Texas Tech University

Faculty, Staff Recognized at Local Celebrity Luncheon

K'Leigh Sims

April 19, 2016


Hosted by the Lubbock chapter of the Association for Women in Communications, four Texas Tech faculty and staff were recognized at the annual luncheon.

Four Texas Tech University faculty and staff were recognized at the annual Celebrity Luncheon Tuesday (April 19), hosted by the Lubbock chapter of the Association for Women in Communications (AWC). The honorees were Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, Rob Weiner, Tom Stone and Chris Cook.

The Celebrity Luncheon is an annual awards ceremony that honors members of the Lubbock and surrounding community who have dedicated their lives to service or brought positive media attention to the community.

Nikhil Dhurandhar
Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar

Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, chairman of the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Human Sciences and the father of the infectobesity movement, was one of five Headliner winners, an award honoring people or groups who have received widespread media attention.

A physician and nutritional biochemist, Dhurandhar has received widespread media attention for his innovative research in obesity treatment and coined the term “infectobesity” to describe obesity of infectious origin.

“We need many partners for successful development and dissemination of scientific knowledge,” Dhurandhar said. “I gratefully recognize the vital role of media and communication in taking our findings to the people. I really appreciate this honor.”

In recent years, Dhurandhar and other researchers received a seven-figure grant from Vital Health Interventions of almost $3 million to research human adenovirus 36, a virus shown to cause obesity that has a protein that could potentially be used as a drug to change the way diabetes is treated.

He has received research funding from the National Institute of Health, American Diabetes Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other nonprofit or commercial funding sources. Dhurandhar also has published more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters and has served as a mentor and adviser for students and postdoctoral fellows.

Rob Weiner
Rob Weiner

Rob Weiner, a pop culture expert from Texas Tech, also received a Headliner award at this year's luncheon due to his knowledge and research of pop culture. Weiner is a humanities librarian and integrated scholar at the Texas Tech Libraries and has been quoted in dozens of national publications discussing movies, TV shows, Hollywood culture and comic books.

“I am truly grateful and honored to win this prestigious award from AWC,” Weiner said. “It takes people who believe your work is worthwhile to put you out there in a positive way. It is not easy to be recognized in our ever-changing transmedia world. I give thanks to Chris Cook and Karin Slyker in the Texas Tech Office of Communications and Marketing, and Kaley Daniel and Julie Barnett in the Texas Tech Libraries Office of Communications and Marketing for their support of my work.”

Weiner teaches classes related to pop culture for the Honors College and has edited or co-edited more than 10 books, written a book about Marvel comics titled “Marvel Graphic Novels: An Annotated Guide” and also has been in a number of films and documentaries.

Tom Stone
Tom Stone

Tom Stone, Texas Tech women's soccer coach, led his team to its first Big 12 Conference Championship title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Beginning his 10th season with the women's soccer team, Stone has helped send numerous players on to play professionally and for national teams. Stone led the 2014 Red Raiders to a Sweet 16 appearance, the best finish for a Texas Tech soccer team in school history.

Stone is the only Texas Tech coach to lead the soccer team to the NCAA Tournament, compiling a .622 winning percentage, the highest of any coach in the program's history.

Chris Cook
Chris Cook

Chris Cook, managing director for Texas Tech's Office of Communications and Marketing and Texas Tech Public Media, won the Mary Ann Edwards Professional Communicator award, which recognizes an individual working in the communications industry whose attention to the creation, management, distribution and consumption of ideas and information makes significant contributions to the disciplines and positively impacted the community.

He has been involved in communications at Texas Tech and Texas Tech Athletics for almost 20 years, coordinating strategic public relations and media efforts for the university president, provost and vice presidents. Serving as the spokesman for Texas Tech, he also is the public information officer for the emergency response team for the university.

“This is a humbling honor and I thank the Association for Women in Communications for recognizing me with this wonderful award,” Cook said. “I am a firm believer that achievement is accomplished as part of a team and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented co-workers who have been instrumental throughout my career.”

Cook became the managing director of Texas Tech Public Broadcasting in 2015 and later created a series titled “Communicators in a Cart,” in which he interviews Texas Tech communicators while driving around campus in the president's golf cart and chatting over coffee.

With his communications career and experience in sports communication, Cook also teaches classes in the College of Media and Communication.

The Association for Women in Communications is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of women across all communications disciplines by recognizing excellence, promoting leadership and positioning its members at the forefront of the ever evolving communications field.

The Lubbock chapter of AWC was founded in 1955 by the late Louise Allen, a widely known journalism instructor at Texas Tech, and provides professional development and networking for members and enhances the lives of local communications students through scholarships.

For more information about the Celebrity Luncheon or the Lubbock chapter of the AWC, visit its website.