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.


Thanh Thao Tran (’15, Ph.D. Chemistry), a recipient of the Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship while at UH, was featured in the International Centre for Diffraction Data Scholarship Newsletter. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. Her research involves solid-state materials by design.


The American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter received an Outstanding Chapter Award for activities conducted during the 2015-2016 academic year. Only 46 of the more than 400 chapters submitting reports received the “Outstanding” designation. They will be honored at the 253rd ACS National Meeting in San Francisco in April. The 2015-2016 ACS Student Chapter Officers were Claudia Orzechowska (Demo Coordinator), Christine Pham (Secretary), James Tran (Webmaster), Binh Nguyen (Historian), Yi-Kai Lin (Treasurer), An Ryan Ngo (Vice President), and Lauren Caves (Green Chemistry Chair).

Francisco Blanco (Biochemistry Major) received a Travel Award and a Student Poster Presentation Award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Blanco presented work to understand the mechanisms of a novel drug currently in U.S. clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been involved in this research for two years in collaboration with UH College of Pharmacy associate professor Joydip Das.

Joan Marie Blanco and Alexandre Cardoso Da Silva (Ph.D. Students, Geophysics) placed third in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Challenge Bowl World Finals. The Challenge Bowl is a test of students’ knowledge in the geosciences.

Micaela Bouter (Biology Major) has been named the 2016-17 American Athletic Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Bouter, a member of the UH diving team, will receive a $4,000 scholarship to apply to her postgraduate or professional studies. Bouter is a member of UH’s Honors College, active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteers at Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center.

Zhongzheng ‘Amy’ Cai (Ph.D. Student, Chemistry) was awarded the inaugural Axalta Achievement Scholarship. This scholarship, which came with a $5,000 award and a plaque, was sponsored by Axalta Coating Systems in conjunction with the Powder Coating Institute. This scholarship is offered annually to a student pursuing studies in fields related to powder coating chemistry at a U.S. university.

Yiduo Andy Liu (Ph.D. Student, Geology) received a 2016 Geological Society of America Graduate Student Research Grant. His grant is the Robert D. Hatcher Award given through the GSA Structural Geology and Tectonics Division.

Sabrina Martinez (Geology Major) was selected for a 10-week summer internship at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Martinez’ assigned project will be “Geology and Topography of Nissaba Corona, Eistla Regio, Venus.” She is one of only 12 students selected for the program.

Laura Montier (Ph.D. Student, Biology) received a Young Investigator Award from the American Epilepsy Society for her research focusing on a particular epilepsy disorder known as Dravet Syndrome. Of this year’s award recipients, Montier was the only Ph.D. candidate to be recognized. Read more

A team of physics (Samuel Morelos, Fre’Etta Brooks, Steven Oliver, Debora Mroczek, and Jaelyn Kelly) and engineering students was selected for the High Altitude Student Platform project. The annual upper atmosphere balloon mission, supported by the NASA Balloon Program Office and the Louisiana Space Consortium, offers student teams the opportunity to fly a payload of their own design. The UH project was one of 12 selected for this year’s flight. Their project advisor is Andrew Renshaw, assistant professor of physics.

Khanh Nguyen (Ph.D. Student, Mathematics) received a 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. The highly competitive program supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, and opportunities for international research and professional development.

A team of five Ph.D. and M.S. graduate students won first place in the Imperial Barrel Award Program of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Gulf Coast Section competition. The team, Delaney Robinson, Walter Reed, Eric Lunn (Captain), Andrew Steier, and Leiser Silva, took home a trophy and a $1,500 check to support the activities of the AAPG student chapter. For the competition, university teams analyze a dataset (geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and other relevant materials) in the eight weeks prior to their local competition. Each team delivers their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts.

The technical presentation of Jing Wu (Ph.D. Student, Physics) was ranked in the top 30 papers presented at the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Annual Meeting. Her presentation was titled “Green’s theorem-based onshore preprocessing: A reduced data requirement assuming a vacuum/earth model for the air/earth interface and the evaluation of the usefulness of that assumption.” Arthur Weglein, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair and professor of physics, is her advisor.


Maurice Brookhart (Professor, Chemistry) was awarded The Ralph and Helen Oesper Award. The award is given annually to recognize an outstanding chemist for a lifetime of significant accomplishments in the field of chemistry with long lasting impact on the chemical sciences. The Oesper Award is jointly sponsored by the Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati.

Rosalie Maddocks (Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) has been invited to deliver the plenary lecture at the 18th Symposium on Ostracoda at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The international meeting is held every four years.