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UH System Highlights February 2012


Chancellor/President Renu Khator

University of Houston


Jiming Bao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Gila Stein, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; Ognjen Miljanic, assistant professor of chemistry; Debora Rodrigues, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Angela Moeller, assistant professor of chemistry, (left to right) have each been honored with a
National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. One of the most prestigious grants offered by the NSF, the five-year CAREER grants are awarded to promising junior faculty members to help them build their research programs and establish a track record of successful investigations.


Ron Klinger

University of Houston - Clear Lake


The Office of Counseling Services was one of three grant sites chosen by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin to participate in a $1.6 million initiative. The initiative, of which UHCL will receive $509,082 over five years, aims to create internships for doctoral psychology students and help alleviate mental health workforce shortages in Texas. During the five-year program, 12 interns will receive supervised training required for a doctoral degree in psychology. In return, those interns will assist in providing mental health services to UHCL’s 8,000 students. Alfred J. Kahn is the director of Career and Counseling Services at UHCL.


Damaris Cortez

University of Houston - Downtown


Students David Hinote (pictured) and Carlos Ramirez with faculty adviser Ping Chen (pictured), associate professor of computer science and director of the university’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, finished in a four-way tie for first place with teams from Microsoft Research Asia (China), Open University of the United Kingdom, and the University of Texas-Dallas in an international computer science competition. The Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside competition is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is part of a National Center for Biomedical Computing.


Philip Castille

University of Houston - Victoria


Jeffrey Cass is the new provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Houston- Victoria. He previously served as the dean of the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Arts & Sciences. He also worked at Texas A&M International University in a number of positions, including associate provost.

University of Houston

The University of Houston System

Programs in the University of Houston College of Education and the University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Business are ranked in the inaugural edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Top Online Education Programs. The College of Education’s graduate online program, iSMART, is ranked third in both student services and technology and admissions selectivity, and 32nd among the more than 150 universities ranked for student engagement and accreditation. UH-Clear Lake’s online Master of Business Administration degree is ranked 18th in faculty credentials, 21st in student services and technology and eighth in student engagement and technology.

The University of Houston

The football team was victorious at the TicketCity Bowl, beating Pennsylvania State University 30-14. Quarterback Case Keenum was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player. Keenum also is the winner of the 2011 Sammy Baugh Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top passer by The Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio.


Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eugene A. Cook (’66, ’61) and Theresa Monaco, executive director of UH’s Center for the Gifted and Talented, are recipients of the George Washington Honor Medal, the highest achievement awarded by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge national organization. The award recognizes their outstanding work in promoting good citizenship principles.


Associate law professor Anthony Chase is the newly elected chair of the board of the Greater Houston Partnership. The principal objective of the partnership is to build regional economic prosperity.  

Chitra Divakaruni, Betty & Gene McDavid College Professor in Creative Writing, and Mamie Moy, professor of chemistry, were recognized as two of Houston’s most influential women in Houston Woman Magazine.  

William E. Fitzgibbon, dean of the College of Technology, has been named to the 2011 Irish Education 100 by the Irish Voice newspaper. The list recognizes the leading Irish figures in education in the United States.  

Alex Freundlich, research professor of physics, is part of a multi-institution team that has received an $18.5 million grant to develop new technologies to harness solar power more efficiently and economically. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy have jointly funded the establishment of a new national Engineering Research Center. Freundlich is the principal investigator at UH.

Law professor Craig Joyce was honored with an award in his name by the American Society for Legal History for his 31 years of continuous service to the organization. The Craig Joyce Award will be given biennially in perpetuity to recognize members who have given long and outstanding service to the society.

Jamison V. Kovach, assistant professor of information and logistics technology, has been included by the American Society for Quality as one of the 40 New Voices of Quality. The New Voices of Quality recognizes the most accomplished, promising
and devoted quality professionals under the age of 40.  

Hyongki Lee, civil engineering researcher, has received a $663,000 grant from NASA to study the Congo River Basin, which is approximately 2.3 million square miles.

