepsis if it gets into a patient's blood. Sepsis is one of the most troubling conditions in the medical community today. It's the leading cause of death in intensive care units, with an estimated 1 million new cases in hospitalized patients each year in the United States alone. The condition, in which the body's immune system goes into overdrive trying to kill a blood-borne bacterial infection, is easily treated with antibiotics—the trouble is that the detection time has, in the past, taken longer than it takes for sepsis to kill a patient. So why not just treat every patient with antibiotics to prevent sepsis before it happens? Because overuse of antibiotics leads to increased drug resistance, which makes antibiotics less effective in the future. It's a tricky situation that researchers the world over have been trying to address in a variety of ways, including a novel, faster-detection device developed in the Texas Tech University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. But many of these methods focus on detection and treatment. What if you could know, ahead of time, why certain patients are more likely to get sepsis? That is the basis of Elmassry's new research, which he is conducting in collaboration with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. More about Elmassry's sepsis research may be found at this link.
Harris Develops 'Science in Cinema' Guide
Breanna Harris, a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has developed a new discussion guide that uses a major motion picture as a classroom tool for talking in-depth about science in cinema. "Is it Reel? Using Cinema to Explore Science," takes on the challenging subjects of death, dying and decay. The guide is based on the movie "To Dust," which won the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award. Starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, this dark comedy explores a man's obsession with how a loved one's remains will decay. Harris's guide, subtitled "Case Study #1: To Dust—A Story of Love, Loss, and Decomposition," contains movie scenes along with scientific discussion questions that introduce topics—death and decomposition—that Harris says are seldom approached in American society and are often glossed over in biology courses. By combining a movie with questions ranging from basic science (e.g., What is apoptosis?) to philosophy (e.g., What is death?), the guide brings critical thinking to bear on the subject matter. Harris designed the guide for use in high school and introductory college-level courses. She says this case study would be appropriate for a variety of courses, including introductory biology, forensic science, research method, gerontology, anatomy and physiology, aging/lifespan, religion, media communication, and film study. To help instructors guide students, a list of resources is included; but instructors are free to add whatever other sources they deem relevant to their course, syllabus, and learning goals.
Flores-Yeffal Discusses Border Walls in D.C.
Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal, sociologist and assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, gave a presentation Feb. 17 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. In the scientific session entitled "Border Walls: Exclusionary and Ineffective," Flores-Yeffal presented her research paper on "Social Networks and Undocumented Immigration to the United States: The Evidence." Her presentation focused on how undocumented immigrants develop social networks, called Migration-Trust Networks, and are able to enter, find jobs, and settle in the United States regardless of the existence of high levels of border enforcement and/or a wall. This research paper is an extension of findings that Flores-Yeffal published in her book, "Migration-Trust Networks: Social Cohesion in Mexican U.S.-Bound Emigration" (Texas A&M University Press, 2015). Also presenting during the session were demographers Dudley Poston of Texas A&M University and Guillermina Jasso of New York University.
Spurgeon Receives Fulbright to Norway
Sara Spurgeon, professor in the Department of English, recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year to research and teach in Norway. She has studied and taught the literatures of various indigenous cultures, including those of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Columbia, and Australia, and how contemporary indigenous art, graphic novels, films and literature contribute to the emerging field of Indigenous Futurism. She will be teaching undergraduate and graduate American literature courses at the University of Bergen and researching the Sámi, an indigenous people in Norway, who have revived current cultural and environmental activism. Like the Sámi, literature of other indigenous cultures, including those of the Americas, have frequently critiqued Euro-western ideas regarding nature and the sacred, gender roles and violence, and exploitation vs. sustainability. Spurgeon hopes to study these conversations and concepts during her time in Norway. She remarks how the TTU English Department has helped her achieve this incredible opportunity: "The Texas Tech Department of English has supported me as a scholar from the beginning of my work here in West Texas, offering space for me to explore new scholarly fields, to pursue admittedly eclectic and unusual avenues of study, and to provide a venue for students interested in those fields to join in by supporting the establishment of the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) graduate concentration and undergraduate minor."
Van Gestel Skypes from Antarctica with Kids
Natasja van Gestel, a quantitative ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, is on her second research expedition to Antarctica. On Feb. 12, she made time for a Skype session with two fourth-grade classes at North Ridge Elementary School in Lubbock's Frenship Independent School District. On Day 71 in her daily blog from the icy continent, van Gestel, pictured above piloting an inflatable boat, wrote that the children were well-prepared by their teachers Joanne Grothusen and Whitney Sarinana: "I was very impressed with the insightful questions! It was obvious they had done some research regarding Antarctica!" More about van Gestel's correspondence may be found at this link.
