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A publication for UH faculty and staff  n  Summer 2013  n  Volume 18, Number 3


Photo: Thomas Campbell

The student organization UH Adaptive Athletics and the Department of Health and Human Performance hosted a five-day wheelchair rugby camp at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. The camp coincides with assistant professor Michael Cottingham’s research, which explores perceptions about athletes with disabilities. For details about the research, see story on page 9.

The student organization UH Adaptive Athletics and the Department of Health and Human Performance hosted a five-day wheelchair rugby camp at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. The camp coincides with assistant professor Michael Cottingham’s research, which explores perceptions about athletes with disabilities. For details about the research, see story on page 9.

Paula Myrick Short Appointed SVC/SVP and Provost By Richard Bonnin


Paula Myrick Short

he University of Houston System Board of Regents recently confirmed President Renu Khator’s appointment of Paula Myrick Short as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, UH System, and senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Houston. “It is an honor and a privilege to work with President Khator,” Short said following the unanimous vote by Regents. “She is an extraordinary leader. I can assure you that you have my total dedication to be diligent in making our academic enterprise the

best in the country and maybe the best in the world.” Short had served as interim provost during the spring 2013 semester while a national search was under way to replace John Antel, who returned to the UH faculty as a professor of economics. As provost, Short serves as chief academic officer for the University, and oversees all academic programs, including graduate, undergraduate, continuing education and distance education programs. The deans of UH’s individual colleges and schools report to Short, who also oversees all academic policies.

“Paula Short is a highly regarded leader and expert on the impact of higher education reform on student success and completion,” Khator said. “She is nationally recognized as an authority on how a university’s culture contributes to academic quality in higher education.” After serving 12 years as vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Tennessee Board of Regents, Short came to UH in 2012 as a professor in the College of Education and founding director of the Institute for Policy, Research and Evaluation. During the four months she held this position, she accomplished

UH Receives $1 Million Endowment to Train Math, Science Teachers By Lisa Merkl


$1 million endowment funded by the ExxonMobil Corporation will help the University of Houston teachHOUSTON program continue training the next generation of secondary science and math teachers. The endowment is part of a matching program coordinated through the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), an organization

that focuses on the most critical element in education – teaching. “The teachHOUSTON program had to raise $1 million in its endowment to qualify for the matching funds,” said Jeff Morgan, co-director of teachHOUSTON. “This gift will have a tremendous impact in future years as these and other funds grow in our endowment.” A partnership between UH’s College of Natural Sciences and

Mathematics and the College of Education, this teacher-preparation program is changing the way science and math teachers are trained. Instead of one student-teaching experience in their senior year, teachHOUSTON students have teaching opportunities throughout their four years at UH, with rotations at local elementary, middle and high schools. The program is producing secondary teachers who are better

suited to prepare their students for rigorous college courses in math and sciences, as well as for careers in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) fields. “Our students are getting degrees in a STEM area and getting training that is specific to teaching STEM,” said Morgan, who is UH’s interim associate provost for education innovation and technology. Continued on p.3

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Administrative Success

UH Enacts Tobacco Policy By Laura Tolley


he University of Houston became a tobacco-free campus except for designated areas, which will allow the use of tobacco products for one year from the policy’s start date — June 1. UH’s Tobacco-Free Campus Policy, an initiative of the UH Tobacco Task Force (TTF), is a positive and health-directed initiative. It is part of UH’s commitment to providing a healthy and sustainable environment for everyone in the UH community. The new policy bans the use of all tobacco products in University buildings, University-owned buildings and on University grounds, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways and University-affiliated parking facilities, except in the 20 designated tobacco-use areas. The policy applies to all employees, students, University affiliates, contractors and visitors and is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week policy for the UH campus and the UH Energy Research Park (ERP). It applies to everyone visiting the UH campus, including people attending athletic events, artistic performances and non-UH functions. The policy applies only to the UH campus and ERP and does not affect any other entity in the UH System. The policy bans all forms of tobacco, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes (hookahs), bidis, kreteks, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, and any other non-Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nicotine delivery devices. UH also has launched a new website – tobaccofree – that contains all of the information about the new tobacco ban policy, including a map of designated smoking areas as well as information about UH’s tobacco cessation services for the UH community. In the past few years, a number of UH students and others have been advocating for a smoke-free policy for the campus. Additionally, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) requires grant recipients to have tobacco-free policies in and around all locations where CPRIT-funded research is conducted. UH is a recipient of more than $9.4 million in funding from CPRIT. Funding from this state agency is imperative to important cancer research activities at UH.

UH•News UH•News

Administrative News Last year, UH established the TTF to draft a tobaccofree policy that was distributed to stakeholder representatives across campus for their review. UH President Renu Khator approved the new policy in the summer of 2012. UH is not requiring anyone to quit using tobacco products. The new policy prohibits the use of tobacco products on campus and at the ERP, expect in designated areas. Everyone on UH property is expected to adhere to the tobacco-free policy. Enforcement of this policy will be achieved primarily through education, awareness and cooperation. UH community members are allowed to respectfully inform a person using a tobacco product about the ban and request that he/she comply, unless that person is in a designated tobacco-use area. The TTF website includes a portal for individuals to report violations of the policy. Enforcement of the policy is limited to a standardized e-mail message, containing a policy reminder and information about available tobacco cessation services. This e-mail message will be sent to individuals who are reported via the TTF website portal for violation of the campus tobacco policy. The TTF Oversight Committee will review the number of violations reported via the TTF website portal on an annual basis to study the effectiveness of the tobaccofree program. The temporary tobacco-use locations will be available for one year from the June 1, 2013, start date, at which time a review will determine if any of them or all of them will continue to be in use. This is an important health-related initiative for the UH community. In 2010, the U.S. Surgeon General Report concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The American College Health Association Guidelines advocate for a campus-wide tobacco-free environment. UH also is mindful that the policy marks a significant change for tobacco users on campus. UH encourages anyone who wants to quit using tobacco products to visit UH’s tobacco cessation resources page for access to help. UH invites everyone to visit the new website, which contains the full text of the official policy, an FAQ on the new policy, a map of the designated smoking areas, information about UH’s tobacco cessation programs and other useful information. 0

Clinic seeks to reduce anxiety to help people stop smoking

People who want to stop smoking have a new resource to help them address the anxiety and stress that may be tied to their use of nicotine and marijuana. The new Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory/Substance Use Treatment Clinic has been launched by Michael J. Zvolensky, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology. He opened the joint research lab and clinic to provide free, empiricallybased evaluation and treatment services to adults between 18 and 65 years of age struggling with anxiety and substance use – primarily tobacco and marijuana. Several research studies are being conducted at lab/clinic, which means that many individuals may qualify to participate in a study where they will receive top-of-the-line treatment at no cost. Zvolensky’s integrated model of care for smoking cessation combines Eastern philosophy and meditation techniques that focus on mindfulness and breathing techniques with traditional techniques.

