Celebrating A&S Diversity
Wright Named A&S Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives
Nathaniel Wright, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Master of Public Administration Program, has been appointed to the newly formed role of assistant dean for strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences. Wright, who has served as a member of the Texas Tech University faculty for six years and has been recognized as an expert in nonprofit management, fundraising, and strategic partnerships, assumes the position effective immediately. In his new position, Wright will lead efforts to develop fresh and innovative strategies for building community and industry partnerships that advance the mission of the College of Arts & Sciences, while improving the professional competencies of the college's undergraduate and graduate students. “I am tremendously excited and honored to serve as the assistant dean for strategic initiatives on behalf of the College of Arts & Sciences,” said Wright. “I firmly believe we have some of the most talented students and faculty members in our college, and I am proud to serve alongside acting dean Brian Still as we work to enhance and further develop our strategic initiatives and partnerships.” Read the complete news release here.
Satchell Crowned Homecoming King
Donvoan Stachell, left, and Channing Wicks, right, were crowned homcoming royalty Oct. 9.
Donovan Satchell, a global studies and general studies major in the College of Arts & Sciences, was crowned 2021 homecoming king Oct. 9 during the Texas Tech vs. TCU game at Jones AT&T Stadium. Satchell, who hails from Wylie, represents Arts & Sciences Ambassadors and is the first Black homecoming king in Texas Tech University history. “To be crowned homecoming king feels like royalty,” Satchell said. “Not for the sake of image, but to be a part of a 90-plus-year old tradition that unites us all as Red Raiders, past and present.” Channing Wicks, a graphic design major from Lubbock, represents Chi Omega and was crowned 2021 homecoming queen. Read the complete story here.
Ramkumar's Cotton-Based Product Might Answer California Oil Spill
Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, in collaboration with his research team and the India-based company Jayalakshmi Textiles, has developed a sustainable cotton product that can absorb oil instantaneously. The product is designed to alleviate environmental disasters, such as the Oct. 3, 2021, spill that leaked approximately 126,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean after a pipeline burst near the Southern California coast. “Oil spills have become a recurring issue around the world, destroying wildlife habitats, compromising food sources and threatening human health,” Ramkumar said. “With this product, Texas Tech is at the forefront of research developments in oil-absorbing materials.” Read the full article here.
Iber Chronicles Life of Red Raider Football Great Gabe Rivera
Just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, Jorge Iber, associate dean in the College of Arts & Sciences and professor in the Department of History at Texas Tech University, has published his latest sports biography, “Señor Sack: The Life of Gabe Rivera” (Texas Tech University Press, August 2021). In “Señor Sack,” Iber chronicles the rise of Rivera from his boyhood in Crystal City, Texas, to Texas Tech All-American defensive lineman —and his fall from first-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1983 to the accident during his rookie year that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Read the full article here.
Higgins Co-PI on Grant to Boost Underrepresented Students in STEM
Texas Tech University mathematician Raegan Higgins.
Raegan Higgins, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and an associate director of STEM CORE, is the co-principal investigator (Co-PI) on a new $2,017,456 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The funds come from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program and are intended to boost the numbers of underrepresented minority (URM) students earning degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Other Arts & Sciences professors on the grant are:
- Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech University President and mathematician, is principal investigator (PI);
- Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell, interim vice provost for curriculum, a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and the immediate past director of STEM CORE;
- Nancy McIntyre, a professor and associate chair in the Department of Biological Sciences, and an associate director of STEM CORE.
Five years from now, program leaders expect to see twice as many URM graduates from STEM disciplines and 75% more URM transfers. Read the complete story at this link.
Hayhoe Publishes How-To Book for Discussing Climate Change
Katharine Hayhoe, Horn Professor in the Department of Political Science and co-director of the Texas Tech University Climate Center, has authored a new book on how to discuss climate change. With the Sept. 21, 2021, publication of “Saving Us, A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” Hayhoe holds that changing hearts and minds means not just spouting facts but finding shared values. Publisher Simon and Schuster says, “This is not another doomsday narrative about a planet on fire. It is a multilayered look at science, faith, and human psychology, from an icon in her field,” noting that Hayhoe recently was named chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy. Indeed, she has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the nation's most effective communicators on climate change,” deftly navigating distrust of data, indifference to imminent threats, and resistance to proposed solutions. In “Saving Us,” Hayhoe draws on interdisciplinary research and personal stories to demonstrate how individuals can dialogue, convincingly, with friends and family on the subject of climate change. Read the entire article at this link.
