University of Tulsa

Class of 2020 arts and sciences graduates planning bright futures

The University of Tulsa’s graduating class of 2020 didn’t walk across the stage, but the formality hasn’t stopped them from walking into exciting new careers and opportunities. Three of these graduates of programs in Kendall College of Arts and Sciences took time from their busy schedules to reflect on how TU impacted their lives.

Maureen Haynes

Maureen Haynes will start a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in downtown Chicago. She was awarded full funding for the degree as a Driskill Graduate Fellow. Haynes will work closely with the program’s faculty and fellows on vital research, including discovering new ways to diagnose rare pediatric genetic diseases, running clinical trials for drug treatments for COVID-19 and developing better solutions to drug-resistant infections.

Haynes credits TU for helping her reach this point through research with faculty. As a double major in sociology and biology, she participated in three major research projects at TU, working closely with faculty to develop not only technical skills but also vital life skills she says will benefit her moving forward.

“I’ll never forget the care and access that I was afforded by faculty and administration at TU,” Haynes said. “TU does an excellent job of making sure that students are able to have personalized access to the people that will launch their growth and expand their horizons, and I’ve spent countless hours in professors’ offices, talking about everything from class material to current events and the state of the world.”

Courtney Spivey

After graduating with a triple major in graphic design, computer simulation and gaming, graphic design, and applied mathematics, Courtney Spivey plans on studying for a master’s degree in game programming at the University of Abertay in Scotland. Then, after completing the prestigious one-year program, she hopes to find a job pursuing her passion.

Spivey says she found her footing in the TU computer science and gaming simulation major, which helped put her on a path to where she is at today. In addition to her professors and advisers mentoring her along the way, she is thankful for the small size of the university, which provided a close-knit community of lasting friendships.

Spivey will always remember her adventures at TU, from “chugging a Monster Energy drink the morning after an all-nighter of studying,” which unfortunately did not have the effects she had envisioned, to “the times I spent with my roommate, Kimberly, hyping each other up to go to social gatherings on Friday nights only to both tap out 30 minutes before each event.” She will not forget joining clubs that “taught what diversity, empowerment and equity look like,” and how all of her TU memories involve being surrounded by friends that felt more like family.

Junyu He

Junyu He plans on pursuing higher education in the United States. He earned a degree in psychology from TU and has been admitted by several graduate schools to continue studying criminology.

Of TU, He said, “TU has equipped me with professional and proficient knowledge that is constantly required to achieve my academic goals, including how to become a critical and independent thinker. Critical thinking is pivotal to assure your research findings are valid and reliable in the future, while independent thinking is the groundwork that supports creativity. TU has modified my fixed mindset to one of growth, which allows me to enjoy the process that facilitates personal ability without concerning too much about possible failure.”

Looking back, He has fond memories of TU, including life as an international student and his first homecoming experience. He says there were too many great moments to focus on only one because every shared connection with friends and dedicated professors will not be forgotten.

Business students team up with local firms and nonprofit organizations

Students in The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business regularly share their expertise with companies and nonprofits in Tulsa and surrounding communities. These projects not only give the students real-world experience, they also help local businesses and nonprofits find creative solutions to expand their brands and better reach consumers.

Professor Charles Wood wearing a green shirt and smiling
Professor Charles Wood

Professor of Marketing Charles Wood believes that hands-on experience is a valuable tool for learning about the world of marketing. “The purpose of all of these collaboration projects is for students to apply concepts they learn in class to real-world settings,” Wood said. “For an applied discipline such as marketing, real learning occurs best when students are required to synthesize and experientially use theories and concepts in new contexts.”

Dee Harris of Tulsa’s Family and Children Service Center worked with TU business students in both the spring and summer semesters. “Professor Wood’s classes are the perfect example of balancing student learning with community need,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be a partner in real-world learning as it invigorates students and provides nonprofits with a new perspective about our marketing and communication plans. I always look forward to collaborating with students and enjoy watching them discover, create and solve.”

Integrated Marketing Communication

A potent example of this university-and-community engagement arose in the spring 2020 Integrated Marketing Communication course. In this course, undergraduate students formed teams and worked with seven local nonprofit and for-profit organizations. At the beginning of the project, representatives of the organizations came to campus multiple times to check-in with the students’ progress and provide assistance where needed. Then, once the COVID-19 pandemic altered the semester plans, the meetings between student groups and their organizations continued, albeit online.

Despite the unexpected transition to online classes, the students and their companies maintained a close working relationship that promoted growth for both parties. The student teams developed and managed a full Google AdWords campaign to help their clients achieve their goals. A local social media expert, Joe Hart, came to these sessions and supported the teams throughout the semester.

Consumer Behavior

During the summer, community engagement continued, but this time with graduate students. A consultancy brief project in the master of business administration (MBA) Consumer Behavior course paired small groups of students with 10 local companies including Scoops Rolls and Creamery, Runners World and Marshall Brewing. Each group of students listened to their partner-firm’s concerns and developed personalized plans to meet their needs.

For the summer course, Wood explained, “the only selection criteria provided was that the business be locally owned. Students were encouraged to choose their own clients based on what they believed was the organization’s potential and clear need for some advice and assistance, meet with the owners and then proceed from there.”

All the groups delivered potential aids to the companies, including ideas about better use of social media, customer loyalty programs, community engagement, retail layout improvements, partnerships, branding and promotions.

Danny Donley smiling and wearing a blue polo shirt
Danny Donley, MBA student

One student in the MBA course, Danny Donley, said of the summer experience: “The chance to work hands-on with a real company in our community that is struggling a little extra because of the COVID-19 pandemic was a tremendous experience. My team worked with a small massage therapy company and helped use our knowledge and research to immediately revitalize the company’s marketing strategy and reach. We had the opportunity to put creative ideas into action to test our own skills while benefiting a local firm, which is rewarding in two ways.”


A business degree from TU will bring you in contact with faculty members at the forefront of their fields who are excellent teachers as well as scholars. Learn about this vibrant, welcoming community.

Iris Ramirez receives 2020 NAfME Collegiate Professional Achievement Award

Iris Ramirez, a current University of Tulsa student, recently won the prestigious 2020 NAfME Collegiate Professional Achievement Award. 

 

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) award recognizes individual collegiate members for their commitment and dedication to NAfME and music education. This honor is given to collegiate members who have served their chapters in an exemplary manner. 

 

Ramirez became eligible for the award because of her multi-year involvement with the NAfME Collegiate chapter and track record of excellence in the classroom.

 

Upon notification of the accolade, she was quick to credit TU along with Aaron Wacker, the assistant professor and coordinator of music education. “I am overwhelmed with joy and so grateful for everything The University of Tulsa, the School of Music and Dr. Wacker have helped me accomplish,” she said.

 

Ramirez will receive the award at the virtual 2020 NAfME Reimagined National Leadership Assembly on Thursday, June 25th. The event typically takes place in Washington, D.C, but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be on Zoom.

Three faculty named Outstanding Researchers for 2020

The University of Tulsa is honored to announce the recipients of the 2020 Outstanding Researcher Award – a lifetime distinction, received only once in an individual’s career. It is intended to honor achievements that have been validated in the scholar’s professional field.

The 2020 recipients are:
outstanding researchersJoanne Davis, Professor of Psychology: Professor Davis’ research is broadly concerned with trauma and its consequences. Particular focus of this work is on the development of sleep disorders following traumatic events, and the exploration of the effects of interpersonal violence. Notably, Joanne translates her research to make the findings useable for the broad, nonacademic community, providing seminars for organizations such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and NGOs in Tulsa including Family and Children’s Services and Domestic Violence Intervention Services.

outstanding researchersRobert Spoo, Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law: Professor Spoo conducts his interdisciplinary work at the intersection of copyright law, theories of the public domain, informal norms, publishing, modern authorship and law and literature. Robert combines these distinct disciplines in scholarship that is grounded in literary and legal history and nourished by his diverse roles as literature professor, law professor, attorney and journal editor.

outstanding researchersSean Latham, Professor of English: Professor Latham’s scholarly activities focus on modern literature and culture and have drawn inspiration from the likes of James Joyce and Bob Dylan. His work intertwines with a broad interest in the cultural context of modernist aesthetics and the meanings and uses of formal innovation in 20th century literature. Since 2001, Sean has been the editor of The James Joyce Quarterly, the pre-eminent journal of Joycean studies in the world, and he also serves as the director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities.

Candidates for the Outstanding Researcher Awards were nominated by deans from Kendall College of Arts & Sciences, Collins College of Business, Oxley College of Health Sciences, the College of Engineering & Natural Sciences and the College of Law. Nominees were selected for their recognition of outstanding research and scholarly achievements. Other considerations included pedagogical awards, honors from scholarly societies, grants, publication citation counts or other forms of public recognition. External recognition of a faculty member’s work also factored into the selection process.

Outstanding Teachers selected for devotion to students and mentoring

Collins Professor of Computer Information Systems Lori Leonard, Stanley Rutland Professor of American History Andrew Wood and Associate Professor of Law Matt Lamkin are TU’s Outstanding Teachers for 2020. Their devotion to teaching and mentoring molds the character and work ethic of students, preparing them for successful careers and lives.

The university inaugurated the Distinguished Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1980. Honorees may receive the award once in a lifetime, and only three awards are given annually. The award is especially meaningful because it must be initiated by a student’s nomination, and the winners are selected by colleagues who serve on the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate. Each honoree receives a medal and a stipend.

Matt Lamkin

outstanding teachersSince joining the College of Law faculty in 2013, Lamkin has earned the praise and admiration of his students. He has been recognized by students for his outstanding teaching every semester he has taught in the TU College of Law, translating to many awards. In his first two years at TU and again in 2018-2019, students voted to recognize Lamkin with the College of Law Outstanding First Year Professor Award. In 2015-16, he was honored as the Outstanding Upper-Class Professor.

Lamkin’s teaching philosophy is “driven by a desire to teach his students critical skills that will endure beyond their recollection of any particular law school subject matter.” He achieves this by teaching analysis and argument and helping students engage with the course materials in effective ways.

Student Comments:

  • “Helped me with my writing ability and had a continuing conversation about my paper and what I needed to do to write a paper effectively.”
  • “Professor Lamkin always made himself available for us to meet with him and was always very helpful and provided bonus sessions, which were a huge help to preparing for the exam. I also enjoyed the ‘life lesson’ talks he would give on occasion; they were an encouragement to me.”
  • “This has been my favorite class so far. I really like it that Lamkin takes his time to explain the different concepts. It’s useful when we move on to the next topic and they correlate.”

Lori Leonard

outstanding teachersWith over 25 years of teaching experience, Leonard has called TU home for the past 21 years. Beyond the lives she’s impacted along the way, she has even more to show for her time as a professor. In total, she’s collected 15 teacher awards, one Mayo Teaching Excellence Award from the Collins College of Business, two Most Valuable Professor awards and one mention as an Exceptional Mentor.

Course evaluations and student comments reinforce the care and concern that Leonard gives her students to ensure they thrive as professionals. She advises approximately 15 students every semester for enrollment while also mentoring many in the computer information systems major. Many TU students are on campus, at least partially, because of Leonard. Until she became associate dean of the Graduate School, she was heavily involved in meeting with prospective undergraduates. Now she continues to meet with prospective graduate students.

Student Comments:

  • “I absolutely would not be where I am today without your impactful mentorship and considerate advice.”
  • “Thank you for being such an influential person, not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others! The thoughtfulness and care you exude for your students does not go unnoticed!
  • “I still am grateful you fit me (a junior…who was having a mid-life crisis at 21) into your schedule to talk about what CIS was.”

Andrew Wood

outstanding teachersWith a TU tenure of over 20 years, Wood is dedicated to the instruction of diverse material. He largely teaches general education block courses with international and cross-cultural influences that provide a well-rounded, college-level liberal arts education. As a passionate, committed and experienced professor, Wood deploys a variety of pedagogical techniques including dynamic lecture mixed with Socratic Method, humor, music, film, discussion groups, class presentations, posters, field research and various online web interventions/engagements.

In the classroom, Wood focuses on fostering fundamental critical thinking skills, a curiosity about the world and an active concern for basic democratic values. In course evaluation comments, students frequently commend Wood’s subject knowledge, engaging presentation style and sense of humor, as well as his clear and supportive explanations and assignment feedback.

Student Comments:

  • “In my three years at The University of Tulsa, I have yet to encounter a more dedicated, hard-working or caring professor as Dr. Wood.”
  • “I have constantly been impressed by his dedication to making history come alive in the classroom and impressing on his students the importance of studying the history of those who have been oppressed and forgotten in history.”
  • “Very knowledgeable and his investment in the class motivated the students to want to learn.”

 

Student researchers honored with nationally competitive awards

The University of Tulsa’s 2020 nationally competitive award winners include a Goldwater Scholar, a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, two Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research Internship recipients and three Gilman Scholars. 

Goldwater Scholar 

nationally competitive awardsMechanical engineering junior Emily Tran of Broken Arrow is one of 396 students from across the United States to win a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Students majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering were nominated to apply for the award, which recognizes scientific talent. 

In the summer of 2019, Tran worked as a Vanderbilt Institute of Surgical Engineering (VISE) Fellow in the Medical Engineering and Discovery (MED) and Computer Assisted Otologic Surgery (CAOS) labs alongside mechanical engineering alumna Katy Riojas (BS ’16)Tran participated in the design and development of a manual insertion tool for image-guided, minimally invasive cochlear implant surgery. Her summer involved analyzing CT scans, assisting in cadaver trials and designing a phantom model for user and force testing. 

Tran said she enjoys this type of research because it is at the cross section of engineering and medicine: “With this type of research, it is easy to see how heavily intertwined they can actually be. After pouring so much work into the research projects, there’s a certain indescribable feeling that comes with seeing the lives of the kids or patients benefit from it.” 

Tran also has assisted with Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) projects and served as a student researcher in TU’s Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC). She has been a member of the TU Robotic Mining Crew, the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and many other organizations and activities. 

Working at Vanderbilt opened Tran’s eyes to the direct interaction that often occurs between engineers and physicians seeking to develop life-changing technology. After graduating from TU, she plans to attend medical school and work as a clinical physician. “This experience made me aware of my love for research,” Tran explained. “I will continue working in medical and surgical device research in the future.”  

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship 

nationally competitive awardsStephanie Call (BS ’18) of Tulsa is a pre-med chemical engineering alumna currently pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At TU, she participated on the women’s rowing team and expanded her scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills in her senior lab and design classes. 

At UMass AmherstCall will use her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to focus on synthetic biology and genome engineering in bacteria. She uses CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to engineer E. coli and S. aureus to elucidate the genes associated with cell attachment and biofilm formation on biomaterial surfaces, such as catheters and pacemakers. “By finding these genes and investigating their interactions, we hope to find potential targets that could be used to prevent and treat biofilm infections using targeted antimicrobials and/or antibiofouling agents,” Call said. 

After her PhDCall plans to become a professor and establish her own engineering lab to continue researching and developing new technologies. She also wants to teach and mentor the next generation of engineers and researchers. 

Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research Internship 

Biochemistry, pre-med student Ritvik Ganguly and John Reaves, a triple major in political science, Spanish and economics, were honored as inaugural Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research program interns. This internship program is offered to U.S. students interested in visiting Canada to undertake advanced research projects in their area of interest. Weeks after the announcement, however, the program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

nationally competitive awardsGanguly, of Tulsa, was scheduled to complete 12 weeks of research with a neurosurgeon in a neural repair and regeneration laboratory located in Toronto, OntarioHis project would have focused on human induced pluripotent stem cells that target the microenvironment of spinal cord injuries for the development of a new treatment for traumatic spinal cord injuries. 

Ganguly is a Presidential Scholar, Honors Scholar and a member of the TU College Philanthropy Initiative. He plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in internal medicine. 

“I believe that the future of medicine relies not only on our ability to innovate in the field of biomedical research, but also on our ability to foster cross-cultural academic exchanges and work together on a global scale,” he remarked. 

nationally competitive awardsReaves, from Fairview, Texas, would have spent his 12 weeks in Winnipeg, Manitoba, helping compile a history of the oil industries in the United States, Canada and Brazil, and using the data to perform economic forecasting. 

“I wanted something that would prepare me for whatever line of work I ended up in,” Reaves said. “My eventual career goal is to work for the U.S. State Department.”  

Both Ganguly and Reaves are members of the TU Honors Program, Global Scholars and many other extracurricular activities. 

Gilman International Scholarship 

Meagan Henningsen (sociology) of Tulsa; Manal Abu-Sheikh (psychology) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Paris Clark (international business, Spanish) of Silver Spring, Maryland, were selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supports study abroad opportunities for Pell Grant recipients. Unfortunately, the international adventures for Henningsen, Abu-Sheikh and Clark ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about their global scholarships.

TU faculty offer ways to support first responders during COVID-19 crisis

Research from The University of Tulsa looks to help first responders and health care workers as they continue battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

*Pictured is TU alumnae who working on the front lines and facing the virus daily.*

Left to right is Abigail Schmitt, Avery Culpepper, Madeline Oleksiak, Maddy Studebaker and Kaylie Schneider.

The pandemic has changed how millions of Americans work or learn, shifting offices or classrooms to their homes. Despite the mass changes, first responders and health care workers do not have the choice to work from home, and many of them are walking into the front lines of a battle against the virus every day. With those brave people in mind, TU faculty have been doing everything they can to help, including sharing their knowledge and expertise. Elana Newman, McFarlin Professor of Psychology, is an expert in disaster mental health with a specialty in journalism. She worked with journalists in New York for nearly a year after 9/11 and has helped journalists prepare for and respond to many disasters, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Journalists and health care workers are two distinct professions, but many common threads run between the two, according to Newman. A lot of the advice she might give a journalist also can apply to health care workers.

“With a pandemic like COVID-19, when these workers are out in the field and interacting with the sick every day, they’re bringing that stress home with them daily,” Newman said. “They question will they get their loved ones sick? Will they harm family members, friends or neighbors? What might they face tomorrow?”

The stress is gripping not only at home but on the job as well. Because of limited equipment and resources, first responders and health care workers are witnessing events that transgress their moral beliefs and expectations. “That leads to something called ‘moral injury,’” Newman said. “It’s unlike PTSD because it is an ethical or spiritual maladaptation, but it manifests in real-world effects like stress, feeling ill, guilt and a lot more.”

Left to right is Sierra Adair, Keli Solomon Miller, Marci Brubaker, Kristen Rodriguez and Michelle Proctor. 

Fortunately, despite the grimness of the circumstances, Newman has advice for anyone working grueling shifts with the sick and dying. “Some of the stuff is obvious: exercise best judgment and be safe. Remember to take care of yourself first and foremost, because if you aren’t well, then you can’t take care of others. It’s also important to take time off, even when things get crazy, for self-care. It’s a way of retaining energy for the long haul, as a boundary and finding pleasure to stay healthy and provide for others.”

She also has tips for anybody else going through this pandemic, explaining that the anxiety many people are feeling is normal, but it can be overcome.

“With so many unknowns, we’re all feeling anxiety, but there are ways to cope with that. Make a list of what you can control and what you can’t control — having a sense of control is important. It’s also important to stay social, even while we are physically distant because as humans we need social interaction,” Newman explained.

She offered one more piece of advice for anybody who is feeling that, because of quarantine, they are not able to live a productive life: “Having a sense of purpose is crucial in times like these, and meaningful things that can be done right now are making masks, sending thank you notes and any other act to express appreciation. Not only will this give a feeling of purpose to the creator, but the product will go toward fighting against COVID-19.”

Dr. Gerard Clancy, TU professor of community medicine, added five other ways that people who are not serving on the front lines of COVID-19 can help. According to Clancy, staying home is the best way to support medical care workers. “The one thing I’m hearing over and over again from leadership in the health care system and physicians is, ‘This is real. If you want to help us, stay home and slow the spread of this virus,’” Clancy said.

For people with extra medical supplies, donating those to the health care system can meet the serious demand. People with the ability to make supplies also is very beneficial. “Every mask, every face shield, every pair of gloves helps a great deal,” he said.

When it comes to interacting with health care workers, Clancy says it is important to understand what they’re going through: “They’re working shifts after shifts. They’re working tons of hours, they’re exhausted, they don’t have the supplies they need and they’re vulnerable to becoming traumatized. Any kind of support you can offer them would be appreciated, but some of the best ways involve listening to them talk about what they’re going to if they want to share but not forcing them to talk about anything if they don’t. Getting a good meal in front of them can go a long way, as well. Good food tastes even better to them, at this point.”

While first responders and health care workers are fighting what is probably the most grueling war of their careers, applying these ideas from TU faculty will send a message to the heroes that they are not alone.

Online MBA to Begin Fall 2020

The University of Tulsa is launching an exclusive online master’s degree in business administration (MBA), beginning fall 2020.

The program complements TU’s current MBA degree options. Once it launches in a few months, TU will offer three MBA tracks: the full-time cohort, the part-time MBA for working professionals and the online-only version that will include similar coursework. The online version is only available for part-time enrollment, but is expected to expand its reach in the future.

Ashley Chapa, director of marketing and student services in the Collins College of Business, said the program’s online offering can share the wealth of TU.
“I’m excited about launching the online MBA because it gives the community at-large a chance to experience the great things we have at TU,” she said. “From incredible professors with a lot of experience and valuable backgrounds, to the peer-to-peer learning and all the other aspects of a TU education that make us unique, there’s a lot of great things that we will get to share with more people now.”

Ben Holman, who will teaching a finance class in the first iteration of the online program, said it can benefit TU. “This program lowers obstacles of accessibility that will allow professionals in our region and beyond access to established TU resources that can help advance their careers. In addition, implementation of the online program includes a fresh view to delivering courses in a more focused, time-sensitive platform.”

TU, Noodle Partners team up to offer online degrees

The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s highest-ranked national university, is launching an online MBA and elevating its online master’s in cybersecurity with Noodle Partners, the fastest-growing online program manager.

Increasingly, adult learners are opting for programs that fit their busy lives. TU is working to improve the accessibility of their programs by meeting those students where they are — online.

The online MBA offers a part-time option to prepare students for career advancement in the private and public sectors as well as for positions of leadership and responsibility in business and society.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the United States; the BLS projects a 32% increase in employment from 2018 to 2028, more than six times higher than the average for careers in the U.S. For 20 years, TU has been one of just a handful of institutions designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education.

“The University of Tulsa is excited to leverage the resources and expertise of Noodle Partners to further develop these two online degree programs and meet the needs of students seeking a research university-level education outside of a traditional classroom setting,” said Interim President Janet Levit. “TU’s MBA and MS in Cybersecurity attract highly motivated working professionals who will use the degrees to advance their careers and support the nation’s thriving business and technology industries.”

TU’s online MBA program features readily available student access to top-notch faculty along with small class sizes that promote participation and interaction among peers and faculty in the online environment. The degree is ideal for online learners seeking a flexible schedule that allows them to balance work and other priorities. Students who enroll in two courses per semester can complete the program in 24 months and receive career placement assistance from the Business Career Center.

The online MS in Cybersecurity requires 30 credits to graduate. The program offers an entirely online curriculum, along with an option to take immersive courses in which students spend one week on campus completing hands-on, intensive training guided by faculty. The program is designed to be completed in 24 months, and students can continue to work as full-time professionals while completing the degree.

“TU is making an excellent strategic move by launching these innovative online programs,” said John Katzman, CEO of Noodle Partners. “We have total confidence in our partnership with TU, and we’re excited to see how its incoming cohorts of students leverage their degrees in the workforce.”

About Noodle Partners
Founded by a team of education and technology veterans, Noodle Partners creates innovative online and hybrid programs while improving traditional classroom models. Noodle Partners has the capability to work with universities on every aspect of building a certificate or degree program that they choose—marketing, student recruitment, enrollment, curriculum design, student engagement, support services, graduate placement, and alumni engagement—and provides a high level of fit and finish. For more information, visit noodle-partners.com or follow us on Twitter @Noodle_Partners or LinkedIn.

Alumnus Charlie Evans helping save lives with Owl technology

The world is experiencing more natural disasters now than at any other time in history. Severe weather, earthquakes or floods can devastate communities, cutting off all communications. Each year, billions of residents are left in the dark with no way to call for help, request supplies or notify others of their status. To prevent such life-threatening emergencies, a group of five technology entrepreneurs from across the country has teamed up to create OWL (Organization, Whereabouts and Logistics), a low-frequency Wifi network paired with a cloud-based software solution that provides first responders with a reliable network to manage disasters when other primary communications systems are down.

A data hub for emergency responders

owl technology
Charlie Evans

University of Tulsa computer science alumnus Charlie Evans is one of the original five who helped develop Project Owl in 2018 with founder and CEO Bryan Knouse. The group began to take shape and build a software platform known as OWL DMS, or a disaster management system, to act as a hub for data during natural disasters. The stars aligned when Project Owl welcomed a developer to the team who had the idea for a piece of hardware that would transmit the data using the long-range wireless technology known as LoRa. “It’s a particular frequency used for IoT (Internet of Things) devices in America and nothing else will interfere with it,” Evans explained, who serves as the team’s chief software architect. “It has the capability to reach further distances between two points than a traditional wireless network.”

Learn more about the Tandy School of Computer Science.

These networks of ducks, once deployed, cluster to communicate with civilian devices and reach first responders to help coordinate resources, track weather patterns and retrieve data analytics through the IBM Cloud.

owl technology
Project Owl with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Project Owl’s software platform paired with hardware capable of data transmission proved to be a winning combination, and in 2018, the team won the inaugural Call for Code Global Challenge, a hackathon sponsored by IBM with 100,000 developers from 156 countries. The win granted Project Owl an opportunity to deploy its technology through the IBM Corporate Service Corps and pursue further development of its model. “When we started, our focus was based on natural disasters, and we were very inspired when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico,” Evans said. “We’ve made several trips to Puerto Rico in the past 15 months to connect with local governments and universities to discuss what they went through and try to get people involved in the project.”

Testing Owl in Puerto Rico and Texas

University of Puerto Rico faculty and staff currently maintain Project Owl hardware installed in their local area and have assisted in a pilot study where clusters of the duck devices were deployed in March of 2019. “We got up to 30 to 35 devices, and every couple of minutes, we received temperature, wind and barometric pressure readings from those devices,” Evans said. “We’re working on building this up to include more devices and cover a bigger service area.”

owl technologyIn May, Project Owl ran another pilot study in Evans’ local community of Katy, Texas. The Houston suburb was an important area to test after its overwhelming devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “Houston is so humid, and humidity is definitely a large factor in radio frequency transmission,” he explained. “We noticed that in more humid areas, we couldn’t place two devices as far apart as say New York City or Connecticut.”

These international and domestic pilot studies provide priceless information to the Project Owl team and have presented new possibilities for the technology. Evans said the group has conducted high-altitude testing with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory by sending ducks up into the atmosphere in a weather balloon. Project Owl’s hardware also shows promise with a private security firm in Syria, can monitor methane output for operators in the oil and gas industry and could track the temperature of trucks used to ship Red Cross medical supplies.

Dropping ducks in the middle of disasters

owl technologyAnother benefit to the device’s versatility is its inexpensive price tag. Project Owl reports the ducks are simple to assemble at a cost of less than $40 each. Also, the duck’s quarter-mile to half-mile service range makes it a good candidate for dropping the devices out of a helicopter or airplane — blanketing an area with a simple communication network that connects via normal Wifi on a phone.  “It pulls up a form, you fill out the form and it will use the long-range capability of the hardware to transmit and find its way through the network until it hits a point that it has internet connectivity,” he said. “It goes up in the cloud and then lands on the other side, which involves the cloud-based software we’re developing.”

Evans is a key component of Project Owl’s mission, but it’s not the only company to which he devotes his time; his primary job is senior programmer analyst at Helmerich & Payne in Houston. After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science from TU in 2009, Evans worked for a couple of small technology companies in Tulsa before joining H&P five years ago. His wife, Sara, also is a TU alumna who earned her undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering in 2010.

“In my professional career and everything I’ve learned to help start Project Owl, the main root of it all was that TU’s program taught me how to learn,” Evans stated. “Now when I’m faced with a challenge, it’s like second nature to know how to formulate a solution. TU’s theory-based classes laid the foundation for what I do.”

After an award-winning start, Evans and Project Owl anticipate a bright future for the technology and its ability to connect communities with life-saving resources.

TU research cited by International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently cited research from The University of Tulsa in a paper titled “Mental health in elite athletes: International Olympic Committee consensus statement.” The paper used research about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and stigma from the lab of Lisa Cromer, an associate professor of psychology at TU.

The research was originally performed as part of the Student Health Athletic Performance and Education (SHAPE), a free program started by Cromer to help student-athletes develop sport psychology skills. Cromer was not personally notified of the citation, but rather discovered it by chance.

“While working on a new manuscript, I wanted to double check a fact, and when I went to the web, this IOC article popped up. I started reading it and then realized they cited a lot of work from my lab, here at TU,” she recalled. “The International Olympic Committee consensus statement is basically a task force from the IOC telling the world about the health of elite athletes, so citing the work performed at TU in a paper about best practices is a tremendous honor.”

One of the citations caught her eye because it was the work of Mitchell Johnson, who was an undergraduate student at the time.

Johnson (BS ’12) was pleased with the recognition.

“When I heard the IOC was citing our work, I was thrilled to see this topic receiving greater attention within athletics, especially from one of sports’ highest governing bodies,” he said. “I expect this topic – the mental health of athletes – to continue to receive more attention at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, and it’s great that The University of Tulsa is contributing to this important work.”

Cromer recounted how Johnson came to work in the research lab. “I tend to have a lot of undergrads in my lab and support undergraduate research,” she said. “In this case, one student that was just a gem in my undergrad classes. He took advantage of the opportunity to work with my graduate students, and together their work was so impactful that now one of the most important committees of sport recognized it.”

Danielle Zanotti (MA ’16, PhD ’19), whose work was also cited, said that the research, in addition to the work of the SHAPE program at TU, is spotlighting an increasingly prevalent issue.

“Collegiate athletes are extremely resilient and high-achieving individuals,” Zanotti said. “However, that doesn’t mean they are immune to mental health issues and in some ways are at a higher risk for developing mental health issues due to the multiple and compounding stressors they face related to academic, athletic and developmental demands.

“It’s an honor to have played a role in several years of research and intervention carried out by the SHAPE research team that has contributed to a growing research base focused on understanding and improving the mental well-being of elite athletes. The citation from the IOC is both an honor and a reflection of the importance of the work that so many people at TU have contributed to.”

Cromer agreed, and said it was not a stroke of luck that work from an undergraduate was cited, but rather a combination of hard work and an environment that supports such research. “This highlights the strengths of TU: small class sizes allow me to get to know each student and his or her strengths; I have my own research lab; and having graduate assistants to help coordinate and support research allows me to publish work, including work with undergrads.”

She added, “I’ve always known I have incredible grad students and undergrads, but times like this show the world how special TU can be.”

New TU podcast sets up first-year students for success

The University of Tulsa is releasing a new podcast, TU Starter Pack, on Jan. 13, 2020.

Starter Pack will be the second podcast from The University of Tulsa podcasting, following the launch of TUniverse in fall 2019.

Unlike TUniverse, which aims to share TU-based research to all parts of the galaxy, Starter Pack has a different audience: current and prospective TU students.

Currently, the podcast has two focuses: health issues and insider tips. 

For the health-related issues, the podcast will focus on mental and physical wellbeing. Episodes will feature experts and personalities from the Collins Fitness Center, Alexander Health Center, Counseling & Psychological Services Center and other on-campus entities.

The student success tips will come from standout TU students along with advice from different groups around campus, like the Center for Student Academic Success.

Senior Rizka Aprilia, who will be featured on the podcast, said these episodes will aid the transition into college life for many students. 

“When I was a freshman, I didn’t know my way around TU,” she recalled. “It’s not until I met and talked to other students that I finally found my way throughout campus. Knowing that this podcast will have students talk about their experience around campus will be very helpful, especially to first-year students. Hearing wisdom from someone else who was once in the same shoes as you is a great tool for surviving college.”

The podcast will alternate the student health and student success episodes, with a new episode releasing every Monday. The episodes are short and full of information; none of them will have a longer runtime than the length of time it takes for a stroll across campus.

Starter Pack is designed to answer all sorts of questions students may have: How can I get personal fitness training? How do I pay my tuition bill? What are the best ways to get to know my professors?

Michael McClendon, a contributor to Starter Pack and director of Counseling & Psychological Services Center, believes the new show could be useful for a number of reasons. 

“I think that podcasts are the perfect medium for students to access information when and where they need it,” McClendon said. “Not all of the structures in life align with the busy schedules of students, but anyone with internet access has podcasts at hand throughout the day. And with a podcast regularly stocked full of useful information about how to successfully navigate the gauntlet of university life, TU students can get some helpful insight whenever they need it. Of course, none of the information will be a silver bullet that will fix everything at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, but it could help streamline the search or pursuit of the resources that will help change the course come the break of day.”

Be sure to tune in to Starter Pack by adding it on your favorite podcast app using our RSS feed or downloading it directly here. The podcast is available on these major podcast apps.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tu-starter-pack/id1494738219?mt=2&app=podcast

Google Podcasts: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly90dXN0YXJ0ZXJwYWNrLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-university-of-tulsa/tu-starter-pack

TuneIn: http://tun.in/pjHvu

TUniverse: The Human Connection – Playing with Sound

In this episode, Sean Latham, the Director for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, sits down with Mack Hagood, the Blayney Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at Miami University in Ohio, and the author of Hush: Media and Sonic Self-Control. Together they discuss what sound means for us, how it’s social effects have transformed over time, and just why we seem to like playing with it so much.

Links:
https://humanities.utulsa.edu/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/sean-latham/

https://mactrasound.com/

https://mactrasound.com/hush-media-and-sonic-self-control/

TUniverse: The Human Connection – An Interview with Robert Spoo

In this episode, Sean Latham, the Director for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, has a special sit-down interview with Bob Spoo, discussing his new book, Moderinism and the Law, along with it’s exploration into the works of James Joyce and transatlantic Anglo-American modernist culture.

Links:

https://humanities.utulsa.edu/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/robert-spoo/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/sean-latham/

https://www.amazon.com/Modernism-Law-Modernisms-Robert-Spoo/dp/147427580X

TUniverse: The Human Connection – Playing with Game Design

In this episode, Sean Latham, the Director for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, has a conversation with Tracy Fullerton, an award-winning game designer and professor at the University of Southern California. Together they explore what games allow users to do, how entertainment can be forged from the process, and why “play” is at the heart of all it.

Links:
https://humanities.utulsa.edu/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/sean-latham/

https://www.tracyfullerton.com/

https://www.crcpress.com/Game-Design-Workshop-A-Playcentric-Approach-to-Creating-Innovative-Games/Fullerton/p/book/9781138098770

TUniverse: The Human Connection – Playing with Education

In this episode, Sean Latham, the Director for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, speaks with Helen Douglass, a Tulsa Artist Fellowship Fellow and Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Tulsa. From conversations about maker-spaces to thoughts on how playing relates to education, The Human Connection keeps the conversation going and continues redefining the power of playing.

Links:
https://humanities.utulsa.edu/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/sean-latham/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/helen-douglass/

https://humanities.utulsa.edu

TUniverse: The Human Connection – Playing with Music (Part 2)

In this episode, Sean Latham, the Director for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, keeps the music conversation going with Katie Moulton, a Tulsa Artist Fellowship Fellow and writer, editor and music critic. Moulton’s understanding of not only music criticism, but also musical structure, fuels a conversation about how artist and listerns can play with music. After all, we “read” a book and “paint” a picture, but “play” music. Why is that? Find out our thoughts in this engaging episode!

Links:
https://humanities.utulsa.edu/

https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/sean-latham/

https://www.katiemoulton.com

https://www.tulsaartistfellowship.org/

TU psychology faculty and students helping kids and teens with nightmares

When traumatizing nightmares plague a child’s sleep routine, parents often search for answers. University of Tulsa faculty and student researchers in the Department of Psychology have investigated this psychological condition since the early 2000s. Today, Associate Professor of Psychology and clinical psychologist Lisa Cromer leads a team of graduate and undergraduate students in nightmare treatment for children and adolescents.

nightmares
Professor Lisa Cromer and psychology students

The University of Tulsa’s specialization in sleep among children began with graduate student research that was mentored by Professor of Psychology Joanne Davis. She focuses on nightmare and sleep problems in trauma-exposed individuals and when Cromer joined the psychology faculty, Davis invited her to expand upon the original project. With her expertise in children and adolescents, Cromer developed manuals and workbooks to adapt the research more broadly. Since then, graduate and undergraduate students have helped her establish a children’s sleep lab. Cromer and her students currently are conducting their second clinical trial that provides a five-session therapy series for youth, ages 5 to 17, who experience nightmares.

Combining sports and child psychology

Second-year grad student Jack Stimson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and worked with traumatized, abused and neglected children in Seattle, Washington, before beginning the psychology Ph.D. program at TU. A former rugby athlete, he is interested in both sports and child psychology. “That’s the reason I chose TU and Dr. Cromer in particular,” he said. “She is an expert in a lot of areas, and I have an immense passion for working with kids.”

Stimson contributes to the clinical trial by asking questions and assessing participants once they have received therapy for nightmares. So far, 14 kids and teenagers have entered the treatment with encouraging results. Stimson said the youth and teens are “almost glowing” when he meets with them following the successful therapy sessions. They sleep sounder, feel better and experience fewer nightmares. “In supervision, we’ll sometimes watch tapes from earlier assessments before they went through treatment, and it’s amazing to see the shift in body language,” he said. “Instead of having nightmares every single night, they now maybe have one once or twice a month.”

As an undergraduate, psychology senior Andrew Helt also serves an important purpose in Cromer’s lab. He discovered his career interests in trauma psychology while working with children with communicative disorders at Happy Hands Education Center his freshman year. Helt’s research is the focus of a Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) project and his final class project. After learning about the enriching environment of Cromer’s lab, basic literature reviews and data entry led him to explore a sub-study within her clinical trial. “We started to notice that while there’s a lot of kids with nightmares, some of them were reluctant to get into research,” Cromer said. “We wanted to understand the hesitation for either seeking treatment or seeking treatment for a research study when the therapy is free.”

During the summer, Helt learned how to use software systems and review literature to understand the psychological constructs associated with children who suffer from frequent nightmares. Overcoming barriers to treatment can help make it more accessible for children who desperately need relief. “I’m looking at what factors play into whether a parent decides to express interest in joining the trial (before) and what impact the nightmare treatment has in reducing symptoms (after) related to cognitive, behavioral functions,” Helt said.

Additional benefits of nightmare treatment

Published findings show parents who pursue therapy typically are of a higher socioeconomic status, and Cromer’s lab wants to learn how to make therapy and research more accessible to diverse groups. Helt’s sub-study also looks at how treatment can improve executive functions such as impulse control, working memory, task switching and goal-directed behavior. “For most of the medical studies I’ve read about, it’s not about convenience but rather factors like a person’s evaluation of the risks vs. benefits of participating,” Helt explained. “Underprivileged populations, for various reasons, have lower executive function, which plays into poor academic and social outcomes. It’s important to find any way possible to improve those executive functions in kids. We want nightmares to go away, but we also want to see if nightmare treatment can help in other areas too.”

The main objective of the second clinical trial is to determine if nightmares decrease in severity and frequency after the five-session therapy series. To accomplish this, Cromer is teaming up with Dr. Tara Buck, assistant professor of psychiatry and Oxley Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine. The university collaboration allows OU to recruit participants for the study while TU graduate students conduct the therapy and post-therapy assessments.

Resilience amid adversity

nightmares
Psychology students assist Cromer with the clinical trial

Cromer and TU have built a credible reputation nationwide for sleep research, but her lab also encompasses other important areas of study, including psychological resilience amid adversity. “Dissertations that have come out of my lab have focused on special populations such as athletes and military families,” she said. “Through the ongoing SHAPE (Student Health, Academic Performance and Education) program, we work directly with TU teams and coaches on goal setting, mental toughness and preventing anxiety.”

Cromer’s research in child and sports psychology is extensive, and her special interest in how sleep affects other aspects of physical and emotional health inspires students like Stimson and Helt to continue working in the field. “The cool part of being in Dr. Cromer’s lab is that we view sleep as this underlying thing that we’re finding pops up in so many disorders and problems,” Stimson said. “We’re on the leading edge of this kind of research.”