NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Emily Beverly (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) received a five-year, $796,024 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. Her research will focus on improving scientific and public understanding of how future climate change will affect our river systems by using analogs from the early Eocene in New Mexico, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Eric Bittner (Chemistry, Physics) was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was recognized by the AAAS chemistry section for “distinguished contributions to the field of theoretical molecular quantum dynamics, and particularly for descriptions that elucidate the dynamics of electronic excited states underlying experimental results for optoelectronic materials.”

Jim Briggs (Biology & Biochemistry) has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors. The NAI recognizes academic inventors with success in patents, licensing, and commercialization. Briggs is co-inventor on eight issued U.S. patents. He co-founded three spin-off companies employing university IP. VisiGen Biotechnologies, founded in 2000 and acquired in 2008, was developing next generation real time single molecule DNA sequencing methods. Metabocentric Biotechnologies (MBI), founded in 2014, is focused on the development of anti-cancer therapeutics for breast cancer brain metastatic cancer. MBI has a sublicense with a company who is undertaking pre-clinical development. The third startup, Geome Analytics, employs DNA sequencing analyses of crude oil samples in order to provide analytic models that oil and gas companies use to make decisions about where to drill and how to optimally drain their reservoirs.

Albert Cheng’s (Computer Science) Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Speakership has been renewed for another three-year term. He will hold the speakership until 2026.

Jacqueline Ekeoba and Mariam Manuel (teachHOUSTON, Mathematics) along with Thomas Thesen (formerly of UH Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine, now at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) were awarded the 2022 Stand Up for STEM Educational Organization Award from the Texas Girls Collaborative Project for STEM outreach. The award recognized their efforts in organizing the STEM RISE summer program that partners with Jack Yates High School in the Third Ward.

Shiv Halasyamani (Chemistry) has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Those selected as Fellows hold senior responsibilities, have strategic influence within the workplace and/or sector, and have made outstanding contributions to the chemical sciences and/or to the advancement of the profession.

Mehmet ┼×en (Biology & Biochemistry) received a five-year, CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to focus on understanding how immune receptors change their adhesiveness and shape simultaneously, while also modifying functions of immune cells. His laboratory will use biophysical and biochemical approaches to map the biological “wiring network” that creates the highly complicated immune system’s response against infection and cancer.

Shishir Shah (Computer Science) has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors. The NAI recognizes academic inventors with success in patents, licensing, and commercialization. His research has contributed to knowledge in the areas of computer vision for surveillance, human motion understanding and activity analysis, video analytics, and microscope/biomedical image analysis. Shah holds five U.S. patents in the areas of microscope/biomedical image analysis and video analytics. He has served as president of two startup companies that developed products based on technologies related to the issued patents.

Keah Walker (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) received a Cougar Cudos Award from UH Staff Council. These awards recognize staff for exceptional service to the University of Houston. Nomination materials recognized Walker as an “exceptional Leader, a caring soul, full of light, and so much more. She cares about her staff and faculty, goes above and beyond, is personable, and puts her staff in positions to grow, to learn, and to succeed.”

Melissa Zastrow (Chemistry) received a five-year, $813,751 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. Zastrow will take a closer look at the roles of metal ions in the colonization of bacteria in the small intestine. The bacteria act as a trigger for the immune system to initiate protective responses to prevent colonization and invasion by pathogens that can cause disease.