December 2015

13 Winners Announced at Second Annual GRaSP Day

Grasp Student Poster Presentation 2015
Tamara Al-Rawwad discusses her poster "SMART Cougars: Reducing the Stigma of Mental Health Issues, Substance Abuse, and HIV/AIDS" during the poster presentations at the 2nd annual GRaSP day. 

The second annual Graduate Research and Scholarship Projects (GRaSP) day took place on Friday, October 30, 2015. GRaSP day showcased the research-related activities of graduate students to the wider campus community. Eleven awardees and two honorable mentions were recognized at the awards reception. The winners were chosen by the judges from four major categories: demonstrations and performances, talks, publications, and posters. Each category awarded a first place and runners-up award.  Additionally, a People’s Choice Award was presented to the best participant from each category as chosen by attendees.

Grasp Student Allison Dovi with Dmitri Litvinov and Provost Paula Myrick Short
GRaSP participant Allison Dovi won the people's choice award for the talks category. Pictured with Provost Paula Myrick Short (left) and Dean of the Graduate School Dmitri Litvinov (right).

Students were awarded as follows:

Demonstrations and Performances Category: 

First Place: Rob Kimbro 
Runner-Up: Eamon Carmody 
People's Choice Award: Eamon Carmody 

GRaSP Talks Category:  
First Place: Mark Chen 
Runner-Up: Simon Stolarczyk 
People's Choice Award: Allison Dovi 
Posters Category:
First Place: Jakaria Mostafa 
Runner-Up: Ruta Sawant 
People's Choice Award: Santosh Suryavanshi 
Publications Category:
First Place:  Panagiotis Moutafis 
Runner-Up:  Maxim Paci 
Honorable Mention:  Hila Roshanravan 
Honorable Mention:  Kyoung Yong Kim 

Doctoral Student Wins Young Investigator Award at Affinity 2015

  andrew paterson 
  Young Investigator Award winner Andrew Paterson

At a conference for the International Society for Molecular Recognition, Andrew Paterson won the Young Investigator Award for his work on improving the sensitivity of point-of-care and over-the-counter rapid medical diagnostic tests. A chemical engineering doctoral student in the Cullen College of Engineering, he presented his research at the conference in Puerto Vallarta in September.

Paterson’s work centers on using nanophosphors to detect certain biomarkers. By utilizing these light-emitting nanoparticles, he created a smartphone device which utilizes the phone’s camera to create a test which provides more reliable results than similar rapid diagnostic tests. With this innovation, the team hopes to begin refining a test for dengue fever using funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dengue Branch in Puerto Rico.

AIA Houston Names Susan Rogers Educator of the Year

Associate Professor in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture Susan Rogers was recognized as AIA Houston’s Educator of the Year. Her work as director of the Community Design Resource Center promotes design solutions which benefit Houston residents living in areas in need of revitalization.

This is the third year that a recipient of the Educator of the Year award has been chosen from the College of Architecture.

susan rogers   
AIA Houston's Educator of the Year Susan Rogers (left) with students.   

Researchers Develop New Compound for Use in Solid-State Lasers

Department of Chemistry researchers P. Shiv Halasyamani, Hongwei Yu, and Weiguo Zhang have recently synthesized a new compound nicknamed BZBP which could have potential use in a deep-ultraviolet solid-state laser.

Currently, the main compound used in deep-ultraviolet solid-state lasers is extremely toxic due to the presence of beryllium. The compound developed by researchers Halasyamani, Yu, and Zhang lacks beryllium and therefore makes it a much safer option for use.

The use of a deep-ultraviolet solid-state laser has widespread applications, including the etching of computer chips. Currently, this process is done with a gas laser, which is difficult to calibrate and can break down much more easily than its solid-state counterpart.

solid state lasers
P. Shiv Halasyamani (center) with researchers Weiguo Zhang (left) and Hongwei Yu (right) in the crystal-growth facility. 

Working with researchers at Northwestern University, the work on the BZBP compound was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation.

College of Education Receives a $34 Million Teacher Prep Grant from the Gates Foundation

The College of Education recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at forming five Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers. This grant hopes to unite higher education institutions, teacher-preparation providers and K-12 school systems.

The College of Education will participate in a consortium of six universities and their local K-12 school systems hoping to transform educator preparation. The participating institutions include Texas Tech University & Lubbock ISD, Southern Methodist University & Dallas ISD, University of Houston & Houston ISD, Southeastern Louisiana University & Ascension/St. Charles Parish Schools, Jackson State University & Jackson Public Schools, and University of Memphis & Shelby County Schools.

"We know that having an excellent teacher is critical to a student’s success, but there is still much to learn about how to best prepare teacher-candidates to be successful in the classroom," said Vicki Phillips, director of College Ready Education at the Gates Foundation. "We’re excited to fund these new Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers so that together, we can better understand which practices are the most effective in preparing new teachers.”

bill and melinda gates foundation logo 
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Paula Myrick Short, Provost | | 832.842.0550 |
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