A&S Student News
Spring & Summer 2017
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Simonian Wins Literary Award for Short Story
Kate Osana Simonian, a doctoral student in the Department of English, is the grand prize winner of this year's Nelson Algren Literary Award competition for her short story, "Le Problem Being." Part of the Chicago Tribune's extensive literary program, the prize carries a cash award of $3,500. Out of 3,900 entries, Simonian was named the winner after four rounds of judging, in which authors' names are removed so stories may be evaluated purely on their own merits. "This is a very prestigious prize, and although I've won prizes in the past, none have been on a global scale," Simonian said in a June 21 article in Texas Tech Today. "This is like being told that I write at a professional level. I feel like I've been given permission to be a writer; like I've been told that yes, people want to read what I write, and that makes me want to tackle the 'task' of writing – it can often feel like just that – with more joy and excitement, because people may, and have, actually read my work." Simonian's winning entry, "Le Problem Being," tells the tale of Tracey, whose parents take her to France in an effort to combat her depression over being diagnosed with HIV, dumped by her fiancé and fired from her job. While there, Tracey's parents set her up with the son of another couple they meet, despite her condition. Simonian, an Armenian-Australian writer, is attending Texas Tech as a presidential fellow. In 2017, she received the Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and her work has been published by, or is forthcoming in, Ninth Letter, The Kenyon Review Online, Passages North and The Best Australian Stories.
Undergrad Geographers Map World Needs
Bruno Blanco, Emily Glaeser, Megan Rodriguez, and David Tomlinson, all undergraduate geographers at Texas Tech, are among 14 students from 10 U.S. universities selected to work directly with the U.S. Global Development Lab's GeoCenter, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). They will be assigned to priority projects under a virtual internship, running from June to August, as members of YouthMappers at Texas Tech University, the local chapter of YouthMappers. The internship emphasizes the creation and use of open data and open-source software, OpenStreetMap, for geographic information directly related to development objectives in unmapped places of the world where USAID works to end extreme poverty. Previous interns have contributed to improving food security in Bangladesh, health and malaria prevention in Mozambique and disaster preparation and assistance in Ecuador after the April 2016 earthquake, where the maps were immediately put to use by the humanitarian and relief agencies to assist victims of the natural disaster. To read more, follow this May 16 story from Texas Tech Today.
PhD Candidate Thanked for Analyzing Data
Jason Post, a Geography PhD candidate in the Department of Geosciences, was credited in an article about the re-entry of satellites back to Earth. The article appeared June 12 in The Space Review and detailed how and where satellites are cataloged, methods for predicting satellite re-entry, and how people who may be in the crash zone might best be alerted. The author thanked Post for his help in analyzing and visually representing data and mentioned his work as a volunteer firefighter and swiftwater rescue technician.
Clark Earns 4.0 Despite All Odds
Brianna Clark, a Political Science Senior, is the feature of a June 6 Texas Tech Today video. Clark, who says she didn't learn to read until second grade, has earned a 4.0 GPA for four consecutive semesters.
Williams Becomes 4th Fulbright Student
Gretchen Williams, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, has become a finalist for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and will receive funding for research abroad. According to a June 1 Texas Tech Today story, Williams will travel to Spain to research the history of the Calé people in the 16th Century. "It is an amazing surprise to be promoted to a finalist. More than just the financial support, for me professionally, it is also the recognition that my project has merit," Williams told Texas Tech Today. "Outside agencies see its importance and I'm excited to have this opportunity." Williams' appointment brings to four the number of Texas Tech students to be awarded by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in an academic year. Three other Texas Tech students also were chosen as finalists for the Fulbright Program. Erin Grogan, a doctoral fine arts candidate in the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, will travel to Ireland to study Irish identity on stage. Ivette Noriega, a doctoral candidate in the College of Human Sciences, will travel to Colombia to research the neurocognitive effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on children exposed to violence. Michelle Jones, a master's student specializing in special education and visual impairment through the College of Education, will travel to India to learn how vocational training impacts the social mobility of women who have disabilities.
De Silva Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Mihiri De Silva, a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, has received a Summer Dissertation Research Fellowship for the 2017 Summer I semester. De Silva also is a Graduate Part Time Instructor (GPTA) in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics. The fellowship was granted by the TTU Graduate School. The Graduate School offers various fellowships and scholarships to graduate students of any major. The Summer Dissertation/Thesis Research Awards are open to application from graduate students who are in the thesis/dissertation stage of their program, are in good standing, have filed an official thesis/dissertation topic and plan to graduate within the coming year.