Limeri Studies Frogs for Clues to Human Immune Response
Lisa Limeri, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is part of a nationwide partnership to study whether frogs' ability to survive certain infection can help humans do the same. Funded by a five-year, $12.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the research team will examine the resilience demonstrated by amphibians and other groups of species to the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases, along with other human-caused changes to the global ecosystem. “I am excited about this project because combining research and educational missions is a cutting-edge, research-based strategy,” Limeri said. “Not only will this program advance research in this important area, but it will simultaneously effectively educate the next generation of scientists in an equitable and inclusive way.” Read the entire article at this link.
Corsi Wins 2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize
Alessandra Corsi, an associate professor with a President's Excellence in Research Professorship in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, is among the recipients of the 2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize. The recognition came for Corsi's contribution in laying the foundations for electromagnetic observations of sources of gravitational waves and for leadership in extracting rich information from the first observed collision of two neutron stars. The award comes from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, which announced on Sept. 9 the winners of its 10th annual Breakthrough Prizes, which go to an esteemed group of laureates and early-career scientists. “I feel excited, honored and, most of all, humbled,” Corsi said. “I am extremely grateful to my family, nominators, mentors, advisers and funding agencies for supporting me. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the new era of gravitational wave astronomy together with many amazing collaborators. I look forward to more exciting discoveries ahead.” Read the complete article at this link.
Kim, Hodovanets to Launch Quantum Physics for High-Schoolers
Hyunsoo Kim and Halyna Hodovanets, both professors in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, will soon be guiding a select group of high school students to begin thinking of themselves as scientists. The new STEM project, “Promoting Science Identities of High School Students in Quantum Materials Science,” is funded by a grant from the Lubbock-based Helen Jones Foundation and will teach participants to research and grow high-quality single crystals, the very kind used in quantum information technologies. The project's high point will come as the students share their crystals with the public through a musem exhibit. Kim and Hodovanets are collaborating with Mihwa Park, an assistant professor of STEM education in the College of Education, who is on board to strengthen the project's educational components. Read the entire article at this link.
Gong Awarded Best Postdoctoral Presentation at National Conference
Ningping Gong, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences, was recognized by the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology for her work with sea lamprey, a jawless vertebrate. Gong uses sea lamprey as a model to study the evolution of endocrine systems in animals and has been working on this National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project for five years. She has published her findings, “Divergent Genes Encoding the Putative Receptors for Growth Hormone and Prolactin in Sea Lamprey Display Distinct Patterns of Expression,” in Scientific Reports and recently presented her results at the sixth biennial meeting of the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology (NASCE), where she was awarded, virtually, the best postdoctoral presentation. “This is my first time to receive an award,” Gong said. “I didn't expect it. At the time of the closing ceremony when awards were announced, Dr. Mark Sheridan and I were in the office and talking about the project. So, we missed the moment they showed our slide and announced it. So, it was a surprise for me.” Sheridan, who is the dean of the Graduate School and a co-author of Gong's paper, is proud of Gong's work. “This award recognizes the high quality and significance of Dr. Gong's work,” Sheridan said. “I'm extremely proud of her and the important contribution her work makes to understanding the regulation of salt and water balance in animals.” Read the complete article here.
Brown Receives $1 Million Grant to Study Nematode Bacteria
Amanda M.V. Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has received a joint grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study how bacteria affect tiny worms called nematodes. Farmers around the world know the devastating impact of plant-parasitic nematodes. These worms feed on plants, ruining an estimated 25% of the world's crops and costing roughly $100 billion in damage each year. But with a new five-year grant totaling just over $1 million, Brown is studying the feasibility of a novel solution to the problem—one that holds promise for the environment as well as the agriculture industry. “Currently, these nematodes threatening crops are difficult to control without using costly chemicals that can be environmentally damaging or promote strains that are resistant to treatment,” Brown said. “Therefore, this project investigates an alternative, non-toxic solution that may be developed to control plant-parasitic nematodes. The focus is on naturally occurring bacteria that have been discovered living within these worms that may drive their survival and direct or mediate their devastating impacts on plants.” Read the complete story at this link.
McCahey Specializes in History of Antarctica
Daniella McCahey, an assistant professor in the Department of History, specializes in the history of science, specifically in the space of human involvement in Antarctica. She has been sought out for special projects with museums, articles in the New York Times and more throughout her career.
