Texas Tech University

Faculty News

Spring 2021

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May 2021

Emmy Noether Mathematics Day 2021

Emmy Noether High School Math Day at Texas Tech

The 18th Emmy Noether High School Mathematics Day went virtual on May 12, 2021. The Department of Mathematics & Statistics has made this mathematical outreach event a Texas Tech University tradition, where young women from local high schools, middle schools and home schools are encouraged to expand their interest in math and careers in the sciences. This year, because of the pandemic, the panel was shared—live and recorded—with more than 100 students and teachers. Six women professors served as panelists, describing their own experiences and outlining the educational and vocational opportunities open to women through mathematics. Looking toward next year, the 2022 Emmy Noether High School Mathematics Day will return to its traditional, face-to-face home on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock. The enthusiastic energy surrounding the event will be contagious! 

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Larson Heads to Spain as Senior Fulbright Scholar

TTU professor Susan Larson

Susan Larson, the Charles B. Qualia Professor of Romance Languages in Texas Tech University's Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, will be a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Spain and will conduct research in Madrid this fall. Larson has written for years about architecture, urbanism and the role of culture in imagining the built environment in modern Spain. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, her perspective changed. “I have long worked with a set of assumptions about public urban space, but COVID-19 has forced me, like so many all over the world, to shift my perspective inward in order to consider the social history and function of the idea of comfort in private, domestic spaces,” Larson said. “The experience of living in quarantine has drawn our attention to comfort and domestic interior space in ways that are already having an impact on the field of architecture and all forms of written and visual culture, in Spain and elsewhere, raising a series of increasingly urgent questions that my project seeks to answer.” The project to which Larson is referring is her “Comfort and Domestic Space in Spain, from the Civil War through the Transition,” which has been made possible by a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar award. She hopes her work will answer questions that shed light on assumptions of the modern home. Follow this link to learn more about Susan Larson's upcoming Fulbright research.

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CMLL Receives Departmental Excellence Teaching Award

old map with globe of flags

The Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures has been awarded Texas Tech University's Teaching Academy Departmental Excellence in Teaching Award for 2020-2021. The award is presented by the Teaching Academy in recognition of a department or comparable academic unit that has made unique and significant contributions to the teaching mission of the University and has esprit de corps in its dedication to the education of students at the undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional level. The award, given as merited, carries a $25,000 prize, to be used for the enhancement of teaching in any way the department determines. The general criterion for the award is the existence of a "teaching culture," which reflects commitment to students, makes teaching a high departmental priority, and facilitates teaching excellence throughout the department. 

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April 2021

Lumpkin Receives Inclusive Excellence Award

TTU professor Angela Lumpkin 
Angela Lumpkin, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, has received the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Award from the Texas Tech Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The award was presented to Lumpkin April 29 during the annual Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet. Learn about the Celebrate Diversity Awards.

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Kim Wins 2nd Place President's Book Award

TTU professor Min-Joo Kim and book

Min-Joo Kim, professor of linguistics in the Department of English, has been awarded Second Place, 2020-2021 President's Faculty Book Award, for her book, “The Syntax and Semantics of Noun Modifiers and the Theory of Universal Grammar: A Korean Perspective” (Springer, 2019). In a congratulatory letter, Senior Vice Provost Rob Stewart wrote that peer colleagues on campus reviewed the book and discussed it with a committee; the committee was unanimous in recommending “The Syntax and Semantics of Noun Modifiers” for Second Prize. President Lawrence Schovanec and Provost Michael Galyean concurred with the recommendation. The Second-Place award carries a $3,000 prize and a commemorative medallion. 

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Legacey Wins 1st Place Presdient's Book Award

TTU professor Erin-Marie Legacey and book

Erin-Marie Legacey, associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded First Place, 2020-2021 President's Faculty Book Award, for her book, "Making Space for the Dead: Catacombs, Cemeteries, and the Reimagining of Paris, 1780-1830” (Cornell University Press, 2019). In a congratulatory letter, Senior Vice Provost Rob Stewart wrote that peer colleagues on campus reviewed the book and discussed it with a committee; the committee was unanimous in recommending “Making Space for the Dead” for First Prize. President Lawrence Schovanec and Provost Michael Galyean concurred with the recommendation. The First-Place award carries a $5,000 prize and a commemorative medallion.

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Pappas Receives Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award

TTU chemistry professor Dimitri Pappas

For decades, the success or failure of students in college courses has hinged on two major events: the midterm and the final exam. And if either went poorly, the student was almost assured of failing the entire class. Dimitri Pappas is not a fan of that model. As he says, “In real life, we are continuously tested. Why shouldn't college be the same?” That's why Pappas, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has opted for more frequent examinations over smaller chunks of material. With more tests, each represents a smaller percentage of the student's overall grade. Innovation is nothing new to Pappas, who was honored with the 2011 Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award for his work detecting cancer and heart disease. His numerous research grants include one from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for his ongoing work toward developing a new, quick and inexpensive cancer-detection chip. But it's his classroom innovations that earned him the 2021 Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award. 

