Faculty News

Dr. Kenneth R. Summy has Deceased

Dr. Kenneth R. Summy has Deceased

      Dr. Kenneth R. Summy died Saturday June 30, 2018. He was a retired Professor in the Department of Biology. Dr. Summy worked with the USDA for many years and had been employed at the Research Station in Weslaco, Texas prior to coming to work at the Biology Department at UTRGV. Dr. Summy taught courses in entomology, remote sensing, and biological writing. Indeed, he recently wrote a textbook in Biological Writing; the proceeds of which he assigned  to support programs in the Biology Department. 

     Dr. Summy was an excellent teacher and mentor of graduate students. He always had students working with him each semester. He was known for his willingness to spend time mentoring his graduate students in the field and in the laboratory. 

     Dr. Summy was recognized as an outstanding research scientist and he  served as editor of the Journal of Subtropical Agriculture and Environments for several years. He served as reviewer for many  journals. Most importantly he was a kind and helpful person. He was always willing to drop whatever he was doing to help a colleague. He will be sorely missed.

     Here is the official invitation for Rod Summy’s memorial get together.
It is Saturday July 28th at 1:30 to 4:00 pm at the Valley Nature Center.


US Patent Issued to Thomas Eubanks

US Patent Issued to Thomas Eubanks

Patient-Initiated Automatic Control of Neural Tissue (US 10118039) 

 

A patient-initiated automatic neural tissue control system and methods of providing patient-initiated automatic control of neural tissues are disclosed. The patient-initiated automatic neural tissue control system and methods allow for patient-defined internal initiation of motor control, by initiation of the controlling signals in the contralateral motor area the patient controls (e.g., previously damaged motor areas). The patient-initiated automatic neural tissue control system and methods involve brain signals that initiate from patient-defined motor actions from the contralateral motor area of the patient's brain which stimulates brain areas near the damaged brain areas. The brain areas stimulated near the damaged brain area include brain areas adjacent to the damaged brain area and brain areas below the damaged brain area.

New Chairperson Appointed

New Chairperson Appointed

Dr. Kristine Lowe, professor, has been appointed as the Interim Chair for the Department of Biology. We congratulate her and wish her success in the administration and leadership of our Department.

Dr. Fred Zaidan's New Position

Dr. Fred Zaidan's New Position

Dr. Fred Zaidan, professor, served as a Chair of the Biology Department for more than five years.  He has been recently appointed as an Associate Dean for Student Success.  We appreciate his efforts for maintaining excellence in our department, and wish him success in his new position.

Excellence Teaching Award goes to Dr. Megan Keniry

Excellence Teaching Award goes to Dr. Megan Keniry

During the 2018 College of Sciences Annual Research Conference held on April 13, 2018, Dr. Megan Keniry received the College Award for Excellence in the category of Teaching.  Dr. Keniry is well known to actively integrate teaching and research methods to her students.  We congratulate her for this outstanding achievement.


Biology Faculty

 Faculty members of the Biology Department displaying their awards.

Dr. Teresa Patricia Feria Received Excellence Award

Dr. Teresa Patricia Feria Received Excellence Award

During the 2018 College of Sciences Annual Research Conference held on April 13, 2018, Dr. Teresa P. Feria received the College Award for Excellence in Community Engagement.  We congratulate her for this outstanding achievement.

Dr. Luis Materon Receives Award

Dr. Luis Materon Receives Award

The Executive Vice-President's Appreciation Award was presented to Dr. Luis Materon for his Leadership in Program Development in the College of Science.  Dr. Materon recently chaired a cluster search committee and was instrumental in the creation of the College website.

Dr. Mirayda Torres Avila Recognized for Leadership in Community Learning Exchange Scholarship

Dr. Mirayda Torres Avila Recognized for Leadership in Community Learning Exchange Scholarship

As part of the College of Science Annual Conference, faculty members were recognized for their engagement developing community learning exchange courses. The college of science has selected several faculties to offer courses in collaboration with three different community organizations such as ARISE, LUPE, and UNIDOS. Drs. Patricia Feria and Mirayda Torres-Avila have collaborated during this semester with other faculty members from the college of science and community leader to develop courses that will help with the problems that confront our Rio Grande Valley communities.These courses are designed interdisciplinary in collaboration with faculties with different expertise. The students taking this course will be able to apply the scientific knowledge to help the community. Dr. Feria's class will be working at San Carlos Community Center and Dr. Torres-Avila's class will be involved with the LUPE Center in San Juan, TX. These courses will be offered next year.  

