Arts & Sciences Newsletter Fall 2020

Table of Contents

Background and Mission

Faculty Roster

Updates from Arts & Humanities

Updates from Computer Science

Updates from Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Updates from Social & Behavioral Sciences

Background and Mission

The School of Arts and Sciences is central to the teaching, research, and service interests of the greater UHV community, a dynamic destination university in the Coastal Bend region of Texas. We prepare students with the skills and intellectual leadership needed in the public and private sector. Special emphasis is placed on providing students with the critical thinking and technological skills necessary for lifelong success, active citizenship, and global awareness.

Undergraduate Degrees Offered:

Division of Arts and Humanities

  • Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Communication
  • Communication Design
  • Creative Writing
  • English
  • History
  • Spanish Division of Computer Science
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Digital Games and Simulations Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Mathematics

Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Criminal Justice
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

Department of Gen Ed and General Studies

  • University Studies

Graduate Degrees Offered:

Division of Arts and Humanities

  • Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
  • Master of Science in Publishing Division of Computer Science
  • Master of Science in Computer Information Systems
  • Master of Science in Computer Science Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Specialist in School Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Faculty Roster

Division of Arts & Humanities

  • Chair, Andrew Baerg
  • Communication
  • Andrew Baerg, Chair, Professor Aaron Deason, Lecturer
  • Nicole Eugene, Assistant Professor Mark Ward, Associate Professor
  • Communication Design
  • Kevin Auer, Director of Communication Design, Lecturer Amina Patton, Assistant Professor
  • English and Creative Writing
  • Jeffrey DiLeo, Professor of English and Philosophy
  • Dagoberto Gilb, Executive Director of Centro Victoria and Professor of Latino Studies William Scott Harkey, Lecturer
  • Anthony Madrid, Director of Creating Writing, Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing
  • Nadya Pittendrigh, Director of Composition, Assistant Professor Saba Razvi, Associate Professor
  • Jeffrey Sartain, Director of Professional Writing, Associate Professor Jake Snyder, Lecturer
  • Brooks Sterritt, Assistant Professor Blake Stricklin, Lecturer
  • Liane Tanguay, Associate Professor
  • History
  • Esther Cuenca, Assistant Professor
  • Joseph Locke, Director of History Program, Associate Professor Laura Mammina, Assistant Professor
  • Beverly Tomek, Interim Dean, Associate Professor
  • Philosophy
  • Justin Bell, Director of General Studies and Honors Program, Associate Professor Horace Fairlamb, Director of MAIS Program, Professor of Humanities
  • Publishing
  • Kyle Schlesinger, Director of Graduate Publishing Program, Professor
  • Spanish
  • Armando Chavez-Rivera, Director of Spanish Program, Associate Professor Maria Salome Chavarria Salgado, Senior Lecturer

Division of Computer Science

  • Chair, Yun Wan Associate Chair, Amjad Nusayr
  • Computer Science and Computer Information Systems
  • Hardik Gohel, Director of Applied AI Laboratory, Director of Research, Assistant Professor
  • Hongyu Guo, Associate Professor Wassim Itani, Associate Professor
  • Schelia Martins, Director of Undergraduate Computer Information Systems Program, Assistant Professor
  • Amjad Nusayr, Director of Undergraduate Computer Science Program, Assistant Professor
  • Mai Abo Shakra, Lecturer
  • Yun Wan, Chair, Professor of Computer Information Systems Farnaz Zand, Lecturer
  • Qi Zhu, Director of Graduate Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Programs, Professor of Computer Science
  • Digital Games and Simulations
  • Rogerio DaSilva, Assistant Professor of Gaming and Computer Science


Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

  • Chair, Dmitri Sobolev
  • Hashimul Ehsan, Assistant Professor Humberto Hernandez, Assistant Professor Gen Kaneko, Assistant Professor
  • Jesica McCue, Clinical Assistant Professor Tesneem Nusayr, Visiting Assistant Professor Dmitri Sobolev, Chair, Associate Professor
  • Daniel White, Director of Graduate Biology Program, Assistant Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Alexander Pikolov, Assistant Professor
  • Mathematics
  • Ali Dogan, Director of BAAS Program, Assistant Professor Junda Hu, Assistant Professor
  • Jang Woo Park, Assistant Professor
  • Ricardo Teixeira, Director of Mathematics Program, Associate Professor

Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Chair, Elise Hendricker
  • Associate Chair for Graduate Programs, Shannon Viola Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs, Craig Goodman
  • Criminal Justice
  • Casey Akins, Senior Lecturer
  • Keith Akins, Director of Undergraduate Criminal Justice Program, Associate Professor Sara Zedaker, Director of Graduate Criminal Justice Program, Assistant Professor
  • Political Science
  • Craig Goodman, Associate Chair, Director of Political Science Program, Associate Professor
  • Saidat Ilo, Assistant Professor
  • Psychology
  • Rick Harrington, Professor of Psychology
  • Elise Hendricker, Chair, Associate Professor of School Psychology Rebecca Heron, Assistant Professor
  • Brent Lang, Director of Counseling Psychology, Assistant Professor Melanie Lemanski, Assistant Professor*
  • Jennifer Ortiz-Garza, Director of Undergraduate Psychology, Senior Lecturer Karen Parsonson, Director of Forensic Psychology, Assistant Professor Catherine Perz, Associate Professor
  • Sandy Venneman, Professor of Psychology and Biology
  • Shannon Viola, Associate Chair, Director of School Psychology, Associate Professor of School Psychology
  • Delores White, Visiting Lecturer

Updates from the Division of Arts & Humanities

Faculty Good News

Dr. Esther Cuenca was cited in Spring and Summer 2020 by the Office of Student Affairs for service to UHV students.

Dr. Mark Ward Sr. has received national and regional recognition for his research on religious communication and media. In May, he was profiled in the Victoria Advocate for his research contributions to interfaith dialogue. The same month he was named winner of the 2020 Digital Religion Research Award, given annually by the Network for New Media, Religion, and Digital Culture Studies, for his article “Digital Religion and Media Economics: Concentration and Convergence in the Electronic Church,” which appeared in the Journal of Religion, Media, and Digital Culture. Last spring Dr. Ward received a Top Paper Award from the Southern States Communication Association and was elected to the group’s Executive Committee as chair of its Language and Social Interaction Division. He also serves on the Executive Council of the Religious Communication Association.

Dr. Kyle Schlesinger was recently notified by the State of Texas that he has been nominated to be the Poet Laureate of Texas. This award is the highest one can receive in the Arts in the state.

Research Accomplishments

*Please contact authors for additional information.

Dr. Armando Chávez-Rivera had a publication and a conference presentation:

  • Diccionario de Provincialismos de la Isla de Cuba (1831) [Dictionary of Provincialisms of the Island of Cuba]. Transcription, Edition, and Introductory Essay by Armando Chávez-Rivera. Valencia, Spain: Aduana Vieja, 2020.
  • “Health and Sanitary Discourses in Cuban Anti-Slavery Literature.” V International Conference: Physicians and Medicine in Latin American Culture and Literature. University of Costa Rica, September 17, 2020. (Zoom Meeting)

Dr. Esther Cuenca published several book reviews, a peer-reviewed essay and articles for websites. She also had conference and workshop presentations.

  • Remembering Wolsey: A History of Commemorations and Representations by J. Patrick Hornbeck II, in Journal of British Studies 59, no. 1 (2020): 185-6.
  • Constructing a Civic Community in Late Medieval London: The Common Profit, Charity and Commemoration by David Harry, in Renaissance Quarterly 73, no. 3 (2020): 1053-4.
  • Petitions and Strategies of Persuasion in the Middle Ages: The English Crown and the Church, c.1200-c.1550, edited by Smith and Killick, in Church History 89, no. 2 (2020): 434.
  • Historical Malapropism and the Medieval Blood Libel in American Politics,” Studies in Medievalism 29 (2020): 3-12.
  • “A Medieval Mother Tries Distance Learning,” The Paris Review (September 17, 2020), learning/
  • “Sex in the Not-City: Bad Behavior in the Medieval English Village,” (July 29, 2020),
  • Medievalism, Nationalism, and European Studies: New Approaches in Digital Pedagogy,” which can be found at: nationalism-and-european-studies-new-approaches-in-digital-pedagogy/
  • Presenter, October 2020: “Oath-Taking and the Politics of Secrecy in Medieval and Early Modern British Towns,” Works in Progress Workshop, Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association (via Zoom).
  • Invited speaker, May 2020: “Setting the Scene: American Internationalism and Hollywood Space Films at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century,” The Global Cosmos: Dislocation & Discontent in the Space Age, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. (canceled in March 2020 because of COVID-19)