Ardon-Dryer & Kingston Awarded for Advancing Diversity, Equity
Karin Ardon-Dryer (above left), an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, and Tigga Kingston (above right), a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently were awarded for their efforts to promote diversity and gender equity at Texas Tech University. Ardon-Dryer was one of two in the TTU community to receive the 2021 President's Excellence in Gender Equity Award, which recognizes faculty and staff for their substantial contributions to activities and programs that advance the academic and professional climate of gender equity. Kingston was one of four across the university to receive the 2021 President's Excellence in Diversity & Equity Award, which recognizes individual contributions to academic activities, creation of inclusive environments and programs that advance institutional culture and a climate of diversity, equity and inclusion. “The students, staff and faculty we recognize with these awards are an exceptional group of individuals, and we are proud to recognize them for their extraordinary work in further promoting diversity, equity and inclusion on the Texas Tech campus,” said Carol A. Sumner, chief diversity officer and vice president of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Donovan Satchell Energized by Study Abroad in Jordan
Global/General Studies major Donovan Satchell is preparing for a career as a U.S. ambassador. He's working toward this future at Texas Tech University, he says, because Texas Tech combines the status of a large Tier One research university with the welcoming environment of a small school. Satchell was particularly energized toward his goals by a recent Study Abroad semester in Jordan.
Sandip Pal Awarded Grants from NOAA and NASA
Atmospheric scientist Sandip Pal, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, has received two important grants, one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and one from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Pal is the lead principal investigator of the $335,981 NOAA grant, which will fund the research of urban heat islands in cities with populations of a few hundred thousand; until now, studies of urban heat islands have been conducted only in metropolitan areas with populations in the millions. The $17,096 grant from NASA funds a Phase 1 project in which machine learning will be applied to flight planning on research flights to maximize targeted data collection—with the possibility of continuing the work through a second phase of research that would be funded under the NASA Small Business Innovation Research Program. Further details about Sandip Pal's grants may be found at this link.
Alumna Toni Sauncy Honored as a Piper Professor
Alumna Toni Sauncy (Ph.D., Applied Physics, Texas Tech University) has been named a 2021 Minnie Stevens Piper Professor. Sauncy is professor and chair of the Physics Department at Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and one of only 10 college professors in Texas recognized this year for her superior teaching—22 years and counting—and for having a profound influence on students at the university level. A first-generation college student, Sauncy was also the first in her family to graduate high school. She is a Red Raider through and through, having earned all her degrees—a Ph.D. in Applied Physics, an M.S. in Physics, and a B.S. (magna cum laude) in Mathematics—from Texas Tech. Read the complete article about Toni Sauncy at this link.
Ramkumar's Textile Work is Saving Lives in India
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, has played a vital role in the growth of India's technical textile industry over two-plus decades. As COVID-19 surged through the U.S. last spring and summer, the country found itself facing an alarming shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) frontline health care workers desperately needed to battle the pandemic. Ramkumar, the inventor of the FiberTectTM decontamination wipe, quickly joined forces with a local company, Scarborough Specialties, to design and produce an effective and affordable face mask. This year, on the other side of the globe, India is embroiled in the same struggle, except for one key thing. Until mid-2020, the U.S. relied on China to produce most of the PPE it used. In contrast, India is self-reliant — it can produce its own PPE because of its widespread support for and adoption of the technical textiles industry. And, as Ramkumar has been at the forefront of India's technical textiles progress over more than 20 years, he has played a vital role in preparing India for the very fight it's in now. Follow this link ot learn more about Seshadri Ramkumar's work in India's development of the technical textiles sector.
Emmy Noether Mathematics Day 2021
The 18th Emmy Noether High School Mathematics Day went virtual on May 12, 2021. The Department of Mathematics & Statistics has made this mathematical outreach event a Texas Tech University tradition, where young women from local high schools, middle schools and home schools are encouraged to expand their interest in math and careers in the sciences. This year, because of the pandemic, the panel was shared—live and recorded—with more than 100 students and teachers. Six women professors served as panelists, describing their own experiences and outlining the educational and vocational opportunities open to women through mathematics. Looking toward next year, the 2022 Emmy Noether High School Mathematics Day will return to its traditional, face-to-face home on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock. The enthusiastic energy surrounding the event will be contagious! Follow this link for details about the Emmy Noether HIgh School Math Day.
