Date: Dec. 9, 2005
CONTACT: Sally Logue Post, sally.post@ttu.edu

LUBBOCK – Four faculty members from Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center today were named recipients of the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards.

“Both of the universities have many outstanding teachers and researchers. These awards highlight the quality of our faculty and reflect our commitment to academic quality,” said David R. Smith, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. “Both institutions have a commitment to quality. The job that these four professors do in educating our students and furthering our research mission is an example of that commitment.”

The Distinguished Teaching Award goes to Dr. Ellen Peffley, professor of horticulture, in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University. Barbara Johnston, R.N., Ph.D., professor and associate dean for graduate programs in the School of Nursing, is the winner at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

At the Health Sciences Center, the Distinguished Research Award goes to Douglas Stocco, Ph.D., professor in the Cell Biology and Biochemistry Department. Dr. James Dickens, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, is the Texas Tech winner.

This is the fifth year for the Chancellor’s Council to present the awards. The winners receive a plaque and a $10,000 cash award. The Chancellor’s Council raises funds to support student scholarships, faculty recruitment and support, and other programs.

Peffley has been recognized for her teaching with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Teaching Award, the Texas Tech President’s excellence in Teaching Award and is a charter member of the Texas Tech Teaching Academy. She has also earned national recognition with the L.C. Chadwick Educator’s Award from the American Society of Horticultural Sciences and the L.M. Ware Distinguished Teacher Award by the Southern Region of the American Society of Horticulture. Peffley is also a key researcher in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, working as part of a multidisciplinary team with NASA to develop sustainable food production systems necessary for extended space exploration. She joined the Texas Tech faculty in 1986.

Johnston is the associate dean for the graduate program in the School of Nursing. She is the winner of the 2005 School of Nusing Excellence in Distance Education Award. Since her arrival in 1998, the graduate enrollment in the School of Nursing has grown from about 40 to more than 150 students. Many graduate courses are taught online and Johnston is responsible for the national recognition that has come to the program. The Graduate Program in Nursing was the only program in the Health Sciences Center to be ranked nationally by U.S. News and World Report. She has been awarded several grants that have enabled the development of additional nurse practitioner and nurse educator programs in online formats. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has acknowledged her distance teaching expertise through invitations to speak at the National Student Nurses Association conventions.

Stocco has received national and international awards for his research on the StAR protein. The StAR protein is a key protein that allows cholesterol to be converted into bioactive hormones that are necessary for reproduction and the maintenance of carbohydrate and salt balance in the body. His discovery has allowed much research into how cholesterol is mobilized and utilized in cells to go forward. Stocco has also received the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President’s Academic Achievement Award, the Dean’s Research Award, the Grover E. Murray Distinguished Professorship, the Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award and the British Endocrine Society Transatlantic Lecture Award. Stocco holds the Robert A. Welch Endowed Chair in Biochemistry and is a University Distinguished Professor.

Dickens’ research fields include pulsed power, power electronics, high power RF generation and high power microwaves. He investigates how very short and powerful bursts of electrical power can contribute toward national defense and space applications. In the six years he has been at Texas Tech, he has received more than $5 million in grants from the Department of Defense and private industry. Dickens, who is associate director of Texas Tech’s Pulsed Power and Power Electronics Center, has won praise nationally for his work. A colleague working for the United State’s Air Force, which has funded Dickens’ work for years, says “Jim’s exceptional efforts have provided for the first time in many years, deep scientific insights.”