NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Stacy Halley (NSM Development) attended the virtual Big Ten Fundraising Institute, August 2–3. UH University Advancement nominated Halley to apply for the exclusive Institute; only 40 participants are accepted each year. The Institute helps higher education’s leading development professionals hone their skills through an intensive retreat. Participants share techniques for meeting common goals, accounts of successful practice, and information about emerging challenges.

Eva Harth (Chemistry) has been named a 2021 Fellow of the American Chemical Society. The designation is awarded to a member who, in some capacity, has made exceptional contributions to the science or profession and has provided excellent volunteer service to the ACS community.

Tom Lapen (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences), December ’20 M.S. geology graduate Michael Fonseca, and Lori Hathon (UH Petroleum Engineering) will be awarded the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Jules Braunstein Memorial Award. It recognizes the best poster session paper presented at the association’s Annual Convention and Exhibition the previous year. The poster was titled, “A Real-time Method to Identify Brittle Zones in Carbonate Rich Mudrocks Using Bulk and Trace Element Geochemistry: A study in the Eagle Ford, Niobrara, Haynesville, and Woodford Formations.” Fonseca was first author on the poster.

Jeremy May (Chemistry) received a $474,114 grant from the NSF’s Chemical Synthesis Program in the Division of Chemistry. His group will focus on complex chemical motifs, specifically, using the strength of the carbon-boron bond to make bonds between carbon. Carbon-based molecules are used in many areas of life, whether in medications, polymers, or OLEDs, and there is always a need to make these compounds more efficiently. Medically relevant targets include THC and cannabidiol synthesis and anti-cancer drugs. The grant will also support his lab’s outreach to KIPP Sharpstown Junior High, to introduce their students to experimental chemistry.

Richard Meisel (Biology & Biochemistry) and his research team for the first time identified a sex chromosome in the house fly, Musca domestica, that is associated with both a behavioral preference for temperature and a physiological tolerance for temperature. Prior to their discovery, no one had found this preference and tolerance associated with a sex chromosome in an animal. The findings were published in Evolution Letters. The team determined that the genetic basis of the fly’s thermal preferences is a Y chromosome among male flies in the northern U.S. east coast and a different Y chromosome found among male flies in the southern U.S. east coast.

Donna Pattison (Biology & Biochemistry and NSM Assistant Dean) served on a panel discussing ‘Exploring the Benefits of Online Labs for On-Campus Teaching” at ViABLE 2021, the Virtual Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE). The panel discussion explored the theme of ‘transferable benefits of online teaching’ in the context of laboratory teaching; panelists shared insights and specific examples of how experience with online labs can make face-to-face labs better. Pattison was also a member of the conference planning committee and is a Member-at-Large on the ABLE Board of Directors.

Claudia Ratti (Physics) is part of a five-year collaboration, the Nuclear Physics from Multi-Messenger Mergers (NP3M) project. Supported by a $3.25 million grant from the NSF, the project is led by research teams at five U.S. universities. The UH team is joined by researchers at University of Tennessee-Knoxville (the NP3M collaboration’s lead institution) and teams at Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University, and Syracuse University. In addition, 13 senior investigators at other U.S. institutions will contribute, as will scientists in 26 international groups. The collaboration is studying neutron stars. Except for black holes, neutron stars are the densest objects known to astronomers. Creation of the NP3M research hub was prompted by a recent breakthrough that confirmed that neutron stars do, indeed, collide in an event now called a neutron star merger.

Shahab Tayyab (Chemistry) was elected as a Staff Council member representing Academic Affairs. The Staff Council is an advisory body to President Khator and University administration. Staff Council consists of elected staff members from each division who represent the entire staff body.

Rakesh Verma (Computer Science) is leading the fall 2021 CyberCops Program. It is funded by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research and sponsored by the University of Houston with cooperation of the University of Houston-Downtown and Texas Southern University. The program will introduce the critical field of cybersecurity to six students recruited from the three participating universities’ ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs. The students will gain expertise in the intersection of a number of fields, including data science, machine learning, and cybersecurity.