NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Edgar Bering, Andrew Renshaw (Physics), and Physics senior Jason Ruszkowski are spending two weeks at the Polar Aeronomy and Radio Science Summer School. The program provides faculty, graduate, and advanced undergraduate students with exposure to the NSF Subauroral Geophysical Observatory for Space Physics and Radio Science and the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. During the two-week program, participants design and execute experiments to study the ionosphere.

Greg Chu, David Stewart, and Stacy Smeal (Dean’s Office/Office of Research) presented “Stranger Things in Proposal Budgets” at the National Council of University Research Administrators in Washington, D.C. Their co-presenter was from Texas A&M University.

Tony Frankino (Biology & Biochemistry) was awarded a Mentor Award (Mid-Career) from the Biology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research. The award committee recognized the accomplishments of Frankino in two realms, both as a scientific research mentor and as a leader committed to structural change that supports underrepresented students in STEM. Some of his achievements include the creation of the Biology & Biochemistry Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program and serving as a member of the team that organizes and secures grants for the Galápago! Research-Based Study Abroad program.

Ognjen Miljanić (Chemistry) and his research team have come up with an innovative solution for nuclear waste management: molecular crystals based on cyclotetrabenzil hydrazones. The versatile crystals are capable of capturing iodine — one of the most common radioactive fission products and could be used for nuclear waste management and other energy-related applications. The breakthrough was detailed in Cell Reports Physical Science. Alexandra Robles, a former chemistry doctoral student, was the first author of the paper. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Donna Pattison (Biology & Biochemistry) hosted a four-day CRISPR in the Classroom Workshop at UH and led a similar workshop at Houston Community College. Participants were exposed to hands-on lab activities to learn the basics of using CRISPR for gene editing so they can integrate it into their undergraduate laboratory curriculum. Faculty from 14 colleges and universities attended the UH event in addition to the steering committee members which represent another five institutions. The workshop is part of a National Science Foundation grant awarded to UH to advance life science research in the classroom. The grant provides funding for educator workshops, a lab kit, and curriculum and support through the CRISPR in the Classroom Network.

Wa Xian and Frank McKeon (Biology & Biochemistry) were invited to present at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Biomedical Lecture Series on July 31. Their presentation was entitled “Emergence of Intrinsic Stem Cell Variants in Chronic Lung Diseases: Are They Pathogenic and What Can We Do About Them?”

Youtong Zheng (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) received a Department of Energy Early Career Award for his project “Using Kilometer-Scale E3SM to Investigate Air Pollution Impacts on Coastal Storms.” He is one of 93 early career scientists from across the country to receive the funding. This year’s awardees represent 48 universities and 12 National Labs in 27 states.