Texas Tech University

A&S Faculty News

August 2017

Hayhoe on Climate Change, Hurricane Harvey

Katharine Hayhoe TTUKatharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of TTU's Climate Science Center, was mentioned in a story originally appearing in Climatewire and republished August 25 in Nature America/Scientific American. The article held that then-upcoming Hurricane Harvey "could prove to be one of the biggest political tests of President Trump's tenure," pointing out that this would be the first major test of "emergency management reforms installed after President George W. Bush's administration blundered disaster response when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans." The article contrasted Hayhoe's explanation that "A warmer planet causes evaporation to speed up, which means there is more water vapor in the air and leads to more intense rainfalls," with the assumption that Trump's emphasis on fighting terrorism and bolstering national security "would shift dollars to those efforts and away from disaster preparedness and response programs on which local and state governments rely." In an August 31 letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, Rick Knight, Illinois state coordinator of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, drew from the same statement to argue that "We must let our senators and members of Congress know that if they sponsor legislation to address global warming, we will have their backs." Knight quoted Hayhoe this way: "as the world warms ... there's more water vapor for a storm to sweep up and dump now, compared to 70 years ago."

Casadonte in Top 40 on Flipped Classrooms

Dominick Casadonte TTUDominick Casadonte, the Minnie Stevens Piper professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been named among the world's Top 40 educators in "flipped learning," a year after being named to the Top 100 educators in the teaching movement, according to an August 24 Texas Tech Today story. Flipped learning changes the traditional educational model—class lectures, homework and tests—to one where students watch a lecture and complete some homework problems before coming to class. Then, the in-class time is used to recap the material, answer student questions and work advanced problems. The honor was granted by the Flipped Learning Global Initiative (FLGI). "I have been very active in flipped learning research and development since nearly the beginning of the field," Casadonte told Texas Tech Today. "I am very thankful and humbled to be included as part of a great list of educators, especially in the STEM disciplines."

Ramkumar Says Cotton Needs New Markets

Seshadri Ramkumar TTUSeshadri Ramkumar, Professor of Nonwovens & Advanced Materials in The Institute for Environmental & Human Health (TIEHH), wrote a column published August 23 in Cotton Grower. In his column, Ramkumar stressed the importance of finding new markets and new uses for cotton. A recent meeting with some cotton leaders in India led Ramkumar to write: "It has become clear that the industry is looking into several factors such as availability of land for food vis-à-vis fiber, demand, cost, and competition from synthetics. With the largest cotton crop in 11 years predicted this season in the United States, price and demand factors will play important roles both from production and consumption points of view."

Dhurandhar Recommends Whole Grains

Emily Dhurandhar TTUEmily Dhurandhar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, was quoted in a WINK-News article (originally published in Consumer Reports) on how to pick a healthy cereal. The article, posted online August 22, recommended that people look on the box for 100 percent whole-grain as a source of fiber. Eating fiber in the morning means "you're not going to be having a hunger attack midmorning," the article quoted Dhurandhar as saying. The article went on to report that studies have linked whole grains to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.


Morehead Interviewed from Eclipse Site

Robert Morehead TTURobert Morehead, Instructor of Astronomy in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, and Director of Texas Tech University's Preston Gott Observatory, was interviewed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, KTTZ-FM, and One News Page while in Oregon to view the August 21 solar eclipse. "It happens somewhere on the earth about every 18 months or so. But for any one place on earth it only happens on average about once in each 300 years. And that's on average—some places on earth haven't seen one for 1,500 years," Morehead told the A-J. "But other places on earth, like for instance Carbondale, Ill., is actually in the path for this eclipse, and for the next one that's going to be viewable in the United States in 2024. So, in six years, it's going to get two total eclipses, which is pretty awesome." The A-J article went on to quote Morehead as saying of the 2024 eclipse: "It's going to skirt past San Antonio and Austin, and it's going to go right over Dallas."

Estreicher Lectures on History of Wine

Stefan Estreicher TTUStefan Estreicher, Horn Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, gave a lecture on the beginnings of wine and viticulture August 20 at Pheasant Ridge Winery. Wine and viticulture are among Estreicher's personal passions, and he has published multiple papers on the subject. During his talk he walked attendees through wine making from antiquity to current methods. Estreicher received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Zürich in 1982. After working as a postdoc and then instructor at Rice University, he joined Texas Tech University in 1986. His theoretical research deals with defects in semiconductors and nanostructures, and their impact on the electrical, optical, and thermal properties of the material. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society since 1997 and of the Institute of Physics (UK) since 2006. He won the 2001 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize from the Humboldt Foundation. He has given over 50 invited and plenary conferences and over 100 technical seminars around the world.

