A&S Student News
Society of Physics Students Named Outstanding Chapter
Texas Tech University's Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter visits Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas.
For the third consecutive year in a row, Texas Tech University's Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter has been selected as an Outstanding SPS Chapter for the 2019-2020 academic year by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). This prestigious award is only granted to SPS chapters that demonstrate their success by promoting and getting involved in a variety of activities. Brad R. Conrad, director of the SPS national program for the AIP, awarded this honor to the Texas Tech SPS chapter based on the depth and breadth of SPS activities conducted in such areas as physics research, public science outreach, physics tutoring programs, and hosting and representation at physics meetings, among others. Sung-Won Lee, professor and chair of the the Department of Physics & Astronomy, congratulated those contributing to the chapter's success: Andrew Whitbeck, SPS Advisor; Cheslee Hibler, current SPS president; David Palmore, former SPS president and now a graduate student at Texas State University; and all SPS students.
Physics Undergrads Publish in Astrophysics Journal
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array west of Socorro, New Mexico; photo courtesy of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Undergraduates Connor Grandorf, Joe McCarty, Priya Rajkumar and Heather Harbin, along with graduate student Arvind Balasubramanian, all students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, have successfully led a scientific paper that has been accepted in the Astrophysical Journal and will be published soon. The paper, "Search for radio remnants of nearby off-axis Gamma-Ray Bursts in a sample of Swift/BAT events," is available now at this link. Their work, part of a new era of astrophysics, is based on the multi-messenger discovery of gravitational waves and light from the binary neutron star merger GW170817, associated with Gamma-Ray Burst 170817A and kilonova AT2017gfo. The students also were co-investigators of the approved Very Large Array programs via which the data reported in the paper were collected. Texas Tech astrophysicist Alessandra Corsi guided the students' work.
Kuzmack Wants to be Catalyst for Change
Stephanie Kuzmack, a sociology student and 2020 Truman Scholar, is driven to be a catalyst for change. With her sights on law school, she wants to alleviate the challenges facing her hometown.
Jodeiri-Farshbaf Wins First Place in 3-Minute Thesis
Mohammad Jodeiri-Farshbaf, a doctoral biology student in the Department of Biological Sciences, has taken first place in the 2020 Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) competition. The 3MT is an opportunity for students to be evaluated on their presentation and communication abilities—a crucial skill in landing future research funding. Jodeiri-Farshbaf won for presenting his research on the hormone irisin, showing that the hormone secreted during exercise can suppress stress-induced memory deficit. Follow this link to read the complete account of Jodeiri-Farshbaf's award.
Hekkert Saddles Up as 59th Masked Rider
Cameron Hekkert, a fourth-year major in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, shares her journey from Colorado to Texas Tech, where she discovered a passion for collegiate athletics and earned a spot as the 59th Masked Rider.
Robledo Receives Fulbright Award
David Robledo, a graduate student working on his doctoral degree in technical communication and rhetoric through the Department of English, was named a recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Open Study/Research Award and will work with marine scientists in Costa Rica. "Receiving a Fulbright award is a little like getting a ticket to the moon," Robledo said. "You are not sure what to expect, but you know it is going to shift your perspective in irreversible ways." Robledo is planning to head to Costa Rica in February to work with marine scientists on how the role of small-scale fisheries promote biodiversity. Follow this link to read the complete story about David Robledo.
Juneja Wins Chemistry Poster Award
Navkiran Juneja, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, won an award for outstanding poster presentation at the Crystal Engineering & Emerging Materials Workshop of Ontario & Quebec. The workshop was held virtually May 30-31, 2020. Juneja is a member of Kristin Hutchins' research lab and has been working on the synthesis of boronic acid functionalized polymers and thermal expansion of materials. Another research interest is co-crystals of the drug, Dapsone, which sometimes is used in treating leprosy. She was the lead author of the research project, "Effects of dynamic pedal motion and static disorder on thermal expansion within halogen-bonded co-crystals," which published in the New Journal of Chemistry. Juneja earned her B.S. and her M.S. in chemistry at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
Ghandour Kindles Hope for Local Children
Gabriella Ghandour, a first-year political science student, has a passion for two things: music and helping others. She combined these two passions to found Kindle Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides funding and time to enrich the lives of underprivileged children in the Lubbock community. "We use the universal languages of music and art to fundraise and teach children how to express themselves through creative, non-violent outlets," Ghandour said. At the age of 11, Ghandour became aware of the hardships that children her age were facing—especially those in Syria, where Ghandour's family is from. "In 2012 … I was watching kids my own age, my own blood, my own ethnicity literally broken in the streets of Damascus, catching fire. In that moment, I realized how truly blessed I was and decided to create an afterschool group to raise money and send it to Syrian children. Unfortunately, it was, and still is, too dangerous to send this aid to Syria, so I focused on helping children locally instead." Kindle Hope hosts the "Kindle Pop Benefit Concert" to raise money for the cause. The first concert, in September 2018, consisted of Ghandour and a friend playing guitar. The organization raised more than $7,500 that year and now partners with the Guadalupe Parkway Center and students from the East Lubbock School of Music. Follow this link to learn how Gabriella Ghandour plans to take Kindle Hope's efforts worldwide.
