Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, introduces
the engineering and biology team.
Texas Tech today (Jan. 27) announced the first cohort of faculty members named to
the Transdisciplinary Research Academy.
The academy is designed to bring faculty members with diverse interests and from
different disciplines together to explore questions that have a global impact and
intersect with the strategic research themes of the university.
“The goal of the academy is to bring together teams of faculty who have diverse expertise
and interests, and I believe the first members do that,” said Taylor Eighmy, Texas Tech vice president for research. “In these first academy members we see
combinations of expertise that should produce big-picture thinking and novel solutions
to global issues.”
The 34 academy members form nine teams that are expected to generate new research
projects for potential funding, write white papers for agencies and foundations or
develop curricula or programs that produce interaction across academic disciplines.
“Texas Tech is fortunate to have a broad array of research expertise,” said Guy Bailey, Texas Tech president. “The future of research is transdisciplinary. By combining
our strengths from across different disciplines we bring new, innovative ideas to
solve some of the most pressing issues facing society.”
The first academy team members and project areas are:
- Engineering and Biology – Siva Vanapalli and Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, Whitacre College of Engineering
and Kendra Rumbaugh, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The team
is working on development of innovative research projects at the intersection
of medical sciences, biology, engineering and physics.
- Law and Society – Hans Hansen, Rawls College of Business Administration; Patrick Metze, School
of Law and Jill Patterson, College of Arts and Sciences. Through the Center
for Social Impact, the team will provide an informed voice for those who have
been marginalized by politics, stereotypes or poor ethics.
- Food, Health, Cancer – Conrad Lyford and Erica Irlbeck, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural
Resources; Barbara Pence, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Barent
McCool, College of Human Sciences. The overall research interest of this team
is in the effective delivery and marketing of food and health products from
both public and private perspectives.
- Technology and Aesthetics – William Westney, College of Visual and Performing Arts; Michael O’Boyle,
College of Human Sciences and James Yang, Whitacre College of Engineering. This
project integrates the fields of artistic performance, pedagogy, advanced technology
and philosophy and will seeks to ascertain whether or to what extent, approaches
that have seemed like potential “best practices” can now be verified by scientific
- Illiteracy, Education and Community Development in Sierra Leone – Amy Parker and Amma Akrofi, College of Education and Kelly Phelan, College
of Human Sciences. The project seeks to address the problems that industries
such as petroleum, mining, hospitality and healthcare/health education have
in hiring Sierra Leonean young adults by addressing the needs for contextually
based “literacy on the job” training.
- Water Cycles and Resources Science – Richard Zartman, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources;
Juske Horita, College of Arts and Sciences and Ken Rainwater, Whitacre College
of Engineering. The goal of the team is to advance the scientific understanding
of the water-energy cycle within the atmosphere-surface-subsurface continuum
on a regional scale in the Southern High Plains.
- Environmental Impact on Developmental Issues in Plants – David Knaff, College of Arts and Sciences; Rao Kottapalli, Susan San Francisco,
Jatindra Tripathy and Masoud Zabet, the Center for Biotechnology and Genomics; and
Paxton Payton of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal of the group is to develop
a model for integrating multiple layers of molecular, cellular and physiologic information
to better understand these relationships as they relate to environmental and developmental
challenges in biological systems.
- Symbiosis and Environment – Christopher Witmore, Bruce Clarke and Laura Beard, all of the College of Arts and
Sciences. This proposal is to open a broad conversation concerning symbiotic
relationships over the long term, with an emphasis on questions of microbial ecology
and exchange, as they affect issues of companionship, nutrition and livelihood, and
- Food Safety and Public Health – Todd Brashears, Mindy Brashears, Mark Miller, Chance Brooks, Guy Loneragan
and Kendra Nightingale, all of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural
Resources. This team works with the food industry, food producers, consumers
and international partners to provide the world with a safer food supply.
Faculty members were nominated by their college deans and screened by a committee
of deans, associate deans, Horn professors, faculty and members of the Office of
the Vice President for Research staff.