Maccarone Has Warning for Eclipse Viewers

Tom Maccarone TTUTom Maccarone, Associate Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, warned people to protect their eyes when attempting to view the August 21 solar eclipse. "The first thing to do is make sure you have proper protection," Maccarone said in an August 19 news article in the Lamesa Press-Reporter. The story went on to quote NASA on further eclipse dos and don'ts: "Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight." It also is not safe to look at the sun through the viewfinder of a camera or an unfiltered telescope, binoculars, or other optical device, NASA reports. The only safe way to look directly at an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, according to NASA's eclipse website.

Wagner Studies Children and Neighborhoods

Brandon Wagner TTUBrandon Wagner, Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, was part of a research team that published its study, "Geography of intergenerational mobility and child development," August 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study showed that children who grow up in urban counties with high upward mobility exhibit fewer behavioral problems and perform better on cognitive tests, according to a story published August 15 by MTNV News. In addition to Wagner, others on the research team were principal investigator Sara S. McLanahan, William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and founding director of the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing; lead author Louis Donnelly, Princeton; Irv Garfinkel, Columbia University; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia; and Sarah James, Princeton.

Hayhoe Asked How to Change 'Climate Deniers'

Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of TTU's Climate Science Center, was interviewed for an August 10 story in Phys.org headlined "What Changes Minds About Climate Change?" the article referred to a query from readers of Reddit: "Former climate change deniers, what changed your mind?" Six-hundred-forty-five people responded, with the story reporting that "Many of the respondents said they were originally influenced by the skeptical beliefs of their families, communities and religion, but studying environmental science in high school or college was pivotal in changing their attitudes," and that "As of 2016, only 9 percent of Americans were dismissive of global warming." Hayhoe's response was to tell the publication that she no longer spends time trying to persuade those with a dismissive mindset except in audiences. "Her goal is to move the larger percentage of people who are doubtful, disengaged and cautious into the 'concerned' category," the article reported. It also referenced Hayhoe's Global Weirding series on YouTube.

Bradatan Takes Fulbright in Romania

Cristina Bradatan TTUCristina Bradatan, Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, is one of four Texas Tech faculty members named a Fulbright Scholar for the 2017-18 academic year, Bradatan will travel to Romania for a real-world study on how three rural communities are adapting to climate change. Bradatan also is a faculty member of TTU's Climate Science Center. Her project, titled "Governing the Commons: Climate Change, Irrigation and Cooperation in Southern Rural Romanian Communities," will see her conducting interviews with farmers and collecting literature on the topic. "The goal of this project is to understand what makes people cooperate when faced with environmental problems—drought, in this case," Bradatan told Texas Tech Today in an August 9 story about her work. "The study will compare three rural communities where people adopted different strategies, or did nothing, in order to deal with this issue." Her Fulbright fellowship is for one semester, spring 2018, but she expects to continue working for the next two years on the information she collects.

McKee Study Referenced in Op-Ed

Seth McKee TTUSeth McKee, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, was referenced in an August 8 op-ed in The Washington Post, headlined "Why the Next black President Could be a Republican." The the opinion piece centers on the work of Theodore R. Johnson, a fellow at New America and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy; he uses historical election results to show that black Republicans in Senate and gubernatorial races since 1965 have been elected nearly as often as black Democrats. From there, "Johnson theorizes that we're so polarized now that GOP voters will readily vote for any GOP candidate—black or white—instead of voting against a black GOP candidate (and, thus, for a Democrat) merely because of race," the article stated. The research of McKee and co-researcher M.V. Hood of the University of Georgia was quoted from their study "True Colors: White Conservatives Support for Minority Republican Candidates," published in the Spring 2016 Public Opinion Quarterly. "At a minimum, the level of ideological polarization in American politics masks racially prejudiced voting behavior, and at a maximum, it renders it inoperable," McKee and Hood found.

Witmore Fellowship for Archaeology Research

Christopher Witmore, Associate Professor in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, received a fellowship of $4,830 sponsored by CAS at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Witmore's project title is "After Discourse: Things, Archaeology and Heritage in the 21th (sic) Century." Awards were announced by the TTU Office of Research Services the week of August 3-9.