Swingen Appointed Associate Vice President OR&I
Abigail Swingen, associate professor in the Department of History, has been appointed as an Associate Vice President in the Office of Research & Innovation (OR&I). She began serving as a Research Faculty Fellow in OR&I last year. Swingen will provide outreach to the humanities disciplines, as well as manage internal funding programs, targeted external awards, internal research awards, and the Faculty Research Club. Her book, "Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire" (Yale, 2015), won the second place President's Faculty Book Award at Texas Tech for 2017. She has received external support from the Huntington Library, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Joseph A. Heppert, Vice President for Research & Innovation, described Swingen as an accomplished scholar with a passion for supporting research, scholarship, and creative activity at Texas Tech.
Ribeiro Headed to Vienna as Guest Professor
Anna Christina Ribeiro, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, will be a guest professor of aesthetics at the University of Vienna in the summer of 2019. Ribeiro specializes in aesthetics and the philosophy of art and currently is a trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics (2017-2020). Most of her work has focused on a philosophical analysis of poetry; and she has written the entries on poetry for The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature (2016), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics (2nd ed., 2014), and The Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (2nd ed., 2009), as well as several journal articles and book chapters on the philosophy of poetry. Among her recognitions are the 2016 American Society for Aesthetics Ted Cohen Prize for "The Spoken and the Written: An Ontology of Poems" (in The Philosophy of Poetry, Oxford University Press 2015).
McLeod Publishes on Stellar Jet in 'Nature'
Anna F. McLeod, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Texas Tech Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Astronomy at the University of California-Berkeley, has discovered one of the longest stellar jets ever observed--nearly 33 light-years in length. Her discovery was published in the journal "Nature" on Jan. 24, 2019. McLeod's research, "A parsec-scale optical jet from a massive young star in the Large Magellanic Cloud," found the phenomenon in a region of newly forming stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and captured it with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The relatively small amount of dust in the LMC and MUSE's acute vision allowed intricate details of the region to be picked out in visible light, and the image of this neighborhood is a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors. Details of McLeod's research may be found at this link.
Pahom Co-Authors Chemical Engineering Paper
Olga Pahom, an ESL instructor in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, has co-authored an article with two chemical engineers. The article, "Kinetic Study for Comprehensive Understanding of Solid-State Polymorphic Transitions of Nicotinamide/Pimelic Acid Cocrystals," was published Jan. 9 in Crystal Growth & Design, a journal of the American Chemical Society. Her co-authors were both from the Edward E. Whitacre College of Engineering's Department of Chemical Engineering: Brandon Weeks, professor and associate dean of research; and listed a first author, Yong Joon Lee, a graduate research assistant and Ph.D. candidate.
Rodriguez Perseveres To Bachelor's Degree
Teresa Rodriguez is a newly minted Texas Tech University graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology. When she walked across the stage in December 2018, it marked the final step of an educational odyssey that began for a unique first-generation college student when she was in her mid-40s. Along the way, Rodriguez found another level of inner strength she wasn't sure existed when she extended her family more than she ever thought imaginable. In the middle of her unorthodox journey, family ties tugged at Rodriguez's heart when her cousin's five young children were thrust into limbo and teetered on the edge of becoming wards of the State of Texas. So Rodriguez, already a busy mother and grandmother, stepped in without a second thought and took in the five children—at the time ranging in age from 1-8—as a foster parent. "Sometimes I wonder how in the world I did it, but I did," Rodriguez said with a smile. "There were times when I wasn't sure I could make it, but the people at Texas Tech helped me and my family in ways I never expected." Read more about Teresa Rodriguez at this link.
Elizalde Wins People's Choice in 3 Minutes
Armando Elizalde Velazquez came to Texas Tech University nearly two years ago with a strong interest in microplastic research. Now, three semesters from a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology, Velazquez has matched his knowledge with a deep passion about the topic. Explaining that blend of knowledge and passion is an important next step, so when Velazquez had an opportunity to test a new means to do so, he didn't let it pass. A native of Toluca, Mexico, Velazquez participated in Texas Tech's Three-Minute Thesis Competition last month and was one of the program's shining stars. His presentation, "Microplastics: An invisible threat," earned third place as well as the People's Choice award. "We live in a world where everything we use involves, plastic and we are dumping it at a high rate. Now we can see some consequences, however its environmental impact remains unknown. Here is where my research comes in" Velazquez said. Read more about Armando Elizalde at this link.
Williams Finds a 'First Gen' Haven at TTU
Malik Williams realized when he was still young, yet more worldly than he probably should have been, that he would have to take a giant leap of faith in life to escape the circumstances around him. Growing up in poverty in north San Antonio—to the degree that he wasn't always sure where his next meal would come from or sometimes when—Williams knew he had to find a way out. The most promising path was through a college education, and that was where Williams directed his focus. Williams is halfway down that path, a junior at Texas Tech University majoring in political science with a double minor in legal studies and communications studies. His goal after he earns a bachelor's degree is law school at an Ivy League school. "I grew up in a ghetto with guns, drugs and gangs," Williams said. "Every night, you'd hear guns shooting and then the next day hear that somebody had been killed. Coming to Texas Tech, this is a world apart from what I grew up with. Read more about Malik Williams at this link.