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Ramkumar & Ph.D. Student Publish in International Journal

TTU Ph.D. student James Ayodeji and professor Seshadri Ramkumar

Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, and his Ph.D. student, James Ayodeji, have published a research analysis in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Ayodeji's work shows shows that, in the three to four weeks after enacting a mandate to wear masks, roughly two-thirds of the United States saw a reduction in COVID-19 cases. More.

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March '21

Burns Publishes on Seal Feeding Behavior

TTU professor and chair of Biological Sciences, Jennifer BurnsJennifer Burns, professor and chair in the Department of Biological Sciences, led a National Science Foundation funded research team that has published its findings in The Royal Society. The team's research, "Seasonal resource pulses and the foraging depth of a Southern Ocean top predator," studied the cascading effects of seasonal resource pulses—such as the phytoplankton bloom that occurs in Antarctic waters once the sea ice starts to melt—on the diving and feeding behavior of Weddell seals. They found that: "In early summer, seals foraged at deeper depths resulting in lower feeding rates and mass gain. As sea ice extent decreased throughout the summer, seals foraged at shallower depths and benefited from more efficient energy intake. Changes in diving depth were not due to seasonal shifts in seal diets or horizontal space use and instead may reflect a change in the vertical distribution of prey." Because Weddell seals forage on fish, not phytoplankton, research findings demonstrate that indirect effects of climate variation can be detected across multiple trophic levels.

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Hayhoe Named Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy

TTU professor Katharine Hayhoe

As an undergraduate, Katharine Hayhoe entered the University of Toronto originally intent on becoming an astrophysicist. Needing to complete a degree requirement, she enrolled in a class on climate science. That one decision, seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, changed Hayhoe's life and ended up providing the world with one of its premier climate science experts. As a lead author of the Second, Third and Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessments, she has played a large role in helping assess climate risks for several U.S. presidential administrations as well as discussing the necessity to tackle climate change with leaders around the world. Now, she will take on a vital responsibility for one of the world's leading environmental organizations. On March 1, Hayhoe was named Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a worldwide organization that uses science to tackle the issues of conservation and climate change through real-world solutions and partnerships that influence global decision-making. Continue reading at this link.

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March 2021

Tinsley Makes Video for 'Inspired Research' Series

Kinesiology professor Grant Tinsley leads a research team that is working to improve the ways in which body composition is analyzed.

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A&S Faculty Promotions Approved by Board of Regents

TTU Holden Hall

During the February 2021 Board of Regents session, faculty from across the TTU System were awarded promotions in academic rank and status. Those so awarded from the College of Arts & Sciences are listed at this link.

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February 2021

Higgins Receives Humphreys Mentorship Award

TTU math professor Raegan Higgins

Raegan Higgins, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, has received the 2021 Gwenyth Humphreys Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. The honor comes from the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), who cited Higgins for her excellence in teaching and mentoring and for her commitment to diversity. "In addition to her formal role as academic advisor for both female and male graduate students, she co-founded the Young Women in Mathematics: Fostering Success Program in 2013. This initiative led to the formation of an AWM student chapter in 2018, which Higgins co-advises," wrote the AWM in in its March-April 2021 newsletter. The newsletter went on to enumerate a few of Higgins' many other achievements: member of the organizing committee of the Emmy Noerther High School Mathematics Day, active mentor in the TTU Mentor TECH program, alumna of and now co-director of Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE), co-founder of the Network of Minorities in Mathematical Sciences. Higgins told AWM that she was deeply honored to receive the award and remembered Math department Chair Magdalena Toda in her thank-yous. "It is refreshing to be reminded that we are positively impacting students' lives through the seemingly small things. Listening and providing encouragement contribute endlessly to students' outlook and persistence. Several of us are beneficiaries of those small deeds," Higgins was quoted as saying. "I will continue to show my women students that they have a place in mathematics and will help them find their entry point. This recognition is for all the women who inspired me to pursue math and who continue to inspire me to do the work—the hard work, the good work, the needed work."

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Maccarone Team Finds Black Hole More Massive Than Thought 

TTU astrophysicist Tom Maccarone

Tom Maccarone, the Presidential Research Excellence Professor in Texas Tech University's Department of Physics & Astronomy, is co-author of new research showing that the system known as Cygnus X-1 contains the most massive stellar-mass black hole ever detected without the use of gravitational waves. Cygnus X-1's black hole was discovered in 1964 when a pair of Geiger counters were carried on board a sub-orbital rocket. But as much as we thought we knew about Cygnus X-1's black hole, this research highlights how much we still can learn, says Maccarone: "Cygnus X-1's was already the most massive stellar-mass black hole that had a reasonably secure mass estimate. This pushes it up even further, into a range close to where most of the merging black holes seen by gravitational waves have been found. It also has a massive companion star that may also turn into a black hole, although there is a high probability that the star will merge with the black hole before it becomes a black hole itself." Continue reading at this link.

