Monday , June 26 2017
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Robertson Named Interim Dean for UTEP’s College of Education

William Robertson, Ph.D., has been named the interim dean of the College of Education at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Robertson is a professor and co-chair in the Department of Teacher Education.

President Diana Natalicio, who in 2016 awarded the President’s Meritorious Service Award to Robertson for his community engaged scholarship, said, “I look forward to working with Dr. Robertson to build upon UTEP’s longstanding commitment to the educational needs of our community at all levels. His experienced leadership will ensure an unbroken trajectory for the faculty, staff and students of the college during this time of transition.”

Robertson received his Ph.D. in Multicultural Teacher and Childhood Education from the University of New Mexico and joined the UTEP faculty in 2004. A former associate dean and associate provost, Robertson has made scholarly contributions in the areas of science education, curriculum development, and technology integration in primary and secondary schools. He uses problem-based learning and action science to develop lessons for children in science, technology and math.

His work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Boeing Corp.

“Dr. Robertson’s record of community engagement and innovative teacher preparation is directly aligned with the values of UTEP and the College of Education,” said Howard Daudistel, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “His academic expertise and administrative experience will serve the college well as it focuses on the needs of the schools and students of the region.”

Robertson will assume the role of interim dean on July 1, upon the departure of Dean Cyndi Giorgis. Giorgis has served UTEP for the past three years as dean of the College of Education and will be taking the position of Director of the Division of Teacher Preparation at Arizona State University.

Miners Build Rainwater Harvesting System in Colonia

Desire, destiny and determination were part of a recent effort by University of Texas at El Paso students who designed and constructed a demonstration rainwater harvesting system for an elderly couple who live in a colonia outside of Presidio, Texas.

Eight UTEP students, mostly from the College of Engineering, under the supervision of the University’s Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM), made the four-hour trek to Las Pampas to install the system that was built to collect 2,200 gallons of water.

Residents of this colonia – a community along the U.S.-Mexico border that lacks basic infrastructure, such as paved roads and connections to municipal utilities – are not hooked up to the Presidio water service. They must haul in water up to several times per week for indoor and outdoor use.

The UTEP team hoped this effort, called the Water Matters project, would show other Las Pampas residents how they could cut back on the cost, time and effort tied to hauling water.

The students worked for about 12 hours to drill, cut and assemble the system’s PVC pipes and gutters that ultimately connected to eight 275-gallon black plastic tanks.

“The students learned a lot, and that’s an important part of education,” said Bill Hargrove, Ph.D., CERM director and the driving force behind the project.”They learned technical aspects, but maybe even more important was that they learned some soft skills such as how to work together and how to get organized. These are skills that professionals, especially engineers, use every day.”

Some rain showers in May and early June tested the system and the homeowners reported that it worked fairly well. There was some minor leakage at a joint, but the homeowner was able to repair it. An estimated 370 gallons of rainwater was collected from the collective storms despite the leak.

The project’s story really began during the summer of 2015 when CERM started a grant-funded water assessment survey for Presidio, a rural community about 250 miles southeast of El Paso. The study, which included Las Pampas, was led by Hargrove and lasted about 18 months. After he submitted the report to state and city officials, residents, who had developed close ties with his team, asked him if they would be getting water service.

The CERM director began to think about low-cost options to help the Las Pampas residents. A colleague’s mention of rainwater harvesting got him thinking about that as a possible solution. He took the idea to Jesus M. Placencia, an engineer in training and CERM graduate research assistant who studied the topic as a graduate student in 2016. The UTEP alumnus earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2015, and is expected to complete his master’s in civil and environmental engineering in fall 2017.

Placencia designed a system that took advantage of the home’s sloped 2,252-square-foot metal roof. He considered the area’s highest monthly rainfall in July and August of about two inches per month. The numbers cruncher figured the system should harvest 2,200 gallons that could be used to irrigate the property’s 26 trees and assorted bushes and plants.

CERM had a plan and had allocated $1,000 for supplies, but it needed more help and it was about to get plenty of it.

El Paso-based Coca-Cola Enterprises contacted CERM to see if it wanted 15 275-gallon jugs that are used to carry the soda’s syrup. Similar tanks cost about $600 each.

Owners of a Las Pampas trucking company, who got to know Hargrove during the CERM community water survey, offered to transport the tanks for a nominal fee.

