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Chancellor Honors Faculty with Highest Awards

Chancellor Duncan recognizes outstanding faculty throughout the Texas Tech University System with the Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards.

February 15, 2016 | Written by Doug Hensley

The Texas Tech University System recently recognized teaching and research excellence at all four of its component institutions during the annual presentation of Chancellor’s Council awards to a number of talented faculty members.

“We have world-class faculty across the Texas Tech University System,” said Chancellor Robert L. Duncan. “Our faculty make a difference in the lives of students, and they are engaged in research that will impact the world.”

The awards are made possible by the Chancellor’s Council, which has recognized top teaching and research faculty across the Texas Tech University System since 2001. In 2008, Angelo State University was added to the tradition, and in 2013, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso was added.

“I appreciate the continued commitment of the Chancellor’s Council to these awards, which represent the highest faculty honor in the Texas Tech University System,” Duncan said.

In all, sixteen faculty members were recognized. Recipients receive a $5,000 stipend and an engraved medallion.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Chancellor's Council Faculty WinnersChancellor Robert L. Duncan, left, stands with recipients, left to right, Scott Burris, Deborah Fowler, Tanja Karp, Brian Ancell, Ranadip Pal and Dr. M. Duane Nellis. 

Those recognized at Texas Tech University for teaching excellence were:

Dr. Scott Burris 
Associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. He also serves as coordinator for teacher certification in agriculture in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Prior to graduate studies, Dr. Burris taught secondary agricultural science for ten years.  His experiences as a practicing secondary teacher shaped and molded his interests in post-secondary education. Joining the university in 2005, Dr. Burris’ research focus is in teaching and learning, specifically in delivery methods of instruction and in teacher development, in the field of agriculture education. 

From the first year of his arrival at Texas Tech University, Scott’s innate ability to convey his enthusiasm and energy for teaching, and his passion for helping students learn have been hallmarks of his work. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Burris has received numerous departmental, college, university, and professional society awards for teaching.  

Dr. Burris earned his B.S. in interdisciplinary agriculture from Texas Tech University and M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural education from the University of Missouri.

Dr. Deborah Fowler 
Professor of hospitality and retail management in the College of Human Sciences.

Dr. Fowler’s research focuses on the retailing and hospitality industries. She has developed a number of experiential activities and works closely with the industry to develop the activities in her undergraduate category management class.  Her graduate classes in category management and retail buying complete consulting projects for major retailers including Walmart, HEB, and Academy Sports + Outdoors.

Her teaching evaluations are consistently above 4.5, and student comments are sterling. When reading her student evaluations, terms like “outstanding,” “fun,” “professionalism,” and “passion” appear frequently. 

During her tenure at Texas Tech University she has received the Spencer A. Wells Award for Creativity in Teaching and President’s Excellence in Award for Teaching, as well as being recognized by students through Mortar Board and Pi Beta Phi.

Dr. Fowler received her Ph.D. in 1991 at Texas Tech University in Family and Consumer Sciences Education.

Dr. Tanja Karp 
Associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.

Dr. Karp has over 15 years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the fields of signals and systems, digital signal processing, communications systems, information theory and coding, and introduction to engineering and computer programming. 

Dr. Karp has played an instrumental role in TTU’s K-12 engineering outreach geared at attracting more and better qualified students into engineering careers and increasing the retention of engineering undergraduate students.

Dr. Karp was recognized for her accomplishments nationally being named as one of 100 Inspiring Women in STEM by INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine in 2015, and receiving IEEE/Hewlett Packard Harriett B. Rigas Award, which recognizes an outstanding woman engineering educator in electrical and computer engineering.  Additionally, she has received numerous awards at Texas Tech, including the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award, named an Integrated Scholar and was a recipient of the Spencer A. Wells Creativity in Teaching Award.

Dr. Karp received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Hamburg University of Technology, Germany, in 1993 and 1997, respectively.

Those recognized at Texas Tech University for research excellence were:

Dr. Brian Ancell 
Assistant professor for the atmospheric science group in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Joining Texas Tech University in 2010, Dr. Ancell’s research focuses on the simulation and predictability of the atmosphere, and many of his projects involve the understanding of the specific mechanisms through which chaos reduces the quality of forecasts of high-impact features such as severe thunderstorms and wind power. Dr. Ancell maintains a regional, high-resolution atmospheric prediction system that provides valuable guidance to the National Weather Service and is being commercialized toward use in the agricultural, alternative energy, and transportation sectors.

Through a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, Dr. Ancell also studies inadvertent weather modification, for which he is attempting to understand how changes made to the atmosphere through human activities such as irrigation, urban development, and wind farms evolve downstream to produce nonlocal changes to our weather. 

Dr. Ancell has acquired nearly two million dollars in principal investigator-led research grants and also serves as an Editor for the American Meteorological Society journal Weather and Forecasting. Dr. Ancell obtained his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe 
Associate professor of political science in the College of Arts & Sciences. She also serves as Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of the Interior’s South-Central Climate Science Center.

Dr. Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist whose research focuses on developing and applying high-resolution climate projections to understand what climate change means for people and the natural environment. In 2014, her outreach work was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary "The Years of Living Dangerously," awarded the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize, and led to Dr. Hayhoe being named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People and the Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers. In December 2015, Dr. Hayhoe participated in the conference of the Parties in Paris that addressed global warming. Dr. Hayhoe has served as a lead author for the Second and Third U.S. National Climate Assessments, and has conducted climate impact assessments for a broad cross-section of organizations, cities and regions, from Boston Logan Airport to the state of California.

Her work has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed publications that evaluate global climate model performance, develop and compare downscaling approaches, and quantify the impacts of climate change on cities, states, ecosystems, and sectors over the coming century.  Dr. Hayhoe has a B.S. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Ranadip Pal 
Associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering

His research focus is in the areas of computational biology, stochastic modeling and control and genomic signal processing.  Dr. Pal’s research has been cited more than 1000 times and his research group was the top performer in the NCI-DREAM drug sensitivity prediction challenge, which studied the connection between molecular measurements and cellular drug response in relation to precision medicine.

Dr. Pal has published more than 33 refereed journal articles including articles in high impact journals such as Nature Medicine and Cancer Cell. His research has been funded by NSF and NIH including a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Pal received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in 2002 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M University in 2004 and 2007 respectively.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

TTUHSC Chancellor's Council Faculty WinnersChancellor Robert L. Duncan, left, stands with recipients, left to right, Kumuda Das,  Melinda Diane Corwin, Alyce Ashcraft, Craig Cox and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President Tedd Mitchell. 

Those recognized for teaching excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center were:

Dr. Melinda Diane Corwin 
Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences of the School of Health Professions. She also serves as program director for the undergraduate program in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Co-Program Director for the Ph.D. Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Dr. Corwin has received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Student Government Association on 13 different occasions, and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President’s Excellence in Teaching Award twice. 

She draws on her broad experience to assist students to translate theory into clinical practice. She is a dynamic, thoughtful and caring clinician who is respectful of the diverse learning needs of her students.

Most notable of Dr. Corwin’s clinical achievements is the establishment of the Stroke/Aphasia Recovery (or STAR) Program, which is a community outreach program for stroke survivors with aphasia and their caregivers.  Dr. Corwin earned her undergraduate, master’s degree, and doctorate from Texas Tech University.

Dr. Craig D. Cox 
Associate professor of pharmacy practice and vice chair of experiential programs in the School of Pharmacy. He provides clinical pharmacy services on the adult medicine ward at University Medical Center where he has provided 6-week rotation experiences to more than 250 students and residents.

Dr. Cox has received more than 20 teaching awards in his 15-year career at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and is one of the foremost clinical pharmacy faculty members of the School in student, resident, preceptor and clinical partner surveys. 

