Texas Tech University

Faculty News

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December 2021

Pal Interviewed on Urban Heat Island of US Cities

TTU professor Sandip PalSandip Pal, an assistant professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the Department of Geosciences, was interviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer about his recent research on urban heat islands. Pal, whose work is funded under an ongoing NASA sponsorship, answered questions about causes and effects of urban heat islands, particularly the impact of urban heat advection, precipitation, pollutant dispersion and community health.

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Singer Receives Grant from Garrison Family Foundation

TTU visiting professor Jonathan SingerJonathan Singer, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, was recently notified that he received a $75K grant from the Garrison Family Foundation. The Garrison Foundation has provided funding to develop and evaluate mental health services for family members of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. We will first evaluate the efficacy of two evidence based therapies to reduce pre-death grief, caregiver burden and increase quality of life. In addition, we will evaluate if increasing family members' skills (e.g., mindfulness; emotion regulation; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness) will improve their responses to their loved one with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and guide positive downstream psychosocial effects (e.g., improved quality of the relationship; improved quality of life). Graduate students in the department of psychological science will participate in providing mental health services to this population. 

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Groundbreaking for New Academic Sciences Building

TTU artist's rendering of new academic sciences building

Artist's rendering shows courtyard view of Academic Sciences Building.

In December 2021, the Office of the President broke ground for construction of a new building that will provide much-needed classrooms and lab facilities for the College of Arts & Sciences. Designed in the style of the Spanish Renaissance, the three-story, 125,000-square-foot Academic Sciences Building will house teaching and laboratory space for the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Geosciences, Physics & Astronomy and Psychological Sciences. Construction is expected to continue through December 2023. 

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November 2021

Mechref Expands Brain Cancer Research to Neurodegenerative Diseases

TTU chemist Yehia Mechref, inset

Yehia Mechref, a Horn Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and associate vice president of research and innovation, is known wordwide for his breast cancer research, which is supported by an R01 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has been renewed twice — an unprecedented achievement at Texas Tech. Mechref specializes in studying glycans, or biological sugars, which are an important component of the cellular recognition pathways that regulate basic biological function — for better or for worse. But unlocking the inner workings of cancer isn't Mechref's only ongoing project. The methods he uses to do that work also enable potentially life-changing research in other areas. “We will still be looking at the breast cancer-brain metastasis, but now we are expanding it and using our technology to look at traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Alzheimer's disease and neurodegenerative diseases,” Mechref said. “We are looking at the development and association between TBI, Alzheimer's disease and also mild cognitive impairment, which is a prelude for Alzheimer's. We are an aging nation, and I think we need to focus our attention now on how to attend to the neurodegenerative diseases associated with that.” Follow this link to read the full article about Yehia Mechref's latest research.

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Arts & Sciences Announces New Institute for Latina/o Studies

TTU's Holden Hall

The College of Arts & Sciences announced on Nov. 16 the official formation of the Institute for Latina/o Studies, a dedicated hub for research, teaching, internationalization, and community engagement led by an interdisciplinary cohort of faculty and staff. The institute represents the latest investment by Texas Tech, a recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution, in its proactive outreach to the Hispanic community. “The College of Arts & Sciences is honored to be the home of the newly established Institute for Latina/o Studies,” said Brian Still, acting dean of the college. “A passionate, skilled and tireless team of faculty and staff, working with stakeholders across the Texas Tech University System, have made this new, important institute a reality.” Follow this link to read the complete article.

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Arts & Sciences Honors Its Military Veterans

TTU history major and military veteran Kalea McFadden

As our nation sets aside this day to remember the service of military veterans, the College of Arts & Sciences honors those among us who have dedicated themselves to duty, honor, and country that is easily talked about but hard earned. Here, in their own words, are a few of their stories.

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Lee Serves on KPS Editorial Board

TTU physics professor and chair Sung-Won LeeSung-Won Lee, professor and chair in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been invited to serve on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Korean Physical Society (JKPS), a peer-reviewed international journal published semi-monthly by the Korean Physical Society (KPS) and Springer. JKPS is the flagship journal of the KPS, which is one of the largest academic societies in Korea. The journal aims to dig out and circulate new and original research results in all fields of fundamental, applied, and interdisciplinary physics. Lee specializes in particle and field physics—particularly in the areas of experimental high energy physics. Lee will serve a three-year term as editor, beginning November 2021.

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October 2021

Talley Named Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

TTU psychology professor Amelia Talley, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, College of Arts & Sciences

Amelia Talley, associate professor of experimental-social psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences, has been appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Arts & Sciences. Talley's career-long commitment to advancing the causes of diversity, equity and inclusion was recognized by the TTU Office of the President/Gender Equity Council with the 2017-2018 President's Excellence in Gender Equity Award. Talley is director of the Stigma, Health, and Applied Research Center (SHARC), where she investigates the psychological and behavioral consequences of inequality. "My personal and professional experiences, including as a social scientist who examines health disparities in marginalized communities, have taught me the importance of small changes that can lead to big shifts in achieving what's possible,” Talley said. “My goal as the new associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion is to work with students, faculty, staff, and departmental units to ensure equity in academic and professional domains, promote diversity to enhance our shared pursuits, and foster a welcoming environment from which, it's possible, for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, religion, ability status, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, background, or any other personal characteristic, to succeed in an increasingly diverse, global workforce.” Read the complete news release here.

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Wright Named A&S Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives

TTU professor Nathaniel Wright, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, College of Arts & Sciences 

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.

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Ramkumar's Cotton-Based Product Might Answer California Oil Spill

TTU professor Seshadri Ramkumar

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.

