New Awards

Drs. William G. Newton, Robynne Lock, Rebecca Dibbs, Melanie Fields, and Johanna Delgado-Acevedo
Texas A&M University-Commerce has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $1,008,572 for the project entitled “Preparing a Community of Outstanding STEM Teachers for Rural and Urban Northeast Texas.”  The project will be under the direction of Drs. William G. Newton, Robynne Lock, Rebecca Dibbs, Melanie Fields, and Johanna Delgado-Acevedo.                                 

“This Track 1 Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will recruit and prepare thirty-two students over five years to become secondary physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics teachers in high-needs school districts in Northeast Texas. Counties in this region suffer from a shortage of secondary STEM educators. Compounding this problem are high turnover rates that are at least partially caused by the isolation that STEM teachers in this region often experience. This project will address these problems through three primary efforts. (i) Potential Noyce Scholars will be recruited with activities that present teaching as an attractive, first-choice career option and by providing students teaching experiences early in their academic careers. (ii) Noyce Scholars will be prepared through teaching tracks that combine their major courses with teacher certification courses and a dedicated class in each major which covers discipline-specific pedagogy, education research, and culturally-responsive teaching. (iii) Noyce Teachers will be supported as they work in local high-needs schools by individual mentor teachers and a mutually supportive community of Noyce Teachers, Noyce Scholars, learning assistants, in-service teachers, and participating faculty. The community will meet regularly and will foster collaboration and communication between rural and urban districts.” – Dr. William Newton


Dr. William Newton

Dr. William Newton, Associate Professor in Physics and Astronomy, received a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his project, "Lattice Boltzmann  Simulations of Soft Nuclear Astro-materials in Neutron Star Crusts."  The grant is in the amount of $357,055 and will run for three years.

“The objective of this proposal is to pioneer the use of the Lattice Boltzmann (LB) computational technique in the study of the bottom layers of the neutron star crust. A neutron star is the super-dense remnant of massive star that died in a supernova explosion. The discovery last August, via gravitational waves and around 70 telescopes ranging from gamma-ray through optical to radio, of two neutron stars merging has spurred large interest in the properties of matter inside these exotic astronomical objects. The so called nuclear “pasta" phases bridge the liquid interior and solid crust are an exotic form of soft condensed matter, and the LB technique is particularly suited to simulating the mesoscale properties of such matter. This will be the first time it has been applied to a complex nuclear fluid. A number of mechanical and transport properties will be calculated using the LB simulations, and used to more robustly predict astrophysical observables that are targets of a number of existing and planned NASA observatories and current gravitational wave observatories.” – Dr. William Newton


Dr. Zhengshan Zhao
Dr. Zhengshan Zhao, Associate Professor for the Biomedical Institute of Regenerative Research (BIRR) and the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, has received an award from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in the amount of $20,000.  The research project is titled "Repair of damaged myocardium using human-heart RNA in a rat myocardial infarction model."

"The long-term goal of this project is to characterize the molecular mechanism(s) by which the CIR6 (Cardiac-Inducing RNA #6), a specific human-heart RNA, transforms rat and human non-muscle cells, including iPSCs (induced-Pluripotent Stem Cells), into normally functioning cardiac myocytes. In addition, we will develop strategies to repair damaged myocardium by using this CIR6 in the rat model of myocardial infarction." - Dr. Zhengshan Zhao


Observatory Dome Installation

Dr. Matthew A. Wood, former Department Head and Professor of Physics & Astronomy and now Vice Provost for Research, along with Dr. Kent A. Montgomery, current Department Head and Professor of Physics & Astronomy, and Dr. Kurtis A. Williams received a National Science Foundation grant earlier this fiscal year.  This has paved the way for the acquisition of a Research Grade Telescope Facility for the university.  

The new astronomical observing facility has been placed at the university's observatory and will allow them to pursue more research projects and grow our undergraduate program.

Yesterday (May 14, 2018) we took delivery of our new observatory dome, and assembled it.  It came inside a full-length semi, so had to be unloaded at the Dairy Farm.  How to you get a 1-ton oversized pallet across a mile of pasture?  In Texas we use a front loader with a round bale of hay on the back for counter balance!
Huge thanks to the farm staff that helped us with the transport - it was an impressive sight to see.
Next we need to get SSC to finish the electrical and data connections, and within the next week or so we will assemble the telescope in the dome (it is already on site).  We will have our ‘Grand Opening’ early in Fall term.
It’s a great time to be Lion astronomer :-) - Dr. Matt Wood

Moving the assembled dome to its permanent location.
Installing of the dome.
Observatory dome assembly.
Dome construction.
Observatory completion.


