NSM Pride: Awards and Honors

Share News of Your Achievements

NSM is proud of the achievements of our outstanding alumni, students, staff and faculty. Submit news of your awards, new jobs and honors to or contact Kathy Major at or 713-743-4023.


Steven Arnold (B.S. ’85, Mathematics, J.D. ’88) has been appointed to the Wyakin Foundation Board of Directors. He is chief counsel of the technology licensing department of Micron Technology, Inc.

Robert Brady Malone, M.D. (’06, Biology) was named CEO of Cass Lake Hospital in northern Minnesota. After attending UH, he received his M.D. and M.B.A. and chose to pursue a career in health care administration.

Jamel Vaughn, O.D. (’09, Biology, O.D. ’13) recently became the new owner of Advanced Eye Care in Dalhart, Texas. Vaughn is trained in the diagnosis and management of ocular conditions, systemic diseases that affect the visual system, and specialty contact lens fittings.

Mark Vineyard (B.S. ’82, Chemistry) joined SAMCO Technologies as Solutions Applications Specialist. SAMCO is a Buffalo, NY-based designer and manufacturer of custom water, wastewater and other process equipment systems for the power, refinery, petrochemical, chemical, municipal, oil and gas, mining, and food and beverage industries. Vineyard is an environmental engineer-chemist specializing in water, waste and wastewater treatment plant treatability studies and systems.


UH students swept the poster awards at the 15th Annual Conference on African Exploration and Production. Bringing home awards: First place – Andrew Steier (Master’s Student, Geology); Second place – Rasheed Ajala (Geophysics major); and Third place – Kyle Reuber (Ph.D. Student, Geology). The conference, called “Africa: What’s Next,” was jointly organized by the Houston Geological Society and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain.

Shenelle Gomez and Luis Carlos Carvajal (Ph.D. Students, Geology) won awards during the student poster competition held at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention and Exhibition in Calgary. Gomez won second place, and Carvajal won third place.


Eric Bittner (John and Rebecca Moores Professor, Chemistry) has been named a Fellow in the Royal Society of Chemists. To receive the designation, Fellows must have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the chemical sciences.
   Bittner was also elected Fellow of the American Physical Society. The citation on his fellowship certificate states: “For developing theoretical and computational descriptions of quantum dynamics in molecular systems, especially for their use in understanding the migration of energy and charge in molecular electronic excited states.”

Alan Brandon (Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) wrote an invited review article “Tectonics: Changing of the Plates,” for the News & Views section of the October 2016 issue of Nature Geoscience; it published online September 19. His article reviewed the work of Reimink et al appearing in the same issue.

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences received the Gold Corporate Star Award for 2015-2016 for its work with the Houston Geological Society (HGS). This award is given annually to those organizations that demonstrate exceptional support for HGS and its many endeavors.

Don Van Nieuwenhuise (Research Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Director, Petroleum Geoscience Programs) was featured in a radio news story, Wink’s Sinkholes are Growing and It’s the Pits. The interview aired on 22 Texas public radio stations, including Houston’s KUHF radio, as part of the program Texas Standard, the national daily news show of Texas.

Faculty Research Awards

The following recent research awards have funding greater than $400,000.

Steve Baldelli, Chemistry
   Project: Compressive Nonlinear Optical Microscopy for Dynamic Chemical Imaging of Surfaces
   Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Mini Das, Physics
   Project: Low-dose and Single-shot X-ray Phase Contrast Imaging for Breast
   Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Defense

Kresimir Josic, Mathematics
   Project: Expanding the Utility of Transcriptional Bacterial Computing
   Funding Agency: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

James K. Meen, Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH
   Project: Acquisition of a New Simultaneous Thermal Analyzer to Support Basic Materials and Device Research and Education at the University of Houston
   Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Defense

Gopal Pandurangan, Computer Science
   Project: BIGDATA: Collaborative Research: Efficient Distributed Computation of Large-Scale Graph Problems in Epidemiology and Contagion Dynamics
   Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Zhifeng Ren, Physics, Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH
   Project: Ultrahigh Thermal Conductivity Materials
   Funding Agency: U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research

Donna Stokes, Physics
   Project: STEM Scholarship Program with Promotion and Retention of STEM Education through Networking Team Support
   Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

John Suppe, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
   Project: Governor’s University Research Initiative
   Funding Agency: State of Texas

Randy Thummel, Chemistry
   Project: Further Studies on Photocatalytic Water Decomposition
   Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Energy

Rakesh M. Verma, Computer Science
   Project: Cluster Computing Infrastructure for Large Scale Data and Text Analytics at UH
   Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Defense