Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Innovation in Arts & Sciences
Wu Wins Goldwater Scholarship
Oscar Wu, above right, a junior majoring in cell and molecular biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. Wu's research interest is in the field of cancer immunotherapy. "Whether it's the National Institutes of Health or companies like Merck, there is a huge public and private interest in cancer immunotherapy," Wu says. "In fact, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded for developing the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug, ipilimumab. This is because decades of basic science research in this field has finally allowed us to utilize that data for drug development and translate them to patients." Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec praised Wu's hard work and dedication to research, saying that the scholarship speaks to Wu's commitment and talents as an undergraduate researcher and exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit the university encourages in all its students. "I started conducting research when I was a sophomore," Wu says of his high school days. "I emailed 50 laboratories when I was 15 years old, and I was accepted into only one, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. After that, everything was history." A detailed story about Wu may be found by following this link.
Ardon-Dryer Speaks at Science by the Glass
Karin Ardon-Dryer, an assistant professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences, spoke at the May 14 meeting of "Science by the Glass." Ardon-Dryer's topic was "Haboobs: Because Everything's Bigger in Texas." The meeting was hosted by the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center and held at Local Bar and Grill.
Prada Awarded for Work in STEAM
Paola A. Prada, a research assistant professor and graduate program director at the Institute for Forensic Science in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, received the Outstanding Woman Leader (OWL) Award from the West Texas Association for Women in STEAM (WTAWIS). News of her win was published May 8. The group exists to recognize Texas Tech University faculty members for their support and encouragement of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). "As a double-minority scientist—female and Hispanic—it is truly rewarding that my student mentoring has helped young women gain the tools and inspiration necessary to pursue a career in the STEAM fields," Prada said. "Personally, it is a recognition that I am on the right path, that following my heart and passion for forensic science does work, that doing what I am passionate about works. Professionally, it means I can connect with more young, women students on a bigger scale, help more people and create positive change on a bigger scale. I put my heart and soul into my work at the Institute for Forensic Science, and to know that I have been rewarded by the young students I mentor truly means the world to me and is very humbling. I feel very proud to be able to set an example for my students and be an example that hard work and being passionate about what you do leads to success." Those who nominated Prada called her "an amazing woman leader who showcases integrity, perseverance and joy" both in and out of the classroom.
Pati Wins People's Choice Award
SivaTeja Pati, above center, a biology major in the Department Biological Sciences, is the founder of a new, non-profit company that designs and produces customized 3D-printable prosthetic hands for children. During Texas Tech University's inaugural "Discoveries to Impact Week," Pati won the $500 Spark Conference Poster Showcase People's Choice Award for developing the adaptive grip mechanism with gross- and fine-grip switchability for 3D-printed prosthetic hands. A detailed story about Pati may be found by following this link.
Al-Hmoud Named 'Raider Who Rocks'
Rula Al-Hmoud, coordinator and instructor for the Arabic program in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, is the 2019 recipient of the Raiders Who Rock "Above and Beyond Award." Also, two of her students who were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society have named her one of the most influential teachers at Texas Tech.
Brown Awarded for Work in STEAM
Amanda M.V. Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, received the Outstanding Woman Leader (OWL) Award from the West Texas Association for Women in STEAM (WTAWIS). News of her win was published May 8. The group exists to recognize Texas Tech University faculty members for their support and encouragement of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). "I feel so honored by this award," Brown said. "This supportive group is well-aligned with my goals to increase equity and help women succeed at the leading edges of science." One of Brown's nominators wrote, "She tailors her mentorship by adapting to the needs of the trainee through listening and gauging their interests and skill-development so they can be genuinely productive at their experiments—so the rewards of their work will be real and earned."
