Texas Tech University

A&S Faculty News

October 2017

Sarka Gives Presentation at SWTCC

Janos Sarka, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, presented "Rovibrational quantum dynamics of the methane-water dimer" at SWTCC Symposium on Oct. 31. Sarka conducts research in the lab of Professor Bill Poirier.

Gamez Speaks at Seminar in Indiana

Gerardo Gamez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave an invited talk, entitled "Hyperspectral Imaging for Plasma-based Chemical Analysis," at the Department of Chemistry Seminar Series, Indiana University-Bloomington, Oct. 31, in Bloomington, Ind.

Wenthe Named Poet Laureate of Lubbock

William Wenthe TTUWilliam Wenthe, Professor in the Department of English, has been named the first Poet Laureate of Lubbock. The position is a one-year term, after which it will be rotated annually among the diversity of writers in the Lubbock area. The announcement was made at the first Lubbock Book Festival, on the weekend of Oct. 27. As Poet Laureate, Wenthe will find himself giving readings and visiting local schools to support the literary arts. Wenthe said the position is more about Lubbock than himself: It is a way of signaling that Lubbock deserves its place in the literary landscape of Texas, the Southwest, the country. (Wenthe was also quick to point out that though this official title of Poet Laureate is new, the de facto unofficial Poet Laureate of Lubbock is Professor Emeritus Walt McDonald, founder of Texas Tech's creative writing program, and Texas State Poet Laureate in 2001.) Wenthe was born and raised in New Jersey; after studying in Massachusetts and Virginia he moved to Lubbock in 1992, where he joined the English Department. His teaching areas are mainly 20th Century British Poetry, and Creative Writing. He is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is "God's Foolishness" (LSU Press 2016). His previous books are "Words Before Dawn," "Not Till We Are Lost," and "Birds of Hoboken." His poetry has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Texas Institute of Letters, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. Numerous anthologies and journals have published his poems and essays on poetry, including Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, The Georgia Review, The Yale Review, Threepenny Review, and American Poetry Review.

Mechref Talks on Glycans in Norman

Yehia Mechref, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave an invited talk entitled "The Attributes of Glycans and GlycopeptideIsomers in Diseases" at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Okla., Oct. 27.

Gamez a Distinguished Speaker at Los Alamos

Gerardo Gamez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave an invited distinguished speaker talk, entitled "Ultra-high Throughput Surface Analysis with Multi-dimensional Resolution via Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy," at the Los Alamos National Laboratories Chemistry Colloquium Series, Oct. 26, in Los Alamos, N.M.

Cunningham Sets LBJ Conspiracy Aside

Sean Cunningham, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History, was quoted in an Oct. 25 Washington Post/OmahaWorld Herald article about the soon-to-be-released JFK assassination files. The article served as a round-up of conspiracy theories that have formed in the decades since President John Kennedy was shot in Dallas. One of the theories holds that Kennedy's Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, was behind the assassination, but Cunningham said there was no evidence to support that theory, the article stated, and went on to report: "'Johnson makes for a good story and is an easy way to explain things,' Cunningham told the Daily Beast."

Poirier Gives 2 Presentations in Ontario

Bill Poirier, Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, presented "Quantum Mechanics Without Wavefunctions" at the Quantum Foundations Seminar at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Oct 24. That was preceded Oct. 20 by another presentation, "Sulfur Mass Independent Fractionation (S-MIF): How quantum dynamics will answer fundamental questions about the origins of life," which he gave in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Kingston Receives Miller Award at NASBR

Tigga Kingston TTUTigga Kingston, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, became the 26th recipient of the Gerrit Miller Award at the annual convention of the North American Symposium on Bat Research (NASBR). Department Chair Ron Chesser wrote to say, "This is the Society's top award and given 'in recognition of outstanding service and contribution to the field of chiropteran biology.' This honor is well-deserved." The award is named after Gerrit S. Miller, Jr., an outstanding early twentieth century bat biologist at the Smithsonian Institution. Miller's work on the evolutionary relationships of chiropteran families and genera to one another still strongly influences taxonomic thinking about bats today. The 47th Annual NASBR Meeting was held in Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 18-21.

Mechref Nominated for Hackerman Award

Yehia Mechref, TTU Chemistry ChairYehia Mechref, Professor and Chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been nominated for the Welch Foundation's Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. The award recognizes and encourages the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers and are dedicated to increasing the fundamental understanding of chemistry. The Scientific Advisory Board will consider whether or not any nominee or nominees are worthy of the award, and will recommend to the Board of Directors not more than three nominees they determine are qualified to receive the award. The Board of Directors will make the final selection. The award was established by the Foundation to honor Norman Hackerman, its Scientific Advisory Board chair from 1982 to 2006.

Howe Book Named Best in Italian History

John Howe, TTU History Professor

John Howe, Professor in the Department of History, has been awarded the Howard R. Marraro Prize, honoring the year's best book in Italian history, for "Before the Gregorian Reform: The Latin Church at the Turn of the First Millennium" (Cornell University Press, 2016). The prize will be presented at the American Catholic Historical Association Meeting, held in conjunction with the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, on January 6, 2018, in Washington D.C. The preliminary citation reads: "In this learned, wide-ranging study, John Howe boldly reframes the long tenth century, not as a fallow interval in the history of the Latin Church in Western Europe, but as period whose creative ferment made the Gregorian Reform possible. Howe deploys his arguments with exemplary economy and clarity, calling attention to the significant roles played by actors inside and outside the Church, and to the value of exploiting visual and material evidence alongside textual sources."