Miguel Fraga, a senior engineering leadership major who leads a student group that wants to put its knowledge and expertise to use in the community, asked Hargrove if CERM had a project it could support.

“Everyone did a pretty good job,” said Fraga, who added that this was the first time some of them had used power tools. “We’re thankful to CERM. Everyone is looking forward to the next project.”

Among those who were impressed by the project was Presidio Mayor John Ferguson, who stopped by the job site. He has known Hargrove for several years because of CERM’s water research. He said the project inspired him to propose a grant to his city council that would pay for the extension of city water service to the colonia.

“(Rainwater harvesting) was a tremendous idea,” Ferguson said. He thought it was a positive step that could alleviate some of the problem. He also lauded the students for their determination.

Hargrove said there are tentative plans to return to Las Pampas during the fall 2017 semester to assemble a similar system on a larger colonia property.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Scientists Awarded Patent for Chagas Disease Vaccine

A pair of scientists at The University of Texas at El Paso is one step closer to developing the first ever clinical Chagas disease vaccine.

Researchers Rosa Maldonado, Ph.D., and Igor Almeida, Ph.D., both faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently were granted a patent for “Mucin-Associated Surface Protein As Vaccine Against Chagas Disease.”

“We dream of this [a vaccine for Chagas disease], but we don’t know it is going to happen,” Almeida said. “You dream to get something to help the people and you expect to make at least a small contribution,” Maldonado shared.

The preventive vaccine had been in development since 2008 and most recently was tested at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) in San Antonio on nonhuman primates in collaboration with John VandeBerg, Ph.D. Results are promising and may lead to clinical trials in the coming years.

A second vaccine, based on synthetic parasite sugars, in collaboration with Katja Michael, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at UTEP, also was tested in nonhuman primates at TBRI and yielded very promising results. Almeida started work on that vaccine 27 years ago and is currently awaiting patent approval.

The vaccine studies were funded by the Kleberg Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

“The big problem with Chagas disease is heart failure,” Maldonado explained. “We have determined the inflammation in the heart and the parasitic load significantly decreased, and this vaccine is protecting the animals from the disease. These are the first synthetic vaccines tested in a non-human primate model ever.”

The UTEP scientists said that 6 million to 8 million people are chronically infected with the potentially life-threatening Chagas disease. Chagas is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to animals and people by insect vectors known as kissing bugs.

Igor Almeida, Ph.D., faculty in UTEP’s Department of Biological Sciences has been researching Chagas for three decades. Photo: JR Hernandez, UTEP Communications

The disease has been endemic in Latin America, but is rapidly spreading through the U.S., Europe and other nonendemic regions as a result of globalization. Yet, there is no clinical vaccine, although there have been several experimental efforts throughout the years.

Both UTEP researchers confirm kissing bugs are in the Paso del Norte region that includes El Paso, have been caught and tested, and many turn out positive with Trypanosoma cruzi. The number of people infected, though, is underreported because symptoms may take decades to turn up and doctors don’t regularly test for this tropical disease.

“It is not like a viral infection; you don’t see it, you feel like you have the flu,” Almeida said. “After several years is when you start having problems. Seventy to 80  percent of those infected don’t feel anything until they start having cardiac problems or gastrointestinal issues or both. That can take over 10-20 years.”

Getting it from a kissing bug isn’t the only way to contract the disease. Once a human is infected, the parasite can be transmitted to others via organ transplants, blood transfusions and from a mother to a fetus. In addition, the parasite can be spread through foods and juices tainted by the contaminated bug feces.

To prevent parasite transmission by the kissing bug, the scientists say it’s important to be aware of the presence of the bugs in the house and yard.

“If you see kissing bugs, do not touch them. You can collect them using gloves and a jar. To prevent them from coming into your home, plug

Chagas is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to animals and people by insect vectors known as kissing bugs. The bugs, which are found in our area, are shown in these lab dishes. Photo: JR Hernandez, UTEP Communications

any cracks in your home, keep screens on your windows and doors and make sure there are no tears,” the pair advised.

If you catch a kissing bug,  call 915-747-6891 or 915-747-6086 or email ramaldonado@utep.edu or icalmeida@utep.edu so their team can pick up the specimen and test it.

Efforts are under way now to increase community awareness locally and seek funding for future studies.

“We feel good but would feel better if these vaccines went on to clinical trials,” Almeida said.

“The anxiety to go to the next step is unbearable,” Maldonado added. “Every step is a very hard fight.”

