Texas Tech Names Interim Vice President for Research
Michael San Francisco became the interim vice president for research at Texas Tech University in September. San Francisco, who has been serving as associate vice president for research, has more than 20 years of experience at Texas Tech, 15 of which have been spent in an administrative capacity. Also a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and a past associate dean in the Honors College, San Francisco worked on faculty development, the Transdisciplinary Research Academy, strategic initiatives and proposal development and limited submissions as the associate vice president for research. He succeeds Taylor Eighmy, who accepted a position in August as vice chancellor for research and engagement at the University of Tennessee.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank Dr. Eighmy for setting the stage for our future,” San Francisco said. “And as for me as interim vice president for research, I will make sure we maintain the momentum we currently have with research and work with Interim President Lawrence Schovanec, the rest of the upper administration, deans and faculty members in a cooperative way to fulfill our research agenda.”
Faculty Member Receives Grant to Study Campus-Based Recovery Projects
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently awarded Kitty Harris, director of the Texas Tech Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery (CSAR), a two-year developmental grant to study the college-based recovery programs that help recovering students avoid relapse.
The study will involve at least 29 programs and approximately 700 students, Harris said. And it will continue the CSAR’s efforts of sustaining a database with which to explore students participating in collegiate recovery communities nationwide, and to analyze the students’ outlook on such programs.
Harris is principal investigator for this study alongside Alexandre Laudet, of National Development and Research Institutes. They are joined by co-investigator Ken Winders of the University of Minnesota, and Paul Moberg of the University of Wisconsin as consultant.
The results will be used to design a rigorous evaluation study to be submitted to the National Institutes of Health for potential funding toward a best-practices model.
Society of Environmental Journalists Conference Showcases Texas Tech, West Texas
About 560 journalists, expert speakers and others from around the globe descended on Texas Tech to attend the 22nd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Conference in October. Each year SEJ chooses a major research university as the site of its conference.
Reporters represented organizations such as National Geographic, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, ABC News, National Academy of Sciences, Science News, Pro Publica, The Dallas Morning News, National Library of Medicine and other institutions across the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe.
Texas Tech faculty and students had the opportunity to share their research with the many journalists on hand. More than 70 experts from Texas Tech served on panels, discussions and field trips. The number was more than any other institute that has hosted the conference in the past.
Bringing the conference to Lubbock was the idea of Ron Kendall, professor of environmental toxicology and special assistant to the president, Office of the President.
Upward Bound Receives Federal Funding for New Program
Texas Tech was awarded $1.25 million by the U.S. Department of Education for the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) Discover program. The award brings the total amount of funding for the Upward Bound program to $4.75 million for 2012, including renewal grants for the Upward Bound Select program ($2.25 million) and Upward Bound Math and Science Quality University Explorations in Science & Technology (QUEST) program ($1.25 million).
The UBMS Discover program provides opportunities for high school students from families with limited financial resources to explore career options in the areas of mathematics, science and/or technology. The program includes research seminars throughout the academic year and a summer component that allows students to take classes on the Texas Tech campus. Students work on research projects, attend financial aid workshops, utilize academic tutoring and take college tours throughout the course of the program.
Petroleum Engineering and Research Building Groundbreaking
Texas Tech officials broke ground on a new facility to house the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering, welcoming a new era in petroleum engineering production and operations education.
The $20 million project will house 40,000 square feet of formal teaching environments with hands-on applications and modern research facilities, including a fracturing techniques center, fluids laboratory, reservoir simulation center and drilling laboratory, rheology laboratory, pressure volume temperature laboratory, and an unconventional technology center.
Construction is expected to be completed in time to offer courses and instruction in fall 2013. Upon completion, the building will be one of two stand-alone petroleum engineering departments in the country.
Engineering Students Win Big With Tiny Rheometer
For a third straight year, Texas Tech engineering students emerged victorious in the design contest for novel microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), held at Sandia National Laboratories.
The winning entry is a microscale rheometer that is 1.2 millimeters by 2 millimeters, and able to measure the behavior of thin quantities of liquid, like the synovial fluid in knee joints. This method requires a much smaller sample compared to the standard tool.
The Texas Tech MEMS group was led by Tim Dallas, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Gordon Christopher, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Contributors include electrical and computer engineering students Gautham Ramachandran and Ashwin Vijayasai, and mechanical engineering student Zhenhuan Zhang.
Teams from Texas Tech have been winners in the competition in six of the last eight years.
Researcher Wins New Innovator Award to Study Oral Vaccine Delivery
Harvinder Gill, assistant professor of chemical engineering, received a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of pollen grains as an oral vaccine delivery platform.
“Pollen grains have a tough outer shell that can withstand the harsh acid and enzyme-rich environment in the stomach associated with the digestion process,” Gill said. “We can remove the plant material inside the pollens and load vaccine into the empty shell for delivery through the stomach to the intestine and into the body, much like a Trojan horse.”
Currently, a vaccine is typically given by a health care professional through intramuscular injection, which can be expensive, painful and has an element of risk. A vaccine given orally can be painless, child-friendly, self-administrable and increases mucosal immunity in areas like the intestines and lungs, so that a bacteria or virus can be neutralized before it can infect the body, Gill said.
The pollen grain-based oral vaccination approach has safely stimulated a successful immune response in mice. The NIH grant will allow Gill to continue development of this system and bring it closer to human use by fully understanding how the pollens help to stimulate a strong immune response and by assessing their potential to induce mucosal immune responses. Gill is one of 51 recipients of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.
Texas Tech, University of New York in Prague Join Forces
Texas Tech University and the University of New York in Prague (UNYP) are now formal educational partners. Texas Tech Provost Bob Smith and President of UNPY Elias Foutsis recently signed a reciprocal agreement that will encourage and more easily facilitate the exchange of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty research alliances between the two institutions.
The relationship between the two universities began in 2004 under the leadership of John Masselli, Haskell Taylor Professor of Taxation, as part of the Rawls College of Business summer program in Prague. Since then, more than 200 Rawls College of Business students and 15 UNYP students have participated in this study abroad program.
During the last year, a team from Texas Tech has worked together with the administration of UNYP to transition the relationship from a mere affiliation to that of a reciprocal exchange program.
Mathematics Professor Receives Jefferson Fellowship
A Texas Tech University mathematics professor has left for Washington, D.C., for a year-long appointment as a Jefferson Fellow.
Clyde Martin, a Horn professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was one of 13 people accepted into the program this year. He will work for the U.S. Department of State until August 2013.
Martin’s research interests include control theory, the applications of algebraic and differential geometry to problems in numerical analysis, and the development and analysis of mathematical models in agriculture, the environment and medicine.
Martin is the first mathematician/statistician accepted into the program since it was established in 2003.
Texas Tech Expanding its Wind Energy Opportunities
Texas Tech University has partnered with Western Texas College (WTC) on a two-year curriculum licensing program focusing on wind energy. The program will allow students to begin their academic career at WTC and transfer seamlessly into the Texas Tech wind energy program.
The wind power industry has stimulated job growth across the West Texas economy, beginning with the first turbines in 2001, through 2006 when Texas surpassed California as the state with the most wind energy capacity, to 2012 when workers continue to pour into the region to manufacture, transport, maintain and repair wind turbines.
Faculty Honored by American Society of Animal Science
Three Texas Tech University faculty in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources received awards for their contributions to science and production from the American Society of Animal Science at the organization’s annual meeting in Phoenix.
Mark Miller, professor of animal science, received the Meat Science Research Award; Michael Galyean, dean of the college, received the Morrison Award; and Bob Albin, retired professor in animal science, was named an American Society of Animal Science Fellow.
Professors Named Fellows for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education
Hans Hansen, assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business, and Jill Patterson, professor in the Department of English were named 2012 fellows for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education for their continuous research and dedication in advocating for justice in the death penalty system. Each will be awarded $20,000 to fund trips, create a human rights course and implement research.
Both professors will travel on an Embrey Human Rights Program-sponsored trip in December to World War II Holocaust sites. The fellows also will meet with Holocaust survivors. As part of the teaching component of the fellowship, Hansen will teach a class on “The Corporation in Human Rights,” which will examine the increasing role that corporations play in society, and will focus on human rights issues related to their increasing impact on society. Patterson plans to create a class where writers learn to effectively use their storytelling skills to assist nonprofit organizations.
The fellowships are funded by the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodists University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Hansen and Patterson are members of the Transdisciplinary Research Academy at Texas Tech.