Commitment Plan Means Safe Return to Campus
As we look to return safely to campus this fall, the Texas Tech Commitment is a comprehensive University plan that includes new procedures and our pledge to do everything we can to provide a safe environment for every Red Raider. Across campus, you will notice enhanced sanitization efforts, resources for health screenings, access to personal protective equipment, workplace and classroom wellness guidance, and social distancing protocols. With the addition of these new procedures, along with attention to personal hygiene, proper social distancing, and self-care, we can all do our part to protect our campus community. Follow this link to learn more about the Texas Tech Commitment in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Tipton Researches Genetics of Chronic Wounds
Craig Tipton, a doctoral student, and biologist Caleb Phillips, an assistant professor, both in the Department of Biological Sciences, led a first-of-its-kind study that shows genetics may play a role in how wounds heal—or not, especially chronic wounds that are often associated with other chronic diseases or conditions like diabetes, decreased circulation and neuropathy. The study, "Patient genetics is linked to chronic wound microbiome composition and healing," published June 18, 2020, in the open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS Pathogens. Tipton, who completed his bachelor's degree in biology at Angelo State University before arriving at Texas Tech, said the project has been a significant part of his dissertation, which focuses on learning more about why a person's wounds are infected by different types of microbes. Though there is still work to be done before the research directly benefits patients, Tipton said the study is an important and promising step in that direction. "Personalized medicine is a current hot topic in modern healthcare, where the goal is to identify inherent differences within individuals that may cause them to be impacted differently by disease and finding treatments that are well-suited and tailored to the individual and may contribute to better patient outcomes," Tipton said. "Our project furthers two equally-interesting avenues of research with potential translation to the clinic." Follow this link to read the full account of Craig Tipton's research.
Pagotti & Marafiotti Develop Attendance App
Matheus Pagotti (above right) and Pedro Marafiotti (above left), both Texas Tech University seniors, have developed an easy-to-use—and affordable—attendance-taking app. Their brainchild, CritiColl, is one of eight startup companies accepted this spring into the 2020 Texas Tech Accelerator program. Already, CritiColl is making a difference in the courses that have adopted it. Follow this link for the complete story of CritiColl.
Download Backgrounds for Video Apps
Download these College of Arts & Sciences backgrounds, suitable for video applications such as Zoom, to look like—and feel like—you're already back on campus!
Eric Bui Wins Fulbright-Mitacs Fellowship
Eric Bui, a Texas Tech University biochemistry major, is among the first to win a Fulbright-Mitacs Globalink scholarship. Bui was looking forward to spending summer 2020 in Canada, where he was planning to research drug development for novel anti-cancer therapies at the University of British Columbia. But in its inaugural year, the program was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bui and the other 2020 grantees will be offered an alternative date to serve their scholarship. Follow this link for the complete story about Eric Bui.
Kuzmack Named 2020 Truman Scholar
Stephanie Kuzmack, a senior sociology major from Española, N.M., has won a fellowship from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, making her one of its 2020 Truman Scholars. Out of 773 applicants, representing 316 colleges and universities, Kuzmack was one of only 62 students selected for the prestigious scholarship. She is the second Texas Tech University student to win a Truman Scholarship. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders. Follow this link for the complete story about Stephanie Kuzmack.
Vincent Publishes Physics Research
Trey Vincent, a senior physics major and undergraduate research assistant, and his research mentor, Horn Professor Stefan Estreicher, have been working to solve a troublesome problem in silicon-based electronics. Their findings recently were published as an Editor's Pick article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Physics. Follow this link for the complete story about Trey Vincent's undergraduate research.
Harbin Wins Academic Citizenship-STEM Award
Heather Harbin, a senior physics major with a focus in astrophysics, has won the Student Academic Citizenship Award-STEM from the Texas Tech Parents Association. The San Antonio native was nominated for the award by Texas Tech University astrophysicist Alessandra Corsi for demonstrating academic excellence and outstanding public service leadership in the field of astronomy. As an undergraduate researcher, Harbin conducts gravitational wave follow-up in the radio frequency, generating images of radio sources using data from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). During summer 2019, she was one of only two chosen internationally to serve a 10-week internship in the National and International Nontraditional Exchange (NINE) program at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Va. Follow this link for the complete story of Heather Harbin's award.
Corcoran Wins Academic Citizenship Award
Michelle Corcoran, a philosophy major who graduated in December 2019, has won the Student Academic Citizenship Award from the Texas Tech Parents Association. The San Diego, Calif., native was nominated for the award by Texas Tech University philosopher Jeremy Schwartz for demonstrating academic excellence and outstanding public service leadership in the field of philosophy. Corcoran was instrumental in resurrecting TTU's Undergraduate Philosophy Club and, as its president, worked closely with the executive secretary of Phi Sigma Tau to reactivate Phi Sigma Tau's Texas Tech chapter. Phi Sigma Tau is an international honor society for philosophers, and its re-establishment is meant to encourage student involvement. Follow this link for the complete story of Michelle Corcoran's award.
Loya Photo Wins Hearts at C&EN
Daniel Loya, a graduate student and member of Kristin Hutchins' research group in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, took the above photo, which was featured in Chemical & Engineering News, Chemistry in Pictures. Loya was synthesizing a new monometer in the lab when the oil residue formed into a heart shape. The photo was published in honor of St. Valentine's Day.