Teams Announced for WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar Bank are pleased to announce the teams coming to El Paso for the 56th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, which will be held in the Don Haskins Center, Thursday and Friday, December 21-22.

“This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous,” Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Haskins Center and El Paso.”

The four-team tournament includes North Carolina-Wilmington, North Dakota State, Howard University and UTEP. This marks the first appearance for UNCW and Howard, the second showing for NDSU and of course the Miners have played in every tournament.

“We are thrilled about this year’s field.  We are hoping to continue our plan of bringing in the best teams we can find,” Sun Bowl basketball committee chairman Barry Kobren said.  “Two of our teams from last year went on to win their conferences and play in the NIT.  We think we will see that same success again this year.”

Akron won the 2016 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational by defeating UC-Irvine in game one and beating Maryland Eastern Shore in the title game.

Akron went on to win the MAC regular season title and made it to the second round of the NIT, while UC-Irvine won the Big West Conference regular season title and also made it to the second round of the NIT.

UTEP Rotich Named C-USA Postgraduate Honoree

IRVING, Texas – Anthony Rotich (Cross Country) was announced as one of the 14 recipients of the Jim Castaneda Postgraduate Scholarship Award, announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.

The conference annually awards the $4,000 Postgraduate Scholarships to graduates as selected by the C-USA Faculty Athletics Representatives and approved by the Board of Directors.

Rotich, a civil engineer major and mathematics minor, graduated from UTEP as a three-time C-USA All-American honoree and a four-time C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll recipient. The Kenya native was a four-time NCAA Champion and an 11-time Mountain Region Athlete of the Year. He was named the 2014 C-USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year.

Rotich is applying to UTEP’s College of Engineering – Construction Management.

UTEP’s Hernandez Named to Athlon Sports Preseason All-American Team

Offensive lineman Will Hernandez was named to the 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason All-American third team on Tuesday.

The senior comes back after a stellar season where he garnered AP All-American second team, FOX Sports’ All-American second team, All-Conference USA first team and Pro Football Focus Best Pass Protector honors. The lineman has started all 37 games in his career for the Miners at the left guard position.

He led the offensive line that paved the way for Aaron Jones to rush for a single-season program-record 1,773 yards, while Jones also became UTEP’s all-time leading rusher last season. The Miners averaged 185.5 rushing yards per game and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Hernandez is one of two student-athletes from C-USA that makes an appearance on the Athlon Sports All-American team. The Las Vegas, Nev., native also was named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-C-USA first team.

Teammate Alvin Jones also garnered Athlon Sports All-C-USA first team recognition, while Devin Cockrell and Terry Juniel received second team honors. Jones was appointed to the 2016 All-C-USA second team after leading team in tackles 93 (44 solo). He ranked fourth in the league in tackles per game (9.3) and added 6.0 tackles for loss (28 yards), 2.5 sacks (22 yards) and a pass breakup.

Cockrell started all 12 games last season and ranked fourth on defense, while leading all defensive backs with 58 tackles (31 solo). He added 3.0 tackles for loss, a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery. The senior led team with 10 special team’s tackles (seven punt return tackles)

Juniel returns to the Miners special teams unit as the starting punt returner. The specialist was the team’s leading punt returner, tallying 203 yards on 22 returns (9.2 avg.), with a pair of long returns of 43 yards. Juniel led C-USA in punt returns and return yards. The junior returned nine kickoffs for 164 yards (18.2 avg.) with a long of 26 yards.

UTEP’s center Derron Gatewood and punter Alan Luna also received recognition on the All-C-USA Preseason fourth team.

UTEP Assistant Professor Awarded $383k Grant for Study of Iron, Nitrogen

The National Science Foundation has awarded Skye Fortier, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, $383,000 over three years to take a closer look at the chemistry of iron and nitrogen.

Specifically, the project is developing new molecular architectures to access, trap, and study reactive iron-nitrogen molecules. The goals are to shed light on the steps of the nitrogen fixation cycle and to use lessons learned to develop important, new nitrogen compounds using earth-abundant iron.

In some soil bacteria, they possess an iron containing enzyme called nitrogenase which captures atmospheric nitrogen and converts it to a more reactive chemical form.  This bacterial process is impressive considering that the industrial transformation of dinitrogen into ammonia is an exceedingly energy intensive process.

Inspired by the role of iron in