NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Key Honors/Activities

Will Sager (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) authored an article in the May 2020 issue of Scientific American entitled “Giant Volcano Rewrites the Story of Seafloor Formation.” The article covers his research and provides the general public with an understanding of this discovery using the colorful description that Tamu Massif and dozens of other seafloor volcanoes formed like sheet cakes, not layer cakes.

Leon Thomsen (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) is the 2020 recipient of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Maurice Ewing Medal, the organization’s highest honor. It is awarded to a person who, by a unanimous vote of both the Honors and Awards Committee and the Board of Directors, is deserving of the award through having made distinguished contributions both to the advancement of the science and to the profession of exploration geophysics. The award will be presented at the 2020 SEG Annual Meeting in October.

Vanessa Vasquez (Undergraduate Advising Center) received an NACADA Scholarship Award for the fall semester. NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising is an association of professional advisors, counselors, faculty, administrators and students working to enhance the educational development of students. Vasquez is pursuing a master’s degree through the Higher Education Program at UH. She will be recognized at the NACADA 2020 Global Awards Program for Academic Advising during the NACADA Conference this fall.

Yingcai Zheng (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) received word that a paper he co-authored was selected by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists as the Best Poster Paper Presented at the 2019 SEG Annual Meeting. The award will be presented at the Editor’s Reception during the 2020 SEG Annual Meeting in October. The paper, “Controlled-order multiple waveform inversion,” was co-authored Zheng and lead authors Yike Liu and Bin He from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The paper discusses a new algorithm to improve subsurface seismic imaging and reduce artifacts using full-waveform inversion of multiples.

Key Publications

Mary Ann Ottinger (Biology & Biochemistry) co-authored a chapter in “Strategic Bird Monitoring Guidelines for the Northern Gulf of Mexico,” a guide for coastal managers produced by the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network. The publication provides the first comprehensive, Gulf-wide monitoring framework for birds in the region. Ottinger authored the chapter “Avian Health” covering health metrics with co-authors from Texas A&M University and Louisiana Tech University. The full report can be accessed at gomamn.org/strategic-bird-monitoring-guidelines.

Ioannis Pavlidis (Computer Science), published results of a study aimed at understanding what shapes the emotional culture of a workplace. Analysis showed that multitasking in the workplace can lead to negative emotions. Pavlidis, with Gloria Mark at University of California, Irvine, and Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna at Texas A&M University, used a novel algorithm to analyze mixed emotions manifested on the faces of so-called knowledge workers amidst an essay writing task – one group tasked with answering emails at the start of essay writing, the other group frequently interrupted to answer emails as they came in. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Wa Xian and Frank McKeon (Biology & Biochemistry, Stem Cell Center) found an abundance of abnormal stem cells in the lungs of patients who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a leading cause of death worldwide. They found that three variant cells in all COPD patients drive all the key features of the disease. The team used single cell cloning of lung stem cells to make their discovery, and the findings were reported in the journal Cell. Going forward, they will target the variant cells for new therapeutics.