Wong Selected as Piper Professor
Aliza Wong, an associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of the Honors College, was selected as a 2019 Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. She is one of only 10 selected in the State of Texas. Her selection was reported May 1 in Texas Tech Today. The Piper Professor Program began in 1958 to recognize outstanding professors from public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities in Texas. "I am very honored and humbled to be chosen as a Piper Professor," Wong said. "It's been several years since someone from Texas Tech was selected, so I am very fortunate to have been the candidate put forward for consideration and even more privileged to have been chosen as a Piper Professor." Sean Cunningham, an associate professor and chairman of the Department of History, wrote one of the recommendation letters endorsing Wong for the award. "There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Aliza Wong," Cunningham said. "I've been on faculty at Texas Tech since 2007, and consistently—each year—Aliza Wong is the most active, amiable, engaged, caring and productive educator I know. Students love her, even when she challenges them. She's an asset to Texas Tech, and I'm glad the Piper Program sees it that way, too." The award comes with a $5,000 honorarium, a gold pin and a certificate. Wong said that being named a Piper Professor also brings with it the distinction of standing among faculty who are committed not only to to pedagogy but also to mentoring and research, adding that her students have impacted her as much as she has them. "I think it's the students who make the teacher," she said. "I have been very privileged and extremely fortunate to work with diverse, intelligent and incredibly generous students who have taught me how to teach."
Phillips Awarded Lyerla Travel Grant
Lisa Phillips, professor in the Department of English, received a $750 Gloria Lyerla Library Memorial Fund Research Travel Grant from Texas Tech University Libraries. The grant supports TTU scholars by helping them meet the costs of travel to reach rare or difficult-to-retrieve research materials in libraries, archives, museums and other repositories worldwide. Phillips' 2019 research project is "Embodied Sovereignty: The Story of Ishi's Life and Death as a Living Object on Display." Phillips was recognized as a recipient during the Spring 2019 Faculty Convocation, held April 17.
Flores-Yeffal Participates in 3 Presentations
Nadia Y. Flores Yeffal, assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, participated in three presentations at a meeting of the Population Association of America April 11-12. Flores-Yeffal was one of several in the session, "How (In)Visible Are the Health Risks of Climate Change?" And she was co-presenter of two posters: "The Effects of 287(g) and Sanctuary City Agreements on the Foreign-born Population in the United States" and of "A New Type of Urbanization? Climate Change Population Displacement and Urban Space Problem in Dhaka, Bangladesh."
Mechref Wins Mentoring Excellence Award
Yehia Mechref, professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is winner of the 2019 Nancy J. Bell Graduate Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Award. Winners of this award are nominated by doctoral students. The Graduate School at Texas Tech University created this award to recognize those mentors who embody the spirit of a great mentor and have gone above and beyond in helping graduate students on their educational journey.
Wang Receives Teachers Association Award
Yanlin Wang, an assistant professor of practice of Chinese and Applied Linguistics and coordinator of the Chinese Language Program in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, has received the 2019 SIG Award from the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA). While at the 2019 CLTA Annual Conference, held April 5-7 in Seattle, she also gave a presentation entitled "Design and Principle of Hybrid Chinese Beginning Course."
Al-Hmoud Named Study Abroad Runner-Up
Rula Al-Hmoud, an instructor in Arabic Language & Area Studies in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, was named runner-up for the The Donald R. Haragan Study Abroad Award, which recognizes the development and implementation of study abroad programs that support Texas Tech's commitment to providing high-quality international education opportunities. Her recognition came during the Global Vision Awards, held April 4, 2019, at the International Cultural Center. Al-Hmoud was noted for her passion for her culture and her dedication to helping shape the diverse study abroad opportunities for Texas Tech students. In addition to directing and teaching within the Arabic program, Al-Hmoud is the founder and director of Texas Tech's study abroad program in Amman, Jordan; founder of a study abroad program to Spain and Morocco to study Arabic; founder and adviser of the Arabic Language Student Organization; and co-founder of the Arabic Club of Texas Tech University. Winner of the Donald R. Haragan Study Abroad Award was Deborah Fowler, a professor and director of the Retail Management Program and associate chairperson in Hospitality and Retail Management in the College of Human Sciences, for bringing international diversity to study abroad programs.
