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Media Mentions

At UH, we're doing some pretty amazing research— and innovation. But don’t take our word for it. Check out some of the places UH has been highlighted around the nation.

Reinventing Houston

Arch Daily featured a collaborative research project between Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. The goal was to understand Houston’s urban development in the future.

Houston’s lack of zoning and unregulated industry growth has created several unique challenges, including rethinking the energy infrastructure, changing real estate and density, and the ways in which the city’s lack of zoning can generate new ideas.

“Houston is the only major city in the United States without zoning and form-based codes,” said Jason Logan, a faculty member involved in the project. “Surprisingly, we found a lack of zoning can generate exceptional forms of urbanism and architecture.”

UH students and faculty collaborated with Mayne over three semesters and a summer in Los Angeles to study Houston’s urban development. The final studio work went on exhibition last November and will be published in a book this fall.


Will a Robot Take Your Job?

Not if you have a personality.

CNBC featured a UH study that found that creative and social intelligence, along with a healthy interest in arts and sciences during adolescent years, led people to choose less “computerizable” jobs down the road.

Though more and more routine jobs are now being filled by robots and computers, lead author Rodica Damian, assistant professor of social and personality psychology, said jobs requiring a high level of complexity or creativity were less likely to be automated.

“Perhaps we should consider training personality characteristics that will help prepare people for future jobs,” she said.

The findings were published in the May issue of the European Journal of Personality.

Splitting Water to Make Clean Energy

UH physicists have discovered a catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen, composed of easily available, low-cost materials and operating far more efficiently than previous catalysts.

“Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source we have on earth,” said Paul C. W. Chu, TLL Temple Chair of Science and founding director and chief scientist of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. “Water could be the most abundant source of hydrogen if one could separate the hydrogen from its strong bond with oxygen in the water by using a catalyst.”

Highlighted by Fast Company, the discovery may give a boost to the fuel cell car market by reducing cost associated with the production of hydrogen. Current methods of water splitting depend on expensive precious metals to speed the chemical reaction, but researchers found a way to use ferrous metaphosphate grown on a commercially available nickel foam.

“Cost-wise, it is much lower and performance-wise, much better,” said Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson professor of physics and lead author on the paper.


Two Billion Years of Volcanoes on Mars

Analysis of a Martian meteorite found in Africa in 2012 has uncovered evidence of at least two billion years of volcanic activity on Mars. This confirms that some of the longest-lived volcanoes in the solar system may be found on the Red Planet.

Tom Lapen, UH geologist in the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and lead author on a paper describing the work in Science Advances, said the findings offer new clues to how the planet evolved and insight into its history of volcanic activity.

As outlined in Popular Mechanics, the meteorite was composed of a Martian volcanic element known as shergottite. It is widely speculated that meteors composed of shergottite may be connected to a single event, when an unknown object slammed into Mars, sending pieces of shergottite into space and, in some cases, to land on earth.

“We see that they came from a similar volcanic source,” Lapen said. “Given that they also have the same ejection time, we can conclude that these come from the same location on Mars.”

Previously analyzed meteorites range in age from 327 million to 600 million years old. In contrast, the meteorite analyzed by Lapen’s research team was formed 2.4 billion years ago and suggests that it was ejected from one of the longest-lived volcanic centers in the solar system.

Is the Two-Hour Marathon Possible?

Mathematically, it may be.

A team of researchers from UH and the University of Colorado Boulder have found a series of mathematical calculations that could shave time from the current world record of 2:00:24, set in May by Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge.

The study, highlighted by Science Magazine, points to lighter shoes, the ideal course and collaborating drafting as factors contributing to such a feat.

“Our calculations show that a sub-two-hour marathon time could happen right now, but it would require the right course and a lot of organization,” said CU postdoctoral researcher Wouter Hoogkamer, who led the new study, published in the journal Sports Medicine.

First, to shave 57 seconds off a marathon time, the athletes would need shoes about the weight of a deck of cards. Next, the runner would need to run the first 13 miles as a loop behind a wedge of marathon “pacemakers,” drafting behind them on a route that blocks the wind.

The second half of the race should be slightly downhill but still within regulations, with four top runners in single file. Runners would need to shift positions every three minutes, reducing the metabolic cost of the drafting runners by about 5.9 percent, saving time.

“It’s fun to think about the limits of human performance and now the math and science are telling us it’s very possible to run a marathon in less than two hours,” said study co-author Christopher Arellano, assistant professor at the Department of Health and Human Performance at UH.


Tiny Robots for Targeted Treatment

The future is promising when it comes to technology for drug delivery and minimally-invasive surgeries.

Two UH robotics researchers have teamed up with a Texas Medical Center cardiologist to develop millimeter-sized robots that can delivery drugs or surgically break up masses and growths by traveling through the body’s venous system.

The team uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image and steer the large numbers of millimeter-sized robots through the body. While MRI has traditionally been used for noninvasive diagnosis, the next frontier is its use as a tool to offer noninvasive or minimally invasive treatment.

Highlighted by TMC News, Aaron Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Nikolaos Tsekos, associate professor of computer science and director of the UH Medical Robotics Laboratory, work with Dipan J. Shah, director of cardiovascular MRI at Houston Methodist Hospital, to develop prototypes for testing.

“Targeting delivery with dozens of microsurgeons is my goal,” Becker said. In this case, those “microsurgeons” would be robots, guided by a physician.

The project is funded by a $608,000 Synergy Award from the National Science Foundation.

The Importance of Polling

Polling has come under fire in recent years after failing to predict election results, as during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, a UH study published in Science found that polling data is still the winner when it comes to predicting election outcomes.

Highlighted by Quartz, a predictive model designed by UH political science researchers was able to correctly predict winners of 10 out of 11 elections, a 90 percent accuracy rate. The researchers took polling data from past elections to develop the algorithm used in the study.

“This study suggests polling data can be utilized not just in the United States but globally to predict election outcomes,” said political scientist Ryan Kennedy of the UH Center for International and Comparative Studies and lead author on the paper. “It would be a mistake to abandon the enterprise. The future really is in trying to make better quantitative predictions.”

Just Say No

Saying “no” is important when it comes to protecting your time, energy and finances.

A study by Vanessa Patrick, UH marketing associate professor, and Henrik Hagtvedt from Boston College, was recently highlighted by the New York Times. The article brings to light the importance of a refusal strategy in helping people avoid overcommitting out of social obligation.

“The ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” said Patrick. “It gives you a sense of empowerment.”

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Q&A with NASA's Patrice O. Yarbough

UH alumna Patrice O. Yarbough, Ph.D., principal investigator for NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) project, gives some insight into the missions and what we’re learning from them.