Texas Tech University

Alumni News 2016

Walters Receives Faculty Research Award

Glenn Walters TTU alumniGlenn D. Walters (PhD Counseling Psychology, TTU), an associate professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, has received the university's Chambliss Faculty Research Award, according to a Dec. 8 report from BCTV. Before taking his current position, Walters, at left in the photo, spent more than a decade as a clinical psychologist and drug abuse coordinator for the Federal Correctional Institution, Minersville, Pa. His research has allowed him to present to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's Recidivism Roundtable, the Connecticut Department of Corrections and Probation, and publish and extensive number of journal articles since the beginning of his career, the article said.

Taylor Named Communication Manager

Elisa Taylor TTU alumniElisa Taylor (BA Technical Communication 2014, MA Interdisciplinary Studies 2016 TTU) was recently named communications manager of Lubbock-based Sorghum Checkoff, according to a Dec. 7 news item from Nebraska radio station KTIC. Taylor gained her communications experience, the story said, through internships with National Instruments, Lubbock's Home and Family Magazine, the Texas Tech University yearbook La Ventana, and the Fraternity & Sorority Life office. She graduate in December with her master's degree in interdisciplinary studies, where her areas of focus were business administration, agricultural communications and editing. Taylor joined the Sorghum Checkoff staff Nov. 29.


Ericksons Launch Sports Academy for Kids

Alumni Ann Erickson and Paul Erickson TTUAnn Erickson (BS Health & Exercise Sport Science 2003 TTU) and Paul Erickson (MS Exercise & Sport Sciences 2001 TTU) were featured in an Oct. 26 Texas Tech Today article about the Lincoln, Neb., sports business they launched in 2015 to teach children the value of sports. FUNdamental Athletics Academy opened in 2015 and hosts around 83 students per week before and after school to learn the basics of sports and play games such as dodgeball or kickball. During their time as Tech students, Paul was an offensive tackle for the Red Raider football team. Ann spent four years on the Red Raider volleyball team, serving as team captain for three of those years. The couple met through mutual friends at Texas Tech and later married.

Acton Bike Tour Promotes Space Telescope

Scott Acton TTU alumniScott Acton (PhD Physics 1990 TTU) gave a public lecture Oct. 23 in the TTU Department of Physics & Astronomy. Just as he does in all of his speaking engagements, Acton talked about his bicycling tour around the world to teach others about the James Webb Space Telescope. In fact, his blog is called the JWST World Bicycle Tour, and he can be followed at that link. In the photo above, pulled from his Feb. 9, 2017, blog entry, Acton is in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he had the opportunity to give two lectures.


Cavazos & Book Featured in Video

Lauro F. Cavazos (bachelor's and master's in Zoology, TTU), former U.S. Secretary of Education and former President of Texas Tech University, and his new book, "A Kineño's Journey," are featured in a video produced to Texas Tech Today. The video shows Cavazos talking about his humble beginnings on a South Texas ranch, to becoming the United States' first Hispanic cabinet member, and the role that education always has played in his life.

Nagy Returns from Diplomatic Mission

Tibor Nagy (BA 1972 TTU), TTU's Vice Provost for International Affairs, has returned from a two-week diplomatic mission to Nigeria, where he substituted as U.S. Ambassador while newly appointed Ambassador Stuart Symington was waiting for Senate confirmation of permanent appointment to the position. In a Sept. 4 Lubbock Avalanche Journal article, Nagy was quoted as saying that the State Department keeps a roster of former ambassadors like himself who can substitute if need be, and that his purpose in the temporary post was to plan for Secretary of State John Kerry's Aug. 23 visit to the country. Nagy worked in the Foreign Service from 1978 to 2002, with tours as U.S. Ambassador to Guinea (1996-99) and to Ethiopia (1999-2002).

Roberts Wins Gold in 2016 Rio Olympics

Gil Roberts (BA Sociology 2012 TTU), raced to his first Olympic Gold Medal Aug. 20 in the men's 4x400 meter relay at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He ran the third leg on a team that included Arman Hall, Tony McQuay and LaShawn Merritt. Their time: 2:59.30. It was a victory all the sweeter after ranking a disappointing ninth place (44.65 seconds) on Aug. 13 in the men's 400 meter semifinals. To read more about Gil Roberts, follow this link.

Alcatar to Speak at Summer Commencement

Andres Alcantar, TTU alumnus

Andres Alcantar (BA Public Administration, MPA, TTU), chairman and commissioner representing the public of the Texas Workforce Commission, will speak at Texas Tech's summer 2016 commencement Aug. 13 at United Supermarkets Arena. In his position at the Texas Workforce Commission, Alcantar brings together Texas industries and a competitive workforce. He encourages students to prepare for postsecondary success by focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives. Alcantar also has directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, serving as an adviser to former Gov. George W. Bush in the Office of Budget and Planning and serving as deputy director of the Governor's Budget, Planning and Policy Division. In a Texas Tech Today article, TTU President Lawrence Schovanec said, “Andres Alcantar is a champion of STEM education and ensuring opportunities exist in these areas for K-12 and college students. We place great emphasis on STEM education at Texas Tech University and are fortunate to have Mr. Alcantar address our graduates as they prepare to enter the workforce.” TTU's Public Administration and Master of Public Administration degrees are in the Department of Political Science.

Terracon Gives $7,500 to TIEHH

Terracon check presentation to ENTX

Left to right: Adam Finger and Erin Loyd of Terracon Lubbock with a few faculty and students from the The Institute for Environmental & Human Health (TIEHH).

The Institute for Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) received $7,500 from the Terracon Foundation June 10. The funds go toward supporting the department's graduate students. Alumnus Adam Finger (M.S. Environmental Toxicology, TTU 2004), Terracon Environmental Manager, said, "Since TIEHH consistently produces world class research and graduates who are equipped to tackle the most difficult environmental issues, Terracon considers our investment into the graduate scholarship program a value-added one. Terracon Lubbock looks forward to recruiting Texas Tech graduates for our construction materials, geotechnical, environmental, and asbestos inspection and consulting services."

Todd Anderson, Chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology and Interim Director of The Institute of Environmental & Human Health, said, "We have been very fortunate to receive funding from the Terracon Foundation for three consecutive years. We certainly appreciate Terracon Lubbock and Adam in particular for championing our proposals to the Foundation. The money makes a difference to our students and gives us another way to reward them for their productivity."

Jacob Carrick, a master's student from Kansas City, Mo., and a past recipient of a scholarship, had this to say: "I'm very appreciative of the funding that Terracon has provided for myself and others. Without financial support, my ability to conduct full-time research would be greatly hindered. Terracon's decision to support students in Environmental Toxicology demonstrates their commitment to advancing scientific knowledge, which is crucial for sound environmental decision-making."

Sparks to Teach in Indianapolis

Gregory L. Sparks TTU Alumnus

Gregory L. Sparks (BA Spanish 2016 TTU) will be returning to his birthplace, Indianapolis, where he will pursue a high school Spanish teaching position. He has been inducted into Indianapolis Teaching Fellows under the New Teacher Project (similar to Teach for America). He will pursue a Master's degree in Teaching to fulfill part of the requirements for a teaching permit. He will be teaching economically disadvantaged students of inner city Indianapolis and bridging the educational gap. During his time at Texas Tech, he served as a captain and counselor for Red Raider Orientation, was inducted into the National Hispanic Honor Society (Sigma Delta Pi) and into Phi Beta Kappa. He represented the College of Education as a student ambassador where he was heavily involved in recruiting.

Taylor Plans Include Law School, Tutoring

Kaitlyn Taylor (BA Spanish 2016 TTU) plans to attend Law School, a decision based on her participation in TTU student organizations such as GenOne and Phi Beta Kappa. Taylor also plans to continue her work as an AVID Tutor for LISD Coronado High School because it allows her to use her Spanish skills while preparing high-school students to be college ready.

West Lands Summer Job in Spain

C. Allene West (BA Spanish 2016 TTU) is working in Seville, Spain, as a summer assistant at the Texas Tech Seville Campus. She also anticipates applying to TTU Graduate School to pursue an M.A. in Spanish.