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Faculty, Students, Alumni Reflect on Black History Month

Black History Month 2021

The College of Arts & Sciences honors Black History Month 2021 by sharing the voices of our students, faculty and staff. These voices honor the Black heroes of our past, celebrate the activists of today, and anticipate a more inclusive and equitable future.

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Tinsley to Study Caffeine's Effect on Exercise

TTU professor Grant Tinsley

Grant Tinsley, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, received an award from Legion Athletics, Inc. for the project, Influence of Caffeinated and Non-caffeinated Pre-workout Supplements on Resistance Exercise Performance. Tinsley says the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial will examine the effects of caffeinated and non-caffeinated pre-workout supplements on resistance exercise performance. "Pre-workout supplements are very popular among exercising individuals and have been shown to improve some aspects of exercise performance," Tinsley said. "However, the fact that these supplements contain multiple different ingredients makes it challenging to isolate which compounds are responsible for performance improvements." Tinsley research will address that problem. 

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January 2021

Ramkumar's FiberTectTM Wipe Used in Animal Rescues

TTU professor of advanced materials Seshadri Ramkumar

Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and supervisor of the Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TTU's Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) , invented FiberTectTM in 2005 as a low-cost decontamination wipe for the U.S. military that could absorb and neutralize the gases and liquids used in chemical warfare. Then, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the material was re-engineered to safely clean up the oil. Now, the wipe is coming to the rescue of animals that have run afoul of environmental hazards. Animal Search and Rescue, a technical rescue team that specializes in animals, is using FiberTectTM in its operations. So is Animal Decon, a training, planning and disaster response resource for working and service animals as well as household pets, zoo or exotic animals, wildlife and livestock. "Anytime there's a flood, or any major rain event, anything in a household can be put into the storm drains," said Brett Huff, animal decontamination specialist and owner of Animal Decon. "Animals are constantly getting themselves in a situation in flooded waters and industrial agricultural chemicals, sewage ponds — there's a lot of things they can get into. So, a FiberTectTM wipe would be really good to keep with you to wipe them down. "The problem is, especially in a mass casualty event, we're looking at the possibility of secondary contamination, because they can spread that hazardous material. So, anything we can do to reduce that contaminant on the animal as the owner brings it in, or before we get to the decontamination station — where there are other people and animals — would be huge and a great benefit to anybody doing a decontamination operation." Follow this link for the compete account.

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Ardon-Dryer Makes Video for 'Inspired Research' Series

Atmospheric scientist Karin Ardon-Dryer has developed a way to analyze particles from dust storms and evaluate their impact on human health.

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Schroeder Receives $2.6 M for Wind Turbine Research

wind turbine

John Schroeder, a professor of atmospheric science and senior director of Texas Tech University's National Wind Institute (NWI), along with research professors Brian Hirth and Jerry Guynes, are leading a group that will study the wake behavior of wind turbines and wind farms to help produce greater power production and lower wind energy costs. The 4.5-year study is funded by a$2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory to work on the American Wake Experiment (AWAKEN) project and will include collaboration with several national laboratories. "The research project is looking at wind turbine wakes and how one turbine can impact the inflow into another," said Schroeder, who is the principal investigator on the project. "Then, subsequent to that, it's also looking at the collective wake off of wind farms and how one farm might affect another, adjacent wind farm." Follow this link for additional information.

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Hutchins Receives NSF CAREER Award

TTU chemist Kristin Hutchins

Kristin Hutchins, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received $650,000 from the National Science Foundation for her project, CAREER: Solid-state molecular motion, reversible covalent-bond formation, and self-assembly for controlling thermal expansion behavior. Her project focuses on controlling how organic solids respond to changes in temperature.

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McComb Awarded IAEE Best-Paper Prize

TTU economist Robert McComb, Ph.D.

Robert McComb, an associate professor in the Department of Economics, has been awarded the prestigious Campbell Watkins Best Paper Award for papers published in 2020 in The Energy Journal, the journal of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE). Michael Pollitt, vice president for publications of the IAEE, noted: "The judging panel were impressed ... by its relevance, rigor and policy implications." The paper, "Do localities benefit from natural resource extraction?", addresses the influence of the extractive industries on the economic growth of local economies. Now it joins the ranks of others papers so recognized over the past 20 years, authored by deeply respected economists. Follow this link to read the complete article about Robert McComb's award.

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Surliuga to Lead Second Book Discussion

TTU professor Victoria Surliuga, her book, and Ezio Gribaudo

Victoria Surliuga, an associate professor of Italian in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, will hold her second virtual discussion on Jan. 18, 2021, about her newest work, the bilingual book, "Homage to Ezio Gribaudo/Omaggio a Ezio Gribaudo" (Texas Tech University Libraries, September 2020). Her book compiles six years' worth of Surliuga's previously published writings in Italian and English about Ezio Gribaudo, a contemporary Italian artist. It was published in September as an open access e-book through the Texas Tech University Libraries Open Repository. 

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