Dr. Anthony Madrid has two poems in the current Georgia Review.

Dr. Mark Ward Sr.’s most recent publication, “‘Knowledge Puffs Up’: The Evangelical Culture of Anti-Intellectualism as a Local Strategy,” appeared in the journal Sermon Studies. Essays on religious radio and television were also published in three recent books including News on the Right: Studying Conservative News Culture (Oxford University Press), Radio’s Second Century: A Reader (Rutgers University Press), and The Protestant Sermon in America (Lexington). Next month, Dr. Ward will virtually present his research, including two papers nominated for Top Paper awards, at the annual convention of the National Communication Association. In November, he will deliver a virtual guest lecture on Digital Religion Studies at Texas A&M University.

Updates from the Division of Computer Science

Faculty Good News

Dr. Hardik Gohel received a Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Education Program (NDEP) federal STEM grant. It is to educate and recruit students and build their mastery in practical skills of artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity. The grant also supports students’ summer internships in local and regional DoD government and industry employers.

Research Accomplishments

*Please contact authors for additional information.

Dr. Scheila Martins published a book chapter entitled “Digital literacy as a competence for global citizenship.” The full citation is below:

Digital literacy as a competence for global citizenship (only in Portuguese)

Martins, S. W.; Martins, J. W.; Alves, F. M. M. Literacia digital como competência para a cidadania global. In: SANTOS, Edméa O.; PIMENTEL, Mariano; SAMPAIO, Fábio F. (Org.). Informática na Educação: autoria, mídia, letramento, inclusão digital. Porto Alegre: Sociedade Brasileira de Computação, 2019. (Série Informática na Educação, v.5) Disponível em: < global>

The main goal of the textbook series “Methodology of Scientific Research in Informatics in Education” designed in partnership between CIEB-SBC (The Center for Brazilian Education Innovation and the Brazilian Computer Society) is to make available, for researchers and graduate students in Informatics in Education in Brazil, online content on the theoretical- epistemological-methodological foundations of scientific research of the Informatics and Education domain. The books in this series address different methods of scientific research and the main techniques of data collection and analysis, illustrated with research carried out in the Informatics in Education domain. The series aims to present an overview of the possibilities for carrying out scientific research and to point out ways for the reader to deepen the knowledge presented in each chapter. The chapter “Digital literacy as a competence for global citizenship” written by Dr. Scheila W. Martins (UHV), Dr. Joaquim W. Martins (UFRJ) and Dr. Fernanda Maria Melo Alves (UFBA and researcher of Information Literacy from UNESCO for Latin America) was published in February 2019 and the impacts of the chapter and the series were shared:

  • the Google Analytics of the chapter: it was accessed more than 256x in the past 3 months and people spent an average of 4:37 minutes reading/consulting the chapter;
  • The uses of the chapter to support teachers training degrees in certification and graduate level in Brazil
  • CIEB-SBC announced the outreach campaign of the didactic series on Portuguese Speaker Countries on Africa (Moçambique and Angola), as part of the countries educational authorities partnership signed recently to promote educational programs.

Program Initiatives

The Computer Science program formally submitted their accreditation application to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Computer Science is actively collaborating with Houston Community College (HCC) on multiple 2+2 and 2+2+1 (Master degree) partnership agreements to provide a smooth transition of HCC students to continue their education in UHV.