Higgins, Williams Get $1.1 Million for Math Teachers
Raegan Higgins and Brock Williams, both professors in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, are co-principal investigators on a team that has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The money will fund their proposal that responds to the local shortage in qualified mathematics teachers. Over the five-year duration of the award, their proposal, "Leveraging Learning Assistantships, Mentoring, and Scholarships to Develop Self-Determined Mathematics Teachers for West Texas," aims to produce 27 new, certified mathematics teachers who will teach in high-need school districts in West Texas. The work will be done by a partnership that includes Texas Tech University, South Plains College, Midland College, and the Lubbock Independent School District. The project will recruit first- and second-year undergraduates and provide them with an early teaching experience through work as learning assistants in college-level math classes. By providing the learning assistants with financial support, near-peer mentoring, and direct classroom experience, the recruitment strategy is expected to encourage students to pursue a career in secondary mathematics teaching. This new NSF grant begins June 1, 2019, and is supplemental to an already existing Noyce Scholarship program that fosters high-quality STEM teacher recruitment. Other faculty on the team are principal investigator Jerry Dwyer, professor in the College of Education and director of CISER; and co-principal investigators Michael Galyean, TTU Provost, and Jill White, associate program director of STEM outreach for CISER.
Surliuga Speaks in Dallas
Victoria Surliuga, an associate professor of Italian Studies and Italian Program Coordinator in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, spoke about contemporary Italian artist Ezio Gribaudo on March 29 at the University of Dallas. Surliuga has written extensively about Gribaudo, having authored several publications in both Italian and English about his works. In 2016, Surliuga curated the exhibition "Ezio Gribaudo's Theaters of Memory" held at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock. And her book, "Ezio Gribaudo: The Man in the Middle of Modernism" (New York-London: Glitterati, 2016), won First Place in the Texas Tech University President's Faculty Book Award for 2017-2018.
Gittner Awarded by Lubbock YWCA
Lisa Gittner, an associate professor in both the Texas Tech Department of Political Science and the TTU Health Sciences Center Julia Jones Matthews Department of Public Health is recipient of the 2019 Women of Excellence Award for Science from the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Lubbock. The presentation took place during an awards dinner March 19 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Gittner is a member of The American Society of Public Administrators and The American Public Health Association and an associate member of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health within TTUHSC. She is an expert on peer social support to improve health outcomes. Her research focuses on the management of life-course disease risk through networks. She currently is working on a collaboration with the Lubbock County Detention Center, funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, to analyze trends in and reduce incarceration of individuals with serious mental illness. More about Lisa Gittner may be found by following this link.
Wong Receives Award for Excellence
Aliza Wong, associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of the Honors College, received the 2019 Professing Excellence Award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing and announced in March. Recipients are nominated by students for having demonstrated exceptional educational skills. Electrical engineering senior Ryan Clark nominated Wong, remembering in a YouTube video the time she invited a prince for lunch with the class. "It was the first time and only time I've ever met a prince, and we just all sat down and I think we either ate pizza or lasagna with him," Clark said pf the prince. "He just kind of talked about the EU and how Brexit was affecting everything, and that was amazing." Clark also studied abroad in Italy with Wong, saying, "I learned to speak Italian to Italians, and I'm someone who's not necessarily (comfortable) speaking English to people who speak English. She really helped me through that, and she helped me pursue leadership opportunities and pushed me to the best person I could be." Clark said he now has roots at Texas Tech: "And one of those is definitely Aliza Wong."
Pal Named Editor, Awarded R&D Grant
Sandip Pal, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geosciences, was awarded an International Research and Development Seed Grant 2019 from TTU's Office of International Affairs. His country of interest is Bulgaria and his project is "Impact of Advected Urban Boundary Layer on the Atmospheric Dynamics and Convection Initiations over the Adjacent Sub-urban and Rural areas." The International Research and Development Seed Grants were awarded March 15 and are intended to enhance international research and development activities at Texas Tech University and support faculty in developing new, long-term international relationships that are interdisciplinary and multi-institutional. Pal also recently was named associate editor for Atmospheric Sciences Letters, published by the Royal Meteorological Society.
Godard-Codding Studies Endangered Whales
Céline Godard-Codding, associate chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology and an associate professor of endangered species toxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), is leading a worldwide research effort to study the health of the western gray whale, a critically endangered species found only along Russia's Pacific coast, and has developed a new method that could impact her entire field along the way. Her part in the research began five years ago after ExxonMobil asked the Russian government for permission to drill in the waters where the western gray whales feed. As part of the subsequent government-mandated environmental assessment, which examines how such activity might impact the already endangered species, Godard-Codding was hired to lead a study of whether the whales also reproduce in those waters. "There are only about 300 or so left, so there's a lot of concern about that population of whales," Godard-Codding said. The trouble is, western gray whales are extremely shy and avoid human interaction, so it's difficult to obtain information about them. In contrast, their so-called "sister" population, the eastern gray whales, found all along the Pacific coast of the United States, are much more comfortable around humans. "It started as only whether the whale was pregnant or not; that's it," Godard-Codding said. "I've since expanded that part of the program because, with hormone analysis, you could potentially look at more than just if the whale is pregnant or not. The more information we have about these animals, the better we can have science-based conservation efforts." For a full account of Céline Godard-Codding's whale research, follow this link.
Cardenas Wins Teaching Award
Zachary Cardenas, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, received the 2019 Professing Excellence Award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing and announced in March. Recipients are nominated by students for having demonstrated exceptional educational skills. Mechanical engineering sophomore Grant Tekell, who nominated Cardenas, described in a YouTube video how Cardenas gets to know the students in his lab by asking about how their week is going or what sports they like, for example. "I forget exactly what he said to me, but I remember he made me feel genuinely cared for." Tekell said Cardenas answers student's questions in a way that makes the subject matter easy to understand. "To teach it well, you have to understand it well. And he teaches and makes things clear."
Piña-Watson Receives President's Excellence Award
Brandy Piña-Watson, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, received the President's Excellence in Diversity & Equity Award for Tenure-Track Faculty during a ceremony on April 30. Piña-Watson also is an affiliate of the Department of Human Development & Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The awards celebrate faculty, students and staff who exemplify Texas Tech University's commitment to advancing diversity and promoting equity and inclusiveness. The program was held in the Hall of Nations at the International Cultural Center, with Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec addressing the nominees and winners. "A commitment to diversity not only grows the pool of talent on a campus, but supports an environment that makes greater use of our human resources," Schovanec said. In addition to recognition at the ceremony, Piña-Watson will receive a $2,500 research award in September. The awards were created by the Office of the President and administered by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Levario Wins Lyerla Travel Grant
Miguel Levario, professor in the Department of History, received a $750 Gloria Lyerla Library Memorial Fund Research Travel Grant from Texas Tech University Libraries. The grant supports TTU scholars by helping them meet the costs of travel to reach rare or difficult-to-retrieve research materials in libraries, archives, museums and other repositories worldwide. Levario's 2019 research project is "Standing Our Ground: Mexican American Agrupaciones Protectoras and Racial Violence." Levario was recognized as a recipient during the Spring 2019 Faculty Convocation, held April 17.
Gamez Chosen for Spectrochemistry Award
Gerardo Gamez, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has won the Winter Conference Young Scientists Award in Plasma Spectrochemistry. The award is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific and will be presented at the January 2020 Winter Conference in Tucson. Recipients of this award are recognized for their noteworthy achievements in conceptualization and development of novel instrumentation as well as the elucidation of fundamental events or processes involved in plasma spectrochemistry. The award also acknowledges the authorship of significant research papers or books that have had an influential role in new advancements and outstanding applications that open new fields of use for plasma spectrochemistry. Along with the recognition, Gamez will receive a certificate, a trophy and a $5,000 prize.
Chang Receives Horn Professors Award
Yu-Wei Chang, from the Department of Environmental Toxicology, has won the Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award for 2019. Chang's national award-winning research focuses on the adverse effects of environmental contaminants in kidney diseases and cancer. Most recently, she has been conducting research on the adverse affects of small amounts of arsenic in tap water. Her creative and impressive work not only looks at cause, but it also examines therapy approaches to reduce or prevent the negative effects of certain environmental contaminants. Her ground-breaking research is directly relevant to clinical patient care. The Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award was established by the Paul Whitfield Horn Professors at Texas Tech University to recognize and reward outstanding research or creative activity performed by graduate students while here. She was was nominated by her research mentor Kamaleshwar Singh. A detailed story about Chang's research may be found by following this link.