Corsi Studies Collision of Neutron Stars

Alessandra Corsi, TTU Astrophysicist

Alessandra Corsi, Astrophysicist in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, was quoted in a an Oct. 16 article in Nature about two neutron stars that merged to form a black hole, in a galaxy 130 million light years away. The merger was detected Aug. 17 on Earth. Nature reported that the event generated the strongest and longest-lasting gravitational-wave signal yet measured. But the discoveries didn't end there. "The visible-light signal generated during the collision closely matches predictions made in recent years by theoretical astrophysicists, who hold that many elements of the periodic table that are heavier than iron are formed as a result of such stellar collisions," the article stated. Many astronomers were looking in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum to confirm that this collision could form many chemical elements from the periodic table that are heavier than iron. Other astronomers looked for any X-rays that may have generated, to see what that information might reveal. Corsi, who is a member of the international research team that confirmed the existence of gravitational waves just a little over a year ago, looked for radio emissions using the Very Large Array in New Mexico, the story said. "It turned out we had to wait 16 very long days in order to see the first radio glow," she told Nature. As the article explained: "After a few weeks, most observatories had to stop looking at the object, because that part of the sky had gotten too close to the Sun. But radio telescopes are still tracking it to this day, Corsi says. More discoveries might yet be made." Corsi also was referenced in an Oct. 17 article in The Washington Post on this same subject. More updates are available in a Nov. 4 article from AgenParl.com.

Harned Named Associate Editor of Journal

Andrew Harned, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,has been named an Associate Editor and member of the Chemistry Editorial Board for Royal Society Open Science, a multidisciplinary open access journal, covering 12 subjects across all of science, engineering and mathematics. The journal aims to publish high quality work, using objective peer-review without restrictions on scope, length or impact. Although the Royal Society owns the journal, the chemistry content is published in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry. Of particular note, Harned will be the journal's first Associate Editor of chemistry content to be based in the United States.

Hayhoe on Climate Change & Hurricanes

Katharine Hayhoe TTUKatharine Hayhoe, Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of TTU's Climate Science Center, was quoted in an Oct. 14 Newsweek article about the National Clean Energy Conference in Las Vegas, where former Vice President Al Gore was a keynote speaker. The article focused on Gore's concerns that a warming planet was exacerbating wildfires throughout the American West and a reliance of fossil fuels for the increasing severity of recent hurricanes. Then the article republished a quote that Hayhoe originally gave to CNN, in a program entitled, "Yes, Climate Change Made Harvey and Irma Worse." Hayhoe said in that  broadcast: "The most dangerous myth that we have bought into as a society is not the myth that climate isn't changing or that humans aren't responsible. "It's the myth that 'It doesn't matter to me.' And that's why this is absolutely the time to be talking about the way climate change amplifies or exacerbates these natural events. This brings it home." In other news, the Daily Toreador reported that Hayhoe served on a panel discussion Oct. 3 that examined ways to solve climate change and energy needs. The event, held on the Texas Tech campus, was part of a series of campus-wide dialogs called "Civil Counterpoints."

Morales Gives Seminar in Math Department

Jorge A. Morales, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, presented a Mathematical Oncology Seminar entitled "Electron Nuclear Dynamics Investigation of Water Radiolysis and DNA Damage in Proton Cancer Therapy: A Non-Adiabatic Quantum-Dynamics Approach" at the Texas Tech University Department of Mathematics on Oct. 10.

3 Chemistry Faculty Present in Reno

Yehia Mechref, Carol Korezeniewski, Gerardo Gamez, TTUYehia Mechref, Professor and Chair; Carol Korzeniewski, Professor; and Gerardo Gamez, Assistant Professor, all of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, all presented invited talks at the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies' SciX Conference, Oct. 8-13 in Reno, Nevada. Mechref's presentation was entitled "LC-MS/MS Analysis of Glycan and Glycopeptide Isomers." Korzeniewski's presentation was entitled "Infrared Spectroscopy and Confocal Raman Microscope Measurements in the Study of Materials for Energy Conversion." Gamez' presentation was entitled "Recent Advances in Elemental Mapping through Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy."

Ramkumar Covers São Paolo Delegation

Seshadri Ramkumar TTUSeshadri Ramkumar, Professor of Nonwovens & Advanced materials at The Institute of Environmental & Human Health (TIEHH), wrote an Oct. 5 article in Textile Today about a delegation from the Brazilian State of São Paolo that visited Lubbock to promote industrial innovation and growth. Ramkumar wrote that the delegation included Dr. Carlos Brito Cruz, Science Director of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), who highlighted the collaborations that have been forged with global companies such as GSK and Shell. Mention also was made of Unicamp, a state university in São Paulo that has been a pioneer in the culture of startups in Brazil, having helped to create some 450 companies resulting in more than 21,000 jobs. Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec was quoted as saying, "Research universities that aspire to address global and grand challenges in research and education should focus on international collaborations." He added, "International linkages enable us to understand the culture and people of different nations, in addition to strengthening academic and research tie-ups."

Robitschek on Fear After Vegas Massacre

Christine Robitschek, TTU Professor of PsychologyChristine Robitschek, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, was interviewed in an Oct. 5 FOX-34 News report about the state of everyone's mental health in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. In the "Las Vegas Massacre Versus Your Mental Health" segment, Robitschek told the television station that many people may start to feel vulnerable when thinking about the Vegas shootings. "If we stop ourselves from feeling those really unpleasant reactions to trauma, then we stop ourselves from healing," she said. Fear is a natural first reaction, but immobilizing fear is a problem. "We all have to monitor for ourselves—what our current level of distress is about it—and so if I feel that this is just getting to be too much and I am feeling overwhelmed by it, then I'll need to step back." Processing the tough emotions will lead to a healthier mental state, Robitschek said.