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UNT briefs

TAMS students place in Siemens competition

Eleven students in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science were named either semifinalists or regional finalists in the 2012 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. The academy, or TAMS, has more students honored in the competition than any other Texas school.

TAMS is a two-year residential program at UNT that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while receiving the equivalent of high school diplomas.

The Siemens Competition was established in 1999 and recognizes high school students’ achievements in mathematics, science and technology research. It is one of the most prestigious high school-level competitions in the nation, providing winners with college scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.

George Qi of Austin and Robert Tung of Plano, both second-year TAMS students, were among 11 students from Texas schools named regional finalists. The two worked with a student from Austin’s Westwood High School on “A Novel Approach for Estimating Survival Functions for Interval Censored Data with STD Behavioral Diary Information.”

Their research mentor was Qiang Zhao, associate professor of mathematics at Texas State University.

Qi and Tung presented the research at the Region Two competition held at the University of Texas at Austin, which is one of six regional events across the U.S. that determine national finalists in the Siemens Competition.

Regional finalists are each guaranteed a $1,000 scholarship. The individual and team winners of the regional competitions each receive scholarships of $3,000 and advance to the national competition.

National finalists compete for scholarships ranging from $10,000 to the top prize of $100,000.

Nine other TAMS students were semifinalists in this year’s competition. They are:

•  Kevin Chen of Plano. Chen worked with Xiaotu Ma, research scientist in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas on “MaSC: An Effective Method to Detect Aberrantly Methylated/Expressed Genes in Cancer with Consideration of Heterogeneity.”

•  Srikar Donapati of Irving. Donapati worked with Kyung-Hye Jung, postdoctoral researcher at UT-Dallas, on “Development of a Novel Carbon Nanofiber Precursor for Supercapacitor Applications.”

•  Cody Freitag of Rowlett. Freitag’s research mentor was Thomas Cundari, UNT Regents Professor of chemistry, on “Modeling of Late 3d Transition Metal Metathesis of tert-Butoxide Complexes with Amines.”

•  Ari Gao of Plano. Gao’s research mentor was Jannon Fuchs, UNT professor of biological sciences, on “Somatostatin type 3 Receptors Mediate Protective Effects Against Seizures.”

•  David Hao and William Huang, both of Plano, who also had Fuchs as a research mentor. The students’ project is “The Characterization of Reactive Astrocytes after Brain Lesion.” 

•  Karan Kashyap of Frisco. Kashyap worked with Mohammad Omary, UNT professor of chemistry, on “Square Planar Platinum-Based Chromophores for Photovoltaic Applications.”

•  Wendy Tong of Plano. Tong worked with Angela Wilson, UNT Regents Professor of chemistry, on “Towards Efficient and Accurate Thermochemistry of Big Transition Metal Complexes.”

•  Chenyao Yu of Allen. Yu also had Wilson as a research mentor. His project is “Open-Shell Correlation Consistent Composite Approach (ccCA): Z-Averaged Pertubation Theory.”


University honored for clean air efforts

The university’s clean air efforts have been recognized as the best by The North Texas Commission in its “Working for Clean Air Awards” competition. 

The awards program recognizes organizations in the region that demonstrate outstanding efforts to improve local air quality. More than 30 organizations representing more than 135,000 employees in the North Texas region applied for the award this year.

Established in 1971, the North Texas Commission is a regional nonprofit comprised of businesses, cities, counties, chambers of commerce, economic development groups and higher education institutions in the North Texas region. It aims to improve the economy, infrastructure and lifestyle of North Texas by marketing the region, promoting collaboration and advocating on critical issues.


Murphy Center awards $40,000 to students

The University of North Texas Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship, housed in UNT’s College of Business, awarded $40,000 in prizes to student winners of the center’s New Venture Creation Contest Nov. 9.

The contest simulates the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. Each year student groups submit business plans for consideration, and winners are announced at the Murphy Center’s Leadership Luncheon.

The 2012 winners include Avant Solutions, LLC, ($20,000), which offers advertising, marketing and small- business solutions; Click Clack ($10,000), a short-films distribution business that aims to gather short films from around the world and organize them into DVD collections; Growin Green EcoFarm ($5,000), a start-up venture providing the Weatherford area with vegetables, fish and compost through the use of aquaponics.

An award of $5,000 was also given to the business plan with the greatest social impact, as part of the contest’s Social Enterprise Venture Competition. The 2012 winner is PCs2Prosper, a nonprofit organization aiming to collect and refurbish used computers from corporations in Texas for use by disadvantaged children in the North Texas region.

Finalists in the competition came from diverse majors including history, film, communications, marketing and entrepreneurship. Students from UNT’s Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science also were involved.

Past winners of the contest have gone on to open a diverse range of businesses, including a cupcake bakery, a fireworks company, a nonprofit tutoring service and a local brewery.


TAMS student honored by youth institute

Flora Yan of Plano, a student at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas, was named as one of the top students in the country at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in October in Des Moines, Iowa.

The World Food Prize Global Youth Institute was held in conjunction with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, one of the world’s foremost conferences on international agriculture and food policy. The program was developed to challenge and inspire participating student-teacher teams to identify ways of alleviating hunger, and to expose the students to opportunities and careers in food, agriculture and natural resource disciplines.

In order to be considered for participation, students from across the United States and abroad researched global food security issues in the country of their choice, and then submitted papers on those critical topics, which they also presented to renowned experts and scientists.

At the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, Yan and 150 other high school students had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and leaders in food, agriculture and international development.

Yan presented a paper on the theme “Cultivating Innovations to Feed the World” and participated in roundtable discussions with experts in industry, science, academia and policy. Research for the paper focused on examining major issues in global agriculture, development and food security in other countries.

Yan attended the Institute in Iowa with Donna Fleming, associate dean and director of academic affairs for TAMS. The Institute highlighted the state of hunger many millions suffer across the globe.

At the institute, Yan interacted with students and teachers from 26 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Tanzania.


 Concert to feature seasonal classics

The UNT Holiday Concert, presented by the College of Music, will bring together UNT’s A Cappella Choir, University Singers, Collegium Singers and Concert Choir with faculty soloist Carol Wilson for an evening of seasonal classics and sing-alongs on Nov. 30.

UNT voice faculty member Carol Wilson, soprano, will perform as a soloist accompanied by faculty pianist Elvia Puccinelli, and organ student Andrew Lloyd will perform on the Ardoin-Voertman Concert Organ.

The evening’s program will feature seasonal classics including “O Holy Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” as well as “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” arranged by Paul Wohlgemuth, and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Weihnachten.”

The Nov. 30 concert will be the first time in recent years that the College of Music has undertaken a holiday celebration with student ensembles.

The 52-voice A Cappella Choir is selected by competitive audition from among the most talented vocalists in UNT’s College of Music.

The UNT Collegium Singers is an ensemble of 18 to 24 singers who specialize in the performance of music from the 16th through the 18th centuries.

The University Singers consists of between 55 and 65 singers, and explores a wide variety of repertoire from a cappella to works with instrumental ensemble or orchestra.

The event begins at 8 p.m. Nov. 30 in Winspear Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $10 for adults; $8 for senior citizens, non-UNT students, children, UNT faculty/staff/retirees and groups of 10 or more; and are free to UNT students with ID.

UNT student tickets must be picked up in person at the Murchison Box Office.

Purchase tickets online at or by calling the Murchison Box Office at 940-369-7802.

The concert will also be streamed live online.