Larson Heads to Spain as Senior Fulbright Scholar
Susan Larson, the Charles B. Qualia Professor of Romance Languages in Texas Tech University's Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, will be a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Spain and will conduct research in Madrid this fall. Larson has written for years about architecture, urbanism and the role of culture in imagining the built environment in modern Spain. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, her perspective changed. “I have long worked with a set of assumptions about public urban space, but COVID-19 has forced me, like so many all over the world, to shift my perspective inward in order to consider the social history and function of the idea of comfort in private, domestic spaces,” Larson said. “The experience of living in quarantine has drawn our attention to comfort and domestic interior space in ways that are already having an impact on the field of architecture and all forms of written and visual culture, in Spain and elsewhere, raising a series of increasingly urgent questions that my project seeks to answer.” The project to which Larson is referring is her “Comfort and Domestic Space in Spain, from the Civil War through the Transition,” which has been made possible by a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar award. She hopes her work will answer questions that shed light on assumptions of the modern home. Follow this link to learn more about Susan Larson's upcoming Fulbright research.
Heck Led Student Body Amid COVID-19
Senior Hunter Heck served as Student Government Association President during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the story of her leadership, and the confirmation of her calling to be a social advocate.
Lumpkin Receives Inclusive Excellence Award
Angela Lumpkin, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, has received the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Award from the Texas Tech Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The award was presented to Lumpkin April 29 during the annual Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet. Learn more about the Celebrate Diversity Awards.
Two A&S Grad Students Awarded for Outstanding Research
Faith Scanlon, left, and Iroro Tanshi, right, each received the Horn Distinguished Professors Graduate Achievement Award.
This year, two graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences were selected to receive the Horn Distinguished Professors Graduate Achievement Award. The award was established by the Paul Whitfield Horn Professors at Texas Tech to recognize and reward outstanding research or creative activity performed by graduate students while at the university. Faith Scanlon is pursuing her doctoral degree in counseling psychology through the Department of Psychological Sciences. She is involved in state-of-the-art counseling research and delivers professional services to individuals in the justice system, including those with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Scanlon has 10 publications, many in the top research journals in her field; a book chapter in print through Oxford University Press; and eight manuscripts in preparation, most as first author. She has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences and is actively pursuing federal funding for her research. Iroro Tanshi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her international award-winning research focuses on tropical bat research and conservation with focus on Nigeria and Cameroon. She is an emerging leader in African biodiversity conservation and has secured her own research funding. Tanshi has published several original papers in scholarly journals as well as a book chapter. She also has presented her work at multiple international conferences and has won the Woman in Conservation award (2017), the Karl Koopman Award (2019), the Future for Nature Award (2020) and is a nominee for the Whitley Fund for Nature Award – also known as the “Green Oscars.” Read more.
Alumna Arcilia Acosta Named to TTUS Board of Regents
Arts & Sciences alumna Arcilia Acosta (Political Science 1989, TTU) of Dallas, is one of three new members appointed April 13, 2021, by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents. Their terms are set to expire on Jan. 31, 2027. Acosta is the president and CEO of CARCON Industries and Construction and the founder and CEO of Southwestern Testing Laboratories (STL) Engineers, a geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing firm. A native Texan, Acosta currently serves on the board of directors of Vistra Corporation, Magnolia Oil & Gas and Veritex Holdings, Inc. She is a member of the National Women Energy Directors Network, the International Women's Forum and a sustainer member of the Junior League of Dallas. She is a director of the Communities Foundation of Texas and director and chairwoman-elect of the Dallas Citizens Council. Previously, Acosta was appointed by Gov. Abbott for a three-year term on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) in 2016-19, which is the state's authority on public higher education. Acosta is a former director of the Texas Tech Alumni Association's National Board of Directors. In addition, she was the featured speaker for TTU's 2015 Commencement Ceremonies. She also has two sons and three siblings who have received degrees from TTU.
Ayodeji, Ramkumar Publish in International Journal
James Ayodeji, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and his faculty advisor, Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials, have published a research analysis in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Ayodeji's work shows shows that, in the three to four weeks after enacting a mandate to wear masks, roughly two-thirds of the United States saw a reduction in COVID-19 cases. More.
Alumna Marquez Helps Women Get Ahead With Beyond Barriers
Alumna Monica Marquez made her mark at some of the world's largest organizations. Now, she's helping women do the same as the co-founder and chief innovation officer at Beyond Barriers.
Burns Publishes on Seal Feeding Behavior
Jennifer Burns, professor and chair in the Department of Biological Sciences, led a National Science Foundation funded research team that has published its findings in The Royal Society. The team's research, "Seasonal resource pulses and the foraging depth of a Southern Ocean top predator," studied the cascading effects of seasonal resource pulses—such as the phytoplankton bloom that occurs in Antarctic waters once the sea ice starts to melt—on the diving and feeding behavior of Weddell seals. They found that: "In early summer, seals foraged at deeper depths resulting in lower feeding rates and mass gain. As sea ice extent decreased throughout the summer, seals foraged at shallower depths and benefited from more efficient energy intake. Changes in diving depth were not due to seasonal shifts in seal diets or horizontal space use and instead may reflect a change in the vertical distribution of prey." Because Weddell seals forage on fish, not phytoplankton, research findings demonstrate that indirect effects of climate variation can be detected across multiple trophic levels.
Hayhoe Named Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy
As an undergraduate, Katharine Hayhoe entered the University of Toronto originally intent on becoming an astrophysicist. Needing to complete a degree requirement, she enrolled in a class on climate science. That one decision, seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, changed Hayhoe's life and ended up providing the world with one of its premier climate science experts. As a lead author of the Second, Third and Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessments, she has played a large role in helping assess climate risks for several U.S. presidential administrations as well as discussing the necessity to tackle climate change with leaders around the world. Now, she will take on a vital responsibility for one of the world's leading environmental organizations. On March 1, Hayhoe was named Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a worldwide organization that uses science to tackle the issues of conservation and climate change through real-world solutions and partnerships that influence global decision-making. Continue reading at this link.
Alumnus Balido: On a Scarlet & Black Mission
The Honorable Nelson Balido, a child of Cuban immigrants, built his father's music business into a Hispanic 500 Company, founded Balido & Associates, and serves as chair and CEO of the Border Commerce & Security Council—in addition to his tireless work as a proponent for Texas Tech University.
Stepping to the wooden podium to address the crowd of 15,000 bustling people inside the United Spirit Arena, Nelson Balido hesitated. The smooth, confident, and captivating international marketing consultant suddenly found himself wrapped up by the weight of the moment. Weeks earlier, he was crisscrossing the southwestern United States, rallying the Hispanic community as an official representative of the 2004 George W. Bush presidential re-election campaign. Now, Balido had been called back to the Texas Tech University campus by administration officials to give this address. That morning, he saw the stage as an invitation to reflect upon the genesis of his own story, one even he himself will quickly say has been quite unpredictable. Continue reading at this link.
Students, Faculty, Alumni Reflect on Black History Month
The College of Arts & Sciences honors Black History Month 2021 by sharing the voices of our students, faculty and staff. These voices honor the Black heroes of our past, celebrate the activists of today, and anticipate a more inclusive and equitable future.
Ramkumar's FiberTectTM Wipe Used in Animal Rescues
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and supervisor of the Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TTU's Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) , invented FiberTectTM in 2005 as a low-cost decontamination wipe for the U.S. military that could absorb and neutralize the gases and liquids used in chemical warfare. Then, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the material was re-engineered to safely clean up the oil. Now, the wipe is coming to the rescue of animals that have run afoul of environmental hazards. Animal Search and Rescue, a technical rescue team that specializes in animals, is using FiberTectTM in its operations. So is Animal Decon, a training, planning and disaster response resource for working and service animals as well as household pets, zoo or exotic animals, wildlife and livestock. "Anytime there's a flood, or any major rain event, anything in a household can be put into the storm drains," said Brett Huff, animal decontamination specialist and owner of Animal Decon. "Animals are constantly getting themselves in a situation in flooded waters and industrial agricultural chemicals, sewage ponds — there's a lot of things they can get into. So, a FiberTectTM wipe would be really good to keep with you to wipe them down. "The problem is, especially in a mass casualty event, we're looking at the possibility of secondary contamination, because they can spread that hazardous material. So, anything we can do to reduce that contaminant on the animal as the owner brings it in, or before we get to the decontamination station — where there are other people and animals — would be huge and a great benefit to anybody doing a decontamination operation." Follow this link for the compete account.
Hutchins Receives NSF CAREER Award
Kristin Hutchins, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received $650,000 from the National Science Foundation for her project, CAREER: Solid-state molecular motion, reversible covalent-bond formation, and self-assembly for controlling thermal expansion behavior. Her project focuses on controlling how organic solids respond to changes in temperature. Follow this link for further details.
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