Maharubin on Award-Winning Research Team
Shahrima Maharubin (graduate student, Carol Korzeniewski lab), Uday Turaga (PhD 2014, Ronald Kendall lab), Vinitkumar Singh (PhD 2014, Seshadri Ramkumar lab), Anna Gibson (PhD 2014), and their professors received an award for 2016 Best Research Paper Runner Up from the TAPPI Journal Editorial Board. Professors Korzeniewski, in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry; and Steven Presley, Ernest Smith, Kendall, and Ramkumar, all in the Department of Environmental Toxicology/ The Institute of Environmental & Human Health, also were on the research team. In the award-winning research project, "Preparation and Characterization of Bioactive and Breathable Polyvinyl Alcohol Nanowebs Using a Combinational Approach," electrospun polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) nanowebs treated with a mixture of honey and polyhexamethylene biguanides (PHMBs, commercially available as Reputex 20) were prepared and characterized to evaluate their applicability in wound dressing applications, according to the abstract. The abstract went on to include the possibility that nanowebs fabricated from bio-compatible polymers such as PVA, and functionalized in a combinational fashion, could be used in many different biomedical applications, including wound healing bandages and cell or tissue culture scaffolds. The research paper was first published in the October 2016 issue of the TAPPI Journal. The award was announced in May 2017.
Chen Reads in Dallas at Kettle Art
Chen Chen, a PhD student in the Department of English's Creative Writing program, was one of four writers who gave a reading May 17 as part of the Pegasus Reading Series at Kettle Art in Dallas. Chen is the author of "When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities" (available on Kindle). He is the recipient of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and is a Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow. One of the other writers to speak that evening was Tech Alumna Chloe Honum (PhD Creative Writing, TTU), author of "The Tulip-Flame" (Cleveland State University, 2013), and now an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Baylor University.
Physics Students Work on Muon Detector
Hunter Cymes, Aashish Gupta and Jason Peirce, all undergraduates in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, are developing a muon detector that will help archaeologists map small voids in potential dig sites. Professor and Department Chair Nural Akchurin and Associate Professor Shuichi Kunori are leading the project. The three students were quoted in an article about the project, "Archaeology Meets Particle Physics," that published April 25 in Symmetry Magazine. The story explains that muons are produced when single-atom meteorites, a.k.a. cosmic rays, collide with the Earth's atmosphere and that muon detectors work the way X-rays do, but use muon particles instead. Instead of passing through the human body to confirm, say, a broken bone, the TTU muon detector will search out spaces about half the size of what older muon detectors can find. The goal is to build the prototype detector within the next few months, with a final design by fall 2017.
Miller Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship
Amanda Miller, a junior Biochemistry major from Plano, was one of 240 in the United States to receive a 2017 Goldwater Scholarship, an award designed to encourage research careers in science, engineering and math. Miller is minoring in psychology and biology, works as an undergraduate teaching assistant and advocates for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Also a member of the Honors College, she serves as a First-Year Experience lead mentor and president of Eta Omicron Nu, the Honors College service organization. "I have always been passionate about science," Miller said in an April 12 Texas Tech Today story. "I was a curious child who enjoyed learning about pathogenic microbes and astronomical discoveries. I fondly remember spending hours watching television programs with my father about black holes and magnetars. As I grew older, I began to believe that a career in medicine would best allow me to use my scientific understanding to help people. But as a result of my research experience as an undergraduate, I now greatly desire to become a research scientist and faculty member at a university. I would like to pursue a research career in nanomedicine/nanotherapeutics." She works in an inorganic chemistry synthesis laboratory and wants to concentrate her research in the area of nanomaterials with significant medical applications.
Meeks Receives Academic Citizenship Award
Laura Meeks, a Social Work senior in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, received the Student Academic Citizenship Award from the Texas Tech Parents Association April 8 during the association's Annual Faculty & Students Award Breakfast. Laura Lowe, associate professor of Social Work and director of the Bachelor of Arts Social Work program, nominated Meeks for the award, describing her as a mature and dedicated student who demonstrated an interest in caring for the elderly even before enrolling at Texas Tech. And throughout numerous hours in service-learning at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's Free Clinic, Meeks treated low-income clients with respect and unconditional regard. UPDATE: Meeks graduated during spring 2017 commencement among the College of Arts & Sciences' highest-ranking honor students.