Dr. Brittany Hott

Dr. Brittany Hott, Associate Professor of Special Education, received a grant from American Educational Research Association’s Education Research Service Projects (ERSP) initiative.  The award of $3,559.00 will allow the study of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) in PK-12 from participating local districts and identify the needs in their specific procedures.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with Lamar County Shared Services Agreement Schools (LCSSA) and the opportunities for A&M-Commerce STRIDE Lab student researchers to begin working in districts that they will serve in the future.   Our project lends educational research expertise to area districts to support the development of data-based professional development plans for special education teachers and administrators." - Brittany L. Hott, Ph.D.


Dr. Mehmet CelikDr. Padmapani Seneviratne

Dr. Mehmet Celik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics, and Dr. Padmapani Seneviratne, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, have received a grant from Mathematical Association of America (MAA) in the amount of $27,000 to allow a limited number of TAMUC students to participate in a summer Math program.

"The aim of this program over the summer is both to increase undergraduate completion rates and encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue advanced degrees and careers in mathematics by exposing them to a focused and challenging research experience. The program provides students with strong connections to faculty mentors and the tools that they need to be successful." - Dr. Mehmet Celik


Joshua Moore
Joshua Moore
, Assistant Director of S.E.E.D.S., was awarded a grant of $62,310.00 to develop a program "Texas Work-Study Mentorship" by THECB. 

The program will allow the university to employ eligible college students to mentor, tutor or advise students at our university.  This should improve student success.

"The Texas Work Study Mentorship program provides financial support the students who are contributing to the continuation of the affinity based living learning communities." - Joshua Moore


Dr. Isaac Gang

Dr. Isaac Gang, Assistant Professor for Computer Science and Information Systems, was awarded $99,890 for his project entitled, "2017-2018 Texas Mathematics and Science Partnership Professional Development Network" by the University of Texas at Austin through a federal pass-thru program from the Texas Education Agency and the U.S. Department of Education.  

"The Richardson Region (10) that includes Commerce, serves over 810,000 students on 1,220 campuses. With approximately 53,000 teachers found in 120 ISDs, charter and private schools across 8 North Texas counties, this area has the potential of becoming a hotbed for future Computer Scientists at a time when the shortage of Computer Scientists in Texas and in the country is at an acute level. Texas A&M University-Commerce – with its vibrant and ABET accredited Computer Science program, is well placed to play a leading role in this initiative of  professionally developing K-12 teachers in Computer Science." - Dr. Isaac Gang


Dr. Robynne Lock  Dr. William Newton
Dr. Robynne Lock (Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy) and Dr. William Newton (Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy) have been named PhysTEC fellows. PhysTEC is a national partnership between the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers aimed at improving and promoting the education of future physics teachers. PhysTEC Fellowships are designed to give recognition and support to faculty involved in physics teacher preparation, provide access to national physics teacher preparation leaders, help Fellows to become more visible leaders in the community, and increase competitiveness for future funding opportunities.

Drs. Lock and Newton will join the first cohort of 15 faculty at 5 institutions across the nation, and during the two years of the fellowship will work with their institutional team and each other to develop and implement changes to improve and grow their physics teacher preparation program. 


Nikki Barnett

Nikki Barnett, Student Case Specialist for Campus Life & Student Development, was awarded $189,707 for her project entitled, "College Campus Initiative" by the U.S. Department of Justice Victims of Crime Act Formula Grant Program.  The funds will allow the university to provide campus advocacy services for students who are victims of crime. 


Department of Curriculum and InstructionDr. Laura Chris Green, director of Bilingual/ESL program has been awarded a one-time appropropriation of $107,142 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to encourage students to pursue teacher certification in highly critical need areas.


Dr. Matthew A. Wood

Dr. Matthew A. Wood, Department Head and Professor of Physics & Astronomy along with Dr. Kent A. Montgomery and Dr. Kurtis A. Williams, was awarded $338,169.00 by the National Science Foundation for his proposal entitled, "MRI:  Acquisition of a 0.7m Research Grade Telescope Facility."

This award will allow the the team to acquire a new astronomical observing facility for the university.  It will be placed at the university's observatory and will allow them to pursue more research projects and grow our undergraduate program.


Dr. Derald Harp

Derald Harp, Professor in the School of Agriculture, was awarded $92,966 for his research entitled, "Systematic Strategies to Manage Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, An Emerging Exotic Pest" by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.    Texas A&M University-Commerce will develop approximately 1 acre to the evaluation of various control methods for crape myrtle bark scale.


FY17 (2016 - 2017) Awards

FY16 (2015 - 2016) Awards