Chancellor Honors Top Faculty at TTU System Universities
Sixteen faculty members from all four universities across the Texas Tech University System were awarded Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards.
February 12, 2015 | Contact Doug Hensley
Over the past few weeks, Chancellor Robert L. Duncan has honored 16 faculty members with the annual Chancellor’s Council distinguished faculty awards. Recognizing excellence in academics and research, these awards represent the most prestigious honors granted to faculty members throughout the Texas Tech University System.
“It is truly exciting to be able to present our dedicated faculty members with these honors,” Duncan said. “In my first months as Chancellor when visiting our campuses, one of the first things I noticed was the strength of our faculty all across our four universities. The accomplishments of our faculty and the impact they leave on our students make them an invaluable asset to our team.”
Two faculty members from Angelo State University, four faculty from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, six faculty members from Texas Tech University and four faculty members from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso received the honors for 2014.
Each winner receives a commemorative medallion and a $5,000 award funded through the Chancellor’s Council.
The Chancellor’s Council helps advance the important work of the Texas Tech University System and its four universities ― Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Originally created in 1967 as the President’s Council to recognize donors who helped Texas Tech University accomplish its highest goals, the program was renamed and expanded in 1996 with the establishment of the Texas Tech University System. Today, the Chancellor’s Council continues to play a vital part in creating opportunities at all four universities. Among many areas, the Chancellor’s Council funds student scholarships, faculty awards and top scholar recruitment.
Angelo State University
Distinguished Teaching Award
- Charles R. Diminnie, Ph.D.
- Charles Diminnie serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at Angelo State University. Known for maintaining a learning environment that effectively integrates teaching, research and creativity, Diminnie serves as a mentor to his students and has directed several student research projects. He has served on multiple textbook selection committees and conducts a problem-solving seminar, as well as numerous presentations each semester as part of the departmental seminar series. Diminnie, who retired in May 2014, has a distinguished teaching career that spans more than 45 years at five universities, joining Angelo State University nearly 20 years ago. Diminnie holds a B.S. in mathematics from St. Bonaventure University in New York and a master’s degree and doctorate from Michigan State University.
Distinguished Research Award
- Loree Branham, Ph.D. Loree Branham is an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture at Angelo State University, teaching courses in food and animal sciences and conducting food safety research. Her research interests include pre- and post-harvest food safety intervention strategies, wildlife impact on food safety, antibiotic resistance of food borne bacteria, and consumer research and education. Since joining the university in 2007, she has been instrumental in the pursuit of internal and external grants, securing more than $475,000 in funding from various agencies. Branham also has published 13 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and conference proceedings, and was a leader in the development of the university’s bachelor’s degree in food and animal science and marketing. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Angelo State University and earned her doctorate in animal science and food safety from Texas Tech University.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Distinguished Teaching Awards
- Harry E. Davis II, M.D.
- Harry “Pete” Davis is an associate professor and the vice chairman for education in the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. He also serves as the clerkship director and is an active member of the school’s medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha, mentoring and selecting students to join the prestigious organization. Joining the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in 1997 after a long and distinguished career in the military, Davis has received numerous awards from the university, including the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was elected to fellowship in the American College of Physicians in 2001 and to mastership in 2014. Davis earned his bachelor’s degree and medical degree from West Virginia University.
- Janet Piskurich, Ph.D.
- Janet Piskurich is a college master and professor in the Department of Medical Education at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, teaching immunology and microbiology. She joined the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in 2008 after time at Mercer University and was a leader in the design of the school’s novel clinical presentation-driven curriculum. With a distinguished teaching career of more than 15 years, Piskurich is known for providing an educational yet practical learning environment for students, and has extensive experience in curriculum development and course administration, which is exemplified by her election to the steering committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges Southern Group on Educational Affairs and recent appointment as associate editor for the International Journal of Self-Directed Learning. Piskurich earned a B.S. in biology and a Certificate in Medical Technology from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University.
Distinguished Research Awards
- Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Ph.D.
- Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy is an associate professor and the basic science research director of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. Joining the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in 2004, he has been instrumental in building the university’s research enterprise, securing more than $3.5 million in external funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among many others. His research has contributed greatly to the understanding of hormonal regulation of breast cancer. Lakshmanaswamy has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, and serves as a reviewer for federal grants at the U.S. Department of Defense and an editorial board member for multiple journals. Lakshmanaswamy obtained a Ph.D. in endocrinology and oncology from the University of Madras in India, and conducted his postdoctoral training in the Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.
- Richard W. McCallum, M.D., FACP, FRACP (Aust), FACG, AGAF
- Richard McCallum is a professor and the founding chair of the Department of Internal Medicine in the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. He also is the director of the Center for Neurogastroenterology and GI Motility, which conducts research on the interactions between the brain and stomach to treat gastroparesis, a problem caused by impaired nerves and muscles of the stomach, as well as understanding the causes of nausea and vomiting. Pioneering efforts for more than 20 years, McCallum discovered and invented a gastric pacemaker to help patients who cannot digest food properly. His research has been supported by numerous prestigious organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Diabetes Association. McCallum has published more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 120 textbook chapters, has edited 14 scientific textbooks and is the holder of three patents. A native of Australia, McCallum received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Queensland.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Distinguished Teaching Awards
- Vaughan Lee, Ph.D.
- Vaughan Lee is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. In 2012, he was appointed the Dr. Bernell Dalley Endowed Professor in Medical Education. Joining the university in 1994, Lee has been course director for Clinically Oriented Anatomy since 2004 and was appointed Assistant Dean for the Basic Science Curriculum in 2013. Recognized for his contributions to education, Lee received the Clinically Oriented Anatomy Teaching Awards in 2005 and 2007, the 2008 President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2008 Dean’s Basic Science Teaching Award. Lee received two bachelor’s degrees and his Ph.D. from the University of South Alabama.
- Wendy Thal, DNP, RN, FNP-C, CEN
- Wendy Thal is an associate professor in the School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, joining the university in 2005. She also is a family nurse practitioner at the Larry Combest Community Health & Wellness Center, a federally qualified center where she provides health care to the medically underserved. An international authority with a career of dedicated nursing education and patient care, Thal was a key player in the development of the school’s global health initiative, traveling to Nicaragua as a faculty mentor for nursing students who provide care to the medically underserved in this developing nation. Thal received her first bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, her Master of Science in Nursing from West Texas A&M University and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Arizona.
Distinguished Research Awards
- Sue Ann Lee, Ph.D.
- Sue Ann Lee is an associate professor in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Internationally recognized, Lee’s research focuses on examining speech characteristics in children with and without speech sound disorders and speech therapy efficacy using various technology such as ultrasound and telepractice. Joining the university in 2010, she has received external grants from the National Institutes of Health, the CH Foundation and the South Plains Foundation. Her work has been published in multiple high impact journals such as the Journal of Child Language, Journal of Speech-Language and Hearing Research, International Journal of Bilingualism, and Speech Communication. She currently serves as an editorial board member for two peer-reviewed journals. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, her master’s degree from The Ohio State University and her Ph.D. in speech pathology at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Afzal Siddiqui, Ph.D.
- Afzal Siddiqui is a Grover E. Murray Professor in the School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, teaching and conducting research in the Departments of Immunology & Molecular Microbiology, Internal Medicine, and Pathology. He also is the director of the Center for Tropical Medicine & Infectious Diseases working to develop a vaccine for schistosomiasis, which is a disease transferred through contaminated water, having the potential impact on one billion people in developing countries worldwide. Since joining the university in 2000, Siddiqui has received more than $7.4 million in grant funding from prominent organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He recently completed the prestigious Fulbright Research & Teaching Award for Southeast Asia, and has professionally trained at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Harvard School of Public Health. Siddiqui earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Aligarh University in India and his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
Texas Tech University
Distinguished Teaching Awards
- Dr. James “Jim” Brink
- James “Jim” Brink is an associate professor in the Honors College. He has served in numerous roles during his 38 years at Texas Tech, 10 years of which were spent with the Office of the Provost where he served as senior vice provost for academic affairs, among other leadership positions. He was the founder of the Tech Transition freshman seminar and the founding chair of the Teaching Academy. Brink has developed and taught more than 10 different courses and has won each of the major teaching awards during his career at Texas Tech. Outside of the classroom, he organized Advanced Placement workshops in European History, presented Public Education lectures and recently conducted a World History summer workshop on the American Revolution. Brink also is a vital part of the prestigious ring ceremonies, presenting the features of the ring to students and guests. He received his undergraduate degrees in French and history from the University of Kansas and graduate degrees in early modern European history from the University of Washington.
- Jorge Ramírez, J.D.
- Jorge Ramírez has more than 14 years of dedicated service to the Texas Tech University School of Law and serves as a professor and associate dean for international programs. Known for his commitment to student growth, Ramírez directs the international exchange law programs, acts as the director for the Summer Law programs in Guanajuato, Mexico, and Kaunas, Lithuania, and has taught courses in Bolivia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, among many others. After serving as a visiting professor at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) in Lithuania, Ramírez was instrumental in developing a student/faculty exchange agreement and summer program with that institution and was later honored with VMU’s "Man of the Year" award, recognizing his educational contributions to VMU. He also developed the Master of Laws program in US Legal Studies, greatly diversifying educational opportunities for both students and faculty at Texas Tech. He earned his law degree from Harvard University, from which he had previously received a bachelor’s degree in economics.