HOUSTON news Volume 18, Number 3 Summer 2013 is a quarterly publication of the Office of University Communication for UH staff and faculty. 129 E. Cullen Building Houston, TX 77204–5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

Richard Bonnin Interim Associate VP, Marketing & Communication 713.743.8155 Shawn Lindsey Director, Media Relations 713.743.5725

Staff Council Report Creating Lasting Connections

Printing: UH Printing Services Eric Dowding Design and Layout 713.743.5900 UHNewsEvents




Ron Gonyea Staff Council President

Mike Emery Writer/Editor 713.743.8186


important roles to play. Some are visible, while others are behind the scenes; but we are all connected. UH is a research and teaching institution. Research is a quest for knowledge and understanding. Teaching is the transfer of knowledge. Both give our work at UH purpose and meaning and connect us to the advancement of human civilization. A co-worker recently lost his cell phone, which, thankfully, was found. Upon meeting this good citizen, my co-worker offered a reward to the man for returning the phone. Noticing the UH logo on my co-worker’s shirt, the man said, “No sir. I can’t accept it. I’m alum of the University.” I would like to think the offer was refused because we made an impact on that man’s life — a lifelong connection had been made, which we should all take pride in. Council members and those that volunteer for our events — Cougar First Impressions, the annual egg hunt, the Sock & Blanket Drive and Conversations with Staff Council — make a positive impact on the campus, our students and the Houston community by creating lasting connections. To learn more about Staff Council, visit


am honored to have met and worked with so many great faculty and staff – people who care deeply about students’ success and who serve to enrich Ron Gonyea their experiences on many levels. I recently viewed a TEDx talk by behavioral economist and professor Dan Ariely that explores what makes people “feel good about work.” His studies show some of the most important factors regarding job satisfaction “is not just about wages, but a sense of purpose and meaning.” In my case, eight years ago, I left the electrical construction industry and began my employment with the University of Houston. Like many UH staff, I accept less pay in exchange for more security and stability; however, there is also something more to my decision. It is a feeling of being connected to something larger than oneself, something noble. I have my part to play in in the lives of our students, even if it is behind the scenes. As a Staff Council representative, I have a better insight into the “bigger picture.” We are all connected. Whether you are a well known professor, academic adviser, research assistant, teaching fellow, business administrator, HVAC technician, custodian or a groundskeeper — we have different challenges, but we all have



Francine Parker Writer/Editor 713.743.8193

Remember to recycle your copy of UH News.

Fall 20112013 Summer



UHS Joins Coursera to Explore Massive Open Online Course Platform By Richard Bonnin


oursera, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform, will work with the University of Houston System and nine other state university systems and public university flagships to explore the possibilities of using MOOC technology and content to improve completion, quality and access to higher education. Because of technological advances — among them, the greatly improved quality of online delivery platforms, the ability to personalize material and the capacity to analyze huge numbers of student experiences to see which approach works best — MOOCs are opening higher education to hundreds of millions of people. The Coursera technology and content will be available to the consortium both across their combined audiences of approximately 1.25

million physically enrolled students and among Coursera’s global classroom of learners. “Coursera is working with the most renowned and well-respected universities, and we’re excited to join with our peers in using the MOOC technology and content to improve the quality and access of our educational offerings,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Houston. “Courses developed by our National Academy of Science faculty in engineering and natural sciences should be popular MOOCs that we can offer, as well as other online courses that allow the student to self-pace instruction to achieve mastery before moving to the next topic.” In addition to offering free, notfor-credit online courses to anyone with Internet access, the UH System will phase in courses offering college

credit, opening up a potential future revenue stream. “We will evaluate full potential of the program over the next year and move forward in a strategic way that enhances our Tier One status and student success initiatives,” Short said. In addition to the UH

University of New York (SUNY), the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee Systems, University of Colorado System, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska, University of New Mexico, University System of Georgia and West Virginia University. At the core of these partnerships is the motivation to encourage new methods and enhance previous approaches to teaching both oncampus and online. Additionally, this collaboration opens up opportunities for institutions to consider forcredit offerings for non-matriculated students interested in continuing their education, but who might not have access to campus resources. This partnership also opens up new channels for sharing knowledge and resources between professors, and across campuses and entire state university systems. 0

“Coursera is working with the most renowned and well-respected universities.” —Paula Short, provost System, institutions who intend to join Coursera’s network to make their own faculty and course content available online, as well as collaborate on existing content in on-campus settings, are the State

Glenn Aumann, former College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics dean

Staff reports


he University of Houston campus community recently mourned the loss of two distinguished College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) faculty members. Former Dean Glenn Aumann, 82, died in May. Stefan Andersson, a research professor and talented biochemist at UH’s Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS), passed away in June. Andersson was 59. Aumann, professor emeritus

of biology and biochemistry, came to UH in 1965 after completing a Ph.D. in ecology and animal behavior at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Throughout the years, Aumann served UH in a variety of leadership roles. His service included chairman of the biology department (1967–1976); associate dean of NSM (1976–1982); interim dean of NSM (1982–1983); associate provost (1983–1984); associate vice president for research (1984–1990); dean of NSM (1990–1992); and acting senior vice president for academic affairs (1992–1994). Perhaps the UH position closest to his heart was his work as director of the university’s coastal center. The center’s mission is to support environmental research on the Texas coast by providing researchers with access to field sites, equipment and facilities. Aumann was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Native Prairies Association of Texas. He also served as councillor for the Oak Ridge

Associated Universities, and as a voting delegate for the National Association of University and Land-Grant Colleges Commission on Food, Environmental and Renewable Resources and the section on Fish and Wildlife Resources. He served for four years in the U.S. Navy submarine services. Andersson joined the UH faculty in December 2009. He was part of the initial group of faculty hired for the CNRCS, established at UH in early 2009. He was a member of the laboratory research team of Dr. Jan-Åke Gustafsson, CNRCS director. The center is involved in many aspects of nuclear receptor research, all focused on understanding the role of these receptors in health and disease. Andersson’s research influenced several topics, including women’s reproductive health, benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Andersson began his career as a pharmacologist. In the late 1980s, he began conducting research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. There he identified and

Photo courtesy of UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling

Photo courtesy of Special Collections, UH Libraries

Campus Community Joins NSM in Remembering Two Faculty Members

Stefan Andersson, research professor of biology and biochemistry

cloned two genes encoding enzymes important to androgen biosynthesis. One of these enzymes was discovered to convert testosterone to the more potent androgen dihydrotestosterone in the prostate. Researchers at the company Merck noticed the breakthrough, and he was recruited to continue his research at the company. The results were applied to developing new treatments for the conditions benign prostatic hyperplasia, androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) and prostate cancer.  0

“They get field-based experiences from their first year, so our students have much more exposure to teaching before they get their first teaching job.” UH’s teachHOUSTON program started in 2007 with 14 students. It was the first replication of a program at The University of Texas at Austin called UTeach. Now, 33 universities across the nation replicate the UTeach program. With nearly 340 students enrolled, teachHOUSTON graduated more

Photo: Thomas Campbell

Continued from p.1: $1 million

This year, more than 40 students graduated from UH’s teachHOUSTON program.

than 40 teachers this year. Morgan says the goal is to graduate 100 teachers per year. “If you look across all the replication sites, 80 percent of the teachers graduated are still in the classroom five years out. That is significant,” Morgan said. “Almost all our graduates stay in Houston and work in our local school districts. It’s a win-win situation. Local industry will benefit from improved math and science teaching in area schools, and UH will benefit from it, as well.” 0




