December 2014

Student Wins First Place at National Conference

Ami Hazel (third from left) participated on the DECA first-place team.

Sixteen University of Houston College of Technology Retailing and Consumer Science Program (RCS) students were placed on 16 different teams competing at the  DECA Collegiate Leadership Conference in New York, November 13-15. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. The Collegiate Division includes over 15,000 members in 275 colleges and universities.

Ami Hazel, a DECA member and RCS Student, was a member of the first-place winning team at the annual collegiate conference last month. Her case-study team won first place for their efforts in the Fashion Merchandising and Retail Event competing against 15 other teams from universities across the nation.

State-of-the-Art Wine Lab Opens at Hilton College

In a country where chefs are the rock stars of restaurants, wine is making huge strides in terms of sales. Recent articles indicate the United States is the number one country for wine consumption , edging out those more traditionally associated with the grape, such as Italy and France.

Now, the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is ensuring students pursuing careers in the growing field of beverage management are ready for expanding opportunities in the industry, thanks to its new, state-of-the-art Spec’s Beverage and Food Appreciation Lab.

hilton college wine lab
Students learning in the Spec's Beverage and Food Appreciation Lab.

The $750,000 facility, made possible by a generous donation from the Spec’s Charitable Foundation and the Rydman Family, seats up to 80 people for wine appreciation classes and industry training. It is the only one of its kind in the region.

Beverage management touches all aspects of the hospitality industry. From hotels and restaurants to events and cruise lines, knowledge of wine, in particular, is an important skill in the industry toolbox. With this expertise, students can pursue careers in pricing systems and sales, storage and cellar management, training and marketing, and as sommeliers. Only a few universities in the country have dedicated facilities to research and evaluate wine.

Professor Awarded $1.5 Million Grant from NIH 

After earning her medical degree in China, Qian Lu, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston, believed she could help patients more by treating the mind as well as the body. She decided to pursue a doctorate in psychology in the U.S.

"I felt as a trained physician in China, I could help patients by saving a life, but there were a lot of conditions that were chronic and I could not get rid of the illness. The key was to help patients have a better quality of life as a whole person, not just as a patient," said Lu.

Lu’s commitment to helping others motivates her research at the University of Houston. She recently received a $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health for the study, “Joy Luck Academy: A Culturally Sensitive Social Support Intervention.”  This study will assess the impact of a culturally based social support group among Chinese-American women recently diagnosed with breast cancer who actively participate in a support group called the "Joy Luck Academy" (JLA). Lu's goal is to assess whether social support improves quality of life, and reduces depressive symptoms, fatigue, and stress among women who have a breast cancer diagnosis.

Qian Lu, associate professor of psychology.

“We hope to provide evidence for whether this program will work. If the JLA is effective and improves the well-being among Chinese-American breast cancer survivors, the model may be disseminated as an effective, low-cost intervention for other groups of Asian-American breast cancer survivors across the country,” said Lu.

A bestselling novel by Amy Tan about four Chinese immigrant women in San Francisco who meet, talk about their lives, share unspeakable loss and hope, and call themselves the “Joy Luck Club” is the inspiration for the name of the support group called JLA.

“There was no study in this area, so we really do not know what kind of intervention would work for Asian-American breast cancer survivors. This is really the first one,” said Lu.

Professors Elected to Prestigious National Association

Two scientists from the University of Houston have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  Dan Graur, John and Rebecca Moores Professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry , and Mary Ann Ottinger, associate vice president for research at the University of Houston and associate vice chancellor for research for the University of Houston System, join a select group of researchers recognized by their peers as among the best in their fields.

In addition to her role with the Division of Research, Ottinger has an appointment as a professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry.  AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and each year honors those who have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of science.

Mary Ann Ottinger Dan Graur
Mary Ann Ottinger Dan Graur


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Paula Myrick Short, Provost | | 832-842-0550
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