NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Eric Bittner (Chemistry/Physics) received a year-long appointment as the Ulam Scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Beginning July 1, he will conduct research at the laboratory’s Center for Nonlinear Studies as a visiting scholar. He will provide a series of three to four lectures to the research community and gain insight and knowledge from resident scientists. The Ulam Scholar position is offered to world-class scientists in the fields of theoretical physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and computational sciences. His appointment as Ulam Scholar will also provide an onsite research opportunity for physics Ph.D. student, Nosheen Younas, who will spend this summer at Los Alamos conducting research.

Paige Evans (teachHOUSTON, Mathematics) received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation for STEMPro, an intensive nine-month alternative teacher certification program. It focuses on post-baccalaureates, recent graduates, and established STEM professionals. Participants will hone their teaching skills with 500 in-classroom hours, more than most traditional programs can provide. The program provides a scholarship that pays tuition. Plus, teachHOUSTON partnered with area schools that offer paid student-teaching residencies. Joining Evans as the project’s co-principal investigators are NSM colleagues Rebecca Forrest (Physics) and Jacqueline Ekeoba, Ramona Mateer, and Leah McAlister-Shields (teachHOUSTON, Mathematics). Virginia Rangel of UH College of Education is also on the grant. Learn more about STEMPro.

Liming Li (Physics), Xun Jiang (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences); and Ellen Creecy (Ph.D. Student, Atmospheric Science) published a paper May 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documenting Mars’ extreme imbalance in energy budget, a term referring to the measurement of solar energy a planet takes in from the sun then releases as heat. The team reported that a seasonal imbalance in the amount of solar energy absorbed and released by Mars is a likely cause of the dust storms that have long intrigued observers. Further studies could grant insight into how ancient climate change affected the Red Planet, perhaps even how Earth’s future may be shaped by climate change. Creecy was lead author on the paper.

Mariam Manuel (teachHOUSTON, Mathematics) was elected Vice President/President Elect for the National UTeach STEM Educators’ Association and will deliver the keynote at the upcoming National UTeach Conference.
     Manuel also received news that her research paper, “The Intersection of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Engineering Design in Secondary STEM,” will be recognized at the American Society for Engineering Education conference as winner of the 2022 Pre-College Engineering Education Division Best Paper Award and the Best Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Paper Award.

Frank McKeon and Wa Xian (Biology & Biochemistry, Stem Cell Center at UH) received a $2.7 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to examine pro-inflammatory stem cell variants in cystic fibrosis (CF). This work is a first step toward limiting the consequences of chronic inflammation by identifying the source of this persistent and enigmatic inflammation in CF lungs. They will be developing therapeutic combinations that selectively target the pathogenic stem cell variants in the CF lung, while sparing the normal cells needed for regenerative repair.

Donna Pattison (Dean’s Office and Biology & Biochemistry) is the 2022 recipient of the Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Service – Lifetime Achievement. Pattison was recognized for excellence in service and dedication to shared governance. She has been a member of the Faculty Senate for eight years. Over the course of her membership, she has served on multiple committees including the Budget and Facilities, Community and Government Relations, Executive, Faculty Governance, and Undergraduate Committees.

Madhan Tirumalai (Biology & Biochemistry) chaired a session at the recent astrobiology conference, AbSciCon 2022, in Atlanta with co-conveners, Mario Rivas (UH), and collaborators Jessica Bowman and Rebecca Guth-Metzler (Georgia Tech). The session, “Ribosomes - Origins and Evolution,” invited presentations covering any aspect of structure and function of the ribosome in relation to its origins and evolution (including expansion segments or deletion events), as well as the ribosome in the context of the RNA, RNA-peptide world, and chirality. The ribosome offers a telescopic view of life’s evolutionary past transcending the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA).

Shanequea White (DBA, Physics) received a Cougar Cudos award from UH Staff Council. These awards recognize staff for exceptional service to UH. In particular, White was recognized as a dedicated and determined, as well as a thoughtful and effective, manager, building a strong team in her department that can get the job done.