By Lisa Merkl


gnjen Miljanic, assistant professor of chemistry, strives for innovation in both his research and teaching endeavors. That trait led to his selection as a 2013 Cottrell Scholar. Miljanic is the first University of Houston faculty member to receive this recognition and the only scholar of this year’s 13 recipients from Texas. The honor, awarded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), goes to early-career science educators in the physical sciences and related fields. Recipients receive $75,000 to further their research and educational programs. Only about 10 percent of those who apply are approved by the RCSA’s peer-review process. The award is one of several faculty awards recognized in the Top American Research Universities report as defining Tier One universities. The program strives to establish a network of scholar educators through its annual Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, a forum for sharing

methods to improve undergraduate science education in American research universities and increase retention of undergraduate science majors.
“It is a great honor to be part of the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative,” Miljanic said. Proposals for the award cover research and education endeavors equally. Miljanic’s proposal to RCSA included several educational initiatives. All of his ideas are based on his desire to enhance his students’ educational experience, with a particular focus on the unique demographics of UH students. One of Miljanic’s initiative involves building 3-D printed models to illustrate concepts in chemistry. He uses the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics 3-D printing facility to create the models. “Some concepts are difficult to put on a blackboard,” Miljanic said. “The 3-D models make the class more interactive. Students can touch them and pass them around.” On the research side of his proposal, Miljanic hopes to mimic nature by achieving “molecular selfsorting” in manmade mixtures of

chemical compounds. Working on ways to better imitate nature’s ability to manufacture many of the molecules necessary for life, Miljanic aims to apply these insights in the preparation of new molecules for use in sensing, separations and energy-relevant applications. “Nature simultaneously makes hundreds of really complex molecules. For example, an orange tree doesn’t shut down all other systems when it needs to make vitamin C. The tree makes it in parallel with glucose and many other things,” he said. “I am working to Ognjen Miljanic, assistant professor of chemistry translate this concept into a laboratory setting in order to His research is not designed to make multiple value-added chemicals replicate nature but rather to make in parallel with each other in the same sophisticated synthetic molecules reaction flask.” with applications in environmental

Applause ADMINISTRATION University of Houston President Renu Khator is the recipient of the 2013 President’s Award for Region III presented by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The award is a special recognition bestowed upon a college or university leader who has advanced the quality of student life on a campus by supporting student affairs staff and programs. Recipients have demonstrated active attempts to involve students and student life staff in governing the institution and contributions to the profession that have an impact beyond an individual campus. This award has been presented only three times before Khator’s recognition. The past recipients are Donna Shalala of the University of Miami (2010), James Wagner of Emory University (2011) and Eric Barron, Florida State University (2012).

FACULTY/STAFF Pharmacy professor Rajender R. Aparasu was named a 2012 Fellow of the American Pharmacists Association. Jason Bergeron, director for the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, was elected to the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors executive board as the vice president of membership.

Daniel Gray, assistant director for the Center for Student Involvement, received the Shirley Plakidas Outstanding New Professional Award from the Association of College Unions Region 12. An article written by Zhu Han, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Ph.D. student Yi Huang won the Best Paper Award at the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Smart Grid Communications in Tainan City, Taiwan. The paper focuses on distributive renewable energy resource systems. Dennis Kao, assistant professor of social work, was recently selected as one of eight geriatric social work researchers to participate in the prestigious Hartford Scholars Program. The program seeks to expand the training of social workers in order to improve the health and well being of older people and their families. John Lee, professor and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair in the Cullen College of Engineering, was recognized as the 2013 Engineer of the Year by the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The honor recognizes overall career excellence, service to the field of petroleum engineering and civic contributions. Don Van Nieuwenhuise, research associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is this year’s recipient of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Public Service Award. This national award, which recognizes contributions by AAPG members to public affairs, singles out Van Nieuwenhuise for his service to the public and to the profession of petroleum geology.

Barbara Chapman, professor of computer science and director of the Texas Learning and Computation Center, received the 2012 Euro-Par Achievement Award, which recognizes researchers with outstanding merit in parallel computing. Olafs Daugulis, associate professor of chemistry, received the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research from the Welch Foundation. The $100,000 award is presented annually to scientists who are early in their careers and conducting basic research in chemistry in Texas. This is the first time it has been bestowed upon a UH faculty member. Stuart E. Dryer, the John and Rebecca Moores Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology (FASN). The FASN designation honors members of the society who have distinguished themselves through excellence in practice or research. Three College of Optometry faculty members took top honors from the Texas Optometric Association. Kevin Gee assumed the presidency of the organization. Nancy George received the William D. Pittman Leadership Award. Pat Segu was awarded 2013 Educator of the Year. Roland Glowinski, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, has been honored as a member of the inaugural class of Fellows selected by the American Mathematical Society.

Steven Pennings, professor of biology and biochemistry, received the 2012 President’s Service Award from the Society of Wetland Scientists. Recipients of this international award have promoted the goals of the society in efforts that extend above and beyond their duties as teachers and researchers. College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean John W. Roberts has been honored with the Raindrop Foundation’s Turquoise Award for his contributions to the academic study and promotion of the Turkish language. The honor recognizes Roberts’ efforts to grow the Turkish language and cultural studies offerings within the college. Cedric Tolliver, assistant professor of English, has been awarded the 2013– 2014 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. During his year at McGill, Tolliver will continue his research on the lives and work of African-American literary and cultural figures during the early parts of the Cold War era.

Photo: Thomas Campbell

Ognjen Miljanic First From UH to be Selected a Cottrell Scholar

Summer 2013



Math Biology Major Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship By Laura Tolley

Photo: Thomas Campbell


t Allen High School in North Texas, Lindsey Michelle Brier was focused on sports and playing the French horn. Today, the 21-year-old junior at the University of Houston is a mathematical biology major in the Honors College who plans to pursue a career conducting research in pharmaceutical chemistry and teaching at the university level. Lindsey’s research work has earned her a prestigious scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, one of the most competitive of all national scholarships. The Goldwater scholarship program, established by Congress in 1986 to honor Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, awards up to $7,500 to sophomores and juniors who are planning research careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Lindsey is participating in the UH Provost’s Undergraduate

Lindsey Michelle Brier is a recipient of a scholarship given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

Research Scholarship program, conducting research with James Briggs in the biology and biochemistry department. She also is a member of the Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholarship program and participated in the Summer Research Training Program

last year at the University of California at San Francisco. Lindsey is researching the toxicity differential between the cholera toxin and the highly similar, but less deadly, enterotoxin in hopes of better determining the influential interactions in the toxin responsible for

causing many epidemics. Ultimately, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. “I believe that research, specifically the field of drug discovery, is the future of medicine. I look forward to contributing back to my field and improving the available health care we have,” Lindsey said. “I hope to one day make a contribution that has a great impact on the way we can combat certain diseases, like cancer. I also think I will really enjoy teaching a math or chemistry course at the university level. “The University of Houston has been an excellent experience for me so far,” she said. “The Honors College has helped me so much. I’ve learned time management, especially when I was taking the rigorous Human Situation sequence. The writing skills I learned definitely helped me with the Goldwater application process, and I have also really enjoyed the small class size that encourages discussion in the math and science classes that the Honors College offers.” And though Lindsey’s focus has

