Texas Academy of Science Elections, Membership year 2022

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Below are the biographies for the 2022 candidates. Please review these before you move on to the voting process.

Vice President 


Vice President Candidate: Dr. Robert Ronald Kane (CV)

 Bob was born in Minneapolis MN and lived in Maitland FL before moving to Dallas, TX for 4th grade. After graduating from WT White HS in Dallas, he attended Texas Lutheran College (TLC; now Texas Lutheran University), where he had the opportunity to perform research with Preston Reeves. Jumping the gun, he moved to Texas Tech University just a bit before finishing his BS at TLC. After straightening out that small detail he officially began graduate work with Robert Walkup at TTU in the area of total synthesis and synthetic methodology. Upon earning the PhD he moved to UCLA for postdoctoral work with MF Hawthorne, where he made homogeneous hydrophilic boron-rich compounds and conjugated them to antibodies.

Bob joined the faculty at Baylor University in 1996, where he is now an Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Director of the Institute of Biomedical Studies. His teaching at Baylor has been recognized by Phi Beta Kappa eight times and Mortar Board three times. While at BU he has served as advisor for 8 undergraduate Honors theses, 6 MS degrees, and 11 PhD dissertations. He has published 53 manuscripts (29 at BU, including 16 undergraduate co-authors) and been awarded seven patents. His research utilizes synthetic chemistry to address biological challenges and is currently focused on transplantation. Bob and his wife Deb are in their seventh year living as ‘Faculty in Residence’ in student housing at Baylor.


Academic Director

Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Jeffrey Hutchinson (CV)

I am entering my sixth year as an assistant professor at the University of Texas - San Antonio (UTSA) in the Department of Environmental Science and Ecology (soon to be renamed Integrated Biology). I received my PhD from the University of Florida in Agronomy through the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants with a specialization in invasive plants of natural areas. I received my MS from the University of Kentucky studying tree roosting bats and BS in Wildlife Ecology and Forestry from the University of Florida.

At UTSA, I teach Aquatic Ecology, Natural Resource Policy and Administration, Water Pollution Control, Graduate Student Seminar, and Graduate Student Colloquium. My research at UTSA is currently focused on the use of native vegetation to control roadway pollutant runoff, soil and plant carbon sequestration, ephemeral streams, and various aquatic and riparian plant studies. My students and I monitor a series of ephemeral and permanent pools of various sizes and hydrological periods in nearby Leon Creek Greenway for water quality, algae, plants, and aquatic invertebrates. I have served on UTSA department Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Committees and the University Faculty Senate.

Prior to arriving at UTSA, I worked as an Aquatic Botanist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in San Marcos, Texas where my research focused on the federally endangered Texas wild rice (Zizania texana) and other aquatic and riparian plants in the San Marcos and surrounding rivers. My professional experience includes working as a District Biologist with the Florida Park Service in southeast Florida and a Land Manager at Archbold Biological Station in south-central Florida. I completed two internships and held several temporary positions with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as an undergraduate. Prior to entering college, I was trained as an Electrical Technician in the US Marine Corps and stationed in Southern California, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, and Georgia.

I view the Texas Academy of Science as an excellent opportunity to interact and develop collaborations with fellow faculty and students from around the state. The annual conference represents a great way for student to develop their professionalism. Being a recent contributor to the academy, I plan to be more active by attending the annual meetings, serving on committees, and promoting students to publish in the journal and attend and present their research at the annual meeting. In 2020 just prior to the Covid shutdown, three of my students and I presented at the annual meeting. In 2021, I served as the vice-chair of the virtual Freshwater Science section and will serve as the chair in 2022.



Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Mary Kay Johnston (CV)


Originally from Oklahoma, Dr. Mary Kay Johnston took an early interest in the natural sciences in America’s short grass prairies and Cross Timbers. She fondly remembers how abundant bobwhite quail and horned lizards were during her childhood, and her passion for science is tied deeply to education and conservation.

Her undergraduate and master’s research at the University of Oklahoma took her from studying insect community ecology in the United States to Barro Colorado, Panama. There, she examined leaf litter insect communities in the 50-ha long term plot. While working on her master’s degree, she also began work on freshwater aquatic systems and developed a love for the charismatic crustacean Daphnia, and this continued to her doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin. There, her research took her to the prairie pothole wetlands of South Dakota’s Prairie Coteau, and she studied how waterfowl help connect wetlands in meta-community landscape by dispersing small organisms and nutrients on their feathers and in their bodies.

Dr. Johnston is currently an associate professor in both the departments of Biology and Environmental Science & Conservation at Concordia University in Austin, Texas. Concordia University is a small, private, liberal-arts institution that primarily serves undergraduates. Her research today is primarily focused on providing research opportunities and support for undergraduates, including using the University’s natural resources to promote research and conservation activities. The University owns Friesenhahn Cave in San Antonio, an important and rich site of Pleistocene fossils, and it also owns a 250-acre tract that is a part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Northwest Austin. Several students have conducted research projects using material from Friesenhahn Cave or the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and presented their findings at annual meetings of TAS.

Over the several years that her students have presented at TAS, she has seen the strength and value of the Texas Academy of Science as an organization that supports and fosters connection between students and early career professionals. Especially after the difficulties of the COVID pandemic, we’ve all recognized the need for creating connection among the members of our scientific community.


Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Nicole Poritsanos (CV)

Functioning as an honorable member of our society, while fulfilling the needs of our students and the healthcare system has been a guiding force toward my biomedical pursuits leading to therapeutic discoveries and increasing healthcare access to lifesaving medicinal interventions globally. Specifically, my career goal has been to pursue didactic activities and biomedical research for the discovery of molecular and regenerative therapeutic interventions in pediatric and adult metabolic conditions, especially those in neuroendocrine diseases, genetic and epigenetic deregulation, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

My academic background in microbiology (MSc), neuroendocrinology and metabolic diseases (PhD), patient care (Certified Nurse Aide), as well as, my volunteer and work experiences as a Medical Liaison Officer and Clinical Laboratory Scientist, have positioned me to forge strong partnerships with various sectors of our society. These opportunities have enabled me to forge productive working relationships and communication networks with nonprofit organizations, researchers, clinicians, government representatives and knowledge users, in fulfillment of the healthcare needs of our population during in times of crisis. In the capacity of a Clinical Scientist for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Medical Liaison Officer for the Kleberg County, I gained the opportunities to utilize my strengths in biomedical research, public speaking and community service in support of fulfilling various critical healthcare needs of those most vulnerable in our society. In this regard, my investment towards increasing my operational competencies through the professional training opportunities from the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA), Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), American College of Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), have further strengthened my working knowledge of the clinical research expertise necessary to be in compliance with the College of American Pathologists (CAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments regulations (CLIA) regulations governing health assessments, pharmaceutical research, and therapeutic interventions.

In recent time, I applied my biomedical expertise to serve the public health sector on the educational outreach directives for the Ebola virus and Zika virus disease outbreaks as mandated by the State of Texas Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC. Additionally, during the recent activation of the State Medical Operations Center (SMOC) in response to the Hurricane Harvey that devastated our state, I was welcomed by the DSHS to serve our community as part of the logistics team. In fulfillment of my commitments towards the public health preparedness emergency response activities, I incorporated my critical thinking in biomedical research, interpersonal skills and collaborative expertise in multidisciplinary environments towards the collective efforts for humanitarian relief and therapeutic interventions for people who were in life-threatening circumstances. Currently, I incorporate these life experiences into my teaching and curriculum development at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where I empower students to make critically and ethically sound assessments of various issues impacting humans in the areas of global health, justice and governance. In accordance with the institutional mandates within the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, I encourage my students to be resilient agents of good will, and to give service to our society in a manner that promotes peace, healing and justice for the betterment of humanity around the world.

Collectively, these experiences further enabled me to develop the productive working relationships among the academic, government and public health officials, as well as the medical professionals and the community at large. While working as part of diverse socioeconomic and multidisciplinary environments in academia, public health and biomedical research, I got the opportunity to conduct myself in a manner that exemplified best business practices and high ethical standards, ultimately increasing the quality of personal impact in high demand situations. In this regard, functioning in the capacity of an academic professor, scientist and community leader have been life-long goals in serving the best interests of the most vulnerable and underserved patient populations in our society.


Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Brian R. Shmaefsky (CV)

I moved to Texas after working as a professor in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Missouri. Originally from New York City, I did my undergraduate studies in biology at Brooklyn College and pursued graduate studies at Rocky Mountain Biological Field Station, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My doctoral research was in environmental physiology related to senescence pathways in agricultural applications.
Before becoming a college instructor, I worked in industry for Sigma-Aldrich as a biochemical production chemist and a quality control scientist. My reason for leaving industry was to seek a higher education teaching position after working as an adjunct professor while in industry. My successful experiences with students as an adjunct fostered my desire to teach full-time. I returned to college to complete a doctoral degree in science education to improve my knowledge of teaching. Currently, I am lead faculty for environmental science at Lone Star College – Kingwood which is a 2-year collage near Houston, Texas. My current duties also include serving as the IRB chair for the multi-campus Lone Star College system.
As a proponent of life-long professional development, I regularly take part in conferences and workshops that promote best practices in college science teaching. Currently, I am focusing my efforts on making courses more assessable and inclusive to diverse student populations, under-represented students, and students with disabilities. Like many of my students, I was a first-generation college student who had little understanding of how to achieve college success. In addition, I had to overcome language, socioeconomic, and cultural barriers that hindered college success.
My favorite part of teaching is engaging the students in CURE (Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience) activities or community science projects. I have found these learning strategies valuable components of the courses despite the efforts the students and I must put into the projects. In one of the CURE projects, my students were tasked with designing inexpensive simple to use methods that underserved communities use to monitor fecal contamination in soils and water left behind by sewage overflows. The students developed a model of using the larvae of ubiquitous bean beetles to detect of the presence exotoxins or cytolytic contaminants in water and soil. The project was published and even investigated for use in developing nations by some environmental science researchers. I have learned that community science projects such as this are particularly engaging to my under-represented students.

I am new to the Texas Academy of Science; however, I experienced serving on Board of Director and Advisory Council positions, for various types of organizations including the Houston-Galveston Area Council, National Association of Biology Teachers, National Science Teaching Association, National Marine Sanctuaries Program, Oklahoma Academy of Science, and Society for College Science Teachers, I am also active with the AAAS , Ecological Society of America, and Union of Concerned Scientists. I am hoping to contribute to TAS by promoting the advancement of DEI in the practice and teaching of science in addition to engaging scientists and students in community science projects.


Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Yolander Renea Youngblood (CV)

Dr. Youngblood is a Mississippi native that left her small family farm to pursue academia. As a wife and mother of three girls, she joins the ranks of many other women who balance work and family here in Cypress, TX. Her hobbies include traveling to the beach and the family farm back in Mississippi.
Professionally, she focuses on preparing students for STEM careers. Currently her laboratory is researching Amaranthus palmeri. As a faculty member, she also teaches Botany and Practicum. Her passion for students pushes her to be involved in different types of projects. Each project is independent and fits a student’s need; hence she is one of “1000 inspiring Black Scientists in America” (https://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/1000-inspiring-black-scientists-in-america), a 2021 Fellow for the Center for Advancement of STEM Leadership (CASL), and the recipient of Prairie View A & M University’s 2020 Outstanding Faculty Service Award.


Non-Academic Director

Non-Academic Director Candidate 2022-2025: Dr. Hania W. Janek (CV)

Dr. Janek is an educator, researcher and leader at Baylor Scott & White Health. In 2005, she obtained her PhD from Baylor University in Biomedical Studies; and in 2015, she completed her Master of Science in Medical Education Leadership through the University of New England.
Currently, she is the System Vice President for Education at Baylor Scott & White Health and holds a Clinical Professor Faculty appointment in the Department of Medical Education with the College of Medicine at Texas A&M University.

As the academic and administrative leader of Education, Dr. Janek is responsible for BSWH education programs including the integrated libraries, continuing medical education, allied health, academic affiliation agreements, clinical simulation, and education innovation and scholarship. She partners with education leaders throughout the BSWH system to ensure an integrated and seamless management of clinical learning and education. In previous roles at BSWH, she held responsibilities for the advancement of BSWH research, investigators and scholarship through various academic initiatives integrating research, education and quality strategies. Furthermore, she supports a culture of scientific inquiry embedded in interprofessional collaboration and innovation that improves the health of patients and communities through education and research advancements.

Dr. Janek’s scholarly interests involve a focus on the role of academic research and medical education on improvement of patient and health system outcomes. For over a decade, she has led teams towards creating an academic and scholarly environment, including the use of effective research and education programs, mentorship, establishing intradepartmental and interprofessional involvement and external collaborations. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers (AIAMC) and is most recently served as the Chair of the AIAMC Committee on Integration of Academics and Quality for National Initiative VII: Teaming for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice. Dr. Janek has served as a principal and co-investigator for numerous educational, QI, clinical and basic research studies and grants and has published 43 peer-reviewed manuscripts.


Student Director

Student Director Candidate: Christopher Johnson  

Christopher Johnson accepted a position in University of Texas Medical Branch DPT Program class of 2024 and starts in September 2021.  He earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, in Kings Point, NY in 2006.  He studied and completed his prerequisites for UTMB at McLennan Community College (MCC).  While at MCC Chris held the position of Vice President of the Biology Club from 2019-2020.  He also served as a Supplemental Instructor for Anatomy and Physiology under the guidance of Dr. John Seawright.

While at the Academy Chris spent 1 year at sea as a cadet aboard American flagged ships learning the trade and receiving on the job training prior to completing requirements to sit for the United States Coast Guard (USCG) examination.  Chris has traveled all over the world aboard private and government owned ships over the past 15 years and has visited over 40 countries. From 2011-2016 Chris worked for the Department of the Navy as a Port Engineer.  He was assigned to the FFG class of vessels and was responsible for managing the maintenance budget and ensuring that all maintenance and upgrades were accomplished to ensure the ships could meet their operational requirements. Chris currently holds a USCG Unlimited Horsepower Chief Engineer License for Diesel Propulsion Vessels and a USCG Unlimited Horsepower Third Assistant Engineer License for Steam and Gas Turbine Propulsion plants. 


2022 Elections Click Here to Vote  Sorry elections are now closed

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