Lopez on Team That Published Research
Andrea J. Lopez, a biochemistry undergraduate in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, is on a research team whose project, "In vitro detection of porphyrin-producing wound bacteria with real-time fluorescence imaging," was published online Feb. 26, 2020, in the journal Future Medicine. Lopez conducts research with Allie Smith in the Honors College; and she was mentored by Anthony Cozzolino, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, through Mentor Tech. The entire research team is credited thusly: (Laura M Jones, Danielle Dunham, Monique Y Rennie, Jeffrey Kirman, Andrea J Lopez, Klara C Keim, William Little, Andre Gomez, Jessica Bourke, Herman Ng, Ralph S DaCosta & Allie Clinton Smith).
Biochemistry Society Entry is a Hit at CANstruction
Members of the Biochemistry Society build their entry during Texas Tech Student Involvement's second annual CANstruction competition. Photo courtesy Daily Toreador/Autumn Bippert
The Biochemistry Society is a first-place winner in the Texas Tech Student Involvement CANstruction Competition. The group took first place in the people's choice award in the student organization category buy using 118 cans from their canned-food drive to make a periodic table. The event took place Feb. 23, 2020, in the Red Raider Ballroom at the Student Union. Paola Rivera, a junior biochemistry major from Guadalajara, Mexico, and president of the Biochemistry Society, told the Daily Toreador that the idea to design and built a periodic table out of 118 cans--the same as the number of elements—seemed like "a pretty doable and cool and sciencey" project. The Biochemistry Society is in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.
Masoumzadeh Wins Travel Stipend
Elahe (Lili) Masoumzadeh, a third-year graduate student and member of Michael Latham's research group in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received an ENC Student Travel Award to attend the 61st Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference in Baltimore March 8-13, 2020.
Konopa A Profile in Diversity
Robert Konopa of San Antonio is a first-year student majoring in physics with an astrophysics concentration in the College of Arts & Sciences. Now entering his second semester, he's sharing highlights of his involvement in several academic and social groups. "I'm currently involved in the Texas Tech Society of Physics Students (SPS), as well as the Texas Tech Gender and Sexuality Association (GSA)," Konopa said. "I also have volunteered alongside the Black Student Association (BSA) a couple of times, although I am not a black student." Konopa said his involvement in each group relates to a different aspect of his life. "I relate SPS to my major, and GSA creates a safe space for my identity as a transgender man," he said. "I can share nerdy jokes with my fellow physics majors, and offer and gain support from those in GSA. "BSA has given me multiple volunteering opportunities. I've volunteered with them at the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock, Rise Academy Charter School and a local church to help others in the community." Follow this link for the complete article about Robert Konopa.
Harbin to Launch TTU Hub for Radio Astronomy
Heather Harbin, a junior physics major, served a 2019 summer internship at the headquarters of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now that she's back in Lubbock, Harbin is in charge of establishing Texas Tech University as the U.S. mainland's first hub for the NRAO's National and International Non-Traditional Exchange (NINE) Program. The NINE Program accepts only two trainees each year. Over the course of 10 weeks during the summer, it teaches them to use radio astronomy-related software and provides project-management training and mentoring. Participants leave the program with a fully developed NINE Hub plan to enact when they return home. Follow this link for the complete story about Heather Harbin's internship.
Reyes Makes Most of First-Gen Opportunities
Ximena Chavez Reyes of San Antonio is an anthropology major who is sharing highlights of her experiences as a nontraditional, first-generation and international student. Chavez said being active in the first-year program in First Generation Transition & Mentoring Programs (FGTMP) led her to some of the best friends she has made in college and also allowed her to become engaged with local organizations. "Through this program, I was given opportunities to network, develop academically and professionally and give back to my community," Chavez said. "We had volunteer opportunities at South Plains Food Bank, Lubbock Impact and Ronald McDonald House, to name a few." Follow this link for the complete story about Ximena Chavez Reyes.
Scanlon Publishes Psychology Research
Faith Scanlon, a doctoral student in the Texas Tech Department of Psychological Sciences, is lead author of a new study, published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, that shows children who experience traumatic events are more likely to wind up in the criminal justice system later in life—unless there's a mentor in their lives to keep them out of legal trouble. Scanlon's group looked at how each of nine types of childhood traumas were associated with different kinds of criminal behaviors—delinquency, arrest, incarceration—in adolescence and adulthood, Scanlon said. Then they assigned "trauma scores" based on the number of traumas a child had experienced. That allowed the researchers to examine if higher rates of trauma were associated with worse outcomes. They also examined the effects when a mentor wa part of a child's life. For a complete account of Faith Scanlon's research, follow this link.
Hernandez's Success as First-Gen Nontraditional
Colton Hernandez, a biochemistry senior, sat down with us to share some of his experiences as a first-generation and nontraditional Red Raider. A Lubbock native, Hernandez is an undergraduate researcher in the Texas Tech McNair Scholars Program, a graduate school preparatory program for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups who demonstrate strong academic potential for graduate research and studies. Follow this link for details of Colton Hernandez's interview.
DeWinne to Serve as Chancellor's Ambassador
Callie DeWinne has abundant reasons to be glad she's a Red Raider. The kinesiology major in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, will enter her senior year as winner of the Dr. Sarah Kulkofsky Scholarship for Social Sciences. A native of San Antonio, DeWinne is a recent Mortar Board inductee and, come fall 2019, will serve as a Chancellor's Ambassador. Her work as an Honor's College undergraduate research scholar has been published in the May 2019 issue of Experimental Brain Research. The project, "Pre-crastination and procrastination effects occur in a reach-to-grasp task," was led by principal author Jarrod Blinch, assistant professor of kinesiology. DeWinne says she worked with Blinch for a year on that project and has begun a second under his direction. "Now we're doing a study on the best way to measure reaction time," she says. A detailed story about DeWinne may be found by following this link.
Acosta Headed to Russia on Fulbright
Nicholas Acosta, a grad student and adjunct instructor of applied linguistics in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, has won a scholarship on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. He will head to Moscow for an academic year beginning fall 2019, as yet uncertain of the university where he will teach. Acosta, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from Texas Tech, switched disciplines to further his education by applying to the linguistics master's program. He says the transition to applied linguistics took some getting used to, and that he took up the Russian language on a dare. "One of my friends was taking Japanese, another was taking Italian and another was taking Spanish," Acosta says. "Then, they said, 'You should take Russian,' and I said, 'OK, I'll do it.'" His Fulbright application was for an English teaching assistantship in Moscow. Though competition was fierce, he won. "I will be teaching English as a second language while also doing a cultural unit with Russian speakers to help them understand American culture a little bit more," Acosta says. "I'll focus more on American movies and books, and maybe some music, art and poetry." A detailed story about Acosta may be found by following this link.
Gilman Scholars Head Abroad
Carla Barnes, Caleb Cash, Kaevyn Maple and Malik White-Williams, all undergraduates in the Department of Political Science, are among the 15 Texas Tech University students awarded nearly $50,000 in scholarships from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Winners were published June 10 at Texas Tech Today. To read more about them and their study destinations, follow this link.
Falco Wins Leadership Award
Adrian Falco, a graduating biochemistry senior, is this year's winner of the Texas Tech Parents Association Student Academic Leadership Award representing the College of Arts & Sciences. The native of Friendswood, Texas, leaves Texas Tech behind—at least the main campus—with a prodigious list of accomplishments to his credit: He is outgoing president of the Honors College Bayless Elementary Mentoring Program. H his Honors thesis concerns the challenges of delivering medical supplies and services to Haiti. And he plays a pretty mean saxophone. As a student on the pre-med track, Falco will continue his studies at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He wants to be a physician. A detailed story about Falco may be found by following this link.
Highest-Ranking Graduates Spring 2019
The following are the College of Arts & Sciences' highest-ranking students for Spring 2019 Graduation, which took place May 17. Biochemistry major Blake Aaron Ferguson carried the Arts & Sciences banner.
- Oscar Almazan, biology major
- Rodie Wayne Brister, biology major
- Ethan Gregory Johnson, biology major
- Shree Ashish Patel, microbiology major
- Nandini Arunava Ray, microbiology major
- Sparsh Pratik Ray, microbiology major
- Tucker McAaron Wise, microbiology major
- Stephan Brian Azatian, biochemistry major
- Adrian Nguyen-Si Falco, biochemistry major
- Blake Aaron Ferguson, biochemistry major
- Quoc Trieu Nguyen, biochemistry major
- Rivir Scott Berry, Spanish major
- Molly Taylor Gilmore, Spanish major
- Jessica Elizabeth Nichols, Spanish major
- Abigail Eleanor Raef, languages and cultures major
- Destiny Alyse Doran, English major
- Yoana Duran, English major
- Pauline L. Franklin, English major
- Karina Ocanas, English major
- Michael Lawrence Tagliabue, English major
- Jordan Taylor White, English major
- Kristen Dene' York, English major
- Hannah Asha Daniel, general studies major
- Breelin Noelle Shafer, general studies major
- Emily Ann Gideon, history major
- Amanda Michelle Burton, kinesiology major
- Jesse Robert Perez, kinesiology major
- Riley Benjamin Reich, kinesiology major
- Christian Rodriguez, kinesiology major
- Brandon Richard Spencer, kinesiology major
- Jenna Leanne Townsend, kinesiology major
- Kip Keith Fletcher, mathematics major
- Adam Lee Harper, mathematics major
- Abdou Khadim Sakho, mathematics major
- Olivia Marie Copeland, political science major
- Caitlin Jane Boyle, psychology major
- Bailey Jo Gomez, psychology major
- Claire Marie Linenberger, psychology major
- Kara Beth Pepper, psychology major
- Aliyah Destinie Acuña, sociology major
- Hannah Sabine Hughes, anthropology major
- Marissa Jean Medina, sociology major
- Haley Renee Stevers, sociology major
Wu Wins Goldwater Scholarship
Oscar Wu, above right, a junior majoring in cell and molecular biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. Wu's research interest is in the field of cancer immunotherapy. "Whether it's the National Institutes of Health or companies like Merck, there is a huge public and private interest in cancer immunotherapy," Wu says. "In fact, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded for developing the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug, ipilimumab. This is because decades of basic science research in this field has finally allowed us to utilize that data for drug development and translate them to patients." Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec praised Wu's hard work and dedication to research, saying that the scholarship speaks to Wu's commitment and talents as an undergraduate researcher and exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit the university encourages in all its students. "I started conducting research when I was a sophomore," Wu says of his high school days. "I emailed 50 laboratories when I was 15 years old, and I was accepted into only one, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. After that, everything was history." A detailed story about Wu may be found by following this link.
