NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Student Success Update

Undergraduate Advising Center Launches First-Generation Student Support Service

NSM’s Undergraduate Advising Center launched a new First-Gen Support Service for self-identified first-generation college students and first-gen peer supporters within NSM.

The program, developed and led by Vanessa Vasquez, NSM’s computer science, mathematics, and mathematical biology advisor, provides the diverse group of students with resources to support their success. Ms. Vasquez and the other advisors will host virtual NSM First-Gen Meetings every Friday. Sessions will include interactive activities and guest speakers, including NSM faculty, staff, and alumni, first-gen graduate students, and representatives from Career Services, CAPS, and other UH resource centers.

The first meeting, held on September 25, had over 60 students, NSM advisors, and administrators in attendance. For the first hour, NSM advisors who identified as first-gen students shared their journeys and struggles and then NSM students shared their stories. In the second hour, Laura Lee, director of PEEPS Pantry, discussed food insecurities and provided information on how students can get food/supplies weekly through the pantry.

Spring 2021 Teaching Support

For the Spring 2021 semester, faculty will have online and face-to-face options to choose from for mode of instruction. Below is a summary of the main modes of instruction and a few notes about each to help you make the best choice for your course. Please work with your department scheduler to determine what would be best based on the course content and your choice for instruction. The tentative date for release of the schedule to students is October 16. Priority registration is tentatively scheduled to start on November 13.

Face-to-Face (FF) Face-to-Face classes will be similar to traditional face-to-face classes with a safe number of students in a socially distanced classroom.
HyFlex (HY) HyFlex classes have a safe number of students face-to-face in a socially distanced classroom, with lectures being live-streamed to allow students to participate in the class remotely. Lectures are also recorded for viewing by students online at a later time, if necessary; with additional course materials posted online which can be accessed at any time.
Synchronous (SY) Synchronous Online classes have no face-to-face classes but do meet at a particular day and time in a virtual classroom. All class materials are available online, and virtual lectures may be recorded to provide additional flexibility for students to view them at a later time. Exams can be scheduled during the class time, and a University final exam time is scheduled for synchronous courses.
Asynchronous (AS) Asynchronous Online classes have no face-to-face classes or virtual meeting times. All class materials are available online at any time. Exams are scheduled by the instructor at a time that is convenient for the students in the course. There is no University final exam time scheduled for asynchronous courses.
Hybrid (HB) Hybrid classes meet face-to-face one day a week and must be paired with other classes in order to utilize all days of the scheduled time in the same classroom.

Scholar Enrichment Program Updates

The Scholar Enrichment Program has launched all operations in a fully virtual environment with the exception of a few hyflex workshop sections this fall. Enrollments are robust with 1,111 students enrolled in 43 workshops compared to 1,093 students in 39 workshops in Fall 2019.

In addition to workshops, the Scholar Enrichment Program is running 11 Collaborative Learning Groups and offering online tutoring to support biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, math, physics, and engineering classes. One advantage of the online format is that it has allowed SEP to offer online tutoring on weekends and late evening hours. If student demand is high during these times, the program will consider making these time options permanent.

Participation in Virtual 2020 Undergraduate Research Day Symposium

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards hosted its annual Undergraduate Research Day in a virtual platform on September 29. Ninety-seven NSM majors presented posters on research conducted across all six NSM departments. The symposium allowed students to showcase their research and gave them the opportunity to learn about research activities of their peers across disciplines at UH.

In addition, two NSM faculty, Professors Tom Teets, Department of Chemistry, and Don Kouri, Department of Physics, were chosen as recipients of the 2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Both faculty have worked closely with undergraduates over the past years to make sure their students engage in meaningful research which is an integral part of their education and better prepares them for their future careers.

NSM Student Leadership Program

NSM Talks, Shares, and Listens events are ongoing activities of the NSM Student Leadership Program. NSMTalks events are insightful conversations between professors, alumni, and students. Speakers have the creative license to impart knowledge and share their experiences outside the classroom. NSMShares events engage students in conversations and provide resources for support. NSMListens events are designed to allow students to share their experiences to facilitate improvements in support programs offered by NSM for student success.

NSM Student Leaders hosted their first NSMShares, “Surviving Online College,” on September 2. Over 30 undergraduates attended the event where upper-level NSM majors shared their advice and experience with online courses and answered questions about how to be successful online.

NSM Student leaders also hosted their first Fall NSMTalks, “NSM in Industry,” on September 16. This event allowed students, about 50, to learn about life after graduation from two NSM alumni, Carlos Vanegas, a software engineer at TGS Oil & Energy in Houston, and Chris Pinto, a math teacher at KIPP-Houston, Texas Public Schools. Future NSMTalks topics include Graduate School & Research, First-Generation Scientists, and NSM & The Pandemic.

In addition to these events, the NSM Student Leaders launched a “Get Involved in Campus Organizations” campaign via Instagram through the @nsmfirstyear and @uhnsm Instagram accounts. Over 1,000 students were reached, and 12 NSM organizations participated and will continue to be promoted throughout the semester.

The Student Leaders will continue their efforts to make the virtual experience as enriching as possible for all NSM majors.