NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Wei-Kan Chu (Physics) received the Council of Southern Graduate Schools Outstanding Mentor Award. He was nominated for this award after receiving the UH Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in 2020.

Sanghyuk Chung (Biology & Biochemistry, CRNCS) and his former Ph.D. student Yuri Park, led a study to investigate the progesterone receptor’s role in the development of cervical cancer. Their findings were published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Molecular Cancer Research journal and were featured as an “Editor’s Pick.” They found the progesterone receptor gene expression is reduced in cervical cancer, and their findings suggest that reactivation of this gene’s expression may improve the survival rate of patients with the cancer.

Yunsoo Choi (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) will present “Can Fleet Electrification Benefit Air Quality and Human Health?” at UH Energy’s Electric Vehicle Webinar Series on April 22, from 2-3 pm. Register here

Lorenzo Colli, Jonny Wu, Dale Bird, and graduate student Yi-Wei Chen (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) published findings on tectonic plates and the deep Earth in Nature Communications. It is long thought that tectonic plates move because they are pulled by the weight of their sinking portions and that an underlying, hot, softer layer called asthenosphere serves as a passive lubricant. The UH team analyzed the Caribbean and found the asthenosphere is actually flowing vigorously, moving fast enough to drive Caribbean plate motions. The findings have implications for understanding the shape of the Earth’s surface, its evolution over time through the appearance and disappearance of shallow seas, low-lying land bridges, and the forces that move tectonic plates and cause earthquakes.

Seamus Curran (Physics) developed a new nanotech coating, called Capture Coating, that is being implemented in several campus buildings by the Facilities/Construction Management Preventive Maintenance team. The coating will improve the ability of air filters to trap the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It was developed at UH’s Technology Bridge by Curran Biotech. One of the unique traits of this technology is that treated filters have minimal effect on the HVAC operating systems, requiring no mechanical system upgrades or air flow adjustments.

Paul Mann (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) presented “Build and Sustain a Successful Consortium” at the UH Division of Research’s March Research & Innovation Forum.

Judy Mata (Department Business Administrator, NSM Business Office) received a Cougar Cudos award from UH Staff Council. These awards recognize staff for outstanding work and dedication to the University of Houston.

Emily Merrell (College Business Administrator, NSM Business Office) was spotlighted in UH Staff Council’s feature in celebration of women’s history month.

Madhan Tirumalai (Biology & Biochemistry) gave an education and public outreach presentation on “Life at Earth’s Extremes” for the Science Café program organized by the Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science and Sigma Xi. He discussed extremophiles, organisms that can survive and thrive under extremes of temperature, pH, pressure, radiation, and other hostile environments.

Julia Wellner (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) was named by the U.S. Science Support Program as a distinguished lecturer for its Ocean Discovery Lecture Series. The series brings earth science scholars and their knowledge to a variety of institutions including universities, museums, and aquaria. Wellner will share scientific discoveries from her 2019 expedition to the Amundsen Sea in west Antarctica, in which she was co-chief for the International Ocean Discovery Program, an international marine research collaboration that explores Earth’s history and dynamics. Wellner will deliver eight lectures in total, with five sponsored by the International Ocean Discovery Program.

2021 Faculty Excellence Awards

Moores Professorships - Zhigang Deng (Computer Science) and Matthew Nicol (Mathematics)
This five year, renewable professorship is awarded to faculty in recognition of outstanding teaching, research, and service.

Teaching Excellence - Provost Core - Lisa Farmer (Biology & Biochemistry)
This award is given to faculty who have demonstrated outstanding teaching in undergraduate core curriculum courses.

Teaching Excellence - Instructor/Clinical - Ana Medrano (Biology & Biochemistry)
This award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching by faculty instructors, clinical faculty, research faculty, artist affiliates, and lecturers.

Teaching Excellence - Graduate Teaching Assistant - Shelby Johnston (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
This award is given to graduate students who have demonstrated excellence in teaching.

Teaching Excellence - Community Engagement - Nouhad Rizk (Computer Science)
This award is given in recognition of full-time faculty who involve students in service to the community through service learning activities or community engagement projects.

Teaching Excellence - Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence - Rebecca Forrest (Physics)
This award is given in recognition of faculty who have made sustained and significant contributions to education within the context of their responsibilities as a full-time faculty member.

2020-21 Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity

Assistant Professors - Judy Wu (Chemistry) and Andrew Renshaw (Physics)
This award recognizes faculty who have demonstrated great potential in research, scholarship, and creative endeavors by virtue of the exceptional quality of their early contributions.

Associate Professor - Yingcai Zheng (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)
This award recognizes faculty who have established a growing record of outstanding research, scholarship, and creative contributions, and who are emerging leaders in their field.