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UNT briefs

Summer commencement ceremonies scheduled

About 2,050 students will receive degrees from the University of North Texas this summer. Commencement ceremonies are set for Friday and Saturday in the UNT Coliseum, southeast corner of Highland Street and North Texas Boulevard at 600 Ave. D.

The ceremony for doctoral and master’s degree candidates will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, and undergraduate commencement ceremonies are set for 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday. This summer, 1,370 undergraduate students, 597 master’s students and 83 doctoral students applied for graduation.

Watch the live streaming of the ceremonies at

The undergraduate commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. will feature graduates from: College of Business, College of Education, College of Information and College of Engineering.

The undergraduate ceremony at 1 p.m. will feature graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences

The undergraduate ceremony at 5 p.m. will feature graduates from College of Music, College of Public Affairs and Community Service, College of Visual Arts and Design, Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism and College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism.

Graduates and their guests are invited to commencement receptions from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday for doctoral and master’s degree candidates, and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for undergraduate candidates.

The receptions will be at the UNT Gateway Center Ballroom, located on North Texas Boulevard between Eagle Drive and Highland Street and adjacent to the Coliseum at 801 North Texas Blvd.


Human intuition helps develop electronics

Gayatri Mehta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of North Texas, and her team of student researchers are turning the problem of efficiently mapping electrical components into a web-based computer game.

The game features various series of blocks inlaid on a graph. Players are asked to arrange the blocks more efficiently while adhering to certain constraints.

Mehta and her team have been working to develop the game for about a year, and a beta version is now available at

By visually and mathematically analyzing the graphs of the top scoring players, the team hopes to harvest human intuition and develop new algorithms, or mathematical equations, that will help engineers develop the next generation of cellphones, medical devices and other electronics. The interdisciplinary project is funded by a $499,924 grant from the National Science Foundation.

This summer Mehta has 10 students working on the project, including students from computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering and graphic design. Two of the students, Marc Reisner of John Hopkins University and Natalie Parde of UNT, are participating in UNT’s Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research Program. Two other students, Candace Calhoun of Johnson C. Smith University and Akeem Edwards of Old Dominion University, are participating in the Computing Research Association’s Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

Anil Sistla, a UNT graduate student in electrical engineering, has been working with Mehta since May and enjoys the nontraditional nature of the project.


UNT police seeking CALEA reaccreditation

The UNT Police Department is scheduled for a reaccreditation on-site assessment by an accreditation team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) on Sunday through Aug. 15. 

The accreditation program requires police agencies to comply with state-of-the-art standards in areas that include policy and procedures, organizational management, law enforcement operations and support services. 

As part of the on-site assessment, agency and community members are invited to offer comments at a public information session in Gateway Center Room 41, 801 North Texas Blvd., at 4:30 p.m. Monday. 

Agency and community members are also invited to offer comments by calling the accreditation assessment team at 940-565-3002 from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday.

Comments at the public information session or by telephone are limited to 10 minutes and must address the police department’s ability to comply with the standards developed by CALEA. The standards can be examined at the police department by contacting Lt. David Owen at 940-565-3647. 

Anyone wishing to submit written comments concerning the police department’s ability to comply with the standards for accreditation can send them to: The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320 Gainesville, VA 20155. 


UNT grads to appear on Travel Channel show

UNT graduates Chris and Brooke Traister were selected to appear in a new Travel Channel show. They are scheduled to appear in a Thursday feature episode on Vancouver. The show airs at 9 p.m.

Top Spot is produced by Leopard Films, the production company behind the popular HGTV series House Hunters International. Similar to that show, Top Spot features a different destination in each episode, and a couple or family is taken on tours of three hotels throughout that city. At the end of the 30-minute episode, they must choose their favorite for their upcoming vacation there.

The Traisters answered the casting call by answering questions about why they wanted to go to Vancouver. They wrote about being a newlywed couple, Chris Traister being a die-hard hockey fan and that this would be their first international trip together. Almost immediately, they were contacted by a Leopard Films casting producer, who asked them to submit a video of themselves talking about their upcoming trip.

Approximately one week later, on April 16, they found out they had been selected for the episode, and the next week, on April 25, they flew to Vancouver for four days of filming.

Chris and Brooke Traister are longtime North Texas residents.

Top Spot premiered its initial six-episode run July 12.


