NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Rene Bellwied and Lisa Koerner (Physics) were selected as Outstanding Referees by the American Physical Society. The program recognizes scientists who have been exceptionally helpful in assessing manuscripts for publication in the APS journals. Each year, about 150 of the roughly 88,600 currently active referees are recognized with this lifetime award. The APS editors select the honorees based on the quality, number, and timeliness of their reports, without regard for membership in the APS, country of origin, or field of research.

Heather Domjan (UH STEM Center) presented at “Women in STEM - Empowered Women Share Their Journey into STEM Careers.” The event, hosted by the Houston Community College Central Library Student Library Advisory Council and the Central Science Club, commemorated Women’s History Month. In attendance were HCC Central Campus students, professors, and administrators. Domjan provided an inspirational presentation noting the journey into STEM, the current impact women have in the workforce, as well as challenges that still exist. The measure of “perseverance” dictates the reach of a successful outcome and how far we can move the needle.

Croix Laconsay (Postdoc, Chemistry) is one of 35 Ph.D. students and postdocs selected for the American Chemical Society CAS Future Leaders program. This year’s participants were selected from among hundreds of highly qualified applicants, representing a wide array of scientific disciplines and organizations from around the world. The CAS Future Leaders program supports the growth of science leadership potential among early-career scientists. Members gain leadership skills and learn about the chemical information industry. CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, produces the scientific information solution, CAS SciFinder. This year’s cohort will visit the CAS headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, Aug 7-12, and attend the ACS Fall meeting in San Francisco, Aug. 13-17. Laconsay works in the lab of Judy Wu.

Leah McAllister-Shields (teachHOUSTON) has been elected to the board of Intellect U Well, Inc., a 501(c)(3) promoting media literacy, digital citizenship, and the joy of reading in the Houston community and beyond. Intellect U Well, Inc., endeavors to make reading fun and meaningful again for all people by increasing reading interest, helping to fight ‘summer loss’ for students, and removing some traditional, historic, and cultural barriers to the joy of reading. McAllister-Shields has 20 years of higher education experience, developing, and implementing student success initiatives that support underrepresented and minoritized STEM Majors.
      McAllister-Shields also served on the Diversity and STEM Panel at UH-Downtown. About 100 students attended. During smaller breakout sessions with students, she shared this advice: 1) Seek out a mentor, 2) Focus on self-care, 3) Seek out a community, and 4) Focus on passion projects/volunteering.

Karen McIntush and Ramona Mateer (teachHOUSTON) presented at the National Science Foundation Western Regional Noyce Network Conference in Sacramento, CA, sharing their work and strategies on Culturally Responsive Classroom Management. Their workshop reached a full room of Noyce Scholars, Fellows, and PIs/Co-PIs/Project Staff in their session entitled “Supporting Inquiry in the Secondary STEM Classroom: A Culturally Responsive and Community-based Approach to Classroom Management.” The session focused on practical application of implementing community-based and culturally responsive classroom management practices in their own classrooms. The team also shared about the teachHOUSTON program and the development and growth of the culturally responsive classroom management course offered to teachHOUSTON STEM students.

Louis Medina (NSM Facilities) and Shanequea White (Physics) were recognized with Cougar Cudos, a Staff Council program that allows staff to recognize other staff members for exceptional service to UH.

Evelyn Merz (UH Coastal Center) organized an outreach event, March 27 and 29, at the UH Coastal Center for 7th and 8th graders from Westbrook Intermediate School. Over the two days, 100 students participated. They rotated through six educational stations, including learning activities on Prairie Insects, Pollination and Flower Models, Monarchs and Milkweeds, Prescribed Fire, Native and Invasive Plant Identification and Removal, and Birding with Binoculars. Volunteers from the Galveston Bay Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists assisted as did the La Marque Fire Department.

Gregory Morrison and Anthony Timmins (Physics) attended Chavez High School’s LOBO FEST providing physics activities to inspire young minority students. UH student groups involved in the physics outreach activity were the UH Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and UH Women in Physics Society.

Cathy Poliak (Mathematics) did two television interviews during March Madness discussing odds of picking a perfect bracket (KHOU-TV, CBS), and in advance of the semifinals, the use of statistics to predict the national champion (KPRC-TV’s Houston Life segment, NBC).

Dawnelle Prince (NSM Career Center) was featured for Women’s History Month at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Her image and role with the Career Center appeared on digital screens throughout the school during the month.

Shan Zhou (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) and a team of researchers from UH, Rice University, and Baylor University have found that the air along the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas can be more polluted due to its highly processed and acidic chemical components of particulate matter. The findings were published in the research journal Environmental Science & Technology. They concluded the particulate matter or aerosols from the Gulf of Mexico contain high concentrations of sulfate, which originates from human-generated shipping emissions. In addition to shipping emissions, the team points to chemical processing as an additional cause of particulate matter pollution. They report meteorological conditions, including high sunlight intensity, temperature, and enhanced air humidity provided a favorable environment for chemical reactions that formed secondary aerosols, which can be harmful to your lungs and heart.