Texas Tech University

Student Archive

SPRING-SUMMER 2016

Scholarship in the College of Arts & Sciences includes the advancements, accomplishments, appointments and the progress of our graduate and undergraduate students. Below are top accomplishments of some A&S students for Spring-Summer 2016.

To submit news items for consideration, contact Toni Salama, Senior Editor, Office of the Dean.

Geosciences Students Study Abroad in Guyana

Guyana students come to Texas Tech to study Geosciences

Students in the Department of Geosciences traveled to Guyana July 24-Aug. 3 to learn how Guyana is preparing for petroleum production, according to an Aug. 17 article in Kaieteur News. Guyana is expected to begin petroleum production within five years. The students met with Guyana's Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman and ExxonMobil geologist Richard McKenzie, and visited bauxite mines, the article stated. Before TTU's Geosciences students made the trip to Guyana, students from the University of Guyana visited Texas Tech in mid-July to learn how to support the oil and gas industry and to conduct experiments in Tech's state-of-the-art laboratories. The collaborative study-abroad program was funded by a grant from ExxonMobil, through President Obama's "100,000 Strong in the Americas" initiative, according to the article.


Carson May Go to the Olympics

Hannah Carson TTU

Hannah Carson, Teaching Assistant in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, has become the only female athlete to ever break the 60 meter mark in both the javelin and the discus in the same NCAA career and in the same season. She now has met the Olympic Standards for both discus and javelin, and may be headed to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She also was named United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week on May 10 and Big 12 Athlete of the Week on May 11.


Privett Receives 2016 Song Prize

Austin Privett TTU

Austin Privett, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, was awarded the 2016 Song Prize for his Ph.D. dissertation entitled, "Electron Nuclear Dynamics: Resolution of Electronic States, Extension to Direct Ionization, and the Irradiation of Biomolecules in Proton Cancer Therapy." His graduate studies were conducted under the direction of Jorge Morales, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.


Peregrino Awarded Travel Grant to ASPB

Olga Peregrino

Olga Peregrino, a Chemical Biology Master's Student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been awarded an all-expenses-paid travel grant to attend the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) meeting in Austin, Texas this summer. Plant Biology 2016 is an international meeting that welcomes more than 1,300 scientists from 40 countries and is considered by many in the field to be the top science event of the year. Peregrino studies in the lab of John D'Auria, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & biochemistry.


Neilson Receives Second NASA Fellowship

Brittany Neilson

Brittany Neilson, a Ph.D. Student in the Experimental-Human Factors program in the Department of Psychological Sciences, was awarded the NASA Texas Space Grant Consortium Graduate Student Fellowship for the second time while at Texas Tech. She was selected based upon her academic merit and interest in space applications of human factors research. She has previously interned at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and hopes to work for NASA one day.


Armstrong Wins Award at HFES Symposium

Miriam Armstrong

Miriam Armstrong, a Ph.D. Student in the Experimental-Human Factors program in the Department of Psychological Sciences, won the Best Student Poster Award at the recent Houston Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 Symposium, a regional human factors conference. Her poster, "Robots to the Rescue: Tele-Operator Training for Urban Search and Rescue," detailed two experiments performed at Texas Tech that investigated the factors involved when tele-operators learn to make more accurate judgments about whether they are capable of driving a robot through tight spaces. Armstrong's adviser is Keith Jones, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. 


Pacheco Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowship

Belinda Pacheco TTU

Belinda Pacheco, a Chemistry Major and May 2016 graduate of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As part of her undergraduate studies, Pacheco conducted research in the lab of Louisa Hope-Weeks, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Pacheco also worked for Los Alamos National Laboratory over the last four years, with a research emphasis in nuclear forensics, and also is a recipient of the Departmental Outstanding Senior Award.


Calandrini, Ke Win Teaching Award

Sara Calandrini and Guoyi Ke, both Graduate Teachers in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, received the 2016 Helen DeVitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching Awards.


Climate Science Center 'Videos for Science'

Two graduate students have filmed their research for the Climate Science Center's "Videos for Science" series. In one video, Graduate Research Assistant Tiffany Lane studies habitat selection of wintering waterfowl at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. In another video, Graduate Research Assistant Aaron Hill conducts field work to find out how land conditions and features affect the formation and duration of severe tornadic thunderstorms.


