CLASS NEWS is brought to you by the University of Houston's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Dean Antonio D. Tillis and the CLASS Office of Communications.

Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser

February/March 2018

The Impact of Hurricane Harvey on Pregnant Moms

UH assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Dr. Johanna Bick, is launching a study of women who were pregnant during Hurricane Harvey or who became pregnant within six months after, to track the role of stress in neonatal development and pregnancy outcomes and whether a simple, online writing exercise can alleviate some of that anxiety. Read more

Mars in a Box: HHP Faculty Studies Astronaut Fitness

Health and Human Performance (HHP) professor Dr. Charles Layne’s research on helping astronauts maintain muscle strength and aerobic fitness during long periods in space was recently featured in UH Magazine. Dubbed “Mars in a Box,” the Novel Musculoskeletal Loading and Sensorimotor Assessment System is being developed through a grant funded by NASA’s Independent Research and Development Center. Read more

New Research Tackles College Hunger

Even though the majority of community college students receive financial aid and are working, 56 percent are food-insecure and this can have a significant negative effect on their graduation rates. Dr. Daphne Hernandez, UH assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP), and co-principal investigator Dr. Dan O’Connor, HHP professor and chair, are working with the nation’s leading experts on food insecurity in higher education to evaluate a local intervention in Houston.  Read more

Professor Working to Create Texas Health Impact Index

UH associate professor in the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, Dr. Jennifer Vardeman-Winter, is collaborating with public and community health researchers from UTMB and Texas A&M University on a project funded by the Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute, titled “Developing a Statewide Health Impact Index for Informing Health-in-All-Policies Decision-Making at State and Local Levels.” This project uses existing databases to create an index for every zip code in Texas that estimates the potential impact the local built, physical and social environments have on the residents living in that area. This index can be used by policymakers to identify areas that may be significantly negatively impacting residents, particularly in disasters.

UH Experts Made Available for 2018 Winter Olympics

While the athletes are going for the gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the University of Houston was making faculty experts available to the media on a wide range of topics. Experts included Dr. Billy Hawkins, professor in the department of Health and Human Performance; Dr. Rheeda Walker, associate professor in the department of Psychology; Dr. Zachary Zwald, instructional assistant professor of political science. Read more

Valenti School Welcomes Fulbright Scholar

Dr. Moniza Waheed, Fulbright Scholar, will be working with Assistant Professor Dr. Lea Hellmueller at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication on a Journalistic Role Performance around the Globe comparative project entitled, “Role Conceptions and Professional Practices of Journalistic Cultures around the Globe.”  In her home country of Malaysia, Waheed serves as a senior lecturer at the Department of Communication, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication at the Universiti Putra Malaysia.

New Graduate Course in AAS Experiences High Demand

Enrollment numbers have been growing exponentially for the Seminar on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, which is a component of the University of Houston Graduate Certificate in African American Studies Program. The seminar is a critical study and analysis of the major ideas and doctrines that formed the conceptual frameworks of these two men. It engages in explorations of cultural pluralism, self-determination, Pan Africanism, satyagraha, nonviolence, civil disobedience, reform and revolution.

Major Horn Promoted to New Rank

A grand ceremony took place in February to honor James Horn, UH professor and chair of Military Science, on his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his Army career, he has earned numerous awards and accolades, including five Bronze Star Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Master Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantry Badge and the Expert Infantry Badge. We salute you on your promotion and wish you every success in the future.

Dr. Lynn Maher Recognized for Her Work with Houston Aphasia Recovery Center

Professor and chair of the UH Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Dr. Lynn Maher, has received a 2018 Burtis/Vogel and Elkins Community Service Award from the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association for her submission regarding her work with the Houston Aphasia Recovery Center.

UH Graduate Pens Poem for Super Bowl Ad

Rebecca Wadlinger, a graduate of the University of Houston’s Literature and Creative Writing doctoral program, had her work featured in the Coca-Cola® Super Bowl ad, “The Wonder of Us.” Wadlinger wrote the poem which includes the lines, “there’s a Coke for he, and she and her and me, and them.” The ad was the first in a series of television commercials to air for Coca-Cola’s “A Coke for Everyone” platform. Read more

Glass Mountain Students Learn About Printing Processes

Students involved with Glass Mountain, the UH undergraduate literary journal, recently spent an afternoon at UH Printing learning about new processes. In this photo, students are introduced to the old workhorse of the 20th century, the Heidelberg press, which UH Printing still occasionally uses.