Dinan Recognized as Fulbright Finalist
Nancy Dinan, a Ph.D. student in the Department of English, was recognized as a Fulbright finalist May 6 during Texas Tech University's annual Prestigious Scholarship Reception, hosted by the Office of National and International Scholarships & Fellowships (NISF), the Graduate School and the Honors College. The ceremony recognizes applicants for the months of work that go into applying for highly competitive and prestigious educational awards and programs, including writing and revising essays and recommendation letters, serving on selection committees, and participating as interviewers and applicants in mock interview panels. "Applying for prestigious awards is no easy feat," said Wendoli Flores, director of NISF. "Only the students who are willing to sacrifice a good deal of their time end up going through the process of a complete application. Many of these scholarships require university endorsement and must be applied for internally through the NISF office so a review committee has the opportunity to assess the candidates and endorse the most competitive students." Flores added that even when a student does not receive a scholarship, the mere act of applying is an impressive accomplishment that must be recognized and celebrated."
Perkowski Recognized for Research
Evan A. Perkowski, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences, received an Honorable Mention for his application to the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. He was recognized for his application May 6 during Texas Tech University's annual Prestigious Scholarship Reception, hosted by the Office of National and International Scholarships & Fellowships (NISF), the Graduate School and the Honors College. The ceremony recognizes applicants for the months of work that go into applying for highly competitive and prestigious educational awards and programs, including writing and revising essays and recommendation letters, serving on selection committees, and participating as interviewers and applicants in mock interview panels. "Applying for prestigious awards is no easy feat," said Wendoli Flores, director of NISF. "Only the students who are willing to sacrifice a good deal of their time end up going through the process of a complete application. Many of these scholarships require university endorsement and must be applied for internally through the NISF office so a review committee has the opportunity to assess the candidates and endorse the most competitive students." Flores added that even when a student does not receive a scholarship, the mere act of applying is an impressive accomplishment that must be recognized and celebrated."
Wilkerson Receives President's Award
Kabl Wilkerson, a history and political science major in the College of Arts & Sciences, received the President's Excellence in Diversity & Equity Award for Undergraduate Students during a ceremony on April 30. Wilkerson, a member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi, founded the Raiderland Native American Student Association to address the deficit of support and awareness of the Native American community, According to a Jan. 30, 2019, article in the Daily Toreador. Wilkerson also is an Honors Arts and Letters major in the Honors College. The awards celebrate faculty, students and staff who exemplify Texas Tech University's commitment to advancing diversity and promoting equity and inclusiveness. The program was held in the Hall of Nations at the International Cultural Center, with Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec addressing the nominees and winners. "A commitment to diversity not only grows the pool of talent on a campus, but supports an environment that makes greater use of our human resources," Schovanec said. In addition to recognition at the ceremony, Wilkerson will receive a $500 scholarship. The awards were created by the Office of the President and administered by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
English Students Recognized in Ceremony
More than 50 graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of English were recognized with awards and scholarships at the English Department Awards Ceremony, held April 26. For a complete list of winners, follow this link.
Pati Wins People's Choice Award
SivaTeja Pati, above center, a biology major in the Department Biological Sciences, is the founder of a new, non-profit company that designs and produces customized 3D-printable prosthetic hands for children. During Texas Tech University's inaugural "Discoveries to Impact Week," Pati won the $500 Spark Conference Poster Showcase People's Choice Award for developing the adaptive grip mechanism with gross- and fine-grip switchability for 3D-printed prosthetic hands. A detailed story about Pati may be found by following this link.
Chemistry Students Present at Meeting
Students of Michael Latham, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, presented at the 27th Texas Protein Folding and Functions meeting. the meeting was held April 12-14 at The Retreat at Artesian Lakes, near Cleveland, Texas.
- Zachary Boswell presented the talk, "Cancer associated mutations perturb Rad50 D-loop to circumvent allosteric regulation."
- Elahe Masoumzadeh presented the talk, "Characterizing the structure and dynamics of CstF-64 RRM-RNA complexes using NMR spectroscopy."
- Mahtab Beikzadeh presented the poster, "Investigating the mechanism of Mre11 nuclease activities."
- Stephan Azatian presented the poster, "Synthesis of multi-part Pf Rad50 for NMR spectroscopy analysis of coiled-coil domain of full-length Rad50."