Grad Student Conducts Research in South Korea

Lexie Herdt TTU

Lexie Herdt, a graduate student in the Department of Geosciences, will conduct research this summer in Seoul, South Korea, as a recipient of the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) Graduate Student Award. EAPSI is an eight-week grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research overseas. Herd will work with Seoul National University to study the variation in a city's temperatures depending on the landscape, vegetation, water availability and so on. "I will collect fine-scale microclimate measurements in a mobile fashion and compare my data to the temperatures and other weather variables at stationary sites within the city," Herdt told Texas Tech Today.


KSM Students Propose Compensation Solution

Zach Chavez, Angelica Garcia, Hannah Limmer, and Kris Lane Plunkett, all graduate students in TTU's Sport Management Program, placed second as a team in the 2016 College Sport Research Institute Conference. Calvin Nite and Adam Cohen, both Assistant Professors in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, also were team members. The TTU team was one of seven that competed and presented on the issue of collegiate student athlete compensation. The team from the University of New Mexico placed first at the competition, which was held in late April in Columbia, S.C.


Dillingham Living the Dream as Meteorologist

Sarah Dillingham TTU

Sarah Dillingham, a master's student of Meteorology in TTU's Department of Geosciences, has been a meteorologist for three years, studying and analyzing severe storms for The Weather Channel. Also an expert weather producer, Dillingham told Texas Tech Today that her favorite part of the job is the incredible wealth of knowledge among her coworkers. Dillingham has yet to defend her master's thesis—the demands of full-time work have put that on hold temporarily—but she is determined to return to Tech for her defense, and for graduation. "I'm really proud of the program here at Texas Tech. My adviser, my professors, the students who have come through here—I really respect the work they do and the dedication they have."


Waco Biology Program Graduates First Students

TTU Waco Biology Graduates First Students

The Department of Biological Sciences program in Waco saw its first students earn their bachelor's degrees in May 2016. Matt Gonzales and Taylor Ross are the first two Biological Sciences majors from TTU-Waco to graduate with a B.S. in Biology.


King Wins 2 Scholarships

LaTorian King, a student in the Department of Biological Sciences program in Waco, won two competitive scholarships from the TTU Department of Biological Sciences.


Schmidt Wins Poster Award, Internship Invite

Kara Schmidt TTU

Kara Schmidt, a student in the Department of Biological Sciences program in Waco, won the Best Poster Presentation Award in the Marine Sciences Division at the 2015 Texas Academy of Sciences Meeting in San Antonio; first place for Undergraduate (Oral) Category presentation at the annual TTU Association of Biologists Symposium; and received an invitation for a competitive internship at the Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences in Honduras.


Weir Publishes Lizard Research

Scott Weir, TTU PHD student and alumnus

Scott Weir, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at the time research was conducted, published "Direct and Indirect Effects of Petroleum Production Activities on the Western Fence Lizard (Scleoporus Occidentalis) as a Surrogate for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus Arenicolus)" as the cover story for the May 2016 issue of "Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry." The study examined the Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), a stand-in for the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus, to see if they are experiencing direct or indirect effects of oil and gas drilling that takes place on much of their Permian Basin habitat. The test studied two contaminants: herbicides used to clear the drilling sites, and hydrogen sulfide gas, found in oil formations that are being drilled for oil. The study found that, although impacted sites showed a significant decrease in biomass (material derived from living, or recently living organisms), there were no significant effects on diversity and neither the herbicides nor the hydrogen sulfide gas cause significant behavioral effects in the test lizards compared to control lizards. Results suggest little risk from direct toxic effects, but the potential for indirect effects should be further explored. Weir, now an Assistant Professor at Queens University of Charlotte, was joined in the study by Todd Anderson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology; Larry Talent, Emeritus Faculty of the Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University; and others.


Thompson Helps USA Cheer Team to 4 Wins

TTU Student Hunter Thompson

Hunter Thompson, a senior kinesiology major in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, helped lead his team to victory as a member of the USA National Team in cheerleading, which won four first-place awards at the International Cheer Union 2016 World Cheerleading Championships April 21-22 in Orlando. The USA National Team won gold in Team Cheer-Hip Hop, Team Cheer – Freestyle Pom, Coed Premier, and All Girl Premier.
Thompson is the fourth all-time member of Texas Tech Cheer to be selected for the U.S. team. He said the USA team is the pinnacle of cheerleading and has always been one of the best teams in the world.


Reategui Wins '3 Minute Thesis' Contest

Evelyn Reategui, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, won First Place in the "3 Minute Thesis" competition organized by the Graduate School in April. She also won the People's Choice Award and was named a "Raider Who Rocks." 


Chen Book Wins Poetry Prize

Chen Chen, a Ph.D. student in the Department of English, is the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize for his first book, "When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities." The book is scheduled to publish in spring 2017. Chen's work has previously appeared in two chapbooks and publications such as Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, Best of the Net, and The Best American Poetry.


French, Ponnusamy Get Diversity & Equity Award

Amanda French, Ph.D. student, and Logeswari Ponnusamy, Ph.D. student, both from the Department of Environmental Toxicology, were each presented with the President's Excellence in Diversity and Equity Award during the President's Excellence in Diversity and Equity Award ceremony, held April 26.


Tucker's Research Chosen for 'Posters on the Hill'

TTU student Cody Tucker

Cody Tucker, a cell and molecular biology senior in the Department of Biological Sciences, conducted a research project on dementia that was one of only 60 nationwide chosen for the 20th annual "Posters on the Hill" research conference April 19-20 in Washington, D.C. "Posters on the Hill" is held by the Council on Undergraduate Research to raise awareness of the high-quality research undergraduate students pursue. Tucker's research looked into factors that could indicate a person's predisposition to dementia. He studied the hormone cortisol because it had been shown in previous studies to degrade cognitive ability over time. He also conducted research on the FKBP5 gene, a variation of which has been shown to increase the amount of cortisol released during stress. Tucker has been working almost two years in the lab of Breanna Harris, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.


Prematilake, Biesiadny Win Top Awards

Chalani Prematilake and Sara Biesiadny, both graduate students in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, won top awards at the Conference of Texas Statisticians 2016, held at Trinity University in San Antonio April 8. Prematilake took first place for Doctoral Poster Presentation. Biesiadny won Best Poster Presentation in Applied Statistics.


Abbott Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention

TTU student Kennady Abbott

Kennady Abbott, a biochemistry major in the Department of Biological Sciences, was one of 256 applicants to receive an Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship awards. Abbott plans to attend medical school and earn a doctorate in immunology, then conduct research on translational initiatives for the development of new therapies and improved treatment options for immunological diseases.


Miller Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention

TTU student Amada Miller

Amanda Miller, an Honors College student taking a double-major in biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and in psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences, was one of 256 applicants to receive an Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship awards. Miller plans to go to medical school and earn a doctorate in biological chemistry prior to conducting research at the interface between nanotechnology and nanomedicine and teaching at a university.


Zhelyeznyakov Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention

TTU student Max Zhelyeznyakov

Max Zhelyeznyakov, a physics major in the Department of Physics, was one of 256 applicants to receive an Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship awards. Zhelyeznyakov plans to earn a doctorate in applied physics and pursue research in optics while teaching at a university.


3 Math Majors Join Phi Beta Kappa

Forrest Cabe, Brandon Jaramillo, and Annabelle Offer-Meade, all math majors in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.


Mitchell Publishes Suicide Study

Sean Mitchell, Texas Tech Ph.D. candidate

Sean Mitchell, clinical psychology doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychological Sciences, is lead author of research showing that playing action video games may influence suicide attempts among people already thinking about suicide. The study, "The Relationship Between Video Game Play and the Acquired Capability for Suicide: An Examination of Differences by Category of Video Game and Gender," published in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, examined the relationship between video game play and the acquired capability for suicide. Acquired capability, Mitchell said, is an increased fearlessness about death and an increased tolerance for pain that ordinarily would inhibit a suicide attempt. Others on the research team were Kelly Cukrowicz, associate professor of clinical psychology, chair of the institutional review board and director of Texas Tech's Suicide and Depression Research Program; and Evan Guidry, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate, both of the Department of Psychological Sciences; and TTU alumna Danielle Jahn (master's and Ph.D.), now assistant professor at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine.


Psychology's Hurst Wins for Poster

Ashalee Hurst Wins Psychology Poster Contest on Hormones and Jealousy

Ashalee Hurst, a Graduate Student in the Experimental – Social program in the Department of Psychological Sciences, won the poster competition at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 2016 Convention in San Diego. The winning poster presents Hurst's research on fertility status and mate guarding behavior. She found that when women were in the fertile phase of their ovulatory cycle, other women exhibited greater jealousy toward them.


Geosciences' Dillingham at Science Spectrum

Sarah Dillingham, the Weather Channel, Texas Tech University, Science Spectrum, photo courtesy KCBD-TV

Sarah Dillingham, TTU graduate student in the Department of Geosciences and co-host of the Weather Channel's "Weather Underground TV," was the featured speaker Feb. 27 for TTU's 10th annual Severe Weather Awareness Day. The event was hosted by TTU's student chapter of the American Meteorological Society and held at Lubbock's Science Spectrum.

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