Strategic Hires will Help Texas Tech Grow Toward Tier One Status
Officials announced the strategic hirings of seven nationally and internationally known researchers.
Written by John Davis
As Texas Tech continues its journey toward Tier One status, officials announced the strategic hiring of seven nationally and internationally known researchers, who will help grow the university’s research credentials and capabilities.
The new hires include:
- Juske Horita, a senior researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Matt Olson, an associate professor in the Department of Biology and Wildlife at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Bill Resetarits, program director of the population and Community Ecology Cluster in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation
- Yehia Mechref, director of the METACyt Biochemical Analysis center at Indiana University in Bloomington
- Guy Loneragan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at West Texas A&M University
- David M. Richman, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Craig A. Grimes, director of the Center for Solar Nanomaterials at The Pennsylvania State University
Hiring of these researchers is one of the key elements in becoming a Tier One research institute, said President Guy Bailey.
“To reach Tier One status, we cannot take small steps forward. We must make a quantum leap,” Bailey said. “Attracting new, high-profile faculty members is one way we increase not only the caliber of research that Texas Tech can do in the future, but also the quality of education our students can receive here. These seven exceptional researchers will help bridge the gap between where we are today and Tier One status tomorrow.”
About the Hires
Horita is a senior research and development scientist at the Chemical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He also is an adjunct/research professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He specializes in researching geochemistry of light, stable isotopes – specifically isotopes of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. He uses these isotopes to track sources and contamination of groundwater, determine nutrients and growth processes of plants and animals, study chemistry of the atmosphere and determine the evolution of water in saline lakes.
Resetarits is also in the Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. He is a nationally recognized population and community ecologist whose research examines the complex dynamics among environment, species interactions and disturbances from human activities that shape community structure of amphibians and insects in freshwater systems. His research encompasses community dynamics in coastal plain watersheds, impacts of exotic species invasions on river systems and continental scale responses to species interactions and patterns of biodiversity.
Olson, also a researcher at the Institute of Arctic Biology, is a nationally recognized plant genomics researcher who uses plant genome research to conduct the comparative population genomics mapping of adaptation in poplar trees. Species of poplars are economically, ecologically and environmentally important as they are harvested for paper pulp and particle board production, and hold potential for playing important roles in absorbing carbon dioxide, and they grow farther north than any other tree in the United States. His research also centers on determining how ecological and evolutionary forces shape population genetic variation in plants and how plants will respond to future global climate change.
Mechref, also assistant director of the National Center for Glycomics and Glycoproteomics and a senior scientist in the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University, is a nationally known expert in the area of mass spectrometry applied to biological and medical systems. He currently is working on ways to determine the predictors of when normal cells are transformed to cancer cells in the esophagus, to quantify the amount of alteration in small molecules to understand the progression of cancer, and to detect the changes in lipid composition in tissue to detect cancer cells.
Loneragan is an epidemiologist and associate professor at West Texas A&M University. He also serves in adjunct professor or affiliate faculty roles at Colorado State University, Texas Tech University, Kansas State University and Texas A&M University. His research focuses primarily on epidemiological approaches to food safety. He works in particular to fill data gaps concerning pre-harvest ecology and mitigation of E. coli O157, Salmonella and antimicrobial drug resistance. In addition to food safety, Loneragan also works on epidemiological aspects to animal health and wellbeing.
David M. Richman
Richman was an associate professor at the University of Illinois, whose teaching and research focuses on assessment and treatment of behavior disorders such as aggression, property destruction and self-injurious behavior. His current research projects are investigating the effects of early intervention and prevention treatment for birth-to-five children with disabilities exhibiting emerging behavior disorders.
Craig A. Grimes
Grimes, also a professor of electrical engineering, will help broaden Texas Tech’s research into solar and renewable energy. His work in excitonic solar cells and photo catalyzed CO2 reduction to hydrocarbons is at the forefront of engineered photosynthesis, and will enable the university to initiate, sustain and grow one of the world’s leading photovoltaic and photofuels research groups.
Taylor Eighmy, vice president of research, said that through the strategic hiring process, the university will increase its national research visibility.
“Texas Tech is an outstanding university and has a wonderful opportunity to strategically expand externally funded research, promote economic development and further its creative activity,” Eighmy said. “Hiring top-level researchers such as these will ensure Texas Tech’s future credentials as a top public research university.”
“The strategic hirings also have great potential to meet Chancellor Kent Hance and President Bailey’s goals for future development, especially in the areas of enrollment and research productivity to better serve Texas, our nation and global communities,” said Provost Bob Smith.
“I am excited by the prospect of these new faculty members joining Texas Tech’s team,” he said. “In so doing, they and the future researchers we hire will better our abilities in meeting the teaching, research, and outreach mission and goals of this great public research university.”
Achieving Tier One status will have a transformative effect on Texas Tech. It will put Texas Tech into an elite category of universities, providing our students with unmatched educational opportunities. Attaining Tier One status will not only transform Texas Tech University, it will expand the scope of our research to meet the world’s needs and create an economic boom for Lubbock, West Texas and the state.
The journey to Tier One status began in 2009 when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) designated Texas Tech and six other schools as emerging research universities.
For more information, visit www.tier1.ttu.edu