Breakthrough (College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics)

UH College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Breakthrough (College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics)

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.


Pavel Govyadinov (Computer Science Ph.D. ’19) received honorable mention for a short paper presented at the 2019 IEEE Visualization Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This meeting is recognized as the top conference in the field of data visualization. His doctoral advisor was Guoning Chen, associate professor of computer science.

Erin Miller (Geology ’18) received a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. After graduating from UH, she entered a Ph.D. program at the University of Southern Mississippi. This fellowship is supporting her research on how barrier island systems in the Gulf Coast region will respond to hurricanes and sea level rise.


Calvert Memorial Scholarship Recipients
Four Earth and Atmospheric Sciences graduate students (Melanie Adelman, Edgar Contreras, Matthew Sexton and Andrew Stearns) received Warren L. and Florence W. Calvert Memorial Scholarships from the Houston Geological Society. The scholarship awards range from $3,250 to $6,500.

Cash DeLeon (Computer Science major) interned this summer with the social media company Twitter in San Francisco; this was his second Twitter internship. Both summers he has worked on the security aspect of the job. Twitter requires massive amounts of security measures that not only ensure a safe experience on the platform but also deter spam accounts as much as possible. This summer, he worked with a team to keep abusive content off Twitter.

Rachel Sanchez-Ruffra (Biology major) and Jacob ‘True’ Furrh (Environmental Sciences major) spent their summer interning with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of their two-year Hollings Scholarship awards. Furrh worked on a flood model for a neighborhood in Anchorage, Alaska, and Sanchez-Ruffra’s internship project focused on the permit process for researchers studying endangered species. Related Article


Tai-Yen Chen (Assistant Professor, Chemistry) received a $1.9 million award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to explore the link between the amount of copper in brain cells and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Related Article

Margaret Cheung (Moores Professor, Physics) and graduate student Andrei Gasic received the Robert S. Hyer Graduate Student and Mentor Award from the Texas Section of the American Physical Society. The award recognizes their development of a computational model to study the effects of molecular crowding, hydrodynamic pressure, and temperature on folding and functionality of phosphoglycerate kinase.

Paul Chu (Professor and T. L. L. Temple Chair of Science, Physics, and Founding Director, Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH) received the 2019 OCA Pioneer Award at the OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates National Gala Awards reception and banquet. The award recognizes Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have paved the way for members of the community in their chosen field. Chu was honored as “an incredible Asian American Ambassador in the field of physics and science.”

William Dupré (Professor Emeritus, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) will be honored with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Public Service Award for his work on educating government officials and the public on the causes of flooding hazards during Harvey and other major storms in the Houston area. The award will be presented at the AAPG 2020 Annual Convention and Exhibition in June. Related Article

Paige Evans (Clinical Professor, teachHOUSTON, Mathematics) has been appointed Associate Director of UH’s teachHOUSTON program.

Shiv Halasyamani (Professor, Chemistry) has been named Distinguished Visiting Project Professor at Kyoto University. As part of this award, he will give a research seminar and four course lectures at the graduate level. The award is through Kyoto’s Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research.

Paul Mann (Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) will receive the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award for his contributions to the teaching and advising of EAS students at the graduate and undergraduate level. The award will be presented at the AAPG 2020 Annual Convention and Exhibition in June.

Frank McKeon (Professor, Biology & Biochemistry, and Director, Somatic Stem Cell Center) received a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to recreate the sequence leading to esophageal cancer. The goal is to identify potential targets for therapies before the disease becomes fatal. Related Article

Judy Wu (Assistant Professor, Chemistry) received a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute of General Medicine to examine a connection she discovered between the concepts of noncovalent interactions and aromaticity, two subjects that have long been taught separately. Wu developed the concept that aromaticity can be used to control the strengths of noncovalent interactions, an outcome sought after by chemists because of the potential impacts for drug and materials discovery.

Staff Service Awards
Twenty-four NSM staff members were recognized for reaching service milestones at the end of the last academic year.

Biology & Biochemistry

  • Quang Hao, Assistant Business Administrator: 15 years
  • Thuy Thu Nguyen, Financial Coordinator: 10 years

Center for Nuclear Receptors & Cell Signaling

  • Bilqees Bhatti, Research Tech Supervisor: 5 years


  • MyTrang Baccam, Academic Advisor 3: 25 years
  • Mark Bushman, Chemistry Lab Supervisor: 15 years
  • James Korp, Lab Supervisor 2: 35 years
  • Anh Nash, Financial Coordinator 2: 10 years
  • Weiguo Zhang, Research Associate 1: 10 years

Computer Science

  • Yvette Elder, Academic Advisor 1: 20 years

Dean’s Office

  • Salvador Baez-Franceschi, Director College IT Support: 20 years
  • Huanyi Greg Chu, Research Liasion Officer: 20 years
  • Karen Le, Technical Services Specialist 4: 20 years
  • Michael Mahanay, Project Manager: 25 years
  • Desi Miller, Department Business Administrator: 15 years
  • Chris Watts, Web Project Manager: 10 years
  • Jessika Wells, Program Manager 2: 5 years

Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

  • Sergio Luiz Alvarez, Research 3 Nat Phys Science: 10 years
  • Lee Ann Carroll, Financial Coordinator 2: 5 years
  • Maria Margarita Gutierrez, Research Tech 2: 10 years
  • Karen Maldonado, Academic Advisor 3: 5 years
  • Jason Ognosky, Microsystems Analyst 1: 5 years


  • Lawrencene Dourseau, Accountant II: 25 years
  • Herbert John Ward, Application Developer 3: 10 years


  • Naomi Haynes, Program Coordinator 2: 25 years