Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Professor Wins Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award

Lacy Oliver

January 18, 2024


Jennifer Guelfo, an Assistant Professor at the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, has been recognized with the 2024 Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Research Award.

Jennifer Guelfo is an Assistant Professor at the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Hydrologic Science Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and has hit the ground running since. Eventually, that road led her to Texas Tech, where she continues to impact the world through her research.

“I started on this path as a Ph.D. student, so I wouldn't be here without mentors and colleagues including my Ph.D. advisor Dr. Chris Higgins (Colorado School of Mines), and TTU colleagues such as Drs. Danny Reible and Andrew Jackson in Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering, and Dr. Todd Anderson in TIEHH.” Guelfo said.

“Reflecting on my journey towards receiving this esteemed award, my research has been dedicated to investigating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment, colloquially known as ‘forever chemicals. We use tools such as mass spectrometry to look at occurrence, fate, transport, and treatment of PFAS, and these are all topics that are currently of national and international concern.” Said Jennifer Guelfo as she talks about her recent achievement of being awarded the 2024 Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award.

Of course, when it comes to research, you cannot always do things on your own. A team effort goes a long way, and Jennifer acknowledges her team contribution to this award.

“Most importantly, though, are all the researchers I have been lucky enough to advise. My group includes researchers at the undergraduate, MS, PhD, and postdoctoral levels, and this award is, to a large degree, a reflection of their hard work.  Without their interest, motivation, and dedication, a lot of these research ideas would never see the light of day.  They implement and expand research ideas and make them their own. I am thankful for their hard work.  They may refer to me as their advisor, but oftentimes they are the ones teaching me.”

The nomination for this accolade was led by the Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering awards committee, Dr. Kay Millerick, Ameri Gurley, Dr. Hongchao Liu, Dr. Raghu Betha, Dr. Lianfa Song, and Dr. Chen Xinzhong. Additionally, five experts in the field provided letters of recommendation, for which she was sincerely grateful for their support.

Jennifer also talks about what this award means for her and how it is an honor to be counted as part of this elite group of recipients. “Faculty are often so busy that milestones can be underappreciated. We do things like publish papers, and the minute one is published, it is on to the next!  So, this award additionally means the opportunity to pause and celebrate achievements that are a collective reflection of the mentors, colleagues, and advisees I mentioned above. It also means the chance to thank my family- especially Dr. Evan Gray, and my kids (Effie and Kieran).  They never complain about me being a workaholic, and that kind of support is a rare gift.”

The Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award, established to honor exceptional research, scholarship, and creative endeavors of faculty members in the initial stages of their careers, symbolizes excellence within academia. This prestigious accolade is selectively conferred, emphasizing merit and innovation. Each academic year, a maximum of four recipients are recognized, with two awards dedicated to STEM disciplines and two to social sciences, humanities, and creative arts. Alongside this distinction, each awardee is granted a $5,000 cash prize.