UTSA biochemist Andrew Tsin receives presidential award for mentoring excellence

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UTSA Professor Andrew Tsin

Andrew Tsin, UTSA professor of biochemistry and physiology, is among 17 individuals and organizations selected to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Tsin, the only Texan among the honorees, will receive his award at a White House ceremony later this year.

Awarded by the White House to individuals and organizations, the award recognizes the crucial role of mentoring in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering — particularly those from groups underrepresented in these fields. By offering their expertise and encouragement, mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators reflect and benefit from the diverse talent of the United States.

"Through their commitment to education and innovation, these individuals and organizations are playing a crucial role in the development of our 21st century workforce," said President Barack Obama. “Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude for helping ensure that America remains the global leader in science and engineering for years to come.

Candidates for the award are nominated by colleagues, administrators and students in their home institutions. The mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through graduate school. In addition to being honored at the White House, recipients receive awards of $25,000 from the National Science Foundation to advance their mentoring efforts. The mentors and organizations represent the winners for 2010 and 2011.

"The White House award recognizes Dr. Tsin’s 30 year commitment to effective education and mentoring of underrepresented students," said Perry. "UTSA, specifically the College of Sciences, is fortunate to have his leadership."

Tsin is a nationally recognized biochemist with a 30-year history of mentoring students who are from minority and other underrepresented groups. Under his leadership, more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students have completed their degrees and either continued their education or taken on positions as scientific researchers, physicians or educators.

Additionally, as founding director of the UTSA Center for Research and Training in the Sciences (CRTS), Tsin helped secure more than $52 million in grants to support research and training programs for underrepresented minorities.

"I am elated to learn of this honor for UTSA," said Tsin. "It speaks highly of the outstanding quality of our STEM education and training programs in the College of Sciences."

Read the White House press release: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/15/president-obama-honors-outstanding-science-math-and-engineering-mentor-0

‘The Climate and Weather of Mars’ at this month’s ‘Friday Nights, Celestial Lights’

By Amanda Beck
Senior Communications Specialist

Weather in Texas can be fickle. The season’s first freeze can be followed by near-100 degree temperatures the next day. But what is the weather like in other places, like, say on Mars?

This month’s “Friday Nights, Celestial Lights” event explores the climate and weather of our planet’s close neighbor, Mars. UTSA’s faculty astronomers invite the community to the Main Campus on Friday, Nov. 18 for this free and open to the public family-friendly astronomy event.

The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Science Building Room 2.02.02 on the UTSA Main Campus with a lecture, “The Climate and Weather of Mars.” The lecture will be given by Eric Schlegel, the Vaughan Family Endowed Professor in Physics in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy.

NASA has designated 2011-2012 as the Year of the Solar System, given the number of missions within our solar system that are currently running or set to launch during that time. For our contribution to the activities of that period, the Department of Physics and Astronomy will be reviewing results of past missions, and previewing expectations for those to come.

This month’s and the previous month’s lectures examine Mars in preparation for the launch of NASA’s next mission to the planet, the Mars Roving Laboratory named Curiosity. The presentation will last about 40 minutes.

Immediately after the presentation, weather permitting, attendees will have the opportunity to view the night sky using UTSA’s telescopes including a 15-inch telescope and several 8-inch Cassegrain telescopes. Night viewing will be from the fourth floor patio of the Science Building, which is wheelchair accessible. If the sky is clear, attendees may be able to see the Ring Nebula in Lyra, the double star Albireo, and Jupiter.

UTSA’s monthly “Friday Nights, Celestial Lights” events began in 2009 as a celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei using a telescope to observe the heavens. Generally scheduled for the third Friday night each month, the series is sponsored by the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Reservations to attend the Nov. 18 astronomy event are not required. To learn more, contact Professor Eric Schlegel at 210-458-6425 or lecturer Mark Jurena at 210-458-4922.

 

The UTSA Center for Research and Training in the Sciences hosted Fernando Guerra, former director of San Antonio Metropolitan Health, to speak on “An Overview of Our Community’s Health: A Paradox of Success and Disappointment.”

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UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts National Science Foundation visit

NSF Visit

UTSA Physics Professor Discusses His Nanoparticle Research Utilizing Lasers During a recent NSF site visit.

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy recently hosted representatives from the National Science Foundation and visiting university professors to learn more about the department’s participation as a member of the Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM).

The two-day visit included research and poster presentations by physics faculty members and students as well as tours of UTSA physics laboratories.

UTSA Physics Department Chair Miguel Yacaman introduced the group to “Helenita”, one of the world’s most powerful electron microscopes. The microscope was purchased in January 2010 through the generous support of a $1.2 million gift from the Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.

The JEOL transmission electron microscope is assisting in the development of new cancer therapies and disease treatments by allowing nanotechnology researchers to see samples magnified 20 million times their original size.

Yacaman says the microscope is being used significantly by UTSA faculty and students on campus during the week and on weekends. Additionally, the microscope is being used by faculty members outside the university and researchers in the private sector, for an hourly rate.

While on campus, PREM site visitors also had the opportunity to tour the laboratory of UTSA Physics Professor Dhiraj Sardar who uses lasers for his nanotechnology research.

Sardar was the principal investigator who helped the department acquire a five-year $2.7 million grant in 2009 from the NSF. The grant is designed to help increase the participation of underrepresented minorities and advance the understanding of the fundamental science of nanomaterials. Additonally, the grant enhances the educational outreach programs for high school and junior college students.

The departments’ investments in sophisticated world class high technology equipment and nanotechnology research has been paying dividends as the interest in physics continues to grow.

Since the UTSA doctoral degree program was established in 2005, eight students have earned their Ph.D’s in Physics. Currently 63 students are enrolled in the program, ranking it the fifth largest in Texas.