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Faculty, Staff Honored For Commitment To Research

April 10, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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Those recognized for bringing in significant research funding to SHSU included: Chris Randle, Rebecca Garcia, Ilona Petrikovics, Brian Loft, Cecelia Marquart and Larry Hoover.


Sixty researchers at Sam Houston State University were recognized for their achievements Tuesday (April 10) during the first Sponsored Awards Luncheon hosted by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Researchers brought in approximately $10 million dollars in funding during the 2010-11 year for a variety of projects across the disciplines at the university.

SHSU Provost Jaimie Hebert congratulated the honorees and emphasized that the funding wasn’t only about the money, but was actually more about the university’s reputation.

“The increasing amount of research dollars coming to Sam Houston State University reflects the quality of research we have going on here that is worthy of funding,” he said. “It provides opportunities for our students to receive an education beyond the standard curriculum, and it offers a supportive academic atmosphere so that our faculty can do those things they are passionate about.”

“The researchers at Sam Houston demonstrate the best of the teacher/scholar model,” said SHSU President Dana Gibson. “They are able to conduct their research, yet still bring freshness and enthusiasm to the classroom.”

Special recognition was given to six faculty and staff who have brought in significant research dollars to the university. They include Larry Hoover, criminal justice; Cecelia Marquart, criminal justice; Chris Randle, biological sciences; Ilona Petrikovics, chemistry; Brian Loft, mathematics; and Rebecca Garcia, mathematics.

Hoover joined the faculty of the College of Criminal Justice in 1977. In 1993, he created the Police Research Center, which then developed a computerized comprehensive police information management system called the Criminal Research Information Management and Evaluation System (CRIMES).

Hoover’s interdisciplinary research and development of CRIMES includes Gary Smith from the Department of Computer Science and Criminal Justice Program Manager Jamie Tillerson. Three students, two from computer science and one from criminal justice, currently have research assistantships with the program. A staff of nine systems analysts develop and administer data modules such as: offense reports, computer assisted dispatch, in-car mobile, arrests, bookings, property room management, traffic activity, GPS/GIS integration, crime analysis, operational analysis and personnel and administration. The system is currently being used by 50 agencies through contracts with SHSU that total more than $1 million per year.

Marquart is the project director for the Impaired Driving Initiatives Program at SHSU. The mission of the program is to save lives, prevent traffic injuries, and reduce traffic-related health care and other economic costs by promoting and administering the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (a National Transportation Safety Program), the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement course, the Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals course, and the Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers course. Sam Houston State University is the only entity in the state to offer these training initiatives.

Along with International Association Chiefs of Police representatives and other Drug Recognition Expert state coordinators, Marquart played a key role in updating and revising the current Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals curriculum offered nationally. She serves as the Drug Recognition Expert state coordinator and oversees the Texas statewide training. Her grants consistently bring in between $500,000 and $1 million a year.

Petrikovics is recognized internationally as one of a small group of experts on cyanide and its effects. Both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense have issued grants to her project to conduct research for an antidote that can save the lives of military personnel and civilians in case of a bioterrorism attack. SHSU is the only non-Tier 1 educational institution represented in this research effort. Petrikovics has had more than $1.2 million in funding, and her research has been ongoing since she came to SHSU in 2006.

Her teaching has provided opportunities for approximately 14 to 22 students per year to conduct research in her lab. Many of these students have received support to travel to national and international meetings where they meet top scientists and are able to make personal contacts. Her students have won prestigious national research awards, received invitations to perform summer work at national laboratories, and been accepted in doctoral programs in toxicology at Johns Hopkins and other research-intensive institutions.

Randle is recognized for his work with parasitic plants and was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant for more than $500,000. The grant involves the international collection of parasitic plants in Asia, South America and North America. Randle supports several undergraduates in his research laboratory, which focuses on a lesser-known and diverse lineage of tropical parasitic plants through field studies in diversity “hotspots” on the three continents. The lineage includes parasites that infest crops, resulting in annual worldwide losses worth several billion U.S. dollars. The United States Department of Agriculture currently has no means of differentiating a dangerous parasite from a harmless one.

Randle, through his NSF grant, is investigating the variation in morphology and host preference. The study is being documented with DNA sequence data that is used to assess evolutionary relationships. This framework will be used to create a revised classification system that can lead the project toward providing an important online resource to assist border agents, farmers, and researchers in identifying noxious parasites wherever they occur, whether it is at points of entry into the United States or in their native ranges.

Loft has been awarded multiple grants from several different agencies for research, education or student scholarships. Currently, he and Rebecca Garcia are working on a $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant in collaboration with the University of Hawaii that is focused on providing research experiences for undergraduates, particularly Pacific Islander students. As a result of their work, they have been awarded a supplemental grant for funding graduate student work and miscellaneous expenses by the National Security Agency. Loft previously received a $600,000 NSF grant that provided scholarships to first-generation SHSU students who are part of an interdisciplinary curriculum in biology, mathematics, statistics and geology.

Garcia is known to her colleagues as “a strong role model of a good researcher;” however, she is also known as a supporter and encourager of both undergraduate and graduate students, particularly female students, in mathematics. Her graduate algebra class grew from one female to five in three years. In 2010, of the 25 graduate students in the math department, 10 were women. Garcia’s efforts, along with other female faculty in math, have been credited with the dramatic increase.

Other faculty and staff recognized included, from the College of Business Administration - Robert Barragan; from the College of Criminal Justice – Gaylene Armstrong, Jeffrey Bouffard, Douglas Dretke, Kathleen Fox, Charles Friel, Sarah Kerrigan, William King, Kristi Kreier, Phillip Lyons, Holly Miller, Rita Watkins, David Webb, Vincent Webb and William Wells.

From the College of Education – Bill Edgington, Stacey Edmonson, James Hynes, Beverly Irby, Daphne Johnson, Joyce McCauley, Diana Nabors and Nancy Votteler. From the College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Marcus Boccaccini, Valencia Browning-Keen, Mary Conroy, Robert Cramer, Craig Henderson, Cheryl Hudec, Gene Theodori and Paula Tripp.

From International Programs – Richard Porter; from the College of Sciences – Scott Chapman, Max Coleman, Luis Garcia, Chad Hargrave, John Harris, Douglas Kingman, Kristoff Kovacs, Gan Liang and Qingzhong Liu.

Also, Aaron Lynne, Martin Malandro, Timothy Pannkuk, Matthew Rowe, Michelle Santiago, David Thompson, Jack Turner, Doug Ullrich, Darren Williams, Justin Williams and Faruk Yildiz.

From the Student Advising and Mentoring Center – Bernice Strauss; and from the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies – Sabin Holland.


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