Dr. Mohammed Farooqui appointed Interim Dean of the College of Sciences

Dr. Mohammed Farooqui appointed Interim Dean of the College of Sciences

Dr. Mohammed Farooqui has been appointed as Interim Dean for the College of Sciences. Dr. Farooqui completed his PhD in Entomology at the University of Illinois. His research portfolio includes being Principal Investigator on various NIH grants, a contributor in other research projects, and serving as program director and mentor on numerous occasions. He has significant administrative experience, including his current appointment as Associate Dean for the College of Sciences. He also served, for over 10 years, as Chair of the Department of Biology. Moreover, his dedication to our students and teaching is reflected by several awards recognizing his excellence in teaching.

Dr. Farooqui has the knowledge and experience to be an effective leader of the College. We are confident he will continue to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, and administration to ensure the success of our students

Letter from Dr. Parwinder Grewal

Letter from Dr. Parwinder Grewal

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

As I assume my new role as the Executive Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies and New Program Development this week, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our journey and thank you for working with me during the past three years in the College of Sciences.  it has been extremely rewarding and enjoyable to work with you all.  We made tremendous progress on many fronts in this short period of time.  

In addition to developing/establishing policies, processes and procedures to bring our legacy institutions together, over $45M in funding, and many publications in high impact journals, we developed four BS (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Marine Biology; Statistics; and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems) and three new MS (Agricultural, Environmental & Sustainability Sciences; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; and Ocean, Coastal & Marine Sciences) programs during the past three years.  We also developed three new successful planning authority proposals for doctoral programs (Cellular, Molecular & Biomedical Sciences, Mathematical & Statistical Sciences with Interdisciplinary Applications; and Physics).  Additionally, three new MS (Actuarial Science; Applied Statistics & Data Science; and Space Science Technology & Commercialization) and three new planning authority proposals for doctoral  degree programs (Applied Materials and Interfaces; Ocean, Coastal and Marine Sciences; and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Science) are currently under development.  We also established three new interdisciplinary Research Centers (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Advancement; Center for Vector Borne Diseases; and Center for Urban Ecology).  Summarized this way, I cannot even believe we accomplished all this in three years.  So I thank you for your hard work in creating these exciting educational and research opportunities for our students!  Please share these opportunities with our students and disseminate them locally, nationally, and internationally to recruit outstanding students and faculty.    

Thank you again for your dedication and passion for our students and communities.  I look forward to continue to partner with you in my new role in nurturing these and other new and cutting edge programs to build UTRGV as an eminent institution renowned for innovation and high impact discoveries for student, faculty, staff and community success!  

Best wishes, 
Parwinder

Rising Star

Rising Star

Dr. Rupesh Kariyat, a recent hire in the department received the UT System Rising Star award.  The award comes with $300,000 grant for the purchase of equipments for research.  Dr. Kariyat works in the field of insect-plant ecology focusing on herbivores and pollinators.

To our new colleagues

To our new colleagues

To our new colleagues,

It's rare to have the opportunity to shape a university.

Most universities are decades, if not centuries, old. They have well established traditions, cultures, and ways of doing things. While being part of an academic tradition has its advantages, there can be a sense that you are a replaceable cog in a machine that was more or less the same before you came, and will be the same after you leave.

At UTRGV, you have an opportunity to create traditions and culture. As an institution and department, we are still finding our way. We are still trying to work out what will be our strengths, what will we be known for, and what we want to become.

We are glad to have you as part of our team that will be shaping this department.

New species of South Texas scrubsnail found

New species of South Texas scrubsnail found

June 16, 2017

In this article we describe a new species of scrub snail, Praticolella salina Perez & Ruiz 2017 found only in coastal Cameron County including South Padre Island. We used DNA data, anatomical data, shell characteristics, and habitat characteristics to distinguish it from other closely related species. Previous snail workers had known of this population but had confused it with other species some native and some not native to Texas. UTRGV undergraduates Eli Ruiz and Marco Martinez Cruz contributed to the project with Eli especially taking the largest role reflected in his name being included in the species authority. 

