NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Yunsoo Choi (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) and EAS Ph.D. student Alqamah Sayeed published research that offers a method of accurately forecasting ozone levels up to two weeks ahead, a major advance over current warnings of only a few days. The findings are published online in the journal, Scientific Reports–Nature. This is a remarkable improvement over current systems that can accurately predict ozone levels only three days ahead. The new artificial intelligence system developed in UH’s Air Quality Forecasting and Modeling Lab could lead to improved ways to control high ozone problems and even contribute to solutions for climate change issues.

Paul Chu and Liangzi Deng (TcSUH, Physics) and TcSUH colleagues conceived and developed a pressure-quench technique that retains the pressure-enhanced and/or -induced high transition temperature phase even after the removal of the applied pressure that generates this phase. As part of this research, colleagues from Rice University and Jilin University successfully demonstrated the possibility of the pressure-quench technique in a model high temperature superconductor, iron selenide. This is a critical next step toward room-temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Leah McAlister-Shields (teachHOUSTON) was recognized at the 2021 UTeach STEM Educators (USEA) Conference for her passion, innovation, and dedication for STEM teacher and student education. McAlister-Shields received the USEA Outstanding Staff Award which recognized her for developing and implementing student success initiatives that support the persistence of underrepresented minority STEM majors to become teachers.

Steven Pennings (Biology & Biochemistry) was interviewed for the PBS series, “Changing Seas.” He appears in the episode, “At the Water’s Edge: The Salt Marsh.” The 30-minute program looks at how scientists study the salt marsh and efforts to determine how resilient it is to climate change. The program debuted June 23 on select PBS stations; it was produced by South Florida PBS. The episode can be viewed here.

Claudia Ratti and graduate student Israel Portillo (Physics) are leading a new program, Nuclear Science in Texas to Enhance and Advance Minorities, or NuSTEAM. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a two-year, $500,000 grant to UH, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Prairie View A&M University to enhance participation of Black and Hispanic students in nuclear physics and high energy physics. Three undergraduate students from UH and two undergraduate students from each respective institution are participating in NuSTEAM this summer. Students spend six weeks at UH in morning lectures and afternoon problem-solving exercise sessions. Next, the students will travel to Brookhaven National Laboratory for a two-week site visit. After participating, they will conduct undergraduate research for two semesters at their home institutions and be mentored by both a local co-principal investigator and one from UH. Also involved in the program are Rene Bellwied, Daniel Cherdack, Lisa Koerner, Lawrence Pinsky, Anthony Timmins, and graduate student Jamie Karthein.

Chang Yun (Computer Science) provided insight on the video gaming industry for WalletHub’s article on Best Cities for Gamers written by financial writer Adam McCann.

Yengcai Zheng (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences), Ph.D. student Yuesu Jin (first author), and Nikolay Dyaur, a retired UH research scientist, now at the Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences, described a new triggering mechanism observed in a laboratory experiment, which is able to answer the puzzling question of remote earthquake dynamic triggering. The paper, “Laboratory Evidence of Transient Pressure Surge in a Fluid-Filled Fracture as a Potential Driver of Remote Dynamic Earthquake Triggering,” published in The Seismic Record. In earthquake dynamic triggering, the seismic waves from the main shock can trigger earthquakes in regions containing fluids, such as geothermal and volcanic fields, thousands of kilometers away from the main shock.