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UT Austin Experts for Issues in the 83rd Texas Legislative Session

As the 83rd Texas Legislature convenes, experts from The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss and analyze a range of topics to be addressed this legislative session.

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As the 83rd Texas Legislature convenes, experts from The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss and analyze a range of topics to be addressed this legislative session.


Ruben Olivarez
Professor, College of Education
Director, Cooperative Superintendency Program

Olivarez is a former administrator at the Texas Education Agency and former superintendent of San Antonio ISD, and he now runs the program that trains future superintendents. He has dealt with the media on education questions about everything from finance to conflicts with school boards.

Educational Accountability

Carolyn Heinrich
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Director, Center for Health and Social Policy

Heinrich is a renowned education policy scholar who studies accountability, standardized tests and supplemental education services mandated under No Child Left Behind. She is a member of a National Academy of Sciences committee that examined the impact of test-based accountability in education and can discuss how Texas state educational policies influence the rest of the country.
-Written by Heinrich: “Standardized tests with high stakes are bad for learning, studies show” http://owl.li/g36qL (Austin American-Statesman, March 2012)

Cynthia Osborne
Associate Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Osborne is the director of the Project for Educator Effectiveness and Quality, and she just completed a major project for the Texas Education Agency creating a metric to help gauge student achievement using teacher effectiveness as a measurement. She can talk about teacher preparation programs in Texas and how the education a teacher receives can affect student achievement.

Julian Vasquez Heilig
Associate Professor, College of Education

Heilig’s research examines how high-stakes testing and accountability-based reforms and incentive systems affect student achievement and outcomes. He has done studies on the mechanisms by which student achievement and progress occur in the context of intra-district choice, charter schools and vouchers. Most generally, all of his scholarship addresses issues of access, diversity and equity in education.
-Written by Heilig: “Judges look at whether charter schools are public” http://owl.li/gwdMz (Washington Post-The Answer Sheet blog, January 2013)

Jennifer Jellison Holme
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Holme has done studies on the relationship among school reform, equity in the quality of education that various student populations receive and diversity in schools. Some of her research has focused particularly on exit-level testing in Texas, and one qualitative study focused on two high schools that lost significant numbers of students to school choice. Holme reported her findings in a piece currently online in the journal Urban Review, where she states that competition does not always lead to significant or positive change, and in some instances can weaken the capability of those schools to engage in productive reform.

The Consequences of Single-Sex Schools

Rebecca Bigler
Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Bigler studies the social and academic consequences of gender-divided schools. Her research shows sex-segregated schooling has no benefits over coeducational schooling but instead could actually lead to exaggerated sexism and gender stereotyping.
-Bigler quoted: “Scholars Say Pupils Gain Social Skills in Coed Classes” http://owl.li/gwjtg (Education Week, May 2012)

Community College

Barbara Mink
Clinical Professor, College of Education
Director, Community College Leadership Program

Mink is head of the top community college leadership prep program in the nation. (It has graduated more community college leaders than any other similar program.) She’s a member of the Austin Community College District Board of Trustees and has been a senior administrator at community colleges in Texas and North Carolina. Mink has been on the board of trustees for the Texas Association of Community College Trustees and Administrators and served as president of the organization. She’s an expert in community college administration and getting more high school graduates into higher education by maximizing the community college pipeline.

Adolescent Development and ‘Fitting In’

Robert Crosnoe
Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Crosnoe examines the long-term effects of not “fitting in” during high school and the link between academic progress and personal relationships. He focuses on the connections among child and adolescent development, health and education and how they help us understand inequalities. He is available to discuss an array of topics, such as the harmful consequences of teen drinking and the long-term effects of bullying.

Education Finance

Sherri Greenberg
Lecturer, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Director, Center for Politics and Governance

Greenberg is a former Texas state representative and an expert on public finance and budgeting and can discuss issues of education finance in Texas. She served two terms on the House Appropriations Committee and served on the Appropriations Committee’s Education and Major Information Systems subcommittees.
-Written by Greenberg: “Campaigning and governing in the digital age” http://owl.li/gylZD (Statesman, November 2012)



Michael Webber
Professor, Cockrell School of Engineering
Co-director, Clean Energy Incubator

Webber is the associate director of UT’s Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, which seeks to inform the energy and environmental policymaking process with scientific and engineering expertise. Webber has led research projects for policy issues relevant to energy, innovation and national security. He has given more than 100 speeches and presentations to a range of technical and general audiences, and he can discuss a variety of energy topics, included energy policy, energy and water, and energy in Texas.
-Webber quoted: “Don’t Worry Big Oil, President Obama Probably Doesn’t Hate You As Much As You Think” http://owl.li/gyln9 (Forbes, November 2012)

Production and Prediction Related to Oil and Gas

Tad Patzek
Professor, Cockrell School of Engineering
Chair, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Patzek’s research involves mathematical modeling of earth systems, with emphasis on multiphase fluid flow physics and rock mechanics. In a broader context, he works on the thermodynamics and ecology of human survival and energy supply schemes for humanity, and he has participated in the global debate on energy supply schemes.
-Patzek quoted: “Rig Grounding Revives Debate Over Shell’s Arctic Drilling” http://owl.li/gymcD (Bloomberg, January 2013)

Alternative Energy

Brian Korgel
Professor, Cockrell School of Engineering

Korgel is an expert on nanostructure assembly and development of new approaches for nanoscale material synthesis. One of his research projects aims to change the way solar cells are made, using a paint that turns solar energy into electrical power. He is available to discuss topics related to solar energy.



Medicaid/Health Care Policy and Costs

Leanne Field
Director, Health IT program

As the director of the Health Information Technology certificate program in the College of Natural Sciences, Field can discuss health IT and health information exchanges as they relate to new federal health care rules.
-“QandA with Leanne Field, Director of UT Austin’s New HIE Laboratory” http://owl.li/gwjd7 (Healthcare IT News, December 2012)

Eugenio J. Miravete
Associate Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Miravete studies how seniors navigate the complex offerings under the Medicare Part D drug plan. In a recent study, he found that seniors possibly with the help of family members quickly adapted and made changes as necessary to their health plans. He is available to discuss topics relating to Medicare Part D, such as premiums, covered medications and out-of-pocket costs.

Daniel Hamermesh
Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Hamermesh studies the economic implications of government entitlement programs. He is available to discuss the long-range costs of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
-Written by Hamermesh: “Fixing the social safety net: easy solutions that might offend everybody” http://owl.li/gymvV (Statesman, October 2012)

Epidemiology and Vaccinations

Lauren Ancel Meyers
Professor, College of Natural Sciences
Director, Division of Statistics + Scientific Computation

Meyers has developed new mathematical methods for forecasting and optimizing the control of infectious diseases, and she has collaborated with public health officials in the U.S. and Canada to apply these methods to designing control measures for respiratory diseases. Meyers can speak on anything about disease and epidemiology, including how the state might provide resources for vaccination programs.

Pharmacy and Health Services

David Warner
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Warner has served as a consultant to a number of organizations in the health sector, and for six years served on the board of Brackenridge Hospital in Austin and was chairman of the Texas Diabetes Council from 1985 to 1989. He is currently working on issues related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the interrelationship and integration of health services in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as topics relating generally to trade in health services.

Carolyn Brown
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Brown’s research focuses on the cultural and social elements that may affect both quality of care and therapeutic outcomes of patients with chronic illnesses, particularly ethnic minority patients. She can also speak about patient satisfaction with pharmacy care services.

Kentya Ford
Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy

As an assistant professor of health outcomes and pharmacy practice, Ford is available to speak on research areas such as health promotion, health behavior change and health disparities among youths, underserved populations and minorities.

Economics of Pharmacy and Health Services

Kenneth Lawson
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Lawson heads the Division of Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice. His research interests focus on factors that affect utilization and costs of prescription medications and other health care services, as well as the effects of educational interventions.

Jamie Barner
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Barner can speak on the economics of not only pharmacy services but health care services as a whole, including the effect those services have on outcomes. She also has research interest in the social behavioral aspects of patients and health care providers as they relate to health care utilization.

Karen Rascati
Professor, College of Pharmacy

With a focus on pharmacoeconomics, Rascati is available to discuss the economic and outcomes evaluations for several disease states, in addition to the measurement of the cost of prevention versus the cost for treatment.

Marvin Shepherd
Professor, College of Pharmacy
Director, Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies
512 471-5607

Shepherd directs the Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies and is an expert in the economics of pharmacy services, pharmaceutical marketing, counterfeit medications and the policies related to both legal and illegal drug importation and re-importation, especially in Mexico.



Noël Busch-Armendariz
Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Director, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Busch-Armendariz has conducted research that explores types of traffickers and evaluated the effectiveness of existing state human trafficking laws and social services for survivors. She has testified before the Texas Legislature on human trafficking issues.
-Busch-Armendariz interviewed: “Impact of Controversial Comments” http://owl.li/gynUP (FOX 7 Austin, October 2012)



Luis H. Zayas
Dean, School of Social Work

Zayas has worked as a social worker and has studied immigration issues. His current research focuses on U.S.-citizen children of undocumented workers who have been deported to their home countries.
-Zayas quoted: “Nearly 205K Deportations of Parents of U.S. Citizens in Just Over Two Years” http://owl.li/gwjHb (Colorlines.com, December 2012)

Immigration Policy and Security

Jason Casellas
Assistant Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Casellas studies Latino politics, public policy, and state and local politics. He is available to speak about immigration reform broadly and how it affects Latino voter mobilization.

Health Care and Undocumented Immigrants

Jacqueline Angel
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Liberal Arts

Angel focuses on evaluating the impact of policies on the health and well-being of Latinos, immigrants and other vulnerable groups. Angel is also a co-investigator on a National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging-funded benchmark study of the longitudinal health of older Mexican Americans in the southwestern United States.



Center for Transportation Research

UT’s Center for Transportation Research is a nationally recognized research institution that focuses on transportation research, education and public service. The CTR addresses virtually all aspects of transportation research, including economics, multimodal systems, traffic congestion relief, transportation policy and more. Find CTR reports here: http://owl.li/gcLnD.



Danny Reible
Professor, Cockrell School of Engineering

Reible’s area of expertise is environmental and water resources engineering, and he can discuss contaminant processes in the environment and assessment and remediation of contaminated sediments. Reible also serves on various national boards related to water issues such as pollution and usage.

David Eaton
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Liberal Arts

Eaton is an expert on environmental policy and water conservation, with a special focus on water sharing between Texas and Mexico. He is the Bess Harris Jones Centennial Professor in Natural Resource Policy Studies in the LBJ School, and he can discuss water and energy conservation policy and groundwater management. Eaton is also the author of the NAFTA Handbook for Water Resource Managers and Engineers.