Dr. Anxiu Kuang

Dr. Anxiu Kuang

Dr. Anxiu Kuang, professor of electron microscopy and plant sciences in our department has died in a recent tragic car accident.  We extend our deepest condolences to her family.

Diana Womble

Diana Womble

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Diana Womble has taken her last breath in Weslaco.  She had been residing at Aurora House Hospice for the past few months while putting up a strong fight against her battle with brain cancer.  She will be missed by those of us who worked closely with her.  Please keep her family in your prayers.  

Diana was in the process of obtaining her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts (MFA).The Art Department will be working with her family to put on the art show and have a memorial service at that time.

Annual Chili Competition Event

Annual Chili Competition Event

A successful display of items of biological interest were exhibited on Oct. 8, 2016 in the Science Building.  Approximately 2,000 visitors attended and interacted with exhibitors.  Among exhibitors were professors, health specialists, medical doctors, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff. There were displays of biological interests such as animals (snakes, camaleons, oysters, etc), plants, microbes, cells.  In addition, two large rooms were dedicated to anatomy displays with tables with brochures for prevention of STD's, diabetes, breast cancer and other forms of cancer that were presented by experts in the field. The Department of Biology is grateful to all of those who organized and participated in this important annual event.

See panoramic views                         See photos

Student Wins First Place Award in an International Conference

Student Wins First Place Award in an International Conference

Brenda Hernandez-Barron, an undergraduate student supervised by Dr. Christopher Vitek, received a first place award for the undergraduate poster competition at the recent International Congress of Entomology (ICE) conference held in Orlando, Florida, from September 25 to 30.  The poster was titled “Zika Virus Infection and Dissemination within South Texas Mosquito Vectors”.  The work detailed results from a preliminary research effort to examine infection by Zika virus in vectors from the region.  ICE is held once every four years, and draws thousands of entomologists from around the world.

Retirement of Dr. Kenneth R. Summy

Retirement of Dr. Kenneth R. Summy

Dr. Kenneth R. Summy is retiring in May 2016. He came to UTRGV in 2000 after spending 21 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Weslaco, Texas as a Research Entomologist.. Dr. Summy holds 3 degrees: a B.S. in Biology from Stephen F. Austin State University, a MS in Entomology from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in Entomology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Summy had 70 publications in his years with the U.S.D.A.

Dr. Summy taught 11 different courses during his 16 years at UTRGV (4 graduate and 7 undergraduate). He served as Chairman of 11 graduate student MS committees during his tenure at UTRGV. Dr. Summy has been a productive scholar throughout his career. He has a total of 106 publications and he currently has a textbook titled “Effective Speaking and Writing Techniques” in Press at Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Dr. Summy has made arrangements for royalty monies to be transferred to the Biology Department at UTRGV. Dr. Summy held 9 grants during his years at UTRGV and he produced 36 publications (not counting the book in press). Dr. Summy was a most congenial colleague. He was an excellent role model for both new and experienced colleagues. He will be sorely missed.

Article on Evolution

Article on Evolution

A recent paper published by Kathryn Perez and colleague Rebecca Price was featured in the Research In Other Journals section of Science magazine. Drawing on their experience developing concept inventories on evolutionary mechanisms, Price and Perez propose that an over-emphasis on teaching natural selection impedes student understanding of additional evolutionary mechanisms.

Price, R.M., K.E. Perez (co-first authored). 2016. Beyond the Adaptationist Legacy: Updating Evolution Education to Include a Diversity of Evolutionary Mechanisms. The American Biology Teacher 78(2):101-108. DOI: 10.1525/abt.2016.78.2.101. Reviewed in Science 15 Apr 2016: Vol. 352, Issue 6283, pp. 305-306.

Award from the Texas Academy of Science

Award from the Texas Academy of Science

Biology major Victoria Garcia Gamboa received the Best Poster presentation award for the Systematics and Evolutionary Biology Section of the Texas Academy of Science at their annual meeting in Junction Texas, March 3-6, 2016. Her research presentation was titled: “Identification of a newly discovered population of apple snails (Ampullariidae) in the Rio Grande Valley." Her research is co-authored with myself and Dr. Romi Burks, Southwestern University.