Texas Tech University

Faculty Fellows review accomplishments in final session

Norman Martin

May 9, 2024

Texas Tech University's Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources leaders recognized the latest cohort of its 2024 Faculty Fellows Program during the group's final session of the semester at the Texas Tech Dairy Barn.

“The Davis College Faculty Fellows Development Program is an academic year-long program with monthly meetings that cover a wide range of topics,” said Noureddine Abidi, Davis College's Associate Dean for Research and the Leidigh Professor in Tech's Department of Plant & Soil Science. “We believe that addressing important topics helps new faculty start their career path and successfully integrate into Davis College and Texas Tech University.”

Among the monthly topics covered are excellence in research; sponsored research; excellence in teaching; teaching, mentoring and advising; work-life balance/human resources; general counsel/international programs; and communication training.

Members of the 2024 Davis College Program included:

  • Edgar Aviles-Rosa (Department of Animal & Food Sciences) Assistant Professor of Animal Behavior & Welfare. “The program was a great opportunity to meet other faculty in the college and learn about the great resources and opportunities available to all faculty members.” He provides leadership in animal behavior and welfare with a focus on companion animals and other diverse species under university's ‘One Health' and ‘One Welfare' framework. His doctorate in animal science is from Texas Tech.
  • Vikram Baliga (Department of Plant & Soil Science) Assistant Professor of Practice. “I thought the Faculty Fellows Program was a huge success and a great benefit. It was an excellent opportunity to find new campus resources, identify places where I could improve and innovate my teaching program, and get to know colleagues from across the Davis College.” Prior to joining the department in 2018 as a horticulture research associate/lecturer, he served as County Horticulture Agent with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His doctorate in plant and soil science is from Texas Tech.
  • Yuyuan Che (Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics) Assistant Professor. “Participating in the Davis College Faculty Fellows program enriched my teaching techniques, expanded my research capabilities, and offered valuable opportunities for research collaboration with my fellow cohorts.” She focuses on analyzing the economic, psychological, and social information management dimensions of production choices in row-crop and grass-based agriculture. Her research aims to provide information and identify policies that improve both economic profits and environmental management outcomes. Her doctorate in agricultural, food and resource economics/economics is from Michigan State University.
  • Hannah Gauthier (Department of Animal & Food Sciences) Assistant Professor of Practice. “I would say the best part of the program for me has been getting to know some colleagues in other departments who I might not have met or gotten to spend much time with otherwise. It's boosted my sense of community within the college.” The Dayton, Ohio native indicated that her teaching program broadly focuses on animal biology and nutrition. One of her goals is to encourage student engagement in the classroom by connecting academic concepts to their real-life applications. Her master's degree in animal biology is from the University of California-Davis.
  • Chien Ha (Department of Plant & Soil Science - Institute of Genomics for Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance) Research Assistant Professor. “I have made a great connection and collaboration with other faculties within David College.” An expert in biotechnology, he leads projects involving evaluation of abiotic stress tolerance and yield potential of cotton, sorghum, soybean and corn in greenhouse and field conditions. His doctorate in biotechnology is from the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Kylie Harlan (Department of Agricultural Education & Communications) Lecturer. "Through the faculty fellows' program, I have learned a lot about the innerworkings of Texas Tech, as well as Davis College. As a new faculty member, this program provided me with valuable knowledge on topics that have helped me successfully navigate my first year in my new role."  Her teaching philosophy centers around empowering students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, which are skills that will serve them well into their careers. Earlier her research explored student perceptions of using interactive virtual tours. Her master's degree in agricultural communications is from Texas Tech.
  • Daniel Hirmas (Department of Plant & Soil Science) Professor & B.L. Allen Endowed Chair. “The Davis College Faculty Fellows Program gave me a chance to kickstart the next stage of my career by connecting with colleagues and discovering the breadth of resources available to new faculty aimed at promoting success at Texas Tech.” A leader in quantitative pedology, soil-landscape dynamics, and soil hydrology, he applies new, high resolution imaging techniques to map spatial distributions of soil chemical and mineralogical components. His doctorate is from the University of California-Riverside.
  • Madhusudhana Janga (Department of Plant & Soil Science - Institute of Genomics for Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance) Assistant Professor. “I was able to get the information on all available resources at TTU from the Faculty Fellows Program, which quickly helped for smooth transition and start my work.” He leads projects involving development of gene transfer and gene-editing technologies, combining fundamental research and education with applications to improvement of environmental stress tolerances. His doctorate in genetics is from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India.
  • Degao Liu (Department of Plant & Soil Science - Institute of Genomics for Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance) Assistant Professor. “The Faculty Fellows Program has provided invaluable opportunities for professional growth and networking, enriching both my research endeavors and teaching strategies.” He leads projects dedicated to developing high-throughput genome editing and synthetic biology technologies. His team leverages these innovative approaches to enhance photosynthesis and improve plants' tolerance to abiotic stresses. His doctorate in plant genetics and breeding is from China Agricultural University.
  • Kalavathy Rajan (Department of Plant & Soil Science - Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute) Assistant Professor. “Participating in the Faculty Fellows program provided a comprehensive orientation to the diverse opportunities available at the Davis College to strategize my research and teaching initiatives. As a new member of the college and the greater Lubbock community, a monthly meeting with the cohort was valuable to cultivate a sense of belonging.” Rajan focuses on developing materials and chemicals from agricultural residues to advance a research program in sustainable bioproducts. Her doctorate in food science is from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
  • Melissa Sillivent (Department of Animal & Food Sciences) Assistant Professor of Practice. “The Faculty Fellows Program was a valuable experience. I learned of many resources that Texas Tech offers professors and students to enhance both teaching and learning.” An expert in equine physiology and reproduction, she joined the department as an instructor and academic advisor in 2019. Today, she focuses on giving students hands-on learning experiences that build their skills in the growing animal reproduction industry. Her doctorate in animal science reproductive physiology is from Texas Tech.


This story was first published in the Davis College NewsCenter. See the original article here.