Grad Students Awarded for Research—STEM
The following Arts & Sciences graduate students received the Graduate Student Research
Award—STEM from the Graduate School during the Spring 2017 Graduate Student Award
Ceremony, held March 30 in the Helen DeVitt Jones Sculpture Court at the Museum of
Texas Tech University.
• Ethan Backus, Department of Geosciences
• Moamen Elmassry, Department of Biological Sciences
• William Fetzner, Department of Biological Sciences
• Lucas Heintzman, Department of Biological Sciences
• Allison Hughes, Department of Physics & Astronomy
• Changjie Liu, Department of Geosciences
• Sumit Mukherjee, Department of Biological Sciences
• Anisha Navlekar, Department of Biological Sciences
• Elizabeth Niedbala, Department of Psychological Sciences
• Thomas Parkman, Department of Psychological Sciences
• Elizabeth Rogers, Department of Biological Sciences
Grad Students Awarded for Research—Arts & Humanities
The following Arts & Sciences graduate students received the Graduate Student Research
Award—Arts & Humanities from the Graduate School during the Spring 2017 Graduate Student
Award Ceremony, held March 30 in the Helen DeVitt Jones Sculpture Court at the Museum
of Texas Tech University.
• Chad Abushanab, Department of English
• Ethan Dahl, Department of Psychological Sciences
• Mary De Nora, Department of English
• Allison Morton, Department of Psychological Sciences
• Sarah Sprouse, Department of English
10 Receive Helen DeVitt Jones Teaching Award
The following Arts & Sciences graduate students received the Helen DeVitt Jones Excellence
in Graduate Teaching Award from the Graduate School during the Spring 2017 Graduate
Student Award Ceremony, held March 30 in the Helen DeVitt Jones Sculpture Court at
the Museum of Texas Tech University.
• Dora Aranda, Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures
• Giacomo Capodaglio, Department of Mathematics & Statistics
• Janie Covarrubias, Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures
• Mandrila Das, Department of Psychological Sciences
• Josh de la Rosa Prada, Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures
• Taryn Gilbert, Department of English
• Jessica Smith, Department of English
• Hongwei Wang, Department of Mathematics & Statistics
• Elizabeth Waring, Department of Biological Sciences
• David Young, Department of English
3 Receive Horn Professors Graduate Award
The following Arts & Sciences graduate students received the Horn Professors Graduate
Achievement Award, 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 at TTU. They received their awards during
the Spring 2017 Graduate Student Award Ceremony, held March 30 in the Helen DeVitt
Jones Sculpture Court at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
• Sergio Balaguera-Reina, Department of Biological Sciences
• Vanna Chmielewski, Department of Geosciences
• Jessica Smith, Department of English
Cetin Gets Job Offer from Northwestern
M. Mustafa Cetin, PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has accepted an offer for a postdoctoral research associate position at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. When Cetin graduates from TTU this summer, he will begin work in the Northwestern laboratories of Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, professor and 2016 Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry. Cetin received the job offer after presenting an overview of his TTU research activities (with the Mayer group and collaborators) on the Northwestern campus March 4.
Wang, Capodaglio Awarded for Teaching
Hongwei Wang and Giacomo Capodaglio, both graduate students in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, have been awarded the Helen DeVitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching for 2017.
