Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Research Award
Council Announces Prestigious Award Winners
Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance announced Dec. 6 the recipients
of the 13th annual Chancellor’s Council distinguished faculty awards. Recognizing
excellence in teaching, research and commercialization, these awards represent the
most prestigious honors granted to faculty members throughout the TTU System.
For the first time in its history, this year’s list of recipients also includes awards
honoring faculty members for commercialization efforts. The Chancellor’s Council awards
now include Distinguished Research, Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Commercialization
Eight faculty members from Texas Tech University, six faculty members from Texas Tech
University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), two faculty members from Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center at El Paso and two faculty members from Angelo State University
received the honors for a total of 18 recipients.
The 2013-2014 Distinguished Research Award Recipients Are:
- Thomas Abbruscato, Ph.D.
Thomas Abbruscato is a professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical
Sciences and serves as associate dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. Joining the School
of Pharmacy in 2000, his research investigates novel therapeutic targets to improve
brain recovery after a stroke and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and the American Heart Association. Currently a charter member of the NIH Drug
Discovery for the Nervous System Study Section, Abbruscato’s research expertise is
utilized in the areas of brain drug discovery and neurodegenerative diseases. Prior
to coming to TTUHSC, Abbruscato received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University
of Arizona and his postdoctoral research was funded by an individual National Research
Service Award from the NIH.
- Guillermo Altenberg, Ph.D.
Guillermo Altenberg is a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Cell
Physiology & Molecular Biophysics at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Joining the university in 2007, his research has solved the crystal structure of a
nucleotide-binding domain dimer, developed a novel spectroscopic technique and secured
more than $4.4 million in external grants from the National Institutes of Health,
the American Heart Association, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
and many others. An author of 57 published papers and 13 reviews and book chapters,
Altenberg received his Ph.D. and medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires
- Jaclyn E. Cañas-Carrell, Ph.D.
Jaclyn E. Cañas-Carrell is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental
Toxicology and serves as associate director of the Science, Technology, Engineering
& Mathematics (STEM) Center for Outreach, Research and Education at Texas Tech University.
Among numerous accolades, this year Cañas-Carrell has received the Texas Tech University
President’s Excellence in Diversity & Equity Award and the Carl Storm Underrepresented
Minority Fellowship, a tribute to her passion for helping underrepresented minorities
succeed in higher education and science. Cañas-Carrell received both her bachelor’s
degree in zoology and Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from Texas Tech University
and was a postdoctoral research associate at the United States Environmental Protection
Agency in Corvallis, Ore.
- Mayukh Dass, Ph.D.
Mayukh Dass is an associate professor of marketing in the Jerry S. Rawls College
of Business and serves as program director for the Rawls Business Leadership Program
at Texas Tech University. A faculty member at Texas Tech since 2008, Dass received
the Beta Gamma Sigma Professor of the Year award in 2013 and has published 19 journal
articles in highly ranked journals, as well as four book chapters and 37 conference
proceedings. He received his bachelor of engineering in electronics and power from
Nagpur University in India, and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, master’s
degree in statistics, and Ph.D. in business administration from the University of
- Sandra Huston, Ph.D.
Sandra Huston is an associate professor and director of the Personal Financial Literacy
Program in the Department of Personal & Financial Planning at Texas Tech University.
Huston led the internationally recognized Financial Literacy Assessment Project from
2007-2009, which developed an instrument to measure financial literacy that is now
included as part of a national consumer survey. She has produced 97 scholarly works,
including 31 refereed journals, received a total of nearly $280,000 in research funding
and has been recognized by 62 national and international academic conferences. In
her 2012 article, Measuring Financial Literacy, was selected as the best paper of the year in the highest ranked journal in her
field. Huston received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada,
her master’s degree from the University of Guelph in Canada and her Ph.D. from the
University of Missouri.
- Ina L. Urbatsch, Ph.D.
Ina L. Urbatsch is an associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Biochemistry
at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Securing nearly $3.8 million
in external funding including grants through the National Institutes of Health, the
Department of Defense and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, her research examines transmembrane
proteins associated with many human disorders such as cystic fibrosis and multidrug
resistance (MDR) of cancers. Based on her expertise in protein engineering and to
produce large amounts of recombinant protein in vitro, Urbatsch’s lab has led the way on structural characterization of MDR transporters. Her work has resulted in 41 peer reviewed papers in high impact journals, including
in collaboration with the Chang laboratory, a Science paper on the structure of P-Glycoprotein, the first ever structure of a mammalian
ATP-binding cassette transporter that has been cited more than 500 times in just
four years. Urbatsch joined the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2003 and
received her Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Kaiserslautern
- Siva A. Vanapalli, Ph.D.
Siva A. Vanapalli is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering
at Texas Tech University. With a research focus in the areas of microfluidics, cell
biomechanics and worm biology, he has published 35 refereed journal articles and
has been involved with 12 successful research proposals totaling $1.88 million, including
a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The impact
of his work is reflected in more than 470 citations, an h-index of 14 and multiple
invited talks. His laboratory was the first at Texas Tech to receive a Cancer Prevention
Research Institute of Texas grant for cancer research, as well as the first to receive an
NSF Innovation-Corps grant to explore commercialization of technology discovered
in his lab. Vanapalli received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of
Technology in India, his master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and his
Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
- Scott C. Williams, Ph.D.
Scott C. Williams is an assistant professor of physics in the College of Sciences
at Angelo State University. His research examines the various atomic processes involved
in X-ray emissions and the behavior of carbon nanotubes in microwave fields. Since
joining Angelo State in 2008, he has secured more than $330,000 in grants and published
13 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books.
Williams received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, his master’s
degree from the University of Texas at Dallas and his Ph.D. from Texas Christian
Each winner receives a commemorative medallion and a $5,000 award. The Chancellor’s
Council raises funds for student scholarships and recruitment, faculty awards and
support, and other programs of excellence.