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In the Know

The May 18 roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

University recognizes outstanding staff and supervisors
Recipients of The University of Texas at Austin Outstanding Staff and Supervisor Awards Program were recognized for their invaluable contributions to the university in a ceremony on May 13. A full list of the 2011 recipients and the departments they work in can be found online.

Doctoral students win Moore Fellowships
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded $20,000 fellowships to Christopher Johnson and Christopher Ulack, both doctoral students at the university. The Harry E. and Bernice M. Moore Fellowship recognizes doctoral students whose dissertations focus on the human experience in crises caused by natural or other major disasters. Johnson is examining the impact of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Ulack is focusing on the experiences of Iraqi refugees resettling in Austin.

Michener Center graduate first poet to win Keene Prize
Josh Booton, a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers (MCW) at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the $50,000 Keene Prize for Literature for his collection of poems, “The Union of Geometry and Ash.” The Keene Prize is one of the world’s largest student literary prizes. An additional $50,000 will be divided among three finalists. The other three finalists were: Carolina Ebeid, MCW student, for her collection of poems, “An Iceboat Will Carry Us Through the Ice;” Nicole Cullen, MCW graduate, for her story, “Long Tom Lookout;” and Fiona McFarlane, MCW student, for three stories, “Rose Bay,” “The Movie People” and “Unnecessary Gifts.”

Professor receives nearly $1 million for cancer research
Dr. John Zhang, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, has received nearly $1 million from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute for his research on early detection of cancer. Zhang is working to improve early detection of cancer through a rather simple blood test that could be applied universally. The promise of his research led to the $950,000 award that will fund Zhang’s research initiatives over the next three years.

UT athletic teams recognized for high academic marks

A total of nine athletic teams at The University of Texas at Austin will receive public recognition awards for their latest multi-year NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate. These teams include baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s golf, women’s indoor track and field, women’s outdoor track and field, softball and women’s tennis. The awards are given each year to teams scoring in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sport, based on their most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rates.

Student wins $20,000 academic excellence award
Dylan T. Bumford, who graduated in December 2010 after majoring in math, linguistics, psychology and Plan II at The University of Texas at Austin, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the University Co-operative Society’s Undergraduate Student Awards for Academic Excellence. The George H. Mitchell Awards for Academic Excellence celebrate University of Texas at Austin students with exemplary academic records who have made an extraordinary contribution to their fields of study through a research project, literary work, musical composition, humanitarian project, or similar undertaking.

Texas Exes name 2011 distinguished alumni
The Texas Exes recently announced the 2011 University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients. The awards recognize six alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally and through service to the university. The winners are: John W. Barnhill, Jr.; I. Jon Brumley; Jane Chesnutt; James R. Huffines; Jodie L. Jiles and the Hon. Pamela P. Willeford.

Press Mentions

The Washington Post: How a teacher turned a ‘B’ track class into honors
May 17
Angela Valenzuela, College of Education, shares a life-changing learning experience from her youth in this blog series called “Faces of Learning,” which explores powerful learning environments.

CBS News: Self-compassion: The most important life skill?
May 16
In this story, compassion researcher Kristin Neff, Department of Educational Psychology, offers her personal and academic take on encouraging self-compassion and the problem with high self-esteem.

ABC News: Are the boonies getting broadband?
May 15
Sharon Strover, College of Communication, says there are historical similarities between the establishment of utilities such as electricity and telephony in rural regions and broadband Internet today.

The New York Times: The other torture debate
May 14
From a legal standpoint, Robert Chesney, School of Law, weighs in on the controversy surrounding the term “torture” saying there is no clear ruling from the courts on what constitutes torture.

ABC News: Facebook can serve as personality test
May 13
Social media provide a new channel for the studying of human behavior, but there are deeper aspects of a person’s personality it can’t measure, says Sam Gosling, Department of Psychology, in this story.

The New York Times: Why Austin, Tex., is a good place for small businesses
May 12
George Gau, McCombs School of Business, says Austin is a “hotbed” for small business because of large employers like Samsung and the university whose employees support small service businesses like restaurants and dry cleaners.

NBC News: Keeping a wary eye on the mapmakers
May 10
James Henson, Texas Politics Project, says the reason behind President Obama’s trip to Texas last week could have, in part, been a show of support for Texas Democrats up against Republican redistricting plans.

The New York Times: Exonerated inmates fight lawyer’s lobbying fees
May 9
Charles Silver, School of Law, comments in this story about a $1 million legal bill sent to a wrongly convicted inmate in Texas after he was proved innocent.

Forbes.com: University of Texas to study gas drilling impacts
May 9
This brief mentions a study by the Energy Institute that will explore the environmental impact of natural gas drilling and the effectiveness of existing regulations.

Forbes.com: Scientists create a schizophrenic computer
May 8
Scientists at the university have created a computer nicknamed DISCERN that may help researchers better understand and treat schizophrenia.

The Christian Science Monitor: What the world learned about Obama from bin Laden raid
May 7
Bruce Buchanan, Department of Government, says President Obama has assembled a national security team that appears to work well together. Also, that America and the world has seen that Obama can juggle multiple things at once and remain “cool.”

The New York Times: Bush skips 9/11 event, keeps low public profile
May 5
Mark Updegrove, LBJ Library and Museum, says he was not surprised that George W. Bush chose not to attend a ground zero remembrance ceremony recently. “I think both Bush father and son are very conscious of not detracting the limelight that should be cast on our incumbent president,” says Updegrove in this story.

Forbes.com: Is SandP’s U.S. debt warning politically motivated?
May 5
James Galbraith, Department of Government and LBJ School of Public Affairs, laughed when he learned Standard and Poor had reduced the outlook on the AAA rating of the U.S. from Stable to Negative last month, according to this story. He says the U.S. could never default on bonds denominated in its own currency.

The Wall Street Journal: On the lesson plan: Feelings
May 5
Business schools around the country are trying to teach their students “soft skills,” according to this story. Eric Hirst, McCombs School of Business, says these skills accepting feedback with grace, how to lead and manage respectfully, etc. are some of the hardest to teach.

USA Today: Bin Laden’s death a turning point for Millennials
May 4
Patricia Somers, College of Education, comments on the social media use of Millennials, young adults who were elementary, middle or high school students on Sept. 11, 2001.

Read the last edition of In the Know.