In addition, Dr. Cox also recently received an honorable mention for a National Innovations in Teaching competition for his novel “Mini-Series” movie teaching concept, which over four years has grown beyond the School of Pharmacy to include all schools at TTUHSC.  He is referred to as “Mr. Hollywood” for the ingenuity and vision he brought to the preceptor training videos. 

Dr. Cox received his Pharm.D. from Washington State University in 1999 and then completed a Critical Care Specialty Residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy in Amarillo in 2000.

Those recognized for research excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center were:

Dr. Alyce S. Ashcraft 
Associate dean for research in the School of Nursing, a distinguished university professor, and a recipient of the Glenna Roberts Endowed Practiceship in Gerontological Nursing.

Dr. Ashcraft was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009. She is nationally recognized program of research focuses on the importance of effective communication of long-term care, residents’ signs and symptoms by nursing personnel to physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants in an effort to prevent transfer to the hospital.

She has also been involved with Project FRONTIER, examining the relationships between end-of-life (EOL) planning and demographic and health related variables for individuals living in three rural West Texas counties.

Dr. Ashcraft obtained her Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Kumuda C. Das 
Professor and director of research in the Department of Anesthesiology, and the director for the Center for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research. 

His research areas include the study of heart failure and the development of protective or curative therapy against heart damage; the study of high blood pressure in the elderly and the development of protein drugs to lower blood pressure; understanding the mechanism of heart and lung injury due to high oxygen exposure and the development of specific therapies to protect the lungs and heart during oxygen therapy; and understanding the role of volatile anesthesia in oxygen-mediated lung and heart injury. 

Dr. Das has written numerous peer-reviewed publications, secured three ROI grants with a total of $5 million in research grants from the National Institute of Health, and developed two patents to treat lung disease and hypertension.

Dr. Das earned his Ph.D. in Veterinary Medical Science from Virginia Tech University in 1992.

Angelo State University

Angelo State Chancellor's Council Faculty WinnersChancellor Robert L. Duncan, left, stands with recipients, left to right, Bruce E. Bechtol Jr., James A. Ward and Angelo State University President Brian May. 

Recognized for teaching excellence at Angelo State University was:

Dr. James W. Ward 
Assistant professor of geology in the Department of Physics and Geosciences.

Dr. Ward’s current interests are in Hydrogeology and Geochemistry of natural waters of West Texas. Dr. Ward has several research students working on a variety of hydrogeology related projects from urban contaminant hydrology to advanced geochemical modeling of West Texas aquifers. He is avid husband, father, family man, and then a hydrogeologist.

Dr. Ward received his B.S. and M.S. in Geology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine in 2001 and 2004, respectively. Dr. Ward earned his Ph.D. in Geology in 2008 from the University of Kentucky.

Recognized for research excellence at Angelo State University was:

Dr. Bruce E. Bechtol, Jr. 
Professor of political science and a retired Marine.

Prior to joining academe, Dr. Bechtol was an intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, eventually serving as the senior intelligence analyst for Northeast Asia in the Intelligence Directorate (J2) on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon.

He currently sits on the editorial advisory board of the Korea Observer and the Scientific Board of Global Humanities. He is the president of the International Council on Korean Studies, and serves on the board of directors of the Council on U.S.-Korean Security Studies.

A widely sought after expert on North Korean international security issues, Dr. Bechtol has been called on to present commentary to the BBC, CBC, FOX News, Radio New Zealand, syndicated nationwide radio shows such as POTUS politics on SIRIUS/XM, the John Batchelor show, the Frank Gaffney show, and several interviews on National Public Radio (to name a few). He is the author or editor of 6 books, and has published 34 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Dr. Bechtol received his B.S. in Liberal Studies in 1994 from Excelsior College, his M.A. in International Affairs from Catholic University in 1996, a Master of Military Studies as a Distinguished Graduate in 2001 from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and his Ph.D. in National Security Studies in 2000 from The Union Institute.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

TTUHSC El Paso Chancellor's Council Faculty WinnersChancellor Robert L. Duncan, right, stands with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President Richard Lange, left, and award recipients, left to right, Navkiran Kaur Shokar, Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Debabrata Mukherjee and Zeina Nahleh. 