DeLeon to Enter Graduate Sociology Program

Janice J. DeLeon (BA Spanish 2016 TTU) will begin work on an M.A. in Sociology at TTU while working as a teaching assistant.

Howard to Pursue Master's at A&M

Victoria Howard, TTU Alumna

Victoria Howard (BA French 2016 TTU) will be attending the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University in the fall of 2016. She will pursue a Master of International Affairs in National Security & Diplomacy. Howard earned a B.A. in French with a minor in Business Administration. During her time at Texas Tech, she was involved in the French Honor Society and Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. In the spring semester of her junior year, she became the first student from TTU to study abroad at the Université de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France. After returning from France, she joined the Study Abroad Peer Advising organization, talked to prospective study abroad students about her study abroad experience, and encouraged others to participate.

Cautenay Now Teaching English in China

Vincent Cauntay (BA Spanish 2016 TTU) accepted a position in the Peace Corps last September and left in June to teach English at a university in The People's Republic of China for the next two years.

Lipo to Pursue PA Master's at TTUHSC in Midland

Kelsey N. Lipo (BA Spanish  2016 TTU) will pursue a Master's in Physician Assistant Studies at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center of Health Professions in Midland, Texas.

Jeffers Receives Gabriela Mistral Award

Gayle Jeffers (MA Romance Languages TTU), President of Texas Tech University's Alpha Phi Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, received the prestigious Gabriela Mistral Award for her academic achievements and noteworthy leadership and initiative in the TTU chapter. The Gabriela Mistral Award is granted by Sigma Delta Pi's national executive committee and is reserved for outstanding graduate or undergraduate students of Spanish who are active members of Sigma Delta Pi. To read the full story about Gayle Jeffers, follow this link.

Cavazos Publishes Autobiography

Lauro F. Cavazos (bachelor's and master's in Zoology TTU), former U.S. Secretary of Education and former President of Texas Tech University, has co-authored his autobiography: "A Kineño's Journey: On Family, Learning, and Public Service." The narrative follows his private and public life up until his Cabinet appointment. To learn more about Cavazos' book, follow this link.

Tekola Headed to Columbia for Master's

Rahel Tekola (BA Political Science 2013 TTU) graduated magna cum laude from Texas Tech with many opportunities in front of her. She chose to return to her hometown of Dallas and work at a nonprofit agency that aids victims of domestic violence. Now, she's in her way to New York City, Columbia University and a master's degree. To read the full story about Rahel Tekola, follow this link.

Alumni Gathering at 2016 Byron Nelson

Arts & Sciences Alumni at 2016 Byron Nelson

College of Arts & Sciences alumni gathered at the TPC Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas for the 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson PGA TOUR. The outing was hosted by Ted Barron, Todd and Veronica Cowan, Jesse and Kathryn Pruitt, Randal Macurak, and Ric and Teri Whetstone.

Cavazos Receives Honorary Doctorate

Lauro F. Cavazos, TTU alumnus

Lauro F. Cavazos (bachelor's and master's in Zoology TTU), former U.S. Secretary of Education and the first Hispanic to serve in the United States Cabinet, received an honorary doctor of science degree from Texas Tech University at the May 2016 commencement ceremonies. "Texas Tech University is proud to call Dr. Cavazos an alumnus and applaud his long, distinguished and accomplished career as an educator and public servant," said John Opperman, Texas Tech interim president. Cavazos holds a doctorate in physiology from Iowa State University. Cavazos served as president of both Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center from 1980 to 1988 and was the first Hispanic and graduate of the university to hold the office. He also was the dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine from 1975 to 1980. Later, he served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 1988 through 1990 under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and returned to Tufts as a faculty member in 1991.

Distinguished Alumni & Faculty Recognized

A&S Distinguished Alumni Banquet

Luminaries of the Arts & Sciences community came together May 5 at The Rawls Course to celebrate four alumni and five faculty for their outstanding contributions to the College of Arts & Sciences, Texas Tech University, and the varied fields in which they serve. W. Brent Lindquist, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, began the evening by welcoming those in attendance to the inaugural event, remarking that, after more than 90 years since the College's founding, "I think it's about time the College began honoring the achievements of its faculty and distinguished alumni." Jorge Iber, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, served as master of ceremonies. TTU top administrators in attendance included Provost Lawrence Schovanec and Senior Vice Provost Rob Stewart.

Receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award were Lauro F. Cavazos, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former Texas Tech University President; Phil Johnson, Texas Supreme Court Justice; Ginger Kerrick, NASA Flight Director; and Tibor Nagy, former U.S. Ambassador and current TTU Vice Provost for International Affairs.

Receiving the Distinguished Faculty Award were Alan Barenberg, Associate Professor in the Department of History; Lars Christensen, Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics; Kelly Cukrowicz, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences; Howard Curzer, Professor in the Department of Philosophy; and Jon Thompson, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Weir Publishes Lizard Research

Scott Weir, TTU PHD student and alumnus

Scott Weir (PhD Environmental Toxicology 2014 TTU) was a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at the time he conducted research that has just been published. "Direct and Indirect Effects of Petroleum Production Activities on the Western Fence Lizard (Scleoporus Occidentalis) as a Surrogate for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus Arenicolus)" ran as the cover story for the May 2016 issue of "Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry." The study examined the Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), a stand-in for the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus, to see if they are experiencing direct or indirect effects of oil and gas drilling that takes place on much of their Permian Basin habitat. The test studied two contaminants: herbicides used to clear the drilling sites, and hydrogen sulfide gas, found in oil formations that are being drilled for oil. The study found that, although impacted sites showed a significant decrease in biomass (material derived from living, or recently living organisms), there were no significant effects on diversity and neither the herbicides nor the hydrogen sulfide gas cause significant behavioral effects in the test lizards compared to control lizards. Results suggest little risk from direct toxic effects, but the potential for indirect effects should be further explored. Weir, now an Assistant Professor at Queens University of Charlotte, was joined in the study by Todd Anderson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology; Larry Talent, Emeritus Faculty of the Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University; and others.

Bull Elected to National Academy of Sciences

James J. Bull, University of Texas professor and Texas Tech University Alumni, photo courtesy UT-Austin

James J. Bull (BS Biological Sciences 1971 TTU) is the Johann Friedrich Miescher Regents Professor in Molecular Biology at The University of Texas, Austin. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May 2016. During his time as a Texas Tech student, Bull was an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Robert Baker, now Horn Professor Emeritus. Bull's current research focus is evolutionary genetics from the molecular to the phenotypic levels, specifically the evolution of engineered genomes, microbial drug resistance, and adaptation addressed empirically and theoretically. Robert Bradley, Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and Director of TTU's Natural Science Research Laboratory, said, "It is nice to have one of our own do so well."

Whitfield Named Provost of Wayne State

TTU alumnus Keith WhitfieldKeith Whitfield (PhD Lifespan Developmental Psychology 1989 TTU) has been named provost of Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., effective June 1, 2016. Currently vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University, Whitfield is an expert on aging among African Americans and holds Duke appointments as professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, research professor in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Whitfield has published more than 180 articles, books and book chapters on cognition, health, and individual development and aging with a focus on African Americans. He currently serves as managing editor for the journal Ethnicity and Health, is a longtime member of the advisory board of Wayne State's Institute on Aging, has participated in a number of committees for the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, and has served on several study sections for the National Institutes of Health.

Lalagiri Named Manager at Suominen

Muralidhar Lalagiri, (PhD, Environmental Toxicology 2013) was appointed product development manager at Suominen Corp. in February 2016. Lalagiri has worked almost eight years on nonwovens and advanced materials. Before moving to Suominen, he was a filtration product development engineer at Walker Engineering Enterprises. Lalagiri earned his B.S. in Biotechnology from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in India in 2007.

Trauth Wins Dissertation Award

Erin Trauth (PhD Technical Communication and Rhetoric  2014 TTU) won a 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication for her dissertation, "A 'Natural' Miscommunication: An Examination of Front-of-Package Label Claims and User-Centered Food Labeling Practices." The award will be presented by the Conference on College Composition and Communication, a group within the National Council of Teachers of English, at their annual convention April 8 in Houston. Trauth is employed at the University of South Florida.