QUICK TAKES

The UH Wellness comprehensive alcohol prevention program is among the nation’s best, according to the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors and the National Prevention Network. The program received the 2009 National Exemplary Award for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices and Policies.

The UH Law Center is ranked 34th in the 2010 Super Lawyers U.S. Law School Rankings. The list ranks law schools by the number of graduates included in the annual Super Lawyers list, which is based on evaluations by peers within legal specialties.

UH is ranked 14th among the nation’s “best neighbor” colleges and universities, according to a presentation, “Saviors of Our Cities: A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships,” compiled by Evan Dobelle, president of Westfield State College. The academic institutions were selected for their positive impact on their urban communities, including both commercial and residential activities such as revitalization, cultural renewal, economics and community service and development.

The C.T. Bauer College of Business Entrepreneurship Program ranked second in the top undergraduate category of the 2009 Best Schools for Entrepreneurs, according to Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review.

The Young Artist Apprenticeship Program, a six-week comprehensive art-making workshop for teenagers from neighboring Houston Independent School District high schools, earned national endorsement with a Coming Up Taller award and $10,000 from President Barak Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award. The program is organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston.

STUDENT NEWS

Erica Fletcher, junior anthropology and psychology major, has produced a documentary, “Marianismo,” that explores HIV/AIDS among Latinos and the cultural factors that contribute to the spread of the disease among Latino women.

Four UH students will travel to Washington, D.C., for a semester-long internship as part of the UH Mickey Leland Congressional Internship Program, which is housed in the Center for Public Policy. The 2010 Mickey Leland Congressional interns are: Rachel Burnett, junior political science major; Jeneba Haffner, senior political science major; Kaine Hampton, junior finance major; and Janae Ladet, junior political science.

Joseph Stromberg, public history Ph.D. candidate, has been awarded a grant by the Environmental Institute of Houston for his dissertation, “Atomic Cowboys: Regulation and Resistance to Nuclear Power in Texas.” The $12,500 prize will help him complete his dissertation, which looks at the collapse of commercial nuclear power.

The UH David M. Underwood Chapter of American Humanics program received the 2008–2009 Outstanding Fundraising Benchmark Award by the National American Humanics organization. The chapter was cited for the high quality of its annual report, the variety of fundraising projects and for its successful fundraising efforts.

Applied Research Hub Gets Green Light

UH Receives a $3.5 Million ETF Grant for High-Temperature Superconducting Technology.


by Amanda Hosey

Since its founding in 1987, the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, or TCSUH, has been making advances in the development of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires. The new TCSUH Applied Research Hub will make it even easier for the university to partner with industry to transition HTS discoveries to the marketplace. The TCSUH Applied Research Hub will help realize the potential of HTS technology and establish Houston as a center for HTS applications, especially in the areas of energy and medicine.

Venkat SelvamanickamThe Applied Research Hub will build on existing resources and foster key collaborations in an effort to develop HTS applications that have the potential to revolutionize medical equipment and improve the efficiency, security and stability of the next-generation electric power grid.

By partnering with UH mechanical engineering faculty and leading HTS company SuperPower Inc., the Applied Research Hub will create pathways to quickly move superconductivity innovations into industry.

SuperPower’s specialty products facility will provide a pipeline to full-scale manufacturing directly from the hub.

A recent $3.5 million Research Superiority Acquisition grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) — the second such award for UH — was the final crucial piece of the Applied Research Hub puzzle. The ETF grant allows Venkat Selvamanickam (M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’92), director of the Applied Research Hub and M.D. Anderson Chair Professor in Mechanical Engineering, to round out his team of top HTS researchers and construct research facilities.

“The ETF grant will be used to establish facilities with state-of-the-art equipment to conduct research on superconductor wires, devices and other materials,” explains Selvamanickam, with the goal of transitioning the research to industry.

“The hub will bring together research expertise to translate superconductor products to the energy market and eventually to the medical instrumentation market,” adds Don Birx, UH vice president for research. Support from the ETF “is key in developing TCSUH’s capabilities and advancing HTS applications to put UH and the state of Texas at the center of the international stage,” Birx says.

Plans currently are under way for the construction of the Applied Research Hub facilities in the UH Energy Research Park.

Building the UH Health Initiative

New Hires and Texas Medical Center Membership Pave the Way to Expanded Health-Care Presence.

by Shawn Lindsey

Xiaoliu Shaun Zhang’s career in medicine and cancer research has taken him around the world. He received his medical training in China, a Ph.D. in Australia and conducted postdoctoral work in Australia and the U.K., coming to the U.S. in 1999 as a faculty member with an established lab at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM).

Xiaoliu ZhangSo, some might consider the five-mile move from BCM to join world-renowned scientist Jan-Åke Gustafsson at the University of Houston, a short one. In reality, it has far-reaching implications, as Zhang illustrates the long distance UH will go to recruit top talent as it builds UH Health and strengthens its ties to the Texas Medical Center (TMC).

UH Health coordinates under one umbrella the existing strengths of the university’s health-related academic programs, including psychology, pharmacy and optometry, and its $61 million in health-related research.

Zhang left BCM to become part of a 40-member team undertaking world-changing research related to understanding and curing complex health problems such as cancer and diabetes.

“Even though my group has only been here for about six months, all the research projects have been going extremely well. I am confident that we have made the right move,” says Zhang, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry.

Under the direction of Gustafsson, who was recruited last year to head the new Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS), the group is part of UH President Renu Khator’s strategy to build a Tier-One research team through “cluster hires” — acquiring a research superstar with his/her full research team.

While Gustafsson, one of the world’s leading hormone researchers, is considered the “superstar,” there are a number of co-stars in CNRCS. Zhang’s work has brought more than $2 million in federal grants to UH. His team is collaborating with several renowned clinicians in the TMC to take a patented cancer-fighting biotherapy agent to clinical trials — one of a growing number of collaborative opportunities with TMC institutions after UH became an official member of the world’s largest medical center in late 2009.

“UH is possibly the most exciting university in the nation right now, especially if you’re interested in the momentous race for Tier-One status, closer ties with the TMC, new breakthroughs in health-related research, and innovative new interdisciplinary health science programs,” says Kathryn Peek (M.S. ’70), longtime biomedical educator spearheading UH Health.