- Dr. Aliza Wong
- Aliza Wong serves as associate dean of the Honors College and associate professor of history, specializing in race, national identity and popular culture in modern Italy. Since arriving at Texas Tech in 2002, she has taught 16 different courses and has been consistently described by her students as engaging, enthusiastic and supportive. In 2012, Wong initiated the Open Teaching Concept, which encourages faculty members to reach across disciplinary boundaries and promoted a dialogue about the importance of teaching, mentoring, diversity, access and opportunity. The program effectively engages students and faculty across departments and colleges and now involves more than 25 faculty members across all 11 colleges. She also developed a scholarly exchange with the University of Milan, where her willingness to go the extra mile for her students translates across borders during her annual research trips. Wong is a two-time Fulbright award winner and also has received the Department of History's Distinguished Faculty Teaching award, the Hemphill-Wells New Professor Excellence in Teaching award and the President's Excellence in Teaching award during her time at Texas Tech. She has served as Faculty Senate president and devotes her time as Mortar Board adviser. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Distinguished Research Awards
- Dr. Carla Davis Cash
- Carla Davis Cash is an associate professor of piano and piano pedagogy in the School of Music at Texas Tech. Cash has become a leader in the design and implementation of empirical studies related to music learning, and her research in the growing field of memory consolidation has begun clarifying the processes by which musicians acquire and refine motor skills. Known for the collaborative nature of her research, she aims to convey and translate important ideas about understanding the process of skill learning for music teachers and performers. Cash has published her work in leading national journals and presented research and pedagogical presentations at international and national venues. A reflection of her groundbreaking work, she has twice received an Outstanding Research Award from the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She serves in leadership roles for several state and national organizations of music teaching and is an editorial board member of Texas Music Education Research and Journal of Research in Music Performance. Outside of her research, Cash is an active and distinguished performing artist and serves as a supportive mentor to graduate students pursuing their own research. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in keyboard performance and pedagogy from the University of Miami and her doctorate degree in philosophy with a major in music and human learning from the University of Texas at Austin.
- Dr. Changzhi Li
- Changzhi Li began his career at Texas Tech in 2009 and is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. His research focuses on the study of integrated circuits and energy efficiency of microelectronics, and his work is frequently referred by other researchers in his field, having authored 70 peer-reviewed journal papers in highly ranked journals. In his research, Li uses portable radar technology to track tumor motion for lung cancer treatment in patients, paving the way for the exploitation of radar sensors in new and promising applications such as practical medicine. His research has been recognized and sponsored by the Cancer Prevention Research Institution of Texas, which is a rare feat for electrical engineers. Li has presented at more than 79 national and international conferences and secured more than $1.2 million in grant funding. He currently serves as the associate editor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Circuits and Systems II and recently served as area editor for the International Journal of Electronics and Communications. Among many accomplishments, Li received the IEEE-HKN Outstanding Young Professional Award, the Frederick Emmons Terman Award from the American Society for Engineering Education, and the National Science Foundation CAREER award. He received his bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang University in China and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida.
- Dr. Shu Wang
- Shu Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech and boasts a significant international research reputation, specializing in nutrition and nanomedicine. Her research assesses the interplay between diet and chronic diseases, including obesity and cardiovascular disease, and she is a pioneer in using biocompatible and biodegradable nanocarriers to enhance bioactivities of nutrients and natural compounds to prevent and treat these diseases. She has been active in professional service, serving on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and as a scientific peer reviewer in the grant review panel of American Heart Association. Since 2009, she has published 21 refereed articles in very competitive journals, one of which is ranked as the second most downloaded article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Wang also has secured more than $850,000 in funding from several areas, including the National Institutes of Health. Among numerous accolades, she was a finalist for the American Heart Association’s Young Investigator Award and received the Outstanding Research Award from the College of Human Sciences. Wang received her medical degree from Jilin University in China, her master’s in biochemistry and molecular biology from Capital Medical University in China, and her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism from Tufts University in Massachusetts.
About the Texas Tech University System
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers. Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach.
In 2014, the Texas Tech University System’s endowment exceeded $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $200 million and total enrollment approached 47,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school, and health institution at the same location, the Texas Tech University System continues to prove that anything is possible.