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Iber Chronicles Life of Red Raider Football Great Gabe Rivera

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.

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September 2021

Schovanec Leads Grant to Boost Underrepresented Students in STEM

TTU President and mathematician Lawrence Schovanec

Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec.

Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech University president and a professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics in the College of Arts & Sciences, is the principal investigator (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:

Texas Tech professors on the grant from other departments are:

  • co-PI Jon McNaughtan, an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Psychology & Leadership and associate director of the Center for Research in Leadership and Education;
  • Annette Hernandez, an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Construction Engineering, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, and an associate director of STEM CORE;
  • Jessica Spott, 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. “Solving many of today's complex problems – and those of tomorrow – will require the combined efforts of scholars from varied backgrounds,” Schovanec said. “That's the entire concept behind diversity: a wider variety of experiences breeds a broader field of ideas. Thus, the opportunity to simultaneously serve these underrepresented students and increase their participation in STEM fields is one we must take advantage of. I thank all of our collaborators for their roles in this important work.” Read the complete story at this link.

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Hayhoe Publishes How-To Book for Discussing Climate Change

TTU professor Katharine Hayhoe with new book, "Saving Us"

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.

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Chemistry & Biochemistry Wins Presidential Safety Award

TTU president Lawrence Schovanec, left, with TTU chemist Dominick Casadonte, right

TTU Presidednt Lawrence Schovanec (left) presents the 2020 Presidential Departmental Excellence in Safety Award to chemist Dominick Casadonte, who received it on behalf of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

“At 3:47 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2010, many people's lives changed on this campus,” said Dominick Casadonte. He's now the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, but back then, Casadonte was the department chair. He remembers in vivid detail how a graduate student working with energetic materials was severely injured in a laboratory accident when the compound suddenly detonated. Many people were touched by the events of that day, and 11 years later, Casadonte is proud to have witnessed a transformation in the department. Thanks to the combined efforts of successive chairs, safety officers, faculty, staff and researchers, the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry received the Presidential Departmental Excellence in Safety Award. The accompanying $25,000 prize will bolster ongoing safety training efforts. “I said at the time, I never wanted to see that happen again on this campus,” Casadonte said. “This award is a culmination of the years we've put into trying to make that a reality.” Read the complete article at this link.

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Limeri Studies Frogs for Clues to Human Immune Response

TTU biologist Lisa Limeri

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

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Corsi Wins 2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize

TTU astrophysicist Alessandra Corsi

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

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Kim, Hodovanets to Launch Quantum Physics for High-Schoolers

TTU professors Hyunsoo Kim, Halyna Hodovanets and Mihwa Park with single crystal used in quantum materials research; graphic design by Toni Salama

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.

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Yoshinobu & Barnes to Study Histories of Galice & Mariposa Basins

Aaron Yoshinobu and Cal Barnes, both professors in the Department of Geosciences, have recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their research project, “Testing models for the Late Jurassic Nevadan Orogeny: Age, provenance, and structural evolution of the Galice and Mariposa basins, Oregon and California.” The $368,003 grant will allow them, in collaboration with Kathleen Surpless of Trinity University in San Antonio, to improve geologists' understanding of how the North American continental margin in southern Oregon and northern California developed. Read the complete article by following this link.

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Cunningham Considers Legacy Of 9/11 At Its 20th Anniversary

TTU history professor and chair Sean Cunningham

Sean Cunningham, professor and chair of the Department of History, is a specialist in the history of modern American political culture. As the nation marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Cunningham evaluates the attacks that changed this nation and how, two decades later, the legacy is still being written.

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Smith Leads Climate Center's Virtual 'Science By the Glass' Discussion

TTU biologist Nick Smith

The Climate Center's ‘Science By the Glass' monthly discussion series has returned via Zoom. Nick Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences delivered the first presentation of Fall 2021 on the topic, “Why Plants Matter for Climate Change.” See the Climate Center's Facebook event page for information on future meetings, or contact John Zak, biologist and co-director of the Texas Tech University Climate Center.

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Gong Awarded Best Postdoctoral Presentation at National Conference

TTU post-doctoral biologist Ningping Gong

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.

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Vallia Antoniou to Initiate ‘Night Sky for All'

TTU physics instructor Vallia AntoniouVallia Antoniou, instructor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and director of TTU's Preston Gott Skyview Observatory, has been awarded a Texas Tech Alumni Association Excellence Grant to initiate the “Night Sky for All” program. The program will allow for replacing some of the outdated photo equipment with new, top-of-the-line CCD cameras – specifically designed for astrophotography – so that astronomy students can learn how to collect photometric data, which is used to produce color-magnitude diagrams and light curves. The grant will benefit more than 1,000 undergraduates who enroll in TTU's introductory astronomy courses and labs each year (and who collectively represent some 6,300 observatory visits). The program also will appeal to other budding astronomers across the South Plains through the observatory's monthly Astronight outreach, when some of its telescope viewing time will be available to any member of Zone 13 Society of Physics Students.

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Math Professors Awarded More Than $1 Million in Research Grants

Five professors from the Department of Mathematics & Statistics were awarded $1,022,869 in research grants during summer 2021. The grants were awarded to professors Wei Guo, Hung Tran, Amanda Laubmeier, Dimitri Volchenkov, and Katharine Long. For details of their upcoming research, follow this link.

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Still Becomes Acting Dean of Arts & Sciences

Brian Still, Acting Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Brian Still, professor of technical communication and chair of the Department of English at Texas Tech University, was officially appointed by the Office of the Provost as acting dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, assuming the role effective Sept. 1, 2021. Learn more about him by following this link.

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News Briefs Archive.

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