Glass Mountain’s brand new online publication, Shards, features fresh and engaging stories and poems every other month.

Mark your calendar for the 10th Annual Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers, which takes place May 21-25 at the M.D. Anderson Library and Honors College. Read more


Activism and History Unveiled at Screening of ‘The House on Coco Road’

In celebration of Black History Month, on Feb. 6 the University of Houston’s Department of English, African American Studies Program and the Martha Gano Houston Endowment presented the screening of “The House on Coco Road.” Directed by Damani Baker, the film made indie headlines when Oscar-nominated film director Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY acquired it after its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival. DuVernay has received critical acclaim for her work as co-executive producer alongside Oprah Winfrey on the hit TV series “Queen Sugar.” Read more

Black, Deaf Actor and Comedian to Bring His One-Man Show to UH

The University of Houston's American Sign Language Interpreting (ASLI) Program hosted CJ Jones for a special performance of his one-man “The World Adventurist Show” on Feb. 24. 

Jones earned a supporting role in the “Avatar” sequels directed by James Cameron. His recent work can be seen on HULU’s “Castle Rock,” written by Stephen King and in the movie, “Baby Driver” produced by Sony Pictures. 

A world-renowned Black, Deaf comedian and actor, Jones has shared his talents at cultural events around the world for more than 35 years. 

Officials Honored for Public Service

Four public officials of the Greater Houston area were selected by the University of Houston’s Master of Public Administration Program to be honored for their qualities of “trust, accountability, performance, ethical decision-making, and crossing jurisdictional boundaries to solve problems,” explained MPA Program Director Dr. James Thurmond. This year’s honorees will receive the awards at the 7th Annual Public Official Awards luncheon on Friday, March 2. The honorees are Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert, Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen, and Bellaire City Manager Paul A. Hofmann. The late Peter Brown, UH alumnus and former adjunct professor, councilmember, and founder and director of Better Houston, will be honored with a Pioneer Award. Read more

Houston Eats! Conference Highlights Our Polycultural Foodways Scene

The UH Gulf Coast Food Project held the Houston Eats! Texas Gulf Coast Food in the Past, Present and Future conference at UH Feb. 2-3. Dr. Tyina Steptoe, University of Arizona, opened the conference with a riveting keynote presentation that highlighted the polycultural nature of Houston foodways. Interestingly, the majority of the 18 presentations that followed engaged Steptoe’s insight by highlighting how displacement, migration, violence, invention and belonging have shaped and remade how we eat. The conference was the final event in a three-year National Endowment for the Humanities Grant that UH Center for Public History faculty Dr. Monica Perales and Dr. Todd Romero secured. Stay tuned; the conference organizers anticipate using selected conference papers as the basis for an edited volume. Photos of Tyina Steptoe (left) and presenter Mikaela Selley, a UH alumna, were taken by Dr. Todd Romero.

Dean Tillis to Participate in Joint Civilian Orientation Conference

Only 30 finalists were selected from across the country to participate in the 2018 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) hosted by the Secretary of Defense, and Dr. Antonio D. Tillis  is among them. The JCOC program is the oldest and most prestigious public liaison program in the Department of Defense, which provides business, college and community leaders an opportunity to engage with senior leaders of the DoD and service members.

The program entails a hands-on and immersive tour of military installations representing Navy, Army and Air Force branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Dr. Tillis’ tactical training exercises will take place April 22-25, 2018, in Norfolk, Virginia, where he will gain a better understanding of the roles and the daily global mission of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Dean is Among Houston’s Top 50 Black Professionals and Entrepreneurs

Dr. Tillis was named one of Houston’s Top 50 Black Professionals & Entrepreneurs (P&E) for 2018. The awards ceremony took place on Thursday, Feb. 22. Houston’s top P&Es recognizes African American leaders for their outstanding contributions in corporate, civic and nonprofit arenas.

If you have a CLASS news or research story you would like the Office of Communication to consider including in a future issue of this newsletter, please send an email to

To subscribe to this newsletter, please visit and select CLASS News: College e-Newsletter

Support CLASS, Give online at

Give to the University of Houston  Find CLASS on Facebook  Follow CLASS on twitter