Recognized for teaching excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso were:

Dr. Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy 
Associate professor of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences while being pivotal in building the school’s program and the driving force behind the school gaining its independent status as a GSBS during the current academic year.

Dr. Lakshmanaswamy was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Research Award in 2014.

He currently directs and teaches four graduate courses, as well as supervises the coordination of other course work. He is the lead organizer for the Summer Accelerated Biomedical Research program, now in its fourth year, which has so far provided mentored laboratory experiences on the TTUHSC El Paso campus for 45 undergraduates with potential career interests in biological sciences and medicine.

Dr. Lakshmanaswamy's contributions to cancer research are reflected in several scientific publications – journals and book chapters – that he has authored or coauthored, and have earned him research funding from different agencies.

Dr. Lakshmanaswamy earned doctoral degree in 1999 from the University of Madras, Chennai, India.

Dr. Debabrata Mukherjee 
Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine and program director for the Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship program.

Dr. Mukherjee is instrumental in education at all levels at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. He created the curriculum for the Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center de novo and also developed and coauthored the national policy document for training in ambulatory, consultative, and longitudinal cardiovascular care for Cardiovascular Fellows.

He’s been recognized for his outstanding contribution to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Institutional faculty Mentoring Program; has served on several joint American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology select writing committees that develop national guidelines for the care of various cardiac conditions; has coauthored more than 400 publications and written more than 100 textbook chapters. Since his arrival in El Paso in 2010 he has been an invited speaker at more than 20 different venues.

Dr. Mukherjee completed his Internal Medicine training and fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine and Interventional Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He also completed his Masters in Clinical Research at the University of Michigan and a Certificate in Business Administration at the University of Kentucky Gatton College Of Business.

Recognized for research excellence at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso were:

Dr. Navkiran Kaur Shokar 
Professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the vice chair and professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and director for cancer prevention and control in the Center of Emphasis for Cancer at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Dr. Shokar has developed an innovative series of interconnected research programs that address fundamental issues with regard to screening and early detection for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancers. She has received more than $10 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, and the Lizanell and Colbert Coldwell Foundation, among others.

Dr. Shokar serves on national and international committees related to primary care research and cancer prevention, and is a deputy editor of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In the past two years, she has published 12 peer-reviewed original research articles Dr. Shokar obtained her M.A. from Cambridge University Medical School in 1989; her M.D. from Oxford University Medical School in 1992; and her M.P.H. from University of Texas School of Public Health in 2003.

Dr. Zeina Nahleh 
Professor of medicine and biomedical sciences, and chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Dr. Nahleh is a national principal investigator in the largest NCI-supported national oncology group and is the study chair and national PI on a randomized clinical trial in locally advanced and inflammatory breast cancer that recently completed the accrual of 215 patients nationwide.

Her research also focuses on innovative treatments of cancer and improving the quality of life of cancer patients. She has established a much needed Cancer Clinical Research Core Facility in El Paso with the aid of a $1.5 million dollar Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) grant. In the last two year, more than 24 IRB approved cancer research protocols were activated, and included 2011 cancer patients. She has conducted research on the hereditary genetic mutations causing cancers in Hispanic/Latinas patients with breast cancer, and established national collaboration in this field, and published her research in major scientific journals.

Dr. Nahleh has authored over 50 articles and book chapters in the field of cancer and breast cancer research. She has presented in major national and international cancer meetings and serves on the editorial board of numerous-renowned medical journals.

Dr. Nahleh completed residencies at American University of Beirut, Lebanon and George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Hematology-Oncology Fellowship at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She is double board certified in Hematology as well as Oncology.

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in Texas and the nation, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at more than a dozen academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System has an annual operating budget of nearly $2 billion and approximately 19,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach. 

In 2015, the TTU System’s endowment exceeded $1.1 billion, total research expenditures were more than $215 million and total enrollment was approximately 50,000 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-related institution at the same location, the TTU System continues to prove that anything is possible.