Weiss, Bruning, Dahl Continue VORTEX-SE

Christopher Weiss, Erick Bruning, Johannes Dahl, TTU Christopher Weiss, Associate Professor; Eric Bruning, Associate Professor; and Johannes Dahl, Assistant Professor; all Atmospheric Scientists in the Department of Geosciences, were awarded a total of $149,754 from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the research project, "NWI VORTEX-SE: Insights into the Structure and Predictability of Southeastern U.S. Tornadic Storms Afforded by Intensive Observation and High-Resolution Numerical Modeling." This grant is the third in a series from NOAA for the VORTEX-SE project, which is working to better predict tornadoes in the American Southeast. "We have spent nearly five months in Alabama the last couple spring seasons using our in situ and radar instrumentation to try to better understand how tornadoes develop in this section of the country," Weiss said. The project has attracted quite a bit of coverage by national media such as CNN and coverage by local media such as Texas Tech Today. Awards were announced by the TTU Office of Research Services the week of August 3-9.

Presley Receives Grant from Texas 

Steven Presley, Professor in The Institute of Environmental & Human Health (TIEHH), received $5,000 of an anticipated $10,000 grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for Public Health Grant #3. The award was announced by the TTU Office of Research Services the week ending August 2.

McGuire to Study Lake Erie Bat Migration

Liam McGuire, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, received a grant of $32,495 from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The funds will go toward research on a two-year project to study bat migration across Lake Erie. The grant was announced by the TTU Office of Research Services the week ending August 2.

Hayhoe Says Climate Report 'Not Political'

Katharine Hayhoe TTUKatharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of TTU's Climate Science Center, was quoted in a post to Nashville Public Radio as one of the lead authors of a document from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a federally-mandated assessment of climate science not yet published but leaked the week of August 7 to the New York Times. The post states that, "In many ways the report is a direct challenge to President Donald Trump's dismissal of concern about climate change," and that although the study "was prepared largely under the Obama administration, it's not a political document." Hayhoe told the radio station: "This is the most comprehensive science report that has been published outside of the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to my knowledge," and that it also is the most up-to-date, as the most recent previous report is 4 years old. Hayhoe described the report as bringing together that latest science in a way that "presents us with a stark and unyielding picture of the tremendous impacts humans are having on this planet and, moreover, the importance of the decisions that we are making today to reduce and eventually eliminate our carbon emissions." The final draft is awaiting publication, pending review by the Trump administration. "If the report is approved, then it is just a matter of logistics before it is published. However, the administration may choose to not approve it, or to request changes," Hayhoe was quoted as saying, adding that if it is not approved or changes are requested, "the author team will then have to decide whether they can make [those changes] or not." Regarding this same document and its findings, Hayhoe was quoted August 8 in Price of Oil, August 8 in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and August 9 in The Times of India


Shu Taking Fulbright in Singapore

Yuan Shu TTUYuan Shu, Associate Professor in the Department of English and Director of Texas Tech University's Asian Studies program, is one of four TTU faculty members named a Fulbright Scholar for the 2017-18 academic year. Shu will use his Fulbright to teach transnational American studies to university students in Singapore, according to an August 2 article in TexasTechToday. His proposal, "Democracy, Asian Values and Transnational American Studies," will include one of three courses—"Introduction to American Studies," "Post-9/11 American Literature" or "Vietnam War Literature"—as a seminar at the graduate level. He also plans to investigate how the relationship between democracy/human rights and Asian values has evolved in Singaporean literature and culture through the framework of transnational American studies. Shu will teach and conduct research at the National University of Singapore for five months, from August 2017 to January 2018. When he returns, Shu will organize a conference on transnational American studies in August 2018.

Sagarzazu on Turmoil in Venezuela

Inaki Sagarzazu TTUInaki Sagarzazu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, was interviewed August 1 by Texas Public Radio on how the political turmoil in Venezuela has affected one of Texas' largest cities: San Antonio. The broadcast described recent elections in Venezuela as a move toward dictatorship when "President Nicolás Maduro refused the results of a nonbinding referendum in mid-July opposing his National Constituent Assembly. More than 1,000 Venezuelans in the San Antonio area turned out to show solidarity by casting votes in this symbolic referendum," the broadcast reported.