Smith Play Staged by School of Dance
Jessica Smith, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, authored a play that opened April 1 at the Creative Movement Studio. Smith's work, "Cub," was staged by Texas Tech University's School of Theater & Dance as part of "Raider Red's One-Act Play Spectacular/Raider Red's Awesome Dance Spectacular 2019" (RROAPS/RRADS). Plays are chosen through a contest, and English professor Jill Patterson encouraged Smith to enter "Cubs" when the call for submissions was announced. "Dr. Patterson pointed out that English students had entered the RROAPS contest in the past, and she knew I wrote a lot of dialogue into my poetry," Smith says. "Since the play was accepted, I feel like the English department has been really excited for the crossover, and I hope other students will send in their scripts next year. I've learned so much from watching the artists in the School of Theater & Dance, and I've definitely got the playwriting itch now." Smith's play is described as tracing the rapid escalation and demise of a romantic relationship, exploring the ways in which power dynamics are established early and calcify quickly. Its story charts how people can slowly subjugate themselves to an abusive partner, and the long shadow that trauma can cast on an individual's life. Smith noted that the writing process was fun, but daunting: "It was fun insofar as I got to practice a new craft, but it was daunting because the subject matter is quite painful. I wanted to be sure, when writing about an abusive relationship, to resist tropes or gestures that might reinforce myths about intimate partner violence."
Cardenas Wins Teaching Award
Zachary Cardenas, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, received the 2019 Professing Excellence Award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing and announced in March. Recipients are nominated by students for having demonstrated exceptional educational skills. Mechanical engineering sophomore Grant Tekell, who nominated Cardenas, described in a YouTube video how Cardenas gets to know the students in his lab by asking about how their week is going or what sports they like, for example. "I forget exactly what he said to me, but I remember he made me feel genuinely cared for." Tekell said Cardenas answers student's questions in a way that makes the subject matter easy to understand. "To teach it well, you have to understand it well. And he teaches and makes things clear."
Chang Receives Horn Professors Award
Yu-Wei Chang, from the Department of Environmental Toxicology, has won the Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award for 2019. Chang's national award-winning research focuses on the adverse effects of environmental contaminants in kidney diseases and cancer. Most recently, she has been conducting research on the adverse affects of small amounts of arsenic in tap water. Her creative and impressive work not only looks at cause, but it also examines therapy approaches to reduce or prevent the negative effects of certain environmental contaminants. Her ground-breaking research is directly relevant to clinical patient care. The Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award was established by the Paul Whitfield Horn Professors at Texas Tech University to recognize and reward outstanding research or creative activity performed by graduate students while here. She was was nominated by her research mentor Kamaleshwar Singh. A detailed story about Chang's research may be found by following this link.
Dinan Receives Horn Professors Award
Nancy Dinan, from the Department of English, has won the Horn Professors Graduate Achievement Award for 2019. Dinan is working on her doctoral dissertation in English Literature with a creative writing specialization in the Department of English. Her first novel, "Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here," is under contract with Bloomsbury for an expected publication in the summer of 2020. Two more novels are nearing completion, with subtle links to the first book. Her three-book project is described as significant because of the unique way it combines journalistic and historical facts with a fictional narrative, focusing on both environment and history, and thereby addressing a global issue, humanity's stewardship of nature. She was nominated by her mentor Katie Cortese. A detailed story about Dinan's work may be found by following this link.
6 From A&S Win Grad School Competition
Six graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences won awards at the 18th Annual Graduate Student Research Poster Competition. The event was hosted by Texas Tech University's Graduate School and took place March 26. Winners were announced at a luncheon on April 9. Arts & Sciences students placed in the following three categories:
- Emma Roberts, Department of Biological Sciences — First Place
- Malik Abdul, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry — Second Place
- Naveen Kumar, Department of Environmental Toxicology — First Place
- Narayan Acharya, Department of Environmental Toxicology — Second Place
- Hira Farooq, Department of Physics & Astronomy — First Place
- Deven Bhakta, Department of Physics & Astronomy — Second Place
Andrews Speaks at National ACS Meeting
Miranda Andrews, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave a talk entitled "Effects of photochromic moieties on pendant groups that participate in secondary bonding interactions" at the American Chemical Society's Spring 2019 National Meeting in Orlando on April 4. Andrews coauthored the research with Anthony Cozzolino, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.
Undergrad Chemists Present at Conference
Student chemists in the lab of Gerardo Gamez, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, gave the following presentations at the 11th Annual Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference, held April 2-3:
- "Glow Discharge Optical Emission Elemental Mapping Method Development for Thin Sections and Solutions" — Cody Baker, Yue She, Gerardo Gamez
- "Development of Laser Rayleigh Scattering Plasma Diagnostic Instrument for Characterization of Plasma Gas Kinetic Temperature Maps in Plasmas Used for Chemical Analysis" — Lee Jong Min, Kevin Finch, Gerardo Gamez
- "Characterization of the Flowing Atmospheric Pressure Afterglow Ambient Mass Spectrometry Desorption/Ionization Source for Performing Real-Time Derivatization Reactions" — Zachry Kempf, Yinglei Pu, Gerardo Gamez
A&S Grad Students Receive Support Awards
This Texas Tech University Graduate School recently presented its 2019 Graduate Student Research Support Awards to 13 College of Arts & Sciences graduate students, six in the Arts & Humanities, seven in the STEM disciplines. The program is for Texas Tech University graduate students pursuing a master's or doctoral degree full time. The funds, which range between $500 and $1,000 per recipient, are earmarked only for expenses directly related to research (e.g., supplies, software, research-related training, etc.).
