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.


Sheed Itaman (’12, Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences) is a 2015 recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He is currently in Delaware State University’s Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Master’s Degree Program.

Abigail Lamb (’12, Biology) is a 2015 recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at University of Michigan and is doing genetics research.

Xin (Lindsay) Lan (Ph.D. ’15, Atmospheric Sciences) received a National Research Council - National Academy of Sciences postdoctoral fellowship to work with Dr. Pieter Tans at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tans leads the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases Group in the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Lindsay will be working on various aspects of greenhouse gases on the global scale.

Emily Leproust (Ph.D. ’01, Organic Chemistry) made Fast Company magazine’s List of 100 Most Creative People in Business 2015. Leproust is the co-founder and CEO of Twist Bioscience. She was recognized for synthesizing DNA faster than ever. Read her profile in Fast Company.


Wanda Crupa (Geology and Geophysics double major) received a Houston Geological Society Undergraduate Fellowship. She is the only recipient from UH. Crupa is working on an undergraduate research project applying ground penetrating radar mapping to units of the Eagle Ford Formation in central Texas.

Yiduo Liu, Tyson Smith, and Jingjing Zong (Ph.D. students, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) were each awarded 2015 Grants-In-Aid funding from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation.

Tahmid Mahmud and Gagan Singh (Computer Science majors) won first place in the Visual Studio.NET Developer competition at the Association of Information Technology Professionals 2015 National Collegiate Conference. Visual Studio.NET is a Microsoft-integrated development environment that can be used for developing consoles, graphical user interfaces, Windows Forms, web services and web applications.

Brian St. Hilaire (Biochemistry major) was one of two UH undergraduates who presented research posters in Austin during “Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.” His poster, “Structural Studies of the Novel Lipoprotein Cj1649 of Campylobacter jejuni,” covered research completed in the lab of Hye-Jeong Yeo, associate professor of biology and biochemistry. The event highlighted how research conducted by undergraduates positively impacts Texas.

Computer Science gaming students, Tyler Swensen, Igor Esteves de Oliveira, John Montgomery and Evan James, known as Team Skybit Studios, advanced to the U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup national finals in San Francisco. This is the sixth consecutive year that UH computer science students have made it to that level of the competition.

Faculty and Staff

Albert M.K. Cheng (Professor, Computer Science) received the Lifetime Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research at the 2015 UH Faculty Excellence Luncheon. The Lifetime Faculty Award is a career award acknowledging a professor’s exceptional efforts in demonstrating a lasting commitment to undergraduate research.

NSM’s John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Award: The 2015 winners are Paige Evans (Clinical Associate Professor, teachHOUSTON) and Mark Tomforde (Associate Professor, Mathematics). Established in memory of former NSM Dean John Butler, the award recognizes faculty members who best engage and challenge their students and who share their enthusiasm for the subject matter they teach.

Arnold M. Guloy (Professor, Chemistry) and Gemunu Gunaratne (Professor and Chair, Physics) were named John and Rebecca Moores Professors at the 2015 UH Faculty Excellence Luncheon. The Moores Professorship is a five-year renewable award given to faculty who are outstanding in teaching, research and service. The recipients receive a $10,000 annual stipend. The Provost’s letter stated that “being a John and Rebecca Moores Professor is an indication of superlative performance.”

Jan-Åke Gustafsson (Robert A. Welch Professor, Biology and Biochemistry, and Director, Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling) was awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Professor George E. Polymeneas, vice rector of the university, presented the Doctor Honoris Causa to Gustafsson in a ceremony in Athens.

Krešimir Josić (Professor, Mathematics) has been selected by the Simons Foundation as a 2015 Simons Fellow in Mathematics. For his fellowship, Josić will spend the 2015-2016 academic year visiting the lab of Matt Bennett at Rice University to work on mathematical models to guide the design of synthetic organisms.

NSM’s Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research: Lisa Whitehead (Assistant Professor, Physics) is the inaugural recipient of this award established by NSM in 2015. The award was created to recognize assistant professors who have demonstrated great potential in research and in scholarship by virtue of the exceptional quality of their contributions.

Yingcai Zheng (Assistant Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) has been selected as the recipient of the J. Clarence Karcher Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The honor is in recognition of his exceptional research contributions to the science and technology of exploration geophysics. Zheng will receive the award in October at SEG’s 2015 Annual Meeting.

UH Faculty Awards: NSM faculty members brought home honors for excellence in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship. The awards, given each year at the UH Faculty Excellence Luncheon, are among the highest honors bestowed by the University. NSM award recipients include:

Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, or Creative Activity - Assistant Professor
Each year, two awards at the assistant professor rank are presented to individuals who have demonstrated great potential in research, scholarship or creative endeavors. One 2015 recipient was from NSM.

  • Daniel Frigo (Biology and Biochemistry)

Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, or Creative Activity - Professor
Each year, two awards at the professor rank are presented to individuals who have compiled a substantial continuing record of outstanding research, scholarship or creative activities and have achieved preeminence in their field. One 2015 recipient was from NSM.

  • Dan Graur (Biology and Biochemistry)

Teaching Excellence Award
This award is given to faculty members in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching.

  • Matthew Nicol (Mathematics)

Teaching Excellence Award - Instructor/Clinical
Two NSM instructional faculty members received this award given in recognition of outstanding teaching by faculty instructors, clinical faculty, research faculty, artist affiliates and lecturers.

  • Melahat Almus (Mathematics)
  • Rebecca Forrest (Physics)