NSM Pride: Awards and Honors

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


Udit Patidar (M.S. ‘10, Ph.D.’10, Computer Science) has been working as a software engineer in Intel’s high performance computing segment in Merrimack, N.H., since graduation. He will move to Ithaca, N.Y., to enter the one-year MBA program this summer at Cornell University with an expected graduation in May 2015. Patidar credits his success to his productive years spent at the University of Houston. “I took several non-traditional courses at UH (financial mathematics, econometrics) which have prepared me for this next endeavor.”


Dan Coleff (Ph.D. Student, Petrophysics) won first place in the inaugural student poster competition at the 2014 Bob F. Perkins Research Conference. The conference was organized by the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Sedimentary Geology. In all, UH’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences students won six of the seven awards. Other UH winners were Bryan Ott, Ph.D. student, third place tie; Karilys Castillo, M.S. student, third place tie; and three honorable mention winners – Marie de los Santos, undergraduate student, Jiangbo Yu, M.S. student, and Kurt Sundell, Ph.D. student. Read more

Arati Kohlatkar (Ph.D. Student, Chemistry/Chemical Biology) was the lead author of a published review, “Tuning the Magnetic Properties of Nanoparticles.” The review, which provides insights into the factors that can be used to engineer magnetic properties at the nanoscale, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and was acknowledged by and Read more


Endomagnetics, the company co-founded in the United Kingdom by Audrius Brazdeikis, research associate professor of physics, has been named one of two winners of an inaugural Nanomedicine Award in the European Union. Endomagnetics was founded to develop and distribute products based on technology created by Brazdeikis with colleagues at the University College of London to detect the spread of breast cancer and allow physicians to better plan interventions. The Nanomedicine Award is organized by the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine, together with the EU-funded consortium NANOMED 2020, to honor the best international nanomedicine innovation.

Margaret Cheung (Associate Professor, Physics) has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). Cheung’s APS Fellowship Certificate was awarded at the annual meeting of the APS Division of Biological Physics. The citation read: “For her contributions to modeling and simulations necessary to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the folding, structure and function of protein in a cellular environment.” Read more

Stephen Huang (Professor, Computer Science) was honored with the 2013 UH Computer Science Chairman’s Choice Award recognizing overall contributions to research, teaching and service. Huang has served in the department for the last 32 years. He is well known for his educational initiatives and is the principal investigator of the department’s first National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program which offers undergraduate students motivation and training to pursue a graduate degree.

Alex Ignatiev (Cullen Professor of Physics, Chemistry and Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director, Center for Advanced Materials) was invited to be a member of the International Academic Advisory Board of Tomsk State University in Tomsk, Russia. The Board is comprised of 15 world-renowned scholars, including two Nobel Laureates and 10 directors of worldwide research centers

Michael A. Murphy (Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) received the 2013 Earth and Space Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Los Angeles. Murphy received all three of his degrees in geology from UCLA. He has been a member of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty at UH since 2000. In late October, Murphy was named a 2013 Geological Society of America Fellow in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the understanding of tectonics of the Tibetan plateau and Himalayan mountain range.

Zhifeng Ren (M.D. Anderson Chair Professor, Physics) was honored with the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas. He is one of four Texas researchers selected for the 2014 O’Donnell Awards. The Awards, established in 2005, recognize Texas’ most promising researchers, whose work is judged by professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness. Ren was cited for making seminal contributions in five scientific fields: carbon nanotubes, thermoelectrics, hierarchical zinc oxide nanowires, high temperature superconductivity, and molecule delivery/sensing.

Ren also was named as a fellow in the 2013 Class of the National Academy of Inventors.

Weidong (Larry) Shi (Assistant Professor, Computer Science) received the 2013 UH Computer Science Academic Excellence Award. Shi joined the Department of Computer Science in Spring 2011 after working several years as a researcher in industrial research labs. His research addresses challenges faced with innovations in computing and technology.

Lisa Whitehead (Assistant Professor, Physics) has been named Woman Physicist of the Month for March by the American Physical Society. The award recognizes female physicists who have positively impacted other individuals’ lives and careers and is coordinated by the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics. Whitehead is doing research in the field of experimental particle physics. Her research focuses on understanding the properties of the neutrino, one of the fundamental particles that make up the universe.