GCSW to Develop Social Work Education Program in China

Math Education and Community Outreach Add Up to Piper Honor

By Melissa Carroll

By Lisa Merkl

“UH has a longstanding relationship with China, which is one of the reasons we were selected to participate.” —Ira Colby, Social Work dean currently exceeds the capabilities of colleges and universities in China. As a result, China turned to international colleagues for help through a demonstration project known as the China Collaborative, organized by the CSWE Katherine A. Kendall Institute, the China Association for Social Workers (CASWE) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), for assistance to rapidly expand social work education in China. The other universities selected are Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University,


n ardent supporter of mathematics education at the university, high school and middle school levels, University of Houston professor Jeffrey J. Morgan has been selected a 2013 Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. He will receive a $5,000 honorarium for his superior college-level teaching. “I teach to give something back that was given to me,” Morgan said. “It was clear from a young age that I had a hunger for teaching, and this was because a few excellent teachers in K-12 played an amazing role in shaping my life.” In addition to his many duties as professor and chair of the math department, Morgan provides support and resources to math and science teachers in the community. He organizes competitions and workshops, as well as develops free exercises and practice exams, for both students and teachers from the K-12 spectrum. Morgan also is immersed in mathematics across the board at UH and has played a key role in instructing many college students who may otherwise have slipped through the cracks of higher learning. A considerable number of students have been inspired to become math majors because of their experiences in his courses. As one former student wrote in a letter of support, “Dr. Morgan was my professor and mentor throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. When I expressed doubts about my ability to succeed

Photo: Chris Watts


he Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) has chosen the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) as one of seven graduate programs in the U.S. to help China build its social work education program over the next five years. The government of China aims to have two million social workers by 2020. According to Ira Colby, dean of UH GCSW and past president of CSWE, the demand for graduate degreed social workers

Fordham University, University of Alabama, University of Chicago and University of Southern California. “When Chairman Mao was the leader of China (from 1945 – 1976), he eliminated social work as a profession. Under the recent reforms that have taken place in China over the last 15 years, social work was seen as a necessary discipline to help communities develop and people re-engage, especially in the rural parts of China, ” Colby said. “The China Collaborative will provide opportunities for UH GCSW students and faculty to visit China and faculty and students from China to visit Houston. The goal is to build capacity through faculty, staff and student exchanges; mentoring and consultation; building research infrastructure; and further social work education in an international context in mainland China.” Patrick Leung, professor of social work and director for the Office of International Social Work at UH GCSW, will direct the UH initiative. Leung is one of three Chinese professors at UH GCSW, in addition to Monit Cheung and Dennis Kao. “UH has a longstanding relationship with China, which is one of the reasons we were selected to participate,” said Colby. “This relationship has served as the foundation for our international initiatives in China, where we have taught and offered opportunities for over a decade to students and faculty to study abroad.” 0

Jeffrey Morgan, math professor, was one of 10 educators across Texas to be named a Piper Professor this year.

in graduate school, it was Dr. Morgan who encouraged me to apply and ensured my doubts did not hold me back from achieving my full potential.” Morgan oversees the largest department on campus that also has the largest total teaching load, offering instruction in nearly 80,000 student credit hours per year. By his own preference, he takes on a good-sized portion of the load with a majority of his classes numbering in the hundreds. Morgan, who came to UH in 2002 and has served as the chair of the mathematics department for 10 years, is largely responsible for increasing the caliber of math instruction at UH in the last decade. Under Morgan’s leadership, the math department increased student performance in college algebra nearly 20 percent. 0



UH Bestows Highest Faculty Award to Engineering Professor Mike Harold


Two New Programs Put UH Undergraduates on Fast Track to Medical School By Lisa Merkl


UH currently offers a net price calculator, designed to help students predict and understand their education costs, and incentive programs, such as the Cougar Promise and the tuition rebate program. The Cougar Promise guarantees free tuition and mandatory fees to new in-state freshmen with family incomes at or below $45,000. The $1,000 tuition rebate program provides incentive to undergraduates who meet eligibility requirements, including graduating within four calendar years for four years degrees. Tuition rates at all the UH System campuses were developed following extensive public deliberation among key stakeholders within the UHS community (faculty, staff and students). During meetings and forums, key priorities were identified for each UHS university. After approval from UHS Chancellor Renu Khator

and the UHS presidents, rates were submitted to the board for final approval. The rates below represent an approximate per-credit-hour increase for resident undergraduate students taking 12 credit hours at the three other UHS universities: UH-Clear Lake (UHCL), UHD and UH-Victoria (UHV):  HCL – change of $9.66 per fU credit hour fU  HD – change of $9.25 per credit hour fU  HV – change of $9.58 per credit hour Rates for graduate students taking nine credit hours are as follows: fU  HCL – change of $15.84 per credit hour fU  HD – change of $29.52 per credit hour fU  HV – change of $14.66 per credit hour UHCL’s tuition revenue will support

Photo: Jessie Villarreal

picture in perspective were cited as a few of his attributes as an outstanding faculty member. “Dr. Harold is receiving this honor for an outstanding career in research, teaching, mentoring and service at the University of Houston,” said Dow Chair Professor Ramanan Krishnamoorti, the special assistant to the president/chancellor for UH Energy. “He is an exemplary intellectual leader and his academic accomplishments at UH are many. He has a deep passion for the education and dissemination of chemical engineering principles and a strong commitment to the expansion of UH as a lead institution.” Harold has developed experimental and theoretical modeling methods to understand the

wo new dual-degree programs will put University of Houston undergraduates on a fast track to becoming physicians. Partnering with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), UH will allow entering students to earn credit hours toward both a Bachelor of Science degree from UH and a Doctor of Medicine from either UTHealth or UTMB in seven years instead of the usual eight required for becoming a doctor. Starting with the fall 2013 semester, 10 students will be hand selected each year to enter an intensive pre-med program at UH. After three years, they will be permitted to enter medical school at either UTHealth or UTMB in what otherwise would be their senior year at UH. The courses they take in their first year of medical school will be designed to count toward their fourth-year requirements, earning them a B.S. from UH. During their three years at UH, these students will be enrolled in The Honors College. In addition to taking rigorous science and math courses, they will broaden their education by taking a capstone UH honors course called The Human Situation. The students also will minor in the Medicine and Society Program in The Honors College. “These courses match up better with the Medical College Admission Test,” said UH chemistry professor Simon G. Bott. “In addition to the intensive science courses required of pre-med students, we also will offer

Farfel Award recipient Mike Harold, chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is the author of nearly 120 peerreviewed research articles in international journals.

By Laura Tolley


ike Harold, the M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has been awarded the University of Houston 2013 Esther Farfel Award. The honor, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize, is a symbol of overall career excellence and is the highest honor UH bestows on a faculty member. The Farfel Award is given in recognition of excellent service as a researcher, teacher, mentor, scholar, clinician and administrator. “It is a great honor to receive the Farfel Award especially since it rewards accomplishments beyond

research. While I’m proud of my research accomplishments, I’m more proud of helping my colleagues and students succeed,” Harold said. “I’m greatly indebted to my students, who do most of the work. Hopefully, I’ve helped get them prepared for the real world because that’s what it’s all about being a professor.” Harold was recently named chair of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, a position he held previously at UH, and he is principal investigator of the Texas Center for Clean Engines, Emission and Fuels located in the UH Energy Research Park. His comprehensive outlook on education and mentorship, his research excellence and his ability to pay attention to details while keeping the overall

Regents Set Tuition Rates for FY2014 By Richard Bonnin


ecognizing that the need to enhance the University of Houston’s graduation rate requires more focused attention on the student experience, the UH System (UHS) Board of Regents today approved a modest tuition increase of $13 per undergraduate credit hour at UH for fiscal year 2014. The funds generated by the tuition increase will be invested to assist UH in facilitating student success initiatives and to meet the demands of increased enrollment. These include bolstering student advising, increasing faculty hiring, increasing student financial aid, and enhancing UH’s libraries, instructional technology and graduate student support. Regents approved the tuition rate as part of a multi-year plan to improve UH’s graduation rate. The board’s action comes in the context

of four key points. UH did not increase undergraduate tuition last year. UH is ranked No. 7 in the nation for graduating students with the least amount of debt (U.S. News & World Report, College Rankings, 2013). UH will offer a four-year fixed tuition program for all of its freshmen, beginning in 2014. UH’s tuition is comparable with the rates of other Tier One universities in Texas and the nation. Earlier this year, UH and UHDowntown (UHD) were recognized as two of the most affordable universities in Texas by the Online College Database. In its list of 23 most affordable universities, UH and UHD were respectively ranked No. 9 and No. 10. Last year, The Princeton Review ranked UH as a “best value” university and also cited it as one of the top institutions for graduating students with the least amount of debt.