Three Students Receive Fulbright Scholarships
Three students at Texas Tech University received scholarships from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Kendra Phelps, a doctoral candidate in biology, will study “Cave Bats in Crisis: Impact of Human Disturbances on Cave-Dependent Bats” In the Philippines. This will be her second year in a row to earn a Fulbright award.
Jennifer Zavaleta, a master’s student in the Department of Natural Resources Management, will go to Chile to perform a “Program Evaluation of Chile’s Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Network.”
Lindsay Huffhines of Lubbock, a marriage and family therapy master’s student in the Department of Community, Family, and Addiction Services, will go to Iceland to perform “An Exploration of Factors that Predict Parental Support of Sexually Abused Children.”
The students are three of about 1,700 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Professor Receives the 2012 International Association for Wind Engineering Junior Award
John Schroeder, director of the Texas Tech Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WiSE), has received the 2012 International Association for Wind Engineering (IAWE) Junior Award.
IAWE promotes international cooperation among scientists, engineers and other professionals for advancement of knowledge in wind engineering. The award recognizes outstanding achievement of researchers under age 40, within the previous five-year period.
Schroeder, who also is an associate professor of atmospheric science, was named director of WiSE in 2010. Previously, he directed the university’s hurricane research program and the West Texas Mesonet Network, a multicounty project that provides real-time weather and agricultural information.
Assistant Professor Elected President of Petroleum Engineering Society
Texas Tech Assistant Professor Marshall Watson recently was elected president of the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE).
The organization is a professional association formed in 1962 with the goal of bringing together specialists in the evaluation of petroleum properties. With nine local chapters and 550 members throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, the SPEE provides educational services to both its members and the oil and gas industry, fosters the spirit of scientific research among its members, and promotes the profession of petroleum evaluation engineering.
Watson will serve as president for one year, and then move to the position of past-president for a year.
Human Sciences Professor Receives Fulbright Award
Texas Tech Department of Nutrition, Hospitality and Retailing Professor Ben Goh recently was awarded a 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar Program grant to serve as a lecturer at Bangkok University in Thailand.
Goh’s project focuses on tourism and hospitality management education in Thailand. While overseas, he will teach financial and operational management in the service industry for graduate students, and innovation and change management in the service industry.
Texas Tech Vietnam Center to Join Forces with Michigan State
Texas Tech’s Vietnam Center and Archive will collaborate with Michigan State University’s Vietnam Group Archive on a grant to create an online repository.
The project received $265,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize 100,000 pages of materials related to the U.S. government’s early efforts to build a stable, non-communist regime in South Vietnam. This will provide students and scholars across the world easy digital access to materials significant to the study of Vietnam.
Texas Tech’s role in the project is to share insights and the practices they used to develop the Virtual Vietnam Archive, which houses move than 3.2 million pages of scanned materials related to all aspects of American involvement in Southeast Asia. In return, Michigan State will provide copies of the digitized “Vietnam Project” resources to add to the Virtual Vietnam Archive. These documents, which cover a time period predating the majority of Texas Tech’s collection, will fill a gap in the archive from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Texas Tech Chosen to Assist Vietnam War Commemoration
Texas Tech has been chosen as the first university commemorative partner in the United States Department of Defense’s (DoD) 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech, which was founded in 1989, houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of materials relating to the Vietnam conflict outside of the U.S. National Archives.
DoD representatives visited Texas Tech to deliver the formal partnership invitation and to present the university with a commemorative flag, a certificate signed by the Secretary of Defense, and an official seal.
Commemorative events began Memorial Day 2012 and will continue for 13 years through Veterans Day 2025, mirroring the length of America’s longest war.
Texas Tech Launches Institute for the Study of Western Civilization
Texas Tech recently launched the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. The institute, the only program of its kind among major U.S. universities, aims to rekindle academic interest in the study of Western civilization’s extraordinary character. Stephen H. Balch, recipient of the President’s National Humanities medal and a leading authority on Western Civilization Studies, will serve as the institute’s founding director.
As part of the Honors College, the institute will foster discussion and research on the nature, origins and future of the West, exploring topics such as the relationship between liberty, individualism and progress; the Judeo-Christian tradition; the West’s special compact with reason; American exceptionalism; and the West’s Utopian and revolutionary impulses.