Calandrini Wins Best Poster Award in Atlanta
Sara Calandrini, a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, won the Best Poster Award at the 2017 SIAM Computational Science and Engineering Conference Feb. 27-March 3 in Atlanta, Ga. SIAM stands for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
4 Students Win at Mammalogy Conference
Jack Francis, Jennifer Korstian, Laramie Lindsey and Oscar Sandante, all graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences, brought home top awards for research and knowledge from the annual Texas Society of Mammalogists (TSM) meeting held Feb. 10-12 at the Texas Tech Center at Junction. Francis, who hails from Dublin, Texas, won the on-site Mammal Challenge for demonstrating his knowledge of mammals. The top honor was taken by Korstian, a native of Benbrook, received the Robert L. Packard Award for her paper, "Mercury Contamination in Bats from the Central United States," which focuses on research of mercury concentrations among 10 species of bats collected at wind farms in the central U.S. Lindsey, of San Angelo, took the TSM Award for best oral presentation in mammalian molecular biology, evolution and systematics by a graduate student for her paper, "The Lineage Diversification of Peromyscus: Evidence From a Transcriptomic Dataset." In it, Lindsey discusses research of more than 70 species of deer mice and the way those species came into existence. Sandate, from El Paso, received a Clyde Jones Award for best poster presentation in mammalian molecular biology, evolution and systematics. His poster, "Gut Microbe Analysis During Pregnancy in Tadarida Brasiliensis," details research of the beneficial functions of digestive tract bacteria in the Mexican free-tailed bat during pregnancy and lactation.
2 Win Travel to Pittsburgh Meeting
Farzana Nasrin and Pushpi Paranamana, both graduate students in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, won travel awards to attend the 2017 SIAM Annual Meeting to be held in Pittsburgh July 10-14. SIAM stands for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, a professional society committed to providing an inclusive climate that encourages the open expression and exchange of ideas. This conference is a joint meeting of the SIAM Conference on Industrial and Applied Geometry and the SIAM Conference on Control and Its Applications.
3 Publish Articles in New York Times
Three History graduate students have written for the New York Times series, "Vietnam '67." The scholars are featured in a March 10 Texas Tech Today story about their work. History doctoral candidate Hai T. Nguyen, who grew up in Vietnam, wrote "As the Earth Shook, They Stood Firm," published on Jan. 17. It was followed on Feb. 28 by "How Playboy Explains Vietnam," written by History doctoral candidate Amber Batura, a first-generation college student from Ozona, Texas. Another first-generation college student and history doctoral candidate, Carie Nguyen, is writing about American soldiers' attitudes toward their allies, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam; her article will publish in summer 2017. Ron Milam, associate professor in the Department of History and interim director of Texas Tech's new Institute for Peace and Conflict, had the honor of leading the charge, so to speak, with his article, "1967: The Era of Big Battles in Vietnam," when it published Jan. 10.
Carroll Aims to Improve Foster System
Angel Carroll, a Social Work Junior in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, was featured in two videos about her experiences as a foster child and how she wants to change the system. A Jan. 4 story on KVUE (Austin) covered Carroll's time as a child in the Texas Foster Care system, and how she is working to build an alumni program for foster children who "age out," or become too old to remain in foster care, but still need a support system. "A lot of things that we're not able to do that some kids are able to do when they go out to college on their own is call their parents—How do I make this, or can I use bleach, do I use hot or cold water?" Carroll said during the interview with the Austin television station. Carroll, who hails from Austin, is working with The SAFE Alliance, a merger of Austin Children's Shelter and SafePlace, to see that these young adults can use the shelter facilities when they need a shower before a job interview, for instance, or a gift card to buy groceries. "It may seem small, but it helps a tremendous amount," said Carroll. According to the news report, the program is open to all former foster care children, not just those who spent time at Austin Children's Shelter. A Feb. 2 Texas Tech Today video focused on Carroll's career as a student at Texas Tech.
Geology Grad Students Study in San Salvador
Graduate-student geologists followed Dustin Sweet, Assistant Professor of Geology in the Department of Geosciences, on a field trip to San Salvador, where they studied carbonate sediments, better known as limestone. That's student John Brotherton in the photo, holding up a queen conch in Fernandez Bay. The most recent trip was the subject of a Jan. 6 story in Texas Tech Today: "San Salvador Helps Geologists Connect the Past with the Present." Sweet is quoted in the story as saying that he hopes students learn by getting to "take modern carbonate sediment and run it through their fingers, look at the different constituents—there's a snail, there's a clam and there's all this fine-grain sediment—and picture that mass of sediment in their hand being turned into a rock." Sweet explained that carbonate sediments are most commonly created directly from sea shells or are created as a result of erosion caused by fish chomping on corals. Other types of sediments are inorganic and created through physical or chemical erosion that find their way out into the ocean. Living creatures adapt to changing conditions in ways that inorganic sediments cannot, Sweet told Texas Tech Today, so carbonate sediments—and the rocks they form into—can tell geologists about the environment at the time they were created.
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