Summer 2013 By Jeff Conrad


early 30 years after his final game, former University of Houston men’s basketball head coach Guy V. Lewis, who is best known as the father of UH’s famed Phi Slama Jama, will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 8 during festivities in Springfield, Mass. The induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is basketball’s highest honor and culminates a storied career for Lewis, who turned 91 earlier this year. “We are filled with joy, and we’re not upset that it took as long as it did,” said Sherry Lewis, who spoke on behalf of her father. “As one friend said, `Dad is used to winning in overtime.”’ Lewis joins University of North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, NBA legend Bernard King, nine-time NBA All-Star guard Gary Payton, University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, University of Virginia star Dawn Staley and former University of Nevada Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian in the hall’s class of 2013. “Coach Lewis was an outstanding leader of young men, a pioneer in racial integration in this region and a visionary who instinctively realized the popularity of college basketball across the country. Without question, the game of college basketball continues to feel his impact today,” Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades said. “We eagerly await the enshrinement ceremonies in September.” “Coach Lewis was a trailblazer in recruiting and assembled tremendous talent,” said James Dickey, UH head basketball coach. “With his teams and the way they played the game, college basketball fans everywhere knew the Houston Cougars and Phi Slama Jama. Coach Lewis’ excellence was spread out through the decades with great teams, great players and great moments from the 1960s and 1970s as well as the 1980s. With three of his former stars already enshrined, it is only fitting that their coach take his rightful place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.”

Guy Lewis Coaches His Way into Basketball Hall of Fame


Photos courtesy of UH Athletics Communications


While his coaching career earns the most attention, it is easy to forget that Lewis was a talented student-athlete for the first two UH teams in school history. Lewis’ story at UH began in 1946 with the inaugural season of basketball and all athletics. Lewis, who was a World War II Army Air Force veteran, was a co-captain of the university’s first two teams and was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference First-Team selection. He remains the only person in UH athletics history to be inducted into the Hall of Honor as both a student-athlete and as a coach. Following his playing career, he served as an assistant for his coach, Alden Pasche, beginning in 1953 before assuming the head coach position

in 1956. During the next 30 years, he assembled a resume that featured a 592–279 record, five NCAA Four appearances — three straight from 1982 to 1984, six Southwest Conference championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 postseason berths. He coached some of the greatest names in Houston and college basketball history, including 1968 National Player of the Year Elvin Hayes and All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in the early 1980s as part of the legendary Phi Slama Jama teams. In 1996, those three players were named part of the NBA’s Top 50 Greatest Players list, making Lewis and North Carolina’s Dean Smith the only head coaches to work with three players from that illustrious group in college. Hayes (1990), Drexler (2004) and Olajuwon (2008) capped their careers with enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball hall of fame. To this day, Lewis remains one of only seven coaches in NCAA history to compete in nine or more Final Four games with one program. He was recognized as the 1968 National Coach of the Year and received a similar honor from the Associated Press in 1983 when his Phi Slama Jama team posted a 31–3 record and advanced to the first of two NCAA National Championship games. In 2007, he was honored with induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. “I am very happy for Coach Lewis, his family and Cougars everywhere,” Drexler said. “He was a phenomenal coach, and it’s good to see him put on the pedestal with his peers.”

Top: Hofheinz Pavilion March 1, 1986. UH went on to an 85-83 win in overtime against Southwest Conference rival Texas Christian University. Bottom: Coach Guy Lewis cheered the Cougars on from the sidelines.

Lewis’ influence continues to be felt off the court to this day. In 1968, he was the architect of the Game of the Century between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 UH. That game drew more than 52,000 fans inside the Houston Astrodome. It was the first regular-season college basketball game to be televised nationally and demonstrated the nationwide (and soon-to-be) worldwide popularity of college basketball on television and in large arenas. Early in his career, Lewis played a key role in the integration of college basketball in the South. He successfully recruited and welcomed legends Don Chaney and Hayes to UH basketball as the first African-American student-athletes in program history and some of the earliest AfricanAmerican players in the region. “It is tremendous to hear that Guy V. Lewis is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame,” Hayes said. “Nothing could be put into words to express how happy I am for coach Lewis. He was a hard worker, he was dedicated to the University, his players and his family, and he made sacrifices ... to take on another family (his teams) each year. He is just a super, unique and caring person.”  S




Photo courtesy of Ezemenari M. Obasi

Professor Awarded $2.5M to Study Effects of Stress on Substance Abuse

Associate professor Ezemenari M. Obasi is conducting research that brings together investigators from institutions such as the University of Georgia and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

By Marisa Ramirez


our body’s ability to effectively respond to stress may be an indicator of your vulnerability to use and abuse drugs. A five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) will support research from the University of Houston College of Education to investigate mechanisms that influence

drug-related health disparities in the African-American community. Ezemenari M. Obasi, associate professor in counseling psychology and director of the Hwemudua Addictions and Health Disparities Lab (HAHDL) at UH, will lead research in Harris county and eight surrounding urban and rural counties. He says the development of drug use and abuse in the African-American community is often informed by research that rarely include African-Americans or their

social and cultural experiences. “It’s a longitudinal study that will include 350 participants between the ages of 18 and 25,” he said. “We’ll be partnering with the community to learn how a person’s social environment and related stressors can ‘getunder-the-skin’ and have a harmful impact on the body’s regulatory system or its capacity to effectively cope with day-to-day stressors across time.” Those stressors, he says, could include exposure to violent crimes and

experiences of discrimination. A focal point of the research is measuring how the body reacts to environmental stressors. The body has a complex network between organs that control how we deal with stress, among other things, by regulating the production and elimination of stress-related hormones. However, chronic exposure to stressors may lead to “wear-andtear” on this system and compromise the body’s ability to effectively cope with stress. Those who have fallen into substance abuse may produce too little – or too much – of these stress-related hormones, what Obasi calls a “dysregulated human stress response.” “We are hypothesizing that people are finding ways of coping with stressors through other means as their natural human stress response begins to break down,” he said. “While seemingly effective in the short-term, substance use may accelerate the breakdown and increase one’s susceptibility to drug-related health disparities 20 or so years down the line.” Five cohorts (70 participants each) will be assessed and monitored for two years. Obasi believes that, over time, he’ll be able to demonstrate a relationship between a dysregulated human stress response and druguse vulnerability. He hopes data from this research will generate support to follow this cohort through the age of 35, when their health outcomes become more pronounced. His long-term goal is to expand the research to include other underserved communities so that