Andrews Speaks on Sexism in STEM
Miranda Andrews, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has given several presentations on "Sexism in STEM." Read about her findings and her full presentation at this link.
Farooq Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Hira Farooq, a Ph.D. candidate in Condensed Matter Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Texas Tech University.
Wang Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Tyler Wang, a Ph.D. student in High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has received a Graduate Student Research Support Award of $1,000 from Texas Tech University Graduate School.
Borges Runner Up for Research Award
Pablo Hernandez Borges, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, was recognized as the first runner-up for the Student International Research Award, which recognizes international scholarship by a graduate student and is based on the annual Graduate School poster competition. His recognition came during the Global Vision Awards, held April 4, 2019, at the International Cultural Center. Borges was recognized for his research "Playing the Musical Chairs: A case study of corruption and cabinet rotation in Venezuela." His research examines the relationship of the high rotation of government ministers, a larger gross domestic product and the party in power running counter to the stability of the executive branch in government while at the same time increasing the level of governmental corruption. Winning the award was Grace Hyunjung Lee, a graduate student in Nutritional Sciences, for her research and cross-sectional study conducted in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Gard Lands Graduate Fellowship
Shipra Gard, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Helen DeVitt Jones Graduate Fellowship. The Fellowship award is $3,500 per year for three years to pursue a doctoral degree starting fall 2019.
Brar Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Amandeep Brar, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Tahmouresilerd Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Babak Tahmouresilerd, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of assistant professor Anthony Cozzolino's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Rajkumar Gets International Internship
Priyadarshini Rajkumar, an undergraduate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been accepted into the Caltech GROWTH international summer internship project, where she will spend the summer of 2019 conducting research with data from the Liverpool Telescope. The Liverpool Telescope, while physically located in the Canary Islands, is owned and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, John Moores University, in Liverpool, England. Texas Tech University is one of 14 institutions and multiple observatories around the world that have created a network of telescopes that can observe fast changing cosmic events. Called the GROWTH project for short, the acronym stands for Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
Elmassry Wants to Nip Sepsis in the Bud
Moamen Elmassry, a graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in microbiology in the Department of Biological Sciences, is focusing on the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can lead to sepsis if it gets into a patient's blood. Sepsis is one of the most troubling conditions in the medical community today. It's the leading cause of death in intensive care units, with an estimated 1 million new cases in hospitalized patients each year in the United States alone. The condition, in which the body's immune system goes into overdrive trying to kill a blood-borne bacterial infection, is easily treated with antibiotics—the trouble is that the detection time has, in the past, taken longer than it takes for sepsis to kill a patient. So why not just treat every patient with antibiotics to prevent sepsis before it happens? Because overuse of antibiotics leads to increased drug resistance, which makes antibiotics less effective in the future. It's a tricky situation that researchers the world over have been trying to address in a variety of ways, including a novel, faster-detection device developed in the Texas Tech University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. But many of these methods focus on detection and treatment. What if you could know, ahead of time, why certain patients are more likely to get sepsis? That is the basis of Elmassry's new research, which he is conducting in collaboration with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. More about Elmassry's sepsis research may be found at this link.
Harris Develops 'Science in Cinema' Guide
Breanna Harris, a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has developed a new discussion guide that uses a major motion picture as a classroom tool for talking in-depth about science in cinema. "Is it Reel? Using Cinema to Explore Science," takes on the challenging subjects of death, dying and decay. The guide is based on the movie "To Dust," which won the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award. Starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, this dark comedy explores a man's obsession with how a loved one's remains will decay. Harris's guide, subtitled "Case Study #1: To Dust—A Story of Love, Loss, and Decomposition," contains movie scenes along with scientific discussion questions that introduce topics—death and decomposition—that Harris says are seldom approached in American society and are often glossed over in biology courses. By combining a movie with questions ranging from basic science (e.g., What is apoptosis?) to philosophy (e.g., What is death?), the guide brings critical thinking to bear on the subject matter. Harris designed the guide for use in high school and introductory college-level courses. She says this case study would be appropriate for a variety of courses, including introductory biology, forensic science, research method, gerontology, anatomy and physiology, aging/lifespan, religion, media communication, and film study. To help instructors guide students, a list of resources is included; but instructors are free to add whatever other sources they deem relevant to their course, syllabus, and learning goals.
