NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Faculty Recognition & Honors

Paige Evans (Mathematics) has been appointed Associate Director of teachHOUSTON.

Shiv Halasyamani (Chemistry) has been named Distinguished Visiting Project Professor at Kyoto University. As part of this award, he will give a research seminar and four course lectures at the graduate level. The award is through Kyoto’s Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research.

Key Publications

Kevin E. Bassler (Physics) published work in the journal Nature Scientific Reports describing a machine learning algorithm that detects community structures in complex networks. This algorithm, called Reduced network extremal ensemble learning, or RenEEL for short, offers the advantage of being very accurate, yet also efficient. The algorithm offers a practical approach for finding an accurate community structure in large networks.

Emily Beverly (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) and colleagues at Baylor University published research findings in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on how global climate change could impact Africa’s Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and source of the Nile River. Using ancient sediment from outcrops along the edge of the lake, the team generated a water-budget model to see how Lake Victoria’s levels respond to changes in evaporation, temperature, rainfall and solar energy. Their findings indicate a rapid lake level decline was very possible tens of thousands of years ago and could happen again in the future.

Sanghyuk Chung (Biology & Biochemistry, Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling) and his lab reported in The American Journal of Pathology that medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), the active ingredient in the common contraceptive injection Depo-Provera, was effective in preventing the development of cervical cancer in mice with precancerous lesions. The drug also decreased existing precancerous lesions. If proven effective clinically, MPA may be a boon to women who do not have access to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

Zhifeng Ren (Physics, TcSUH) and colleagues reported in Nature Communications on a new catalyst that efficiently produces hydrogen from seawater. The breakthrough involves a new oxygen evolution reaction catalyst that, combined with a hydrogen evolution reaction catalyst, achieved current densities capable of supporting industrial demands while requiring relatively low voltage to start seawater electrolysis. The device, composed of inexpensive non-noble metal nitrides, avoids many of the obstacles that limited earlier attempts to inexpensively produce hydrogen or safe drinking water from seawater.

Larry Shi (Computer Science) reported in the International Journal of Production Research work that explores the potential disruption and promise of blockchain to better secure the international flow of goods and identifies gaps between private industry and governmental agencies that must be addressed. The work suggests that adopting blockchain to track the movement of goods globally could benefit both industry and agencies charged with ensuring the safety of cargo entering the United States.