Probe to Detect Spread of Breast Cancer Gets Closer to Distribution in U.S. By Lisa Merkl


Photo courtesy of Endomagnetics

device co-developed by a University of Houston physicist to detect the spread of breast cancer and allow physicians to better plan intervention is extending its market reach, bringing it another step closer to clinical trials in the U.S. The SentiMag is a novel intraoperative probe that enables surgeons to more effectively locate

the sentinel lymph node – the first lymph node to which a tumor’s metastasizing cancer cells drain. The highly sensitive SentiMag instrument and its associated Sienna+ tracer combine nanotechnology and advanced magnetic sensors. Their patented technology removes the need for radiation, speeds up the process and puts the detection of the sentinel lymph node directly in the hands of surgeons. Co-developed by Audrius Brazdeikis, a research associate professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UH, and his colleagues at the University College of London (UCL), the device has been in use for more than a year in Europe and will now be

The highly sensitive SentiMag instrument and its associated Sienna+ tracer combine nanotechnology and advanced magnetic sensors, removing the need for radiation, speeding up the process and putting the detection of the sentinel lymph node directly in the hands of surgeons.

distributed in the Middle East and Africa. Brazdeikis says approval for use in the U.S. is not far behind. This most recent development of distribution beyond Europe is the result of an agreement signed between Sysmex Europe GmbH, a leading

“The device also reduces overall cost for the hospital by improving surgery scheduling.” —Audrius Brazdeikis, associate professor of physics international company designing and producing diagnostic solutions for medical laboratories worldwide, and Endomagnetics Ltd., a UH spinoff medical devices company. Brazdeikis, who heads the Biomedical Imaging Group at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (TcSUH), formed Endomagnetics with physics professor Quentin Pankhurst and systems engineer Simon Hattersley from UCL to bring their technology to the marketplace. “The most rewarding aspect in this adventure has been taking our original idea and seeing it through to market introduction,” Brazdeikis said.

Current protocol for locating the sentinel node involves injecting a radioactive isotope several hours before surgery, followed by a surgeon using a highly directional Geiger counter, called a gamma probe, in the operating room to locate the lymph node with the highest radioactivity. Alternately, the SentiMag from Endomagnetics uses a detection system based on magnetics rather than radiation, with the radioactive tracer being replaced by the magnetic nanoparticle tracer and the handheld magnetic sensor replacing the gamma probe.
 “This new method requires a surgeon to simply inject the area around a tumor with the Sienna+ nanoparticle, wait 30 minutes for the tracer to accumulate in the lymph nodes and then scan the area of interest using the SentiMag probe to locate the sentinel nodes,” Brazdeikis said. “In contrast to the radioactive tracer, a typical magnetic tracer has a shelf life of many months. There are no staff safety issues or disposal of radioactive waste, which lifts regulatory burdens. The device also reduces overall cost for the hospital by improving surgery scheduling and, therefore, is more accessible to all patients.” 0

Fall 20112013 Summer



Cottingham Examines Perceptions About Athletes with Disabilities By Marisa Ramirez

Photo: Thomas Campbell


ugby athletes are thought to be the toughest in sports. Wearing minimal padding to protect against the maul, they’re a scrum of toughness and athleticism. Michael Cottingham, assistant professor in the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance is exploring how that perception of athletes changes when the toughness comes from a wheelchair. “The way people perceive the sport may be quite different just knowing the athlete has a disability,” Cottingham said. “How do you react to the sport? How do you perceive the athleticism of the individuals? Do you perceive it as inspiration? Would you be likely to attend an event?” Cottingham, whose research interests include promotional strategies in sport, is examining consumer behavior and perceptions about athletes with disabilities, namely how disability sport can increase its support in resources and fan base. “There’s a lower level of expectation of athletes with disabilities, and when they exceed that we often call that ‘inspiration,’” he said. “How do we raise the expectation in order to perceive them more as athletes, rather than just inspirational stories.” Cottingham is measuring perception by showing a series of videos to more than 400 students. Each short video contains the same information about a tabletennis athlete and his national and international successes. In one video, the champion’s story includes information about his impoverished childhood. In another, it shows him in a wheelchair. “Groups will see one of the videos then fill out a survey that

Assistant professor Michael Cottingham directed the university’s first Wheelchair Rugby Camp.

examines their emotional response to the stories,” he said. “They’ll also be asked about their interest in seeing him play or in following his activities on social media.” The study also will include focus groups. Cottingham says while there is theory about perceptions of athletes and persons with disabilities, there isn’t any empirical data about

the issue or about the influences that may lead to support. “Sports has a means to social change. A lot of the research suggests that athletes are on the forefront of disability-culture movement, because they’re out there and want to be recognized in society,” he said. His research coincides with the summer camp he directed along with

the UH Adaptive Athletics student organization. The Wheelchair Rugby Camp took place June 13–16 at the UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. “It’s important to create opportunities for young athletes with disabilities, especially because there aren’t any true strictly college rugby programs out there,” he said. 0

New Treatment for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence Explored

Engineering Researcher’s Theories to be Tested Aboard Space Station

By Melissa Carroll

By Laura Tolley



in UH’s Emotions in Marriage Lab, where they new Univerwere observed during sity of Houston a 15-minute argument. experiment takes Midway during the an unconventional look argument, researchers at the treatment for randomly assigned the domestic violence, othermale batterer to one of wise known as intimate three conditions: a time partner violence, by out; a request to make the focusing on changing the Julia Babcock same points less negative perpetrators’ psychologiand more neutral fashion; cal abuse during arguments rather or a request to listens to the female’s than addressing sexist beliefs. ideas, trusts that the partner may be Research conducted by Julia right and validates her idea even if his Babcock, associate professor of idea is different. The male batterer psychology and co-director of UH’s then used these communication skills Center for Couples Therapy, focuses in the second half of the argument. on male batterers because men are “What we found is when they the perpetrators in about 85 percent applied these skills in arguments with of the abuse cases, and women are 10 their female partner, it decreased agtimes more likely to be murdered by gressive attacks on the female partner, an intimate than are men. contemptuous behavior, criticism and One hundred and twenty put downs in both the woman and couples participated in an experiment the man,” Babcock said. 0

University of Houston chemical and biomolecular engineering professor’s theories on crystal formation will be tested aboard the International Space Station. Peter Vekilov received a $100,000 grant from NASA to study how proteins in a liquid solution nucleate, or form crystals. Vekilov discovered in 2004 that before forming a crystal, proteins in a solution come together in dense droplets, where they possibly begin to unfold into the shape they have when crystalized. His theory was proved through direct observation three years later, but there is still much about this phenomenon that is not understood. For example, crystallization processes that work well in a small volume of solution often do not work at all when scaled up to industrial-size levels of 100 or 1,000 liters – the amounts used to produce medicines, chemicals

and other products. Vekilov believes this is largely due to sheer flow, meaning the uneven flow of liquid in a system. But he cannot effectively test his theory on earth because gravity affects sheer flow. “We hope to see a difference between the nucleation rate on earth and in space,” Vekilov said. His experiments will be performed by astronauts affiliated with the European Space Agency, most likely in 2016. Meanwhile, Vekilov and his collaborators will build instrumentation and conduct research on nucleation and sheer flow to gather data and develop better models of the process. Vekilov hopes to develop a deep understanding of sheer flow’s impact on protein crystal nucleation, which can be used to design small-scale experiments that mirror the sheer flow in industrialscale crystal production. As a result, it will be easier to scale up lab work to large volumes. 0




Faculty Focus By Francine Parker


ashashree Kulkarni’s love for teaching dates to her childhood years spent in India, where she lived with her parents on the campus of the nation’s oldest engineering college — the Indian Institute of Technology (ITT), Roorkee. Her mother and father are both professors, and her father has been teaching at the institute for more than 30 years. They often opened their home to “faculty members who would stop by and students who would visit,” recalls Kulkarni, the Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering. Being surrounded by young engineering students left quite an impression on Kulkarni while growing up. She also witnessed the different aspects of teaching whether it was watching her father prepare lectures for his classes or her mother spending hours grading papers. That glimpse of academic life influenced Kulkarni, motivating her to follow in her parents’ footsteps. “By the time I entered college, I realized I was interested in both teaching and research in engineering, so I wanted to be a professor,” Kulkarni said. In 1997, Kulkarni left her hometown and enrolled in the ITT, Bombay after she was selected from a pool of more than 100,000 students who took the country’s annual ITT Joint Entrance Examination. The exam was the sole admission test for the various Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian School of Mines. She was one of 20 women in a class of 400

Yashashree Kulkarni, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

engineering students. All of her engineering professors were men. Initially, campus life was challenging for Kulkarni because “I had attended an all-girls school from kindergarten through high school,” she said. Kulkarni adjusted to her new environment quickly, and in 2001, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and was awarded the Institute Silver Medal as the outstanding civil engineering student. She went on to earn her doctorate in applied mechanics from California Institute of Technology in 2006 and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California-San Diego in 2009. Shortly afterward, Kulkarni joined UH as an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering

department. Since then, she has immersed herself in academic life, conducting research, developing a new course on computational modeling of materials and advising both undergraduate and graduate students. She recently organized the 2013 Pan-American Congress of Applied Mechanics, an international conference attended by more than 100 participants. Kulkarni’s teaching skills and research, which focuses on computational mechanics and material science, have earned her praise and recognition. Last year, she was presented with the college’s outstanding teacher award and was promoted to the Bill D. Cook assistant professorship, a faculty scholar position. She also has received the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA) Agency Young Faculty Award. The DARPA award is given to rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions. When she isn’t teaching, conducting research or counseling students, Kulkarni takes singing lessons in classical Indian music. The hobby isn’t new for her. Her training began when she was a young girl in India, and throughout the years, Kulkarni has displayed her musical talents. She frequently performed during her undergraduate and graduate school days and in Houston with her instructor. Nowadays, Kulkarni enjoys a quiet life both on campus and at home with her 18-month-old son and husband, Ashutosh Agrawal, who also teaches at UH. Agrawal is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “I am very happy to be here at UH,” she said. “It’s an exciting time to be in the department and at the University.”

Photo: Jessie Villareal

Kulkarni Engineers a Successful Career

COUGARS AT WORK By Kristina Michel

hris Kuether has been tinkering with tools since he was a child, so tinkering with research instruments as a research designer in the University of Houston College of Optometry is second nature to him. Kuether modifies or re-designs the equipment available at the college to work for the researchers if what they need for their projects is too expensive to purchase or can’t be found on the market. Each project is different. It can be as simple as modifying a diagnostic instrument to measure a different angle of the eyeball. Other times, the project is a little more complicated, such as when Kuether was tasked with designing a modified version of a $19,000 clinical device to work with a computer-driven motor on a budget of less than $1,000. “My job, mostly, is to figure out what the researchers want to do and what instruments they need,” Kuether said. Kuether began his career as a research assistant in the Indiana University School of Optometry in Bloomington. From there, he was recruited to the UH College of Optometry in 1969 when the graduate research program was in its infancy. He later worked at Baylor College of Medicine for a few years, but he returned to UH in 1984. Kuether says his favorite part of his job is that it’s never the same. “Every day is brand new with a brand new challenge,” Kuether said. When he’s not working at UH, Kuether spends his time playing the contrabass in the Houston Civic Symphony and the horn in a brass quintet. Music has always been Kuether’s passion. His bachelor’s degree is in music. He met his wife, a cellist in the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, when they were playing together in the Houston Civic Symphony.

Photo: Thomas Campbell


Summer 2013



Architecture Students Presents Designs for New HSPVA Campus Professor Patrick Peters and 13 architecture students unveiled design proposals for the new home of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Rendering courtesy of Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture

spaces for its academic programs. Preliminary drafts were shared with constituents, and in May, HSPVA hosted an exhibition that showcased the students’ final designs. This project brings out the best in students, but it’s also challenging, said Melanie Arenas, who graduated from UH in May. Arenas created a three-dimensional model that details her vision for the downtown HSPVA facility. She took inspiration from the area’s consistent growth and tied in downtown’s arts, historical and business districts to her design. “Our work with Patrick Peters and the University of Houston architecture students has sparked real conversations about the planning and design of the new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts,” said Robert Scott Allen, HSPVA principal. “When we first began the collaboration, I thought the project would be a great experience for the

By Mike Emery


ouston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) has been shaping creative minds for more than 40 years. Its current campus (4001 Stanford St.) is tailored to teach students a variety of disciplines, but the school is scheduled to move to a bigger and better downtown facility. The future campus will be

located at 1300 Capitol Ave. It’s still in the planning stages, but 13 University of Houston architecture students developed designs that may inspire inventive new directions for HSPVA’s new home. Led by architecture professor Patrick Peters, these students have consulted with HSPVA administrators, faculty and students. They also have met with architects and consultants – including former UH professor

and noted architect Barry Moore, who had a hand in designing HSPVA’s current campus. They also have toured the HSPVA campus and Booker T. Washington HSPVA in Dallas. HSPVA offers instruction on creative writing, music, dance, visual arts and theater. The new campus would be a five-story facility with studios, rooms and performance spaces to accommodate these disciplines. It also would require

Moores Concert Chorale Takes Top Prize in German Competition By Mike Emery


uring its third trip across the pond, the University of Houston’s Moores Concert Chorale has again impressed international audiences. The chorale ventured to the 13th Annual International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany and took the competition’s first prize. The chorale also earned the competition’s Gustave Charlier-Anna Maroye Prize for best interpretation

of a religious chorale work (“Splendid Jewel” by Steven Paulus). Although the chorale has provided the university much to celebrate, there is more singing to be done. The competition has drawn to a close, but the chorale was invited to serve as a demonstration choir for a conducting master class. The Moores Concert Chorale was the only choir selected for this prestigious event. Led by director Betsy Cook Weber, UH’s chorale was among 10 elite

choirs from around the world to be selected for the International Chamber Choir Competition. In addition to its performances in the competition, the chorale performed with other choirs in concerts in nearby villages and towns. During some of these performances, it collaborated with choirs from Serbia and Sweden. The chorale’s appearance at this event complements previous international visits. In 2009, it participated in Llangollen International Musical

Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. At that festival, the group earned first place in the chamber choir competition. In 2011, the group was selected for Florilège Vocal de Tours in Tours, France. During that competition, the Concert Chorale earned second place in the mixed choirs competition and received honors for Best New Creation (for a performance of Moores School of Music director David Ashley White’s “I Cannot Live With You”). 0

UH’s Houston Shakespeare Festival Brings Bard’s Works to Bayou City By Mike Emery

Photo courtesy of the School of Theatre & Dance


he Bayou City loves the Bard. Each summer, thousands of Houstonians flock to Miller Outdoor Theatre to experience the Houston Shakespeare Festival. This year marks the 38th anniversary of the popular event, which delivers free performances featuring noted guest artists. Produced by the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance, HSF is presented annually at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The 2013 event will include “Anthony and Cleopatra” directed by guest artist Leah C. Gardiner and “As You Like It” directed by guest artist Marc Masterson. Visiting actors include Seth Gilliam, Chris Hutchison, Crystal Dickinson and Brandon Dirden. This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of one of its founders, former UH School of Theatre & Dance director Sidney Berger. Berger passed away in February. All performances

Veteran actor Seth Gilliam returns to the Houston Shakespeare Festival (HSF) this year. In 2011, Gilliam starred in HSF’s “Othello.”

begin at 8:30 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Admission is free, but tickets are required for seats. For details on tickets or the box office, visit the Miller Outdoor Theatre’s website. Performances for “Antony and Cleopatra” take place Aug. 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 and for “As You Like It” Aug. 3, 7, 9 and 11.

Gardiner is an in-demand director across the country. In 2011, she directed HSF’s “Othello, the Moor of Venice.” This year, she directed “Sucker Punch” at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. Masterson is the new artistic director of the Tony award-winning

South Coast Repertory (SCR), one of America’s leading regional theatres located in Costa Mesa, Calif. Masterson served as artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. Gilliam performs the roles of Antony in “Antony and Cleopatra” and Jaques in “As You Like It.” He has performed a range of stage and screen roles including recurring characters on HBO’s “The Wire” and “Oz.” Hutchison stars as Enobarus in “Antony and Cleopatra” and Touchstone in “As You Like It”.” He is a member of the Alley Theatre’s acting company. Dickinson plays Cleopatra in “Anthony and Cleopatra” and Celia in “As You Like It.” She has earned a Theater World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut for her portrayal of Francine/Lena in “Clybourne Park.” Dirden will play Caesar in “Antony and Cleopatra” and Duke Frederick/Corin in “As You Like It.” He received an Obie award for his performance as Boy Willie in “The Piano Lesson.” 0




Celebrating Cougar Success P

Photo: Thomas Campbell

resident Renu Khator presented the President’s Medallion to award-winning actor Dennis Quaid during this year’s commencement. Quaid was recognized for his creative contributions as an actor and for his works with various children’s charities in Austin, New Orleans and Central America. While Quaid was a student at UH in the 1970s, he studied drama under the tutelage of UH legendary drama coach Cecil Pickett. Quaid was one of eight distinguished individuals honored for significant contributions made in such diverse disciplines as medicine, technology, higher education and film. Honorees include alumnus and former chair of the UH System Board of Regents Welcome W. Wilson Sr. and Dr. Edith Irby Jones, the first African-American to enroll and graduate from an all-white medical school in the South.

Construction Management Student Scores Highest on National Exam By Laura Tolley

Photo: Shawn Lindsey


niversity of Houston senior Nicole Rawlins was sitting in her office at work alone when she read an email that brought news of a lifetime. Rawlins had been “crossing her fingers” about her performance on the American Institute of Constructors’ (AIC) national certification exam, which she must pass to graduate in December from the construction management program in UH’s College of Technology. A total of 1,013 students across the country had taken the same test, which consisted of 300 questions and a written assignment and took eight hours to complete. The national passing rate hovers around 50 percent. This spring, there was one best score. It was Rawlins’. “I was completely stunned – and thrilled,” Rawlins said. “I would have been proud just to pass. Apparently, I’ve learned a lot in this program!” While most accredited construction management programs require their students to take the AIC certification exam as part of their quality assessment programs, the UH program goes further by requiring its students to pass the exam to graduate. That requirement is unique to the rigorous UH program, which has more than 500

Senior Nicole Rawlins hopes to graduate in December and eventually become a project manager.

students, including about 60 graduate students. For years, the construction management program has boasted 100 percent placement of its students, whose starting salaries range between $50,000-$70,000. The top students generally receive multiple offers before they graduate. “To stand tall among the top CM programs in the nation, we decided to make passing the AIC national certification exam a mandatory requirement for graduation. So far, no other program has taken such a daring move,”

said professor Neil Eldin, the construction management program’s director. “In other words, we are telling all employers that the education and technical skills of every one of our students have been certified by a national third party. We made this decision to show the quality of our students and our curriculum. “This year, Nicole has proven that not only do we have quality students, we have the best! Certainly, she has pushed the UH name towards the top of the list of giant programs,” Eldin said. 0

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a number of initiatives, including reorganizing the academic affairs office, implementing an outcomesbased funding model, getting the UH System on the Massive Open Online Courses platform and gaining consensus for two new building projects. In May, Short was named as a prestigious Fulbright Specialist. 0

“Paula Short is a highly regarded leader and expert on the impact of higher education reform on student success...” —Renu Khator, president

analysis, energy-related research and basic chemical industry. 0

shifted to research in college, she noted that she still plays the French horn at the UH Moores School of Music as an extracurricular activity. 0

culturally informed prevention and treatment programs can be designed to reduce drug-related health disparities. 0

students involved. What I have realized is that the process has stimulated the whole idea of what the new HSPVA facility will look like and how our future students will benefit from the downtown campus.” 0

interactions of reaction and transport processes in catalytic reactors. He has specific interests in applications involving the environment and clean energy. He has established himself as one of the top researchers in vehicle exhaust emissions treatment, hydrogen generation and purification in membrane reactors, and, more recently, production of hydrocarbons from biomass. “What I’ve tried to do in my research is work on problems that are fundamentally challenging with solutions that could have an impact in the short term. The need to reduce emissions from vehicles is a problem we’re facing here and now. One thing I learned from my years at DuPont is how to attack practical problems with a fundamental approach. I think that I’ve had some success with that approach, and I’ve had fun doing it,” Harold said. As the principal or co-principal investigator, Harold has received grants exceeding $20 million in external research funding. He is the author of nearly 120 peer-reviewed research articles in international journals, has given more than 160 research paper presentations at national or international conferences, and has presented 95 invited seminars/invited talks. Four of his papers/presentations also received best paper awards from different groups. Harold has mentored or comentored more than 20 doctoral students. He also has been responsible for the development of a comprehensive new undergraduate program now being implemented in petroleum engineering that combines elements of fundamental engineering principles, geosciences, petroleum specific technical subjects along with business and economics. 0

classes geared toward behavioral science and the humanities. This is a more competency-based approach than just coursework. More and more medical schools have been realizing the need to more effectively incorporate social responsibility competencies in their training.” Bott is the director of a newly launched program for students planning for a career in the health professions. The Honors Program in the Health Professions is a joint venture between The Honors College and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 0

the recruitment and retention of faculty and academic staff, bolster financial aid and enhance its library and teaching centers. These funds also will support UHCL as it transitions into a four-year institution. UHCL did not increase its undergraduate tuition rates last year. Additional revenue at UHD will be applied to several student success strategies including improved student advising and instructional and learning resources. UHD also will apply funds toward enrollment growth initiatives. UHV’s goals include adding new faculty to meet the demand of its increased enrollment, expanding student scholarships, enhancing student resources and supporting off-campus learning centers and programs. 0

University of Houston - News  

Internal Communications

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