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In the Know

The April 20 roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

Professors win Guggenheim Fellowships
Don Howard, assistant professor of radio-television-film, and David Stuart, professor of Mesoamerican art, won Guggenheim Fellowships this year. The fellowships are designed to encourage advanced professionals in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and the creative arts to take time from steady appointments, such as teaching, and focus on personal creative projects. Howard and Stuart are among 179 artists, scholars and scientists selected from nearly 3,000 applicants.

Two natural sciences students named Goldwater Scholars
Steve Lu and Eileen Martin, undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences, have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships, the premier undergraduate award of its type in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Martin, a Dean’s Scholars Honors mathematics major from Georgetown, Texas, is being recognized for her work extending methods and theorems in frame theory to the study of differential topology. Lu, a Dean’s Scholars Biochemistry and Biology Honors major from Austin, Texas, is being recognized for his research in the lab of pharmacology Professor Karen Vasquez. He’s worked with Dr. Vasquez on understanding how alternative DNA structures, which can form at particular genetic sequences, may contribute to the initiation of cancer.

Texas team wins Imperial Barrel Award competition
A team of geoscience students from the university beat finalists from 11 global regions to win the Imperial Barrel Award, the world’s largest and most prestigious competition in petroleum geosciences hosted annually by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). The team of students from the university’s Jackson School of Geosciences Ashley Bens, Michael Fairbanks, Justin Fitch, Erin Miller and Ben Siks won $20,000 for their AAPG student chapter.

Jewish studies center meets $6 million challenge grant
The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies has matched a $6 million grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, ensuring the continued growth of Jewish studies at the university. The Schusterman Center was able to match the grant through contributions from alumni and the Beaumont-based Gale Foundation, which has committed more than $1 million.

Staff member receives Barbara Jordan Media Award
Melissa Mixon, staff writer and public affairs representative for the Cockrell School of Engineering, was selected for a Barbara Jordan Media Award by the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities for her story titled “Defined by His Successes Not His Limitations.” Award winners in each of the categories were chosen by a panel of judges, including journalists, professionals in the field of disabilities and people with disabilities. Mixon won the award for the Internet category. Winners represented such media outlets as Time magazine, Texas Monthly, HBO and several daily Texas newspapers.

Two instructors win Texas Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Awards
Two foreign language instructors received Texas Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Awards from the Texas Language Center for outstanding commitment, knowledge, passion and ability to challenge. The recipients are: Thomas R. Vessely, senior lecturer in the Department of French and Italian, and Jan Uelzmann, doctoral candidate in the Department of Germanic Studies.

Pharmacy faculty/student pair named Walmart Scholars
Sofia Mnjoyan, a third-year pharmacy student, and Dr. Ken Lawson, associate professor of pharmacy practice, are among 75 student-faculty pairs recently named to the 2011 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) — Walmart Scholars Program. The program provides $1,000 travel scholarships to 75 student-faculty pairs from AACP member institutions to attend the AACP Annual Meeting and the AACP Teachers Seminar in San Antonio from July 9-13, 2011.

Press Mentions

Bloomberg Businessweek: Can supercomputers help Japan predict earthquakes?
April 7
The Texas Advanced Computing Center is among several university facilities offering Japan assistance in the rebuilding effort by donating supercomputing capacity.

The New York Times: Learning to listen to distressed classmates
April 15
A study published in 2009 by university researchers on suicide among college students is mentioned in this article on colleges that are now training students to recognize signs of mental distress in their classmates.

Scientific American: The language of love
May issue
Research by James Pennebaker, Department of Psychology, in which he analyzed the type of language couples in a speed-dating exercise used, is the topic of this article.

The Associated Press: Mexico battles proliferation of drug language
April 14
Ricardo Ainslie, Department of Educational Psychology, says that having a word to describe something horrific, like the drug war in Mexico, can actually be helpful to people.

The New York Times: A strongman found support in prominent U.S. conservatives
April 11
Will C. Inboden, LBJ School of Public Affairs, comments on Laurent Gbagbo’s conservative Christian supporters in the U.S. and how they’re not representative of most American evangelicals.

USA Today: Star vibrations mapped by NASA’s Kepler mission
April 7
A quote from commentary by Michael Montgomery, College of Natural Sciences, in Science magazine on a NASA Kepler space telescope survey is used in this story.

Discovery News: ‘Potato’ earth shows how gravity takes shape
April 5
Aerospace engineer Byron Tapley, Cockrell School of Engineering, is a source in this article on a new high-resolution gravitational map of the planet.

The New York Times: Radiation errors erode confidence in power company
April 5
Sheldon Landsberger, Cockrell School of Engineering, comments on how difficult it can be to measure radiation.

The Associated Press: U.S. fans plan parties, teas to watch royal wedding
April 14
Why are Americans interested in Kate Middleton’s marriage to Prince William? Because she’s a commoner breaking into the British monarchy, says Philippa Levine, Department of History.

The Wall Street Journal Hire Education blog: When doing everything right isn’t enough
April 18
Katharine Brooks, director of the Liberal Arts Career Center, wrote this blog entry on what students are doing to acquire new skills and obtain jobs after graduation.

Read the last edition of In the Know.