Flores-Yeffal Discusses Border Walls in D.C.
Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal, sociologist and assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, gave a presentation Feb. 17 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. In the scientific session entitled "Border Walls: Exclusionary and Ineffective," Flores-Yeffal presented her research paper on "Social Networks and Undocumented Immigration to the United States: The Evidence." Her presentation focused on how undocumented immigrants develop social networks, called Migration-Trust Networks, and are able to enter, find jobs, and settle in the United States regardless of the existence of high levels of border enforcement and/or a wall. This research paper is an extension of findings that Flores-Yeffal published in her book, "Migration-Trust Networks: Social Cohesion in Mexican U.S.-Bound Emigration" (Texas A&M University Press, 2015). Also presenting during the session were demographers Dudley Poston of Texas A&M University and Guillermina Jasso of New York University.
Spurgeon Receives Fulbright to Norway
Sara Spurgeon, professor in the Department of English, recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year to research and teach in Norway. She has studied and taught the literatures of various indigenous cultures, including those of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Columbia, and Australia, and how contemporary indigenous art, graphic novels, films and literature contribute to the emerging field of Indigenous Futurism. She will be teaching undergraduate and graduate American literature courses at the University of Bergen and researching the Sámi, an indigenous people in Norway, who have revived current cultural and environmental activism. Like the Sámi, literature of other indigenous cultures, including those of the Americas, have frequently critiqued Euro-western ideas regarding nature and the sacred, gender roles and violence, and exploitation vs. sustainability. Spurgeon hopes to study these conversations and concepts during her time in Norway. She remarks how the TTU English Department has helped her achieve this incredible opportunity: "The Texas Tech Department of English has supported me as a scholar from the beginning of my work here in West Texas, offering space for me to explore new scholarly fields, to pursue admittedly eclectic and unusual avenues of study, and to provide a venue for students interested in those fields to join in by supporting the establishment of the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) graduate concentration and undergraduate minor."
Van Gestel Skypes from Antarctica with Kids
Natasja van Gestel, a quantitative ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, is on her second research expedition to Antarctica. On Feb. 12, she made time for a Skype session with two fourth-grade classes at North Ridge Elementary School in Lubbock's Frenship Independent School District. On Day 71 in her daily blog from the icy continent, van Gestel, pictured above piloting an inflatable boat, wrote that the children were well-prepared by their teachers Joanne Grothusen and Whitney Sarinana: "I was very impressed with the insightful questions! It was obvious they had done some research regarding Antarctica!" More about van Gestel's correspondence may be found at this link.
Swingen Appointed Associate Vice President OR&I
Abigail Swingen, associate professor in the Department of History, has been appointed as an Associate Vice President in the Office of Research & Innovation (OR&I). She began serving as a Research Faculty Fellow in OR&I last year. Swingen will provide outreach to the humanities disciplines, as well as manage internal funding programs, targeted external awards, internal research awards, and the Faculty Research Club. Her book, "Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire" (Yale, 2015), won the second place President's Faculty Book Award at Texas Tech for 2017. She has received external support from the Huntington Library, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Joseph A. Heppert, Vice President for Research & Innovation, described Swingen as an accomplished scholar with a passion for supporting research, scholarship, and creative activity at Texas Tech.
Ribeiro Headed to Vienna as Guest Professor
Anna Christina Ribeiro, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, will be a guest professor of aesthetics at the University of Vienna in the summer of 2019. Ribeiro specializes in aesthetics and the philosophy of art and currently is a trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics (2017-2020). Most of her work has focused on a philosophical analysis of poetry; and she has written the entries on poetry for The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature (2016), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics (2nd ed., 2014), and The Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (2nd ed., 2009), as well as several journal articles and book chapters on the philosophy of poetry. Among her recognitions are the 2016 American Society for Aesthetics Ted Cohen Prize for "The Spoken and the Written: An Ontology of Poems" (in The Philosophy of Poetry, Oxford University Press 2015).