Clayton Neighbors, professor of psychology, is the principal investigator for a $2.8 million National Institutes of Health grant for his study “Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention.”  

Monica Perales, associate professor of history, is the recipient of the Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book in North American Urban History from the Urban History Association.  

Jason Porter, assistant professor of vision science and biomedical engineering, received a $1.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate whether his techniques are more effective than others in understanding the earliest changes of glaucoma.

Anne Tucker, clinical associate professor of pharmacy, was honored with the Houston Area Dietetics Association’s 2011 Bluebonnet Award. The award recognizes an individual who is not a dietitian but has contributed significantly to the advancement of nutrition and dietetics in Texas.  

Ronald Turner, Alumnae Law Center Professor of Law, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.


The University of Houston has named Ceaser Moore Jr. as the new chief of police of the UH Department of Public Safety, effective Feb. 20. Moore brings to UH more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. Moore joined the Houston Police Department in 1984 and has held the ranks of police officer, sergeant, lieutenant and captain.


Students from the Program for Excellence in Selling at the C. T. Bauer College of Business took home accolades at the first State Farm marketing and sales competition. Team members Grace Moceri and Daniel Rodriguez and alternates Rebekah Elliott and Alex Lyons placed second overall. Moceri placed first for the sales role play portion of the competition.

Pranit Metkar, graduate research assistant in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was selected as a winner at the catalysis and reaction engineering poster session held at the 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ annual meeting. His poster is titled “Determination of Controlling Regimes for Various SCR Reactions on Zeolite Based Monolithic Catalysts.”

The Moores Opera Center received first prize in category four of the National Opera Association’s 2011 opera production competition for its performance of “Il Postino.”

University of Houston - Clear LakeUniversity of Houston - Clear Lake

The School of Education’s Success Through Education Program (STEP) has been selected for inclusion in the 2012 National Academic Advising Association’s Advising Transfer Students Commission-sponsored monograph based on STEP’s history of supportive programming for transfer students. StateUniversity.com recognized UHCL for the third year in a row as one of the top 25 safest public higher education campuses in the United States. UHCL ranked as the 17th
safest institution in the U.S. and the second safest campus in Texas.


Tricia Berry (’99) co-wrote her second book, “You Can’t Eat Your Degree.”


Jib Fowles, professor emeritus of communication, published his biography, “My Life as I Lived It.”

Larry Rohde, program chair of biotechnology and associate professor of biology and biotechnology; Lory Santiago-Vasquez, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology; Brian Stephens, assistant professor of biotechnology; Sangoon Kang, assistant professor of biology; and William Mills, professor of biology and chemistry, were awarded a National Science Foundation grant. The $203,660 grant was used to purchase equipment that will enable biology and biotechnology faculty and students to research DNA sequencing and polymorphism discovery.


School of Science and Computer Engineering student Celina Gauthier received the 2011-2012 SETAC/EA Engineering Jeff Black Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The annual award is granted to one graduate student based on the student’s thesis research proposal regarding environmental toxicology or chemistry. Doctoral candidate and UHCL alumna Marsha Jones (’90,’87) was named Principal of the Year for Pasadena
Independent School District.  

Jane Terekhova and Nick Burns received recognition for their work at the Model Arab League conference in Houston. Terekhova earned an honorable mention for her work on the mock Council of Palestinian Affairs. Burns received an honorable mention as a member of the mock Council for Economic Affairs.

University of Houston - DowntownUniversity of Houston - Downtown

The university received a $50,000 grant from the Hamill Foundation to help support the Office of Veterans Services and
Scholars Academy. Veterans Services will receive $25,000 to provide scholarships and professional development workshops. The Scholars Academy will receive $25,000 to support peer mentors and training for peer mentors working with students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Be a Teacher Club received a Student Organizing and Assistance Resources grant from the National Education Association. The grant was awarded to UHD and Lone Star
College-Kingwood and helped fund the Different Seasons of Learning Professional Development Program in December.
UHD President Bill Flores served as an honorary co-chair for Houston’s Citizenship Week celebration. UHD hosted several
events in partnership with the city of Houston.

UHD received a four-year, $542,316 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund an initiative to encourage academically talented students with financial need to major in computer sciences and to pursue graduate studies in various computing fields. Professor Ali Berrached is the principal investigator for the grant. This grant is an extension of a oneyear award the university received 2010 for a total NSF award
of $598,088 for the combined five-year period.


Gov. Rick Perry recently issued proclamations in honor of UHD’s Scholars Academy and program manager Rene Garcia.


Instruction reference librarian Jovanni Lota was named to the 2012 American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders program. Seventy-seven people were chosen from a pool of more than 200 for the program.


The men’s and women’s soccer club teams each won Houston Club Sports Conference championships and received invitations to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association regional tournament.

The powerlifting club team placed second at the World Association of Benchers and DeadLifters (WABDL) World Bench Press and Deadlift Championships in Reno, Nev. UHD’s second-place finish was the highest a collegiate team has placed at the world championships in the history of the WABDL. UHD defeated approximately 13 other teams, including the national teams of Brazil and Finland. Approximately 550 lifters were entered in the meet. UHD lifters won 14 individual world championships and three prestigious Best Lifter awards, sweeping the Best Lifter Awards for men and women in the Teen 18-19 Division. UHD lifters also set 16 Texas state records, six national records and one world record.

University of Houston - VictoriaUniversity of Houston - Victoria

The Texas Education Agency notified the School of Education & Human Development that its students averaged a passing rate of 90 percent for all groups and that the school had received an accredited rating under the Accountability System for Educator Preparation. The accreditation is based on pass rates of UHV students on the Texas Examination of Educator Standards.

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded UHV a $299,752 grant to allow the university to hire its first police officer and its first victim advocate. The grant also will increase the availability of counselors and psychologists in the UHV Counseling Center.

The Alcoa Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to UHV for a new robotics research course and an annual Math and Computer Science Awareness Day.


Cathy Aber Whitley (’82) received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She owns and operates J.G. Stone Oil Co. with her husband.


Sandra McNeely, assistant clinical professor of nursing, joined the community advisory board of the Family Nurse Partnership, an international health initiative with a presence in Harris, Galveston and Fort Bend counties.

Dagoberto Gilb, writer-in-residence and executive director of Centro Victoria, released his latest book, “Before the End, After the Beginning.”

Education professor Jill Fox worked with the Museum of the Coastal Bend’s education coordinator to create “Look, Think, Do” books that combine art, science, math and other disciplines to spur elementary school children’s interest in the area’s history.


Graphic designers Cari Laza and Amberley Gutierrez took a gold medal award and an honorable mention in the MarCom Awards 2011 competition, which recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communications professionals. Gutierrez won a gold award for a poster she designed for a faculty lecture series presentation. Laza won an honorable mention for a logo she created for the student orientation program.

The UHV Small Business Development Center was named the December 2011 Small Business Partner of the Month by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Joe Humphreys is the director of the center.

Selected as employees of the month for August, September, October and November, respectively, were Nikki Wilmoth, administrative assistant in the School of Nursing; Yvonne Garcia, international student specialist in admissions; Karen Pantel, benefits/HRMS manager in human resources; and Melissa Jersild, recruitment coordinator for the School of Business Administration.


Emily Bergstrom, president of the Student Senate and a pitcher on the Jaguars softball team, was presented with the Student Leadership Award. Bergstrom is double majoring in biology and psychology and traveled to China during the summer to study Eastern medicine techniques.

Outstanding undergraduate students for the fall were Tram- Khanh Nguyen, School of Arts & Sciences; Veronica Ramos, School of Business Administration; Teresa Bush, School of Education & Human Development; and Cindy Wang, School of Nursing. Outstanding graduate students for the fall were Whitney Damborsky, School of Arts & Sciences; John Olivas, School of Business Administration; and Crystal Rice, School of Education & Human Development.