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Grants Awarded for Research in Biology

two students holding greenery

Drs. Blake Bextine and Cliff Boucher, assistant professors of biology, recently were awarded grants for research. Dr. Bextine received a grant for $114,990 from Texas A&M University’s agriculture program to participate in researching the Pierce’s Disease system, which is the limiting factor of grape production in Texas.

He also received a second year of funding for $65,436 from Frito-Lay and Texas Potato Growers for his work to determine the cause of the Zebra Chip. The newly emerging disease is affecting potato crops in southern United States and Mexico. Dr. Boucher received a two-year primary research grant for $80,000 from the American Lung Association. As primary investigator, he will examine whether the Insulin-Cleaving Metalloproteinase Protein (IcmP) in the gram negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is involved in causing disease. Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis patients and has been associated with respiratory, eye, wound and urinary tract infections in cancer, burn and HIV patients. “With the expansion of the university, we’re gaining more lab and research space, and we’re putting ourselves in a position to do some cutting-edge research,’’ Dr. Boucher said. The expansion “allows data collected, which is the foundation for future research, to be done in-house. This is essential in obtaining these types of grants,’’ he said.

University Highlighted in PBS Documentary

UT Tyler was included in State of Tomorrow™, a PBS documentary examining higher educational involvement in many of today’s critical issues. The 13-episode series highlighted extraordinary work, groundbreaking research and the state's most innovative thinkers who are committed to solving the greatest challenges of the new century. UT Tyler was featured in the episode “Disaster Response,’’ focusing on higher education’s contributions in saving lives during Hurricane Katrina and in comprehensive planning for future natural and intentional disasters. UT Tyler was the site of an American Red Cross shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The PBS episode described how James Miller, while at the UT Tyler shelter, was reunited with his young son from whom he’d been separated during the evacuation process. “We are extremely proud to be a part of such an exceptional documentary, which demonstrates how higher education touches not only the lives of its students but also the nation at large,” said President Rodney Mabry. “The UT Tyler Red Cross shelter gave us the opportunity to provide a helping hand to our neighbors who had suffered so much. Our faculty and students got to use their knowledge and skills to make life a little easier for the victims of Katrina. It was the least that we could do.”

Haas Represents UT Tyler, State in Nation’s Capital

Maggie Hass

While representing UT Tyler as an Archer Fellow in Washington, D.C., senior political science major Maggie Haas also took the opportunity to represent Texas in Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Haas spent the spring semester working in Sen. John Cornyn’s office as a participant in the Bill Archer Fellowship program, established by The University of Texas System to educate Texas’ next generation of leaders. While there, Haas also applied and was selected to represent her state as a cherry blossom princess in the festival, an annual event heralding the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.

Cherry blossom princesses are selected to represent each state, U.S. territory and Washington foreign embassy in various cultural, civic and educational events. Haas, who plans to pursue a career in politics, said her time in Washington was like no other experience in her life. “It was a great experience,’’ she said, “and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.’’

Ingenuity Center Leads the Way

Faculty member and student

The UT Tyler Ingenuity Center conducted summer training for middle and high school teachers to help increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from the education system. Teachers across Texas visited UT Tyler to participate in The Project Lead the Way Summer Training Institute, a statewide program made possible by the Texas Education Agency. The two-week institute provided a collaborative setting for teachers to learn new curriculum and pedagogy to teach courses in pre-engineering and technology. This was the UT Tyler Ingenuity Center’s second year to serve as host to the summer program. The Ingenuity Center develops instructional resources and teacher professional development activities to help middle and high school teachers enhance their skills for technological literacy and innovation education.

Murphree Awarded for Book on Florida History

Dr. Daniel S. Murphree, assistant professor of history, received two awards for his nonfiction book “Constructing Floridians: Natives and Europeans in the Colonial Floridas, 1513-1783.’’ Dr. Murphree was presented the Harry T. and Harriet V. Moore Award by the Florida Historical Society during the society’s 2007 awards ceremony in Clearwater, Fla. The award honors the memory of Harry and Harriet Moore, who were murdered in 1951 because of their civil rights efforts throughout Florida. By exploring the origins of racialization, “Constructing Floridians’’ examines how the peoples of Spain, France, Great Britain and half a dozen Florida tribes forged understandings through their individual and collective ideas and activities. “I am humbled and honored to receive this award,’’ Dr. Murphree said. “I hope the book highlights the continuing value of the Moores’ experiences and the significance of exploring interethnic relationships.’’ The professor also received a silver medal for his book in the 2007 Florida Book Awards Competition coordinated by the Florida State University Program in American and Florida Studies. The annual competition recognizes the best Florida literature published in the previous year.

Delegation Attends National Model UN

Students and faculty at UN

UT Tyler students proposed solutions to global concerns while gaining skills in debate, compromise and conflict resolution at this year’s National Model United Nations Conference in New York City. Accompanied by Drs. Marcus Stadelmann and John R. LeBlanc, associate professors of political science, 13 students served as UT Tyler’s very first delegates to the conference, held in March. They joined about 4,000 students from U.S. and foreign colleges and universities in activities designed to increase their understanding of the history and inner workings of the United Nations. “Students had the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, work on alliances and draft resolutions that could potentially be used by the United Nations in the future,’’ said Dr. Stadelmann, adding that UT Tyler’s participation was “a major success. The goal of passing all UT Tyler’s proposed resolutions was achieved, and this has established the foundation for instituting a very successful Model UN program at UT Tyler,’’ he said. Students participating were Whitney Childers, Verica Elliott, Misti Justice, Danielle Engelhorn, James Curry, Nathan Stiles, Maggie Haas, William Fletcher, Jamie Bitzenhofer, David Brown, Lane Krarup, Jarrett Hill and Michael McGregor.

Swanson Publishes Guide for Improving Work Performance

Dr. Richard A. Swanson, UT Tyler distinguished research professor of human resource development, has published a new book on performance improvement. “Analysis for Improving Performance: Tools for Diagnosing Organizations and Documenting Workplace Expertise’’ deals with a process in which an organization looks to modify its current level of performance in order to achieve a better level of output. Corporations spend millions of dollars each year on this process without including the proper analysis in those performance improvement efforts. “The demand out there for improving performance is so high that the common mistake is to skip the analysis phase and move directly into a solution,” Dr. Swanson said. “This book is designed to provide the tools for doing that crucial upfront analysis.” This second edition to the highly successful 1994 publication is designed as a guide for everyone from corporate decision-makers under pressure to improve their organizations to academics conducting research. A scholar in the field of human resource development, Dr. Swanson was inducted into the HRD Scholar Hall of Fame in 2004. He has been the author or contributing author to numerous books.

Caught in the Draft

Nate Jennings

Brett Amyx

For the first time ever, the UT Tyler baseball team has had players selected to the Major League Draft. Following their national-best 37-1 season, Patriots pitcher Nate Jennings of Granbury and first baseman Brett Amyx of Coppell were chosen in the MLB Draft. Jennings was selected by Toronto in the 15th round, becoming the highest-drafted player ever for the ASC. In the 30th round, Amyx was chosen by the Kansas City Royals. “We’re really excited for those guys,’’ Patriots coach James Vilade said. “They’re both well-deserving of a chance to play pro ball. They’re two players who really dominated their level, and when you do that you earn a chance to play at the next level.’’ The Patriots won the 2007 ASC East Championship and compiled a 37-1 overall record on the season – the best among all NCAA teams in the nation.

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