NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Recognition & Honors

Jakoah Brgoch (Chemistry) and graduate student Shruti Hariyani have been selected as the 2021 winners of the Chemistry of Materials Lectureship and Best Paper Award. The award, given by the journal Chemistry of Materials and the American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry, honors the authors of an article published in 2020 that has outstanding influence across the field of materials chemistry, while also recognizing that research is a team endeavor. The Chemistry of Materials Lectureship and Best Paper Award symposium will be part of the ACS Fall National Meeting. The winning paper, “Local Structure Distortion Induced Broad Band Emission in the All-Inorganic BaScO2F:Eu2+ Perovskite,” exemplifies the power of using computation and experiment to gain a deeper understanding of how local distortions can impact a material’s properties.
     Brgoch and Hariyani also recently published findings in the journal, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. They reported development of a prototype light-emitting diode (LED) that reduces — instead of masks — the blue component, while also making colors appear just as they do in natural sunlight. Many people have replaced their incandescent lights with LED bulbs; however, those currently on the market emit a lot of blue light, which has been linked to eye troubles and sleep disturbances. For the prototype, the researchers identified and synthesized a new luminescent crystalline phosphor containing europium ((Na1.92Eu0.04)MgPO4F). This work was also highlighted on April 28 in an American Chemical Society press release.

Albert Cheng (Computer Science) has been appointed General Chair of the 29th International Symposium on the Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation of Computer and Telecommunication Systems (MASCOTS), a CORE A-ranked conference. MASCOTS 2021 will be virtual on November 3-5 and is expected to have the technical co-sponsorship of the IEEE Computer Society.
     Cheng has also been invited by Universidad Metropolitana de Educacion Ciencia y Tecnologia in Panama to present a keynote and organize a two-day workshop at the 3rd Research and Postgraduate Congress: Perspectives and challenges of research in the face of the revolution 4.0.

Heather Domjan (UH STEM Center) participated as a panelist for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM! webinar hosted by the University of Houston Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee in partnership with the Cullen College of Engineering. It was a robust discussion about pathways to college recruiting and persistence for students of color and other diverse backgrounds. The recorded broadcast can be viewed online at: https://youtu.be/dhbemPonXjw.

Paige Evans (teachHOUSTON) and Donna Stokes (Physics and NSM Associate Dean) authored a book, Preparing Teachers to Teach the STEM Disciplines in America’s Urban Schools, with Cheryl J. Craig of Texas A&M University. This book is a comprehensive view of teachHOUSTON, UH’s secondary STEM teacher preparation program. It contains 12 chapters that provide a systematic investigation of how prospective STEM educators are cultivated to be subject matter specialists and culturally relevant teachers. Several of the chapters are authored by additional members of the teachHOUSTON faculty and UH STEM discipline faculty.

Jiakai Hou (Postdoctoral Fellow, Biology & Biochemistry, CNRCS) has been awarded a 2021 American Association for Cancer Research-AbbVie Scholar-in-Training Award for his abstract on cancer immunotherapy. Hou’s abstract discusses the landscape of tumor-intrinsic immune regulators, using the genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 immune screening, integrated with clinical data analysis. Thanks to the award, he is attending AACR’s Annual Meeting, taking place May 17-21.

Ioannis Pavlidis (Computer Science) published results of a study in the proceedings of ACM CHI, the premier forum on Human-Computer Interaction research. The researchers examined why some drivers stay cool behind the wheel while others keep getting more irked. In collaboration with Texas A&M Transportation Institute, they looked at how individual drivers reacted to common acceleration, speed, and steering events on a carefully monitored itinerary. They found about half the participants consistently exhibited peaked stress during periods of commonplace acceleration, such as happens in stop-and-go progress through red lights. The other half showed no notable changes from their baseline measurements. Pavlidis said “We call the phenomenon ‘accelerousal.’ Arousal being a psychology term that describes stress. Accelarousal is what we identify as stress provoked by acceleration events, even small ones.” He says this has all the characteristics of long-term stressor, with all the health and other implications that this may entail.

Annalisa Quaini (Mathematics) has been selected to be a fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Specifically, she was named a 2021-2022 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow. The acceptance rate for the class, which represents nine countries, was 2.4%, from 1,383 applications. The scholars will reside at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for a full academic year. During her fellowship, she plans to apply her expertise in computational mathematics to climate change efforts. Her goal is to find a computationally efficient, or time-saving, method to represent the interaction between atmospheric particles and clouds and how that interaction can be represented in a global circulation model.