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UT News

In the Know

A weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

University receives Global District Energy Climate Award in Copenhagen
The University of Texas Austin was one of six recipients of the Global District Energy Climate Award presented at the District Energy Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. The award was presented by Lena Sommestad, former Environment Minister of Sweden, to Juan Ontiveros, executive director of Utilities and Energy Management at the university, in recognition of the extraordinary energy efficiency and carbon emission reductions achieved on campus. During the past 10 years, the university has implemented more than $160 million in energy efficiency upgrades that have been funded out of savings from operating efficiency improvements.

Hogg’s Martinez appointed to School of Social Work
Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr. has been appointed as a clinical professor in the School of Social Work, in addition to his role as executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. As a faculty member, Martinez will collaborate in scholarly activities, provide guidance on grant proposals and behavioral health research, and mentor graduate students, according to Dr. Barbara White, dean of the school.

Two students selected to attend Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen
M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine, a geography and environment graduate student, and Rachel Aitkens, a government junior, were selected to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18. Aitkens and Sounny-Slitine were chosen from thousands of applicants by two national organizations and will be present as official United Nations observers.

Cassandre Alvarado chosen for Leadership Texas
Dr. Cassandre Alvarado, assistant dean for Learning Communities and Assessment, said she is “honored to represent UGS and UT” at Leadership Texas. The organization brings together female leaders from diverse backgrounds to sharpen skills, expand professional and personal networks, and investigate major issues. Alvarado was chosen from a large, highly competitive pool to participate in the yearlong program. Alvarado oversees the University Honors Center and Honors Colloquium, Longhorn Scholars Program, assessment within Undergraduate Studies and Undergraduate Studies outreach efforts.

Four students win Student Consulting Initiative challenge
Chang Liu, Sameer Ramani, Robert Fromm and Skyler Kanegi won the Student Consulting Initiative (SCI) Fall 2009 challenge Nov. 21, taking home $800 and four Continental round trip tickets to anywhere in the U.S., Caribbean, Central America and Canada. Sponsorship of the award came from Continental Airlines, UT Student Government, UT Senate and the McCombs School of Business Office of Student Life. The team consulted with Super Saver Shuttle, a local small business that provides shuttle services, mostly to military personnel, from Kileen to Austin.

Pharmacy students take first place in national skills contest
Tamara Spraker and Sijy Mathew, both fourth-year pharmacy students, took top honors in the nationwide Student Clinical Skills Competition at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists mid-year meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. The team placed first among all student teams representing the 102 U.S. colleges of pharmacy competing for the award.

Press Mentions

Time: “The Psychology of Facebook Profiles”
Dec. 3
Given the online forum of Facebook to create whatever public persona you’d like, it would seem logical that people might portray an idealized version of themselves — putting up their most attractive photos, carefully choosing favorite books and movies to portray a certain sophistication. Not so, say researchers from The University of Texas at Austin. More often people’s Facebook profiles reflect their authentic personalities, with all of the quirks, funny faces and moodiness they entail. Psychologist Sam Gosling analyzed the Facebook profiles of 236 college-aged people, who were also asked to fill out personality questionnaires. The study included surveys that were designed to assess not only how study participants viewed themselves in reality, but also what their personalities would be like if they had all of their ideal traits. It quickly became clear that, instead of putting out gilded versions of themselves, people’s online profiles were in keeping with what they were actually like in real life.

Associated Press: “Global Warming May Require Higher Dams, Stilts”
Dec. 4
With the world losing the battle against global warming so far, experts are warning that humans need to follow nature’s example: Adapt or die. That means elevating buildings, making taller and stronger dams and seawalls, rerouting water systems, restricting certain developments, changing farming practices and ultimately moving people, plants and animals out of harm’s way. “Society needs to be changing as much as wildlife is changing,” said University of Texas at Austin biologist Camille Parmesan, an expert on how species change with global warming.

U.S. News and World Report: “Fossils of Meat-Eating Dino Found”
Dec. 11
Fossils of a small carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in New Mexico back up the idea that all dinosaurs originated in what is now South America, evolved quickly and then dispersed from their homeland. The newly described species, a theropod dinosaur dubbed Tawa hallae, lived about 213 million years ago, said Sterling J. Nesbitt, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin. A complete and exceptionally preserved skeleton of a juvenile indicates that the creature had a body roughly the size of a Labrador retriever, would have stood about 70 centimeters tall at the hip, and measured about two meters long, the researchers report in the Dec. 11, Science. Adults may have been about four meters long.

The New York Times: “Colleges Turn the Economic Crisis Into a Lesson Plan”
Dec. 11
Steven Fraser, a professor of American studies at Columbia University, has taught the cultural history of Wall Street for years, usually bringing his students up to the 1990s. But this fall, with the financial crisis providing an irresistible new coda to the course, he extended the timeline to include the drama, intrigue and pain of the past two years. In some ways, the extreme behavior of the economy has provided the ideal talking points for age-old theorems, professors say. “At its core, finance is the study of risk and return,” said Greg Hallman, a senior lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. “The past couple of years in the market have given today’s students a perfect illustration of that.”