Goven named acting dean of arts, sciences

UNT Provost Warren Burggren has named Arthur J. Goven to serve as UNT’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences while Michael Monticino, dean since 2010, serves as interim vice president for advancement and director of development of the UNT Foundation.

Goven, professor and chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences and an active researcher in areas associated with environmental toxicology, immunotoxicology and immunoparasitology, will begin his new duties Monday.

In 2006 Goven served as interim vice president for research. In addition, he has served as faculty executive assistant to the chancellor from 1997 to 2001. He came to the UNT faculty in 1982.

He earned his doctoral degree in immunoparasitology and his master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lynchburg College in Virginia.


Book contract, prizes awarded at conference

UNT alumnus Paul Knight, an assistant editor at Texas Monthly, earned a $3,000 cash prize at the 2012 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference for his manuscript Devil on the Plains: The Epic True Story of an American Warrior on the Western Frontier, in which Knight tells the story of 20-year-old Jack Hays, an early Texas Ranger who helped bury the remains of soldiers at the Alamo, and a band of soldiers who followed him and later led the United States in its invasion of Mexico in the 1840s.

In all, cash prizes for writing competition winners totaled more than $15,000 and were announced at the annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

Sponsors included The Dallas Morning News, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, Ricco Family Partners Ltd., Village Voice Media and The Oklahoman.

A complete list of Mayborn conference winners follows:

Manuscript contest winners:

•  First place, $3,000 — Paul Knight, Devil on the Plains;

•  Second place, $250 — Kathryn Hulings, Explaining Sex While Waiting for a Table at Olive Garden: Adventures in Raising my son who has Down Syndrome;

•  Third place, $250 — Harry Hall, Adah Anderson, Pedestrienne.

Personal essay contest winners:

•  First place, $3,000 — Joanna Cattanach, “Reunited;”

•  Second place, $2,000 — Penne Richards, “Unveiling Hope;”

•  Third place, $1,000 — Moira Muldoon, “The Girl Who Walked Across Fire.”

Research and reporting-based essay winners:

•  First place, $3,000 — Sierra Mendez, “Where the Wild Things are”

•  Second place, $2,000 — Susan Fisher, “Samuel is Teething;”

•  First place, $1,000 — Amanda Griffith, “Child of South Vietnam.”

The 10 best articles and essays submitted are printed in Ten Spurs each year. Ten Spurs is a literary journal that included the six winners of the personal essay and the reporting-based essay categories, along with four others:

•  Evan Moore, “A Cigarette on the Champs-Elysees;”

•  Iris Podolsky, “Red Stilettos;”

•  Pamela Skjolsvik, “Build it and They Will Come;”

•  Benjamin Tompkins, “The Meadows.”


Science student gets NSF Fellowship

Jessica Rimsza, a first-year graduate student at the University of North Texas, recently was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to further her research in materials science and engineering.

Rimsza has been working with Jincheng Du on a project aimed at developing improved materials for semiconductors since arriving at UNT in January. The project is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation.

She plans to use her NSF stipend, which amounts to up to $90,000 over a five-year period, to pursue research on glass-based systems.

Rimsza wanted to be an engineer for a while, but decided to pursue materials science because of the applied nature of the field.

The program is open to students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive up to $30,000 to fund their research for three years out of a five-year period.

They also receive international research and professional development opportunities.


Aschenbrenner earns Founders’ medal

John Aschenbrenner, Ph.D., of Denton received the Founders’ medal during the White Coat ceremony for the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth on July 21.

The Founders’ medal is awarded to a deserving individual in recognition of significant contributions to health care and/or osteopathic medical education in honor of the founders of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Aschenbrenner is adjunct associate professor of cell biology and anatomy at the Health Science Center and has been an integral part of the faculty since 1973.

The White Coat ceremony is a time-honored tradition that began in 1978.

During the ceremony, new students are “cloaked” with their first white coats, symbolizing the mantle of responsibility, and take a professional oath, publicly acknowledging their willingness to assume the obligations of their chosen profession.

The Health Science Center also awarded Michele Reynolds, chairwoman of the center’s Healthy Aging Council and a member of the center’s Foundation Board, with the Mary E. Luibel Distinguished Service Award for her unflagging support of the institution and its efforts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease care and prevention.