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2024 UH Faculty Awards Recognize Teaching, Research, Service

Zhifeng Ren Receives UH’s Top Faculty Honor, the Farfel Award

By Mike Emery 713-743-7197

Faculty Excellence Award trophies lined up on tablesThe University of Houston is renowned for attracting world-class faculty, who encourage students and elevate UH’s reputation as a top tier institution of higher education.

This week, UH celebrated the efforts of those professors who have gone above and beyond their roles as educators in demonstrating a commitment to both campus and community. The 2024 Faculty Awards were presented on Thursday, April 25 to spotlight excellence in teaching, research and service.

“Our Faculty Award recipients represent just some of the many outstanding professors and academic leaders on our campus,” said UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Diane Z. Chase. “Their hard work is essential to our mission and continues to make an impact on campus and in our community.

Among this year’s award recipients is Zhifeng Ren, Paul C. W. Chu and May P. Chern Endowed Chair in Condensed Matter Physics. Ren earned the Esther Farfel Award, the highest faculty honor at UH.

Zhifeng Ren“Receiving the Farfel Award increases the pressure for more success,” he said. “Now that I finally earned this award, I am inspired to work even harder—but more importantly smarter—to contribute more to UH and further improve the status of the University.”

Ren came to UH in 2013 after being recruited by Texas Center for Superonductivity UH (TcSUH) Founding Director Paul C. W. Chu. He now serves as the center’s director and honored Chu by serving as the inaugural speaker for the Paul C. W. Chu and May P. Chern Endowed Lecture Series, in addition to holding the chair named for Chu and his wife.

Ren joins an elite group of UH faculty members who have received the Farfel Award. This honor has been presented annually since 1979 and honors the memory of Esther Farfel, wife of longtime UH System Board of Regents Chair Aaron Farfel.

In addition to Ren, more than 30 members of the University’s research and instructional faculty were recognized with distinguished awards during a ceremony hosted by Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse.

Details on all faculty awards and criteria are available here, and the full slate of 2024 Faculty Awards recipients and their respective departments are as follows:

Teaching Excellence

Allison Master, Assistant Professor - Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences

Sharon Borja, Assistant Professor - Social Work

Lila Carden, Assistant Professor - Construction Management

Olivia Johnson, Assistant Professor - Human Development and Consumer Sciences         

Tracey Ledoux, Associate Professor - Health and Human Performance

Chin-Yo Lin, Associate Professor - Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling / Biology and Biochemistry

Sandra Zalman, Associate Professor - Art


Provost Core

Ann Cheek, Instructional Professor - Biology and Biochemistry

Tai-Yen Chen, Associate Professor - Chemistry


Innovation in Instructional Technology

Bulent Dogan, Clinical Associate Professor - Curriculum and Instruction



Maureen Grissom, Clinical Associate Professor - Behavioral and Social Sciences

Andra Olivia Miljanic, Instructional Assistant Professor - Management

Cathy Poliak, Instructional Associate Professor - Mathematics

Jahnette Wilson, Clinical Professor - Curriculum and Instruction


Graduate Teaching Assistant

Rand Khalil, Teaching Assistant - English

Lukasz Krzywon, Teaching Assistant - Mathematics           

Elliot Lagueux , Teaching Assistant - Biology and Biochemistry


Community Engagement

Monique Mills, Associate Professor - Communication Disorders


Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence

Donna Pattison, Instructional Professor - Biology and Biochemistry


Group Teaching Awards

Paige Evans, Instructional Professor - teachHouston/Mathematics

Jacqueline Ekeoba, Clinical Professor - teachHouston/Mathematics

Ramona Mateer, Clinical Assistant Professor - teachHouston/Mathematics

Rachel Glenn, Master Teacher - teachHouston/Mathematics


Outstanding Graduate Mentor

Jeremy May, Professor - Chemistry



Elizabeth Trujillio, Professor - Law


Undergraduate Research Mentor

Virmarie Correa-Fernandez, Associate Professor - Psychological, Health & Learning Sciences

Jerrod Henderson, Assistant Professor - Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Melissa Zastrow, Assistant Professor - Chemistry


Population Health Publication

Mahbub Hossain, Assistant Professor - Decision and Information Science


Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Paul Cirino, Professor- Psychology 

Gopal Pandurangan, Professor - Computer Science

Jae-Hyun Ryou, Associate Professor - Mechanical Engineering  

Elizabeth Simas, Associate Professor - Political Science

Weiyi Peng, Assistant Professor - Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling / Biology and Biochemistry

Peter Salib, Assistant Professor - Law


Moores Professorship

Mini Das, Professor - Physics

Seema Khurana, Professor - Biology and Biochemistry

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