McLeod Publishes on Stellar Jet in 'Nature'
Anna F. McLeod, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Texas Tech Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Astronomy at the University of California-Berkeley, has discovered one of the longest stellar jets ever observed--nearly 33 light-years in length. Her discovery was published in the journal "Nature" on Jan. 24, 2019. McLeod's research, "A parsec-scale optical jet from a massive young star in the Large Magellanic Cloud," found the phenomenon in a region of newly forming stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and captured it with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The relatively small amount of dust in the LMC and MUSE's acute vision allowed intricate details of the region to be picked out in visible light, and the image of this neighborhood is a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors. Details of McLeod's research may be found at this link.
Pahom Co-Authors Chemical Engineering Paper
Olga Pahom, an ESL instructor in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, has co-authored an article with two chemical engineers. The article, "Kinetic Study for Comprehensive Understanding of Solid-State Polymorphic Transitions of Nicotinamide/Pimelic Acid Cocrystals," was published Jan. 9 in Crystal Growth & Design, a journal of the American Chemical Society. Her co-authors were both from the Edward E. Whitacre College of Engineering's Department of Chemical Engineering: Brandon Weeks, professor and associate dean of research; and listed a first author, Yong Joon Lee, a graduate research assistant and Ph.D. candidate.
Rodriguez Perseveres To Bachelor's Degree
Teresa Rodriguez is a newly minted Texas Tech University graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology. When she walked across the stage in December 2018, it marked the final step of an educational odyssey that began for a unique first-generation college student when she was in her mid-40s. Along the way, Rodriguez found another level of inner strength she wasn't sure existed when she extended her family more than she ever thought imaginable. In the middle of her unorthodox journey, family ties tugged at Rodriguez's heart when her cousin's five young children were thrust into limbo and teetered on the edge of becoming wards of the State of Texas. So Rodriguez, already a busy mother and grandmother, stepped in without a second thought and took in the five children—at the time ranging in age from 1-8—as a foster parent. "Sometimes I wonder how in the world I did it, but I did," Rodriguez said with a smile. "There were times when I wasn't sure I could make it, but the people at Texas Tech helped me and my family in ways I never expected." Read more about Teresa Rodriguez at this link.
Elizalde Wins People's Choice in 3 Minutes
Armando Elizalde Velazquez came to Texas Tech University nearly two years ago with a strong interest in microplastic research. Now, three semesters from a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology, Velazquez has matched his knowledge with a deep passion about the topic. Explaining that blend of knowledge and passion is an important next step, so when Velazquez had an opportunity to test a new means to do so, he didn't let it pass. A native of Toluca, Mexico, Velazquez participated in Texas Tech's Three-Minute Thesis Competition last month and was one of the program's shining stars. His presentation, "Microplastics: An invisible threat," earned third place as well as the People's Choice award. "We live in a world where everything we use involves, plastic and we are dumping it at a high rate. Now we can see some consequences, however its environmental impact remains unknown. Here is where my research comes in" Velazquez said. Read more about Armando Elizalde at this link.
Williams Finds a 'First Gen' Haven at TTU
Malik Williams realized when he was still young, yet more worldly than he probably should have been, that he would have to take a giant leap of faith in life to escape the circumstances around him. Growing up in poverty in north San Antonio—to the degree that he wasn't always sure where his next meal would come from or sometimes when—Williams knew he had to find a way out. The most promising path was through a college education, and that was where Williams directed his focus. Williams is halfway down that path, a junior at Texas Tech University majoring in political science with a double minor in legal studies and communications studies. His goal after he earns a bachelor's degree is law school at an Ivy League school. "I grew up in a ghetto with guns, drugs and gangs," Williams said. "Every night, you'd hear guns shooting and then the next day hear that somebody had been killed. Coming to Texas Tech, this is a world apart from what I grew up with. Read more about Malik Williams at this link.
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