Spring 2019 Arts & Humanities Recipients
- Iliana Gonzalez — Counseling Psychology
- Leah Heilig — Technical Communication & Rhetoric
- Olivia Kuljian — Experimental Psychology
- Samodh Porawagamage — English
- David Robledo — Technical Communication & Rhetoric
- Gretchen Williams — History
Spring 2019 STEM Recipients
- Phoenix Crane — Experimental Psychology
- Meijun Dong — Biology
- Susan Leib — Geosciences
- Theresa Nguyen — Psychology
- Kalin Skinner — Environmental Toxicology
- Zhixing Wang — Physics
- Emily Wright — Biology
Farooq Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Hira Farooq, a Ph.D. candidate in Condensed Matter Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Texas Tech University.
Srivatsav Awarded Hazlewood Fellowship
Chitranjan Srivastav, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, has been awarded a competitive James D. and Mary Hazlewood Memorial Graduate Fellowship by the Graduate School. Srivatsav is a chemistry tutor and is the second author of the research article "Scientific validation of medicinal plants used by Yakkha community of Chanuwa VDC, Dhankuta, Nepal" published December 2016. The Hazlewood award is for $3,000 in the upcoming academic year.
Bennet Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Paul Bennet, a Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Texas Tech University.
Smith Places 3rd at Research Conference
Cecila Smith, an undergraduate in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, placed third out of 288 entrants at Texas Tech University's 2019 TrUE Undergraduate Research Conference. The conference was held April 2-3 on the TTU campus at Lubbock. Smith is mentored by Michael Findlater, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and her entry was a poster, "Conversion of Imines to Secondary Amines Using Iron-Catalyzed Hydrosilylation."
Miller is Outstanding Undergrad Researcher
Sarah Miller (pictured above, second from left), a biology senior, has won the 2019 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award at the conclusion of the TTU Undergraduate Research Conference. The week-long conference, titled "Discoveries to Impact: A Celebration of Research, Innovation, & Startups," was directed by TrUE (the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences) and took place April 1-5 this year. Each year, TrUE recognizes outstanding undergraduate researchers, nominated by faculty, who demonstrate exemplary performance and dedication to their work. Miller's research mentor is Andrey Karamyshev, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Biochemistry at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). A detailed story about Miller's research may be found by following this link.
5 From A&S Earn Graduate Teaching Award
Five graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences have received the 2019 Helen DeVitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award. This award, administered by the Graduate School, supports graduate part-time instructors at Texas Tech University by recognizing outstanding scholarly activity and excellence in teaching. To be eligible for the award, students must be nominated by a graduate faculty member, should have at least 18 hours of graduate work in their field of teaching responsibility, have full responsibility for the class or classes they teach, and have been a graduate part-time instructor during the academic year that they are being nominated to receive the award. In addition to the recognition, each awardee receives a $1,000 honorarium.
- Zachary Brander — Spanish
- Maya Edwards — Romance Languages, Spanish
- Vicente Iranzo — Spanish
- Arturo Ramirez Martinez — Spanish
- David Winograd — Counseling Psychology
Wang Receives Dissertation Fellowship
Tyler Wang, a Ph.D. student in High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has received a Graduate Student Research Support Award of $1,000 from Texas Tech University Graduate School.
Borges Runner Up for Research Award
Pablo Hernandez Borges, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, was recognized as the first runner-up for the Student International Research Award, which recognizes international scholarship by a graduate student and is based on the annual Graduate School poster competition. His recognition came during the Global Vision Awards, held April 4, 2019, at the International Cultural Center. Borges was recognized for his research "Playing the Musical Chairs: A case study of corruption and cabinet rotation in Venezuela." His research examines the relationship of the high rotation of government ministers, a larger gross domestic product and the party in power running counter to the stability of the executive branch in government while at the same time increasing the level of governmental corruption. Winning the award was Grace Hyunjung Lee, a graduate student in Nutritional Sciences, for her research and cross-sectional study conducted in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Gard Lands Graduate Fellowship
Shipra Gard, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Helen DeVitt Jones Graduate Fellowship. The Fellowship award is $3,500 per year for three years to pursue a doctoral degree starting fall 2019.
Brar Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Amandeep Brar, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of associate professor Clemens Krempner's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Tahmouresilerd Gets Dissertation Fellowship
Babak Tahmouresilerd, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a member of assistant professor Anthony Cozzolino's research group, has been awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate School. The award provides monthly salary and tuition/fee waivers beginning fall 2019 through graduation in Summer 2020.
Rajkumar Gets International Internship
Priyadarshini Rajkumar, an undergraduate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been accepted into the Caltech GROWTH international summer internship project, where she will spend the summer of 2019 conducting research with data from the Liverpool Telescope. The Liverpool Telescope, while physically located in the Canary Islands, is owned and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, John Moores University, in Liverpool, England. Texas Tech University is one of 14 institutions and multiple observatories around the world that have created a network of telescopes that can observe fast changing cosmic events. Called the GROWTH project for short, the acronym stands for Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
Elmassry Wants to Nip Sepsis in the Bud
Moamen Elmassry, a graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in microbiology in the Department of Biological Sciences, is focusing on the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can lead to sepsis if it gets into a patient's blood. Sepsis is one of the most troubling conditions in the medical community today. It's the leading cause of death in intensive care units, with an estimated 1 million new cases in hospitalized patients each year in the United States alone. The condition, in which the body's immune system goes into overdrive trying to kill a blood-borne bacterial infection, is easily treated with antibiotics—the trouble is that the detection time has, in the past, taken longer than it takes for sepsis to kill a patient. So why not just treat every patient with antibiotics to prevent sepsis before it happens? Because overuse of antibiotics leads to increased drug resistance, which makes antibiotics less effective in the future. It's a tricky situation that researchers the world over have been trying to address in a variety of ways, including a novel, faster-detection device developed in the Texas Tech University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. But many of these methods focus on detection and treatment. What if you could know, ahead of time, why certain patients are more likely to get sepsis? That is the basis of Elmassry's new research, which he is conducting in collaboration with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. More about Elmassry's sepsis research may be found at this link.
