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UNT briefs

UNT guest speaker to discuss immigration of Jews to Israel

UNT will present a lecture called “Immigration and Israel’s Multicultural Mosaic” by Larissa Remennick, a sociology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Silver Eagle Suite of the University Union, 1155 Union Circle.

The lecture is presented by the UNT Department of Sociology and Jewish studies program, and co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and North Texas Hillel.

For more information, contact UNT sociology professor Gabe Ignatow at 940-565-3616 or


UNT students win big at international wind energy competition

UNT graduate students Joseph Koruth and Carlos Pena-Sanchez beat out students from other universities at the Winnovation case competition in Aarhus, Denmark, on Feb. 3.

The students were members of the first-place and runner-up teams in the competition, which is sponsored by wind energy company Vestas and challenges graduate students to develop out-of-the-box ways to reduce the cost and improve the quality of wind energy.

Pena-Sanchez was part of the winning team and won a cash prize to be used on airfare for an around-the-world trip, which he plans to use to fund his honeymoon later this spring. Koruth was a member of the runner-up team and won an assortment of prizes.

UNT and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Zaragoza were the only universities to have two students make it to the final round of competition.

Koruth and Pena-Sanchez submitted a solution to the competition in November, and in December they were notified that they were among the 27 finalists selected to make the all-expenses-paid trip to Denmark to participate in the Winnovation finals. Finalists were selected from a pool of hundreds of students from more than 40 countries based on the innovation and viability of their solutions.

Once they arrived at Vestas’ research and development headquarters in Aarhus, they were put on separate teams for the remaining stages of the competition.

Both students are pursuing master’s degrees from the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering. Koruth completed his undergraduate degree in India and Pena-Sanchez completed his in Puerto Rico.

Both students are conducting research on air pollution in Texas for their master’s theses.


UNT to host NEH Regional Conference on application writing

UNT will host the National Endowment for the Humanities Regional Conference next week.

Tuesday’s one-day application-writing workshop is planned for about 70 college faculty members, school teachers and administrators, and directors of historical societies and museums who are seeking to obtain NEH grants.

It will feature Dr. Russell Wyland, deputy director of the Division of Research Programs for NEH, as guest speaker. UNT was chosen to host the first NEH conference in the North Texas region in 14 years.

The event is from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday in Rooms 43 and 47 of UNT’s Gateway Center, on North Texas Boulevard between Eagle Drive and Highland Street.

For more information, call Denise Simmons at 940-565-3940 or Lacy Fenn at 940-565-4830.


UNT program creates opportunities through corporate partnerships

The Professional Leadership Program at UNT is expanding its corporate mentor partnerships, helping UNT students become more competitive in the job market.

The program, founded in 1994, is a cooperative effort between UNT’s College of Business and corporate partners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The program, which is open to all UNT students, aims to expose students to skills needed to be competitive in the workforce, such as resume building, business etiquette and salary negotiation techniques.

The program is approaching 100 mentors representing companies in various industries, including Fidelity Investments, Wells Fargo Capital Finance, Marriott International, Crane Worldwide, BNSF Railway, Capital One, Kimberly-Clark, Neiman Marcus, Ethan Allen Interiors and Frito-Lay.

Each student in the program is connected to a corporate mentor, whom the student can shadow at networking events and business meetings.

Students in the program must commit a full academic year and five to six hours per month to program events. The program includes weekly mandatory and elective programs to develop professional skills, and monthly meetings with mentors.


UNT physics researchers working to advance infrared technology

Engineering professor Chris Littler and A.J. Syllaios, a senior engineering fellow at L-3 Communications and a half-time research professor at UNT, have received two grants totaling more than $1 million to investigate how changes in temperature and other properties affect the electrical conductivity of thin wafers of amorphous silicon used in thermal imaging.

Amorphous silicon, the noncrystalline allotropic form of silicon, has been used in thermal cameras for the last five to 10 years. The films of silicon are cheaper to produce than previously used materials, and can detect rapid changes in temperature better. Thermal imaging has military, law enforcement, industrial and medical applications.

Littler and Syllaios are using nearly $300,000 from the Army Research Office and $710,000 from L-3 Communications to see how small changes to the chemistry of amorphous silicon could improve the conductivity of the material. L-3 is providing samples of amorphous silicon with slight chemical differences. The properties of each sample will be measured using a variety of tests.

The research team is about halfway through its Army grant and has obtained some promising results. The L-3 grant does not have a set time frame and can continue as long as the partnership is beneficial to both parties.


UNT Libraries acquire historic publication focusing on equality for black students, teachers in Texas

The Texas Standard, a publication recently placed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History, provides information on how members of the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas worked to bring quality education to black children and helped teachers gain equality in salaries and working conditions with their white peers. The Standard, the association’s official publication, was first issued in 1922.

The digitization of 98 issues of the Standard is a result of the UNT Libraries’ partnership with Prairie View A&M University, which had the issues on microfiche. A donation from the estate of retired educator Alyce Steele Specht funded the digitization to honor Hazel Harvey Peace, the longtime editor of the Standard.

Peace taught at Fort Worth’s I.M. Terrill High School from 1923 to 1972. Specht was introduced to her through her daughter Melody Kelly, associate dean emeritus of the UNT Libraries.

Kelly conducted an oral history project with Peace for the 2001 capital campaign of UNT’s School of Library and Information, now the College of Information. One of the goals of the campaign was to establish the Hazel Harvey Peace Professorship in Children’s Library Services.

The 98 issues on the Portal to Texas History were published between 1933 and 1966.

In August 1966, members voted to dissolve the association because racial restrictions had been removed from the membership of the Texas State Teachers Association. The Colored Teachers State Association had achieved its goal of guaranteed equality of teacher salaries five years before, when a state regulation established a minimum starting salary for all teachers and increases above the minimum for years of experience.


UNT’s Business Leadership Building receives gold LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the Business Leadership Building at UNT Gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The Business Leadership Building is the third LEED certified building at UNT. In 2011, the Life Sciences Complex received gold-level certification, and Apogee Stadium became the first platinum-level certified new construction collegiate stadium in the U.S.

The 180,000-square-foot Business Leadership Building, which opened in the fall, features recycling stations, water-efficient plumbing, electricity generated in part by wind power provided by the city, and landscaping with native plants.

The building was constructed on previously developed land, which limited damage to the native surroundings. Recycled materials and other materials found within 500 miles of UNT were used during construction. The building is within a quarter-mile of campus and public bus stops, provides space for more than 140 bicycles, and features shower facilities for cyclists, all helping to reduce transportation pollution.

The building’s landscape features open space equal to the building’s footprint. Hard surfaces surrounding the building are light in color to reflect heat, and the building’s near-white roof reflects significant amounts of sunlight and heat.

In 2008, UNT became Texas’ first large public university to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to adhere to more stringent environmental standards and promising to achieve at least LEED Silver certification on new buildings.


UNT student from Katy wins award from Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Alejandro Garrido, a UNT student from Katy, has received a $2,500 Hispanic Scholarship Fund award. He is the son of Margaret Frank of Katy and is a 2008 graduate of James E. Taylor High School.

The fund’s scholarships are open to students of Hispanic heritage who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and who have completed at least 12 academic hours meeting certain grade-point average requirements.

Garrido is an English and social sciences student in UNT’s Honors College. He also is in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

He is a member of the UNT chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national honor society for English majors, and is a mountain bike racer with the UNT cycling club.

Garrido studied Chinese language and culture at Beijing Foreign Studies University during a study abroad program in the summer of 2010.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree this May, Garrido plans to earn a doctoral degree and teach at a college or university.