Program Highlights listed the UHV Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in its Top 34 Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs list. The website used four categories to create a score for each university. The categories included affordability, academic quality, student satisfaction and students’ return on investment. UHV’s score was 88.6 out of 100 possible points.

The UHV Digital Games and Simulation program ranked in the Top 10 Game Design Schools and Colleges in the Southwest.

Updates from the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Research Accomplishments

*Please contact authors for additional information.

Dr. Gen Kaneko has had multiple papers published and presented at state conferences.

Dr. Tesneem Nusayr has written a book chapter.

Dr. Ricardo Teixeria and Dr. Jang Woo Park had a book published by the prestigious WORLD SCIENTIFIC. The book was released this summer and is titled “Magical Journey through Advanced Mathematics.”

Dr. Hashimul Ehsan has published two papers. He, along with Dr. Gen Kaneko, supervised a visiting scientist.

Dr. Humberto Hernandez is performing research on glaucoma mechanisms.

Dr. Dmitri Sobolev had a paper published by the Journal of Coastal Conservation.

Program Initiatives

Dr. Jesica McCue and Dr. Daniel White have developed a plan to make a university wide pre-health advisory committee and have forwarded the proposal to the Provost.

Dr. Aleksandr Pikalov is charged with developing a Chemistry program at UHV, which will lead to a Chemistry minor and beyond.

Community Outreach

Dr. Daniel White was on the local news twice, answering questions and describing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advance Placement agreements with local high schools are being developed

Student Good News

Two Biology graduate students are finishing up their thesis work that was put on hold from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sakinah Mohammed graduated from UHV with my bachelor's in Biology in 2017 and just completed her second bachelor's degree in Histotechnology from UT MD Anderson's Histotechnology program. She started working in a histology lab after taking histology course at UHV. She is preparing for her board exam and is expecting her first child in August.

A former student, John Harrison, is advancing his PhD in Physics at UT-San Antonio. He has completed the required 18 hours to be able to teach college level and is an adjunct professor for UHV this fall.

Mariah Busselman graduated from the Biology program in summer 2020 and has accepted a teaching position at Gonzales High School. Says Dr. Tesneem Nusayr: "Mariah was an enthusiastic and inquiring student. I was fortunate to know and have her in my classes."

Alba Sanchez applied to graduate school at Oxford University and made it to the interview stage of the admissions process.

Pavel Canela is preparing for medical school.

Terry Harryman is working at Sparrow Health Care doing COVID testing.

Samantha Hetherington is a graduate student at the University at Albany- State University of New York.

Updates from the Division of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Faculty Good News

Ms. Delores White was named the Faculty Member of the Year during the 2020 UHV Student Organization and Leadership Awards virtual ceremony.

Dr. Sandy Venneman is an invited speaker at the United States Dressage Federation convention this December. Her presentation will cover humans and equine sleep.

Dr. Saidat Ilo was elected to the board of the League of Women Voters in Fort Bend County.

Dr. Rebecca Heron presented a paper on non-offending pedophilia at a virtual conference in San Francisco and won the award for best presentation.

Research Accomplishments

*Please contact authors for additional information.

Dr. Sandy Venneman is presenting at the Association for Psychological Science on how to make statistics less threatening to students.

Dr. Catherine Perz, Dr. Brent Lang and Dr. Rick Harrington recently published a validation of a Fear of COVID-19 scale using Exploratory Factor Analysis and Multiple Regression Analyses:

  • Perz, C., Lang, B.A., & Harrington, R. (2020). Validation of the Fear of COVID-19 scale in a U.S. college sample. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, doi: 10.1007/s11469-020-00356-3.

Dr. Brent Lang has published the following studies investigating Veteran mental health and substance use disorders:

  • Dindo, L. Johnson, A., Lang, B., Rodrigues, M. Martin, L. Jorge, R. (2020). Development and evaluation of a one-day Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workshop for Veterans with comorbid chronic pain, TBI, and psychological distress: Outcomes from pilot study. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 90, doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2020.105954.
  • Ecker, A.H., Lang, B., Hogan, J.D.B., Cucciare, M.A., & Lindsay, J. (2020) Cannabis use disorder among veterans: Comorbidity and mental health treatment utilization. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 109, 46-49. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.11.003.

