More than 700 NSM Degree Candidates Honored at UH Commencement

Commencement Celebrates Spring Graduates, Including Five Summa Cum Laude 4.0 Grads

Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree candidates were celebrated during the University of Houston Commencement for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) on May 10. The ceremony was held at UH’s Fertitta Center.

Spring 2024 Commencement

More than 700 NSM students completed degree requirements for spring 2024. NSM’s 56 doctoral candidates earned degrees in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, geophysics, mathematics, and physics. There were 91 master’s degree candidates and 609 candidates for bachelor’s degrees.

Sixty-three students graduated summa cum laude, the highest academic honor for bachelor’s degree recipients. An additional 198 students graduated either cum laude or magna cum laude.

Nineteen students graduated through the teachHOUSTON program, a collaboration between NSM and the College of Education. They have committed to teach high school math or science.

The ceremony also included remarks from Julian Chenin, board member of the NSM Alumni Association.

Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award – Xin Shi

Xin Shi
Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award winner Xin Shi with Dean Dan Wells.

Each semester, the Dan E. Wells Outstanding Dissertation Award is presented to a doctoral student who has performed outstanding research and submitted the best dissertation to the College. The Spring 2024 recipient was Xin Shi, a physics Ph.D. graduate. He received a certificate and an award of $1,000.

Shi’s dissertation is titled “Advancing Nontoxic, Antimony-based 1–2–2-type Thermoelectric Zintls.” His research, conducted under the supervision of Professor Zhifeng Ren, focuses on the direct conversion of thermal energy, which is abundant in our environment, to electrical energy, which powers our society.

Current thermoelectric materials that can help accomplish this conversion have been laborious to design, and they often contain toxic or rare elements. Shi has researched fundamental properties of promising thermoelectric materials, and he has developed a new strategy to design and pre-evaluate nontoxic, highly performing thermoelectric compounds. These advances will have an ongoing positive impact in future environmentally friendly energy sources.

He will next pursue postdoctoral research with the goal of becoming a research-active faculty member.

Commencement Student Speaker – Chris Andrade

Chris Andrade
Commencement Student Speaker: Chris Andrade

Commencement student speaker Chris Andrade is a first-generation college student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Andrade was selected as speaker through a competition that is open to all NSM summa cum laude graduates.

During his speech, Andrade reminded graduates that they are an inspiration to individuals across the world, showing that it is possible to make your dreams come true. He also encouraged graduates as they continue their journeys to “remember to be that ray of light in someone’s darkness and to help those who need it when you can.”

While at UH, he received numerous scholarships, including support from the UH and NSM Alumni Associations and the British American Foundation of Texas’ STEM scholarship program. Andrade was active in the University bands – the “Spirit of Houston” and “Cougar Brass.” He served in Kappa Kappa Psi, a Moores School of Music service organization, participating in volunteer activities for the school and other local organizations.

Andrade will enter the UH Department of Mathematics master’s program in statistics and data science in the fall. He plans to enter a Ph.D. program in data science after completing his master’s degree.

NSM’s 4.0 Summa Cum Laude Graduates

NSM’s 4.0 Summa Cum Laude Graduates
NSM’s 4.0 Summa Cum Laude Graduates.

During the ceremony, NSM recognized five exceptional students who completed their college career with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

  • Chris Andrade, Mathematics
  • Armando Espinoza, Computer Science
  • Woosung Nam, Computer Science
  • Tran Nguyen, Biology
  • Melika Salehi, Biology

Commencement Banner Bearers – NSM Outstanding Students

Commencement Banner Bearers

The Commencement processional included outstanding students from NSM’s six departments carrying the college and departmental banners.

  • College Banner: Melika Salehi
  • Department of Biology and Biochemistry: Tran Nguyen
  • Department of Chemistry: Preston Edwards
  • Department of Computer Science: Woosung Nam
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences: Tyler Mai
  • Department of Mathematics: Chris Andrade
  • Department of Physics: Mazen Malak

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics