NSM Pride: Awards and Honors

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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.


Jaweria Jaweria, Uche Akoma, Lily Ortega (all Biology majors who graduated in 2017) co-authored a paper with Erin Kelleher (Assistant Professor, Biology & Biochemistry) in PLoS Biology, describing a gene, called bruno, which moderates the harmful effects of transposable elements, a response called tolerance. Another UH undergraduate, Wenpei Tang was also a co-author.

Rui Zhang (Ph.D.’10, Geophysics) was recognized by the Society for Exploration Geophysicists with the 2017 Best Paper in Interpretation Award. The award was presented during the Honors and Awards Ceremony at the 2018 SEG Annual Meeting in Anaheim. The article, “Time-variant wavelet extraction with a local-attribute-based time-frequency decomposition for seismic inversion,” was co-authored by Sergey Fomel of the University of Texas at Austin. Zhang currently holds the John E. and Joretta A. Chance Endowed Professorship in Geology and is an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.


Miriam Gavriliuc (Ph.D. Student, Biochemistry) received a National Institutes of Health predoctoral training fellowship that is administered through the Houston Area Molecular Biophysics Program, a collaborative graduate program with faculty from six Houston universities. Gavriliuc studies the mechanism of protein production. Renewable for up to three years, the fellowship provides a yearly stipend, tuition assistance, health insurance, and support to attend national conferences.

Paige Given (Geophysics Major) completed summer research at the Southern California Earthquake Center. Her participation was part of the 2018 Undergraduate Studies in Earthquake Information Technology Program.

Shelby Johnston (Ph.D. Student, Geology) was awarded a Mineralogical Society of America Grant for Student Research in Mineralogy and Petrology. The $5,000 grant will support her work to develop a method to establish temperature histories for sedimentary rocks.

Elizabeth Klovenski (Ph.D. Student, Atmospheric Sciences) received a three-year, $165,000 NASA fellowship to support her work to incorporate predictions of how emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds from trees and other vegetation will be affected by extreme drought into a climate model, the GISS ModelE, developed by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Casandra Morris (Ph.D. Student, Physics) has been in Switzerland at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, since the summer. She is involved in the early aspects of DUNE, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. A prototype liquid-argon neutrino detector for DUNE, called ProtoDUNE, went online in late September at CERN. The detector has been recording particle tracks, and Morris has been helping to collect the information produced by the experiment.

Marcus Zinecker (Ph.D. Student, Geology), Omar Zavala (’18 Geology), and Geraldine Tijerina (Geology Major) won first, second and third place, respectively, in the poster competition at the 17th Annual Conference on African Exploration and Production. The conference was jointly organized by the Houston Geological Society and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain.


Jakoah Brgoch (Assistant Professor, Chemistry) has been awarded an NSF CAREER Award through the Solid State and Materials Chemistry Division for his research project, “Targeting novel phosphors for the next generation of solid state white lighting.” Brgoch is also the 2018 recipient of the American Chemical Society-Greater Houston Section’s Younger Chemist Award. This award, which recognizes contributions to education, research or service, is awarded to chemists under the age of 35.

Peter Copeland (Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) has been named the science editor for GSA Today, a publication of the Geological Society of America.

Three Chemistry faculty members – Olafs Daugulis (Robert A. Welch Chair of Chemistry), Shiv Halasyamani (Professor), and Allan Jacobson (Robert A. Welch Chair of Science) – have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, and each year it elects members whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Daniel Hauptvogel (Instructional Assistant Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) recently sailed on the R/V Sikuliaq as chief scientist and lead instructor for a STEMSEAS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Student Experiences Aboard Ships) cruise in Alaska from October 2-9. STEMSEAS is an NSF-funded program that gives undergraduate students a chance to experience research at sea by utilizing ship time on federally funded U.S. research vessels when they are in-between research expeditions.

Ognjen Miljanic (Associate Professor, Chemistry) was awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers. This award will support his collaboration for two summers with University of Heidelberg faculty members Uwe Bunz and Michael Mastalerz. The group will combine their expertise to work on synthesizing porous materials with potential for additional storage capabilities, as well as the ability to change optical properties with the addition or removal of various gases.

Zhifeng Ren (M.D. Anderson Chair Professor, Physics) received a research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Ren will use the award to further a collaboration with Kornelius Nielsch, director of the Institute for Metallic Materials at IFW Dresden, a German research institute focused on the physics and chemistry of new materials. He also has been named director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, succeeding Allan Jacobson (Robert A. Welch Chair of Science, Chemistry), who will become director emeritus and focus on his own research projects after more than a dozen years at the helm.

Min Ru (Professor, Mathematics) was elected as a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, for his “distinguished contributions to complex analysis and geometry, particularly Nevanlinna theory and the theory of minimal surfaces.”

Arthur Weglein (Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair, Physics) has been invited to give a keynote in December at a Society of Exploration Geophysicists/Kuwait Oil Company Workshop. The workshop covers advances in land seismic processing.