Rodriguez Perseveres To Bachelor's Degree
Teresa Rodriguez is a newly minted Texas Tech University graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology. When she walked across the stage in December 2018, it marked the final step of an educational odyssey that began for a unique first-generation college student when she was in her mid-40s. Along the way, Rodriguez found another level of inner strength she wasn't sure existed when she extended her family more than she ever thought imaginable. In the middle of her unorthodox journey, family ties tugged at Rodriguez's heart when her cousin's five young children were thrust into limbo and teetered on the edge of becoming wards of the State of Texas. So Rodriguez, already a busy mother and grandmother, stepped in without a second thought and took in the five children—at the time ranging in age from 1-8—as a foster parent. "Sometimes I wonder how in the world I did it, but I did," Rodriguez said with a smile. "There were times when I wasn't sure I could make it, but the people at Texas Tech helped me and my family in ways I never expected." Read more about Teresa Rodriguez at this link.
Elizalde Wins People's Choice in 3 Minutes
Armando Elizalde Velazquez came to Texas Tech University nearly two years ago with a strong interest in microplastic research. Now, three semesters from a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology, Velazquez has matched his knowledge with a deep passion about the topic. Explaining that blend of knowledge and passion is an important next step, so when Velazquez had an opportunity to test a new means to do so, he didn't let it pass. A native of Toluca, Mexico, Velazquez participated in Texas Tech's Three-Minute Thesis Competition last month and was one of the program's shining stars. His presentation, "Microplastics: An invisible threat," earned third place as well as the People's Choice award. "We live in a world where everything we use involves, plastic and we are dumping it at a high rate. Now we can see some consequences, however its environmental impact remains unknown. Here is where my research comes in" Velazquez said. Read more about Armando Elizalde at this link.
Schmitt Takes 1st Place for 3-Minute Thesis
Cassandra Schmitt has long held an affinity for helping whoever is in need, as well as a fascination for the kind of creatures that aren't necessarily familiar to many people in West Texas. So the notion of studying amphibious and aquatic fish species and how that research can improve the quality of life for mankind has always seemed like a perfect fit. After graduating from Lubbock Christian University in 2012, Schmitt worked as an advocate for victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking at Voice of Hope in Lubbock. Advocates provide medical accompaniment, assistance with reporting and service referrals for victims and their families. When Schmitt decided to redirect her professional life, the Lubbock native went hunting for the right place to pursue graduate-level research that still had a positive impact on people and the environment. Schmitt found that ideal match, and didn't have to stray far to do so. Schmitt won first place in the Texas Tech University Graduate School's Three-Minute Thesis competition last month for her presentation "Exploring Organophosphate Insecticide Exposure in Zebrafish." Read more about Cassadra Schmitt at this link.
Green Briefs Group at Cannon Air Force Base
Elizabeth Green, a doctoral student of Experimental–Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychological Sciences, was invited to brief the 492nd Special Operations Training Group at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M. The briefings covered learning and instructional topics such as study habits, the effect of stress on learning, and instructional design.
Williams Finds a 'First Gen' Haven at TTU
Malik Williams realized when he was still young, yet more worldly than he probably should have been, that he would have to take a giant leap of faith in life to escape the circumstances around him. Growing up in poverty in north San Antonio—to the degree that he wasn't always sure where his next meal would come from or sometimes when—Williams knew he had to find a way out. The most promising path was through a college education, and that was where Williams directed his focus. Williams is halfway down that path, a junior at Texas Tech University majoring in political science with a double minor in legal studies and communications studies. His goal after he earns a bachelor's degree is law school at an Ivy League school. "I grew up in a ghetto with guns, drugs and gangs," Williams said. "Every night, you'd hear guns shooting and then the next day hear that somebody had been killed. Coming to Texas Tech, this is a world apart from what I grew up with. Read more about Malik Williams at this link.
Dinan Named a Fulbright Finalist
Nancy Dinan is a finalist in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. As she waits to hear whether she is a winner, she is working on her doctoral dissertation in English Literature with a creative writing specialization through the Department of English—while she has three novels in the works. Her first novel, "Things You Would Know If You Grew Up Around Here," will be available for purchase in the summer of 2020. She also teaches an online class and edits for Iron Horse Literary Review, the literary magazine at Texas Tech." Read more about Nancy Dinan at this link.
More Student News
- 2018: Fall
- 2018: Summer
- 2018: Spring
- 2017: Fall
- 2017: Spring & Summer
- 2016: Fall
- 2016: Spring & Summer
- 2015: Fall
- 2015: Spring & Summer