Accolades: Science/Math Educator, Doctoral Student Earn Recognition

Accolades is an occasional News Center feature that highlights recent accomplishments of UT Dallas faculty and students. To submit items for consideration, contact your school’s communication manager.

Urquhart Recognized for Efforts to Support Science Teachers

Dr. Mary Urquhart

Dr. Mary Urquhart, associate professor and head of the Department of Science/Mathematics Education (SME) at UT Dallas, was recently honored for leading programs that educate and support Texas science teachers.

Urquhart received the Nita Beth Camp Legacy Award for a science project director from the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching. The award honors a “lifetime of dedication and commitment to quality education for Texas teachers and students,” according to the citation.

For the past nine years, Urquhart has led the UT Dallas Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching, part of the statewide network that provides high-quality professional development to teachers. The collaborative hosts programs and workshops for in-service teachers aimed at enhancing their science content knowledge, improving their instructional skills and building their leadership capacity. In more recent years, she also has overseen collaboratives in math and computer science.

In addition to designing and delivering professional development for in-service teachers, she works directly with students in pre-K through 12th grade in and outside of classrooms. Her work also includes education research and developing curriculum for pre-K through 12th grade.

Urquhart, a planetary scientist, joined the SME department in 2002 and was named department head in 2011. She also is director of the UTeach Dallas program, which allows UT Dallas students majoring in STEM fields to combine their degree with secondary teaching certification without adding time or cost.

PhD Student Takes Two Awards at Chemistry Conference

Bioengineering doctoral student Ambalika Tanak MS’16 received a distinguished abstract award and won the student poster competition at the 70th annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

Ambalika Tanak MS’16

Tanak’s abstract was among 24 winners from a pool of 887 abstracts at the national conference, which was held during the summer in Chicago. Her research focuses on building point-of-need diagnostic devices that require very low sample amounts. The specific study that was recognized involved determining parathyroid hormone levels in blood.

“The challenge in parathyroid testing is the need for a test fast enough to use during procedures that is also sensitive and specific enough to accurately determine how well a thyroidectomy is working,” said Tanak’s advisor, Dr. Shalini Prasad, associate department head of bioengineering and Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in Systems Biology Science at UT Dallas. “The work presented by Ambalika is the first step toward achieving this clinical milestone.”

Tanak credited Prasad, along with Dr. Sriram Muthukumar, adjunct associate professor of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas, and Dr. Ibrahim Hashim, holder of the A.J. Gill Professorship of Pathology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, for providing crucial guidance.

“I am honored to receive this highly competitive award,” Tanak said. “The AACC conference has been a good learning experience for me. Apart from the abstract award, winning first place for the poster competition is a motivation to continue to take up challenges and strive for effective solutions in the field.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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