Texas Tech University

Faculty News

February 2019

Flores-Yeffal Discusses Border Walls in D.C.

TTU sociologist Nadia Flores-YeffalNadia 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

TTU English professor Sara SpurgeonSara 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

TTU Biologist Natasja van Gestel pilots a Zodiac in Antarctica

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.

Hayhoe 'Talking Climate in West Texas'

Texas Tech University Climate Science Center held its first Science by the Glass lecture of 2019 at Lubbock's Local Bar and Grill. Science by the Glass is an informal discussion series that periodically brings together members of the community, Texas Tech faculty and students to discuss topics in the fields of science, climate and society. The Feb. 12 session, accompanied by food and drinks, was led by climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a professor in the Department of Political Science. Her topic was "Talking Climate in West Texas."

Swingen Appointed Associate Vice President OR&I

TTU Assoc. V.P. of Research & Innovation Abigail SwingenAbigail 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

TTU philosopher Anna Christina RibeiroAnna 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).

January 2019

McLeod Publishes on Stellar Jet in 'Nature'

TTU Postdoctoral Research Astronomer Anna F. McLeod

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. 

Schroeder Named Director of NWI

TTU atmospheric scientist John SchroederJohn Schroeder, atmospheric scientist and professor in the Department of Geosciences, has been named senior director of Texas Tech University's National Wind Institute (NWI). Joseph Heppert, vice president of Research & Innovation, announced the appointment, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Schroeder also will serve as technical director for Prediction and Measurement. He is commissioned to use his leadership and vision to expand and evolve the wind enterprise at TTU, and the new position will further solidify the prominence and importance of the institute, Heppert said in an announcement. Before this appointment, Schroeder served for five years as the NWI's interim leader. In the future, the NWI is destined to become more interdisciplinary in nature, with revised strategic and sustainability plans that will position the institute to aggressively seek large-scale center based funding, according to Heppert's announcement.

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.

Kendall Studies Parasites to Save Quail

TTU Environmental Toxicologist Ron Kendall

Ron Kendall, a professor of environmental toxicology and founding director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University, has been studying the declining Bobwhite quail population of the West Texas Rolling Plains, one of the last areas for wild bobwhite quail hunting in the United States. The team at the Texas Tech Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory (WTL) believe the decline in the quail population can be attributed to multiple variables, including parasitic infection. Two of the most common parasites of quail in this region are the eyeworm and caecal worm. Eyeworms live behind the eyes of quail feeding on the tissues within the eye where they cause damage that may lead to poor eyesight. A female eyeworm can grow long enough to span a penny, which would be comparable to the length of a toothpick in the human eye. "These two significant parasitic diseases, which we have now documented in our scientific publications, can be intense and widespread in such a short period of time that they can infect more than 90 percent of the quail in a given zone," Kendall said. Recently, the WTL received a $200,000 grant to fund research toward a cure for these infections. The grant is sponsored by the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on the preservation of Texas' wild quail-hunting heritage.