Dr. Brent Lang is working on interdisciplinary research projects with faculty in the Computer Science, Communication, and Health Studies Departments.

Dr. Elise Hendricker and Dr. Shannon Viola presented a joint presentation on social emotional learning standards at the annual conference of the National Association of School Psychologists. They also published a paper on distance learning in School Psychology.

  • Viola, S., Hendricker, E., & Saeki, E. (2020). Instructional technology in graduate psychology distance education: Trends and student preferences. Journal of Educators Online, 17(1).

Dr. Elise Hendricker presented on family engagement during the special education process at the annual conference of the National Association of School Psychologists. She also published an article in the Communique’, the national newsletter of the National Association of School Psychologists, on distance education and the School Psychology program at the University of Houston-Victoria. This newsletter reaches approximately 16,000 members.

Dr. Shannon Viola worked with a research team to provide training on Non-Suicidal Self- Injury and collected data on mental health professionals’ knowledge and self-efficacy. This was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. She also published numerous papers with colleagues from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and the University of Houston-Downtown.

  • Glennon, S., Viola, S. Blakely, A. (2020). Increasing school personnel’s self-efficacy, knowledge, and response regarding non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in youth. Psychology in the Schools, 57(1), 135-151.
  • Viola, S. B, Colman, S. L., Glennon, S., Pastorek, M. E. (2020). Use of parent education to improve self-efficacy in parents of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Evaluation and Program Planning, 82, 1-7.

Dr. Sara Zedaker co-authored a paper, “The relationship between rape myth acceptance and sexual behavior” in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Dr. Karen Parsonson had a first author publication, “Is Teaching International Ethics Codes Important for Psychology Graduate Students?” in Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry. She is also in the final stages of publishing a book on international Psychology ethics codes with contributions from countries on all continents.

Dr. Melanie Lemanski, along with School Psychology graduate students Magno Guillen and Caitlyn Pool, presented a mini-skills presentation on the role of school psychologists in assisting students with transitioning to high school and beyond at the annual conference of the Texas Association of School Psychologists.

Program Initiatives

The new Master’s program in Criminal Justice program was approved in spring 2020 by the Texas Coordinating Board of Higher Education and admitted its first students for the 2020- 2021 academic school year. Eleven students started the program in fall 2020. Dr. Sara Zedaker is the director of the Criminal Justice Master’s Program.

The Counseling Psychology and Forensic Psychology graduate programs developed a dual- concentration degree plan that will begin in fall 2020. Students will be able to choose between the Professional Counselor and Psychological Associate degree concentrations.

This provides students two options of licensure in the state of Texas: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA). These concentrations make the program more competitive in the region and prepares students for work in a wide variety of settings.

The School Psychology program submitted the second phase of their accreditation paperwork to the National Association of School Psychologists in September 2020. The program has been granted candidacy status since August 2017 and will receive news of their accreditation in early 2021.

A growing number of students from across the nation and internationally have applied to the Forensic Psychology program. The program is one of very few programs in the country to train Master’s level students in Forensic Psychology.

With funds contributed during the All for One, One for All campaign, faculty from the School Psychology program were able to fund Magno Guillen and Caitlyn Pool, both students in School Psychology, to attend the annual conference of the Texas Association of School Psychologists and present alongside Dr. Melanie Lemanski.

Community Outreach

The undergraduate Psychology and undergraduate Political Science programs placed six students on undergraduate internships to support their learning. Students worked at Hope Child Advocacy Center, the Victoria County courthouse and on local election campaigns.

Amid the COVID-19 restrictions, students in the Counseling, Forensic and School Psychology programs were all placed in a variety of practicum sites and completed practicum requirements. Partnerships with new sites were also forged.

Student Good News

Katie Parker, a graduate of the School Psychology program, was awarded A&S Outstanding Graduate student in spring 2020. Katie is employed by Victoria ISD as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology.