Three Faculty Members Win Prestigious NSF CAREER Awards
Three Texas Tech University faculty members have received National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards.
Brian Ancell, Amir-Hamed Mohsenian-Rad and Siva Vanapalli will receive about $1.5 million to further their individual research.
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards and is given to junior faculty who exemplify the integration of excellent teaching while producing outstanding research.
“CAREER awards are extremely competitive and prestigious,” said Michael San Francisco, associate vice president for research/faculty development. “To receive three awards in one year demonstrates the quality of the young faculty we have at Texas Tech.”
Ancell, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, will receive about $721,000 to continue his work “Quantifying Inadvertent Weather Modification and Education through Museum Programs.”
Mohsenian-Rad, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will receive about $400,000 to continue the project: “Self-Organizing Demand Side Management for Smart Grid: A Dynamic Game-theoretic Framework.”
Vanapalli, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, will receive about $400,000 to continue his work “Collective Hydrodynamics of Confined Drops in Microfluidic Parking Networks.”
College of Agriculture Launches Groundbreaking Doctoral Program
Texas Tech’s nationally recognized Department of Agricultural Education and Communications recently introduced a new doctoral program.
The Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Agricultural Communications and Education is designed to equip students with a deep understanding of learning and teaching, as well as research and leadership skills necessary to reshape the American agricultural sector.
The program will give Texas Tech student’s access to a variety of combinations among the areas of teacher education, communications, extension, education, leadership, international agriculture, distance education and community development.
The creation of the new degree was prompted by the high demand for faculty positions in agricultural education, communications, leadership and extension during the past decade.
College of Education Receives $3.44 Million Grant
With the aid of a $3.44 million grant, the College of Education is aiming to set new standards in educator preparation.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation, or i3 Grant, is designed to produce new teachers who are highly competent in their subject-areas and teaching methods. Texas Tech’s College of Education was ranked as one of the 23 highest-rated national finalists for the grant. In order to gain the funds, the college raised $450,000, the required 15 percent match of the funds it was seeking, from six public/private entities.
Texas Tech, along with the Lubbock Independent School District (LISD), Teachscape, Texas Instruments and the Haberman Educational Foundation, will implement and test a competency-based model of educator preparation and school intervention by using innovative technology to observe and shape teachers’ classroom competencies. The project aims to produce educators who can increase student achievement scores above the district average within two years of employment.
New English Language Center to Open This Summer
Officials at Texas Tech announced the opening of an ELS Language Center this June to teach English as a second language to incoming international undergraduate and graduate students.
ELS Educational Services Inc. will run the facility and help recruit international students to the center. Officials chose ELS Education Services program because it could provide its own space near campus and would provide the university an accredited program instantly.
Students will pay ELS for the classes and housing. They will pay Texas Tech fees to access some places, such as the library, the student recreation center, and the Student Union Building.
In the past 50 years, ELS has helped more than 1 million students from 140 countries around the world learn English through more than 60 locations in the United States and Canada, according to the program’s website.
Classes will begin on June 25.
Galyean Named Dean of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
On March 13, officials at Texas Tech University named Michael Galyean the new dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He was named interim dean in February 2011, taking the reins in July, upon the retirement of John Burns.
Galyean earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from New Mexico State University, and a master’s in animal science and doctoral degree in animal nutrition, both from Oklahoma State University. He joined the faculty at Texas Tech in 1998 and was chairman of the Animal Care and Use Committee from 2002 to 2006.
Galyean was appointed as a Horn professor in 2005. He is also a Thornton Distinguished Chair in beef cattle nutrition and management in Texas Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences and has received multiple other awards, including the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Outstanding Researcher Award (2004, 2005); and the President’s Academic Achievement Award (2005).
Junction Campus Researchers Receive $1.1 Million Grant
Researchers at Texas Tech’s Llano River Field Station in Junction recently received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a watershed protection plan for the Upper Llano River watershed, which runs through the Texas Tech campus.
Tom Arsuffi, director of the field station and watershed coordinator for the project, said the money will be used to develop a geographical inventory of the area and determine current water quality and biological conditions.
“Just like preventive medicine, the EPA has figured out why we shouldn’t wait until rivers and lakes become polluted to do something about them,” Arsuffi said. “Through cost analyses, they discovered that if you protect water and rivers proactively, it’s orders of magnitude cheaper to keep them clean than it is to bring them back after they’ve become polluted and impaired.”
Scientists will analyze watershed data and make recommendation for the plan to achieve its goals, provide training workshops for landowners and others, as well as create a water and watershed Texas Essential Knowledge Skills-based curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Texas Tech Announces New Director for Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute
Officials at Texas Tech University announced the hiring of Yi-Yuan Tang as director of the newly formed Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute (TTNI) and as a Presidential Endowed Chair in Neuroscience with a faculty appointment as a professor in the Department of Psychology.
Tang assumed the directorship role of the institute in September and began working full time in January. After developing Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT) in the 1990s, his work could provide a means for improving self-regulation and perhaps reducing or preventing various mental disorders.
He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and has published more than 190 internationally and nationally peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trends in Cognitive Sciences and Neuroimage.
“The institute will help us build on our strengths in neuroscience, psychology, engineering, healthcare and biology,” Tang said, “and we will be able to look deeper into issues such as addiction, autism, PTSD, ADHD, anxiety and depression, gig and brain development.”
Professor and Doctoral Student Duo Win Academic of the Year Award
A professor and a doctoral student in the Rawls College of Business were recently honored with the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) Academic of the Year Award.
Debra Laverie, senior associate dean for the Rawls College of Business, and William Humphrey, a marketing doctoral student at Texas Tech, were named the 2011 Mobile Marketing Academic of the Year for their work titled “Brand Community and Location Service Social & Mobile Research.” Laverie and Humphrey were among the 56 individuals who were the first to receive The Smarties™ – the new name for MMA’s awards, which reflect the growth and unique character of the mobile channel.
“Great creative, great storytelling is at the heart of all of our award-winning campaigns; our winners are truly among the smartest in the mobile channel and have set rigorously high standards for industry excellence,” said Greg Stuart, global CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association. “Their work should serve as an enduring inspiration to marketers worldwide and a challenge to next year’s competitors.”
MMA is a premier global nonprofit trade association established to lead the growth of mobile marketing and its associate technologies.
College of Mass Communications Research Team Helps CLEAR the Way
A research team from Texas Tech’s College of Mass Communications created a successful campaign to ensure sustainability of a newly implemented customer service training program for emergency department staff at Rhode Island Hospital.
The goal of Project CLEAR (Communication Leading to Excellence and Ameliorating Risk) is to give structure and consistency to the method in which hospital staffs communicate with each other and their patients. The Texas Tech researchers developed the sustainment effort.
The team conducted an analysis and research into the sustainability of the program. Visual aspects of the initiative included the designing of a logo to give a brand identity to the project, and the creation of visual messaging instruments throughout the emergency department to reinforce the lessons learned during training.
In addition, through preliminary research, the team developed a strategic planning method to evaluate the project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and conducted a Web survey of all personnel in the emergency department to address issues.
Coy Callison, senior researcher and associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Mass Communications, said Texas Tech’s involvement with Project CLEAR gives faculty and graduate students in mass communications the opportunity to not only further their own real-world experiences, but also the collaborative opportunities that will come from other partners in the future who will want to associate with Texas Tech because of the project’s success.
Personal Financial Planning Offers New Approach to Retirement
While retirement specialists typically recommend a 4-percent withdrawal rate, experts in the Texas Tech Department of Personal Financial Planning (PFP) recently published award-winning research that questions whether a one-size-fits-all strategy makes sense for retirees.
Michael Finke, doctoral program coordinator, and doctoral candidate Duncan Williams developed an innovative method to estimate how financial advisors can create an optimal income plan for retirees that balances spending needs with the risk of running out of savings.
They suggest that an optimal rate of between 3 and 7 percent, based on a client’s willingness to accept risk and how much income they receive from noninvestment sources, might be the smarter strategy.
For financial advisors, Williams and Finke recommend they consider both the client’s risk tolerance and risk capacity when recommending how much an individual retiree can optimally spend each year.
New Micro-Device Could Change Pharmaceutical Testing
Texas Tech University scientists have filed for a patent on a new device that could make some drug testing faster and less expensive.
Siva Vanapalli, an assistant professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team created a simple microfluidic device about the size of a penny that could replace the current drug screening systems. Vanapalli’s work was recently featured in the journal “Lab on a Chip.”
“To develop a drug one must develop not only the drug compound, but also determine how much of the drug to give for it to be effective,” said Vanapalli.
Vanapalli currently is working with antibacterial chemicals but hopes the process can be refined to aid in screening for new anti-cancer drugs.
The pharmaceutical industry screens hundreds of thousands of drug candidates each year using large robots that deliver one specific concentration of the drug at a time, a time-consuming process that requires large amounts of the compound and reagents.
“Our chip changes the process in two ways,” said Vanapalli. “We can do multiple concentrations of the drug at one time. That means we can use a sample maybe 1,000 times smaller than the amount currently used and we can do the same work in a much shorter time period. In short, making the drug screening process faster and more inexpensive for the pharmaceutical company and hopefully reducing the ultimate cost to the consumer.”
Vanapalli’s lab has demonstrated testing 60 concentrations of a drug in about 10 minutes and expects to be able to improve on those numbers in future devices.
The new device looks like a computer chip with multiple microchannels and nanoliter-wells to hold an array of droplets of a substance. A scientist can vary the presence of other materials from drop-to-drop, thus testing multiple concentrations of the drug at the same time.
The use the microfluidic droplet arrays for drug testing was actually an accident. “We were working on a different type of experiment, but the outcome led us down this path,” said Vanapalli. “It is incidents like this that make science exciting.”
Vanapalli’s research is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Swine Study Results Could Save Industry $10 Million
Researchers at Texas Tech and Iowa State University have found solutions to improve swine transportation and improve animal well-being, while increasing savings.
The study, funded by the Pork Checkoff, found that the pork industry can generally use less bedding year-round than it currently does when transporting swine.
John McGlone, a professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Science, said depending on transport conditions, swine can overheat, experience unneeded stress or even death. High stress levels can increase lactic acid buildup in the muscles of the pig, which causes the meat from the animal to be dry and pale.
Truckers already have firm guidelines based on transport quality assurance regulations such as clean, approved bedding and extra bedding during winter months. However, the study found that increased surface temperature actually causes a negative effect on the pigs’ welfare. By reducing the amount of bedding to no more than six bales per trailer during cold weather, and no more than three bales in warm or mild weather, the pork industry has the potential to save more than $10 million annually.
A New Texas Tech University Academy Promotes Collaboration
University research is becoming increasingly more transdisciplinary, with the arts, humanities, social sciences and hard sciences collaborating on a range of issues, from better ways to teach to addressing the world’s grand challenges.
In January 2012, Texas Tech University inducted its first cohort of faculty members into the Transdisciplinary Research Academy. The academy was created to provide a formal organization for faculty to reach beyond their own disciplines to address some of the grand challenges facing society.
“Texas Tech has a tremendous breadth of expertise,” said Taylor Eighmy, Texas Tech vice president for research. “In these first academy members see we combinations of expertise that should produce innovative big-picture thinking and novel solutions to global issues.”
While the university is nearing designation as a National Research University the State of Texas, a designation based in part on research expenditures, producing new external funding is not the sole goal of the academy teams.
“We hope that academy members will develop white papers for agencies and foundations that offer novel solutions to the many issues facing society,” said Michael San Francisco, associate vice president for research/faculty development and director of the academy. “We would also like to see the development of curricula or programs that produce interaction across academic disciplines.”
The first faculty members were chosen from applicants nominated by their college deans and screened by a committee.
The inaugural teams are focused on a broad array of subjects, ranging from technology and aesthetics to law and society to biology and engineering. Teams are expected to provide a formal update of their activities during the fall term of 2012.
USDA Awards More Than $1 Million to Texas Tech Research Efforts
The USDA awarded two grants to researchers in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources toward the continuation of their research efforts in water conservation and marketing for beginning farmers and ranchers.
The team of water conservationists received a $500,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The funds, split evenly between Texas Tech and the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation District, go toward setting up field-level demonstration sites to evaluate new water conservation technologies across the Texas High Plains.
The second grant, for the amount of $600,000 will be used to help beginning farmers and ranchers market their products and businesses as a part of the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Initiative.
The grant will provide beginning farmers and ranchers online media training, specifically in the realm of social media outlets. Researchers from Texas Tech, the University of Illinois, the University of Georgia and Kansas State University are all involved in the project.
The initiative is focused on, but not limited to, alternative enterprises such as to farms producing nontraditional crops, livestock and other farm products; operating services, recreation, tourism and other ventures based on farm and natural resources; using unconventional production systems such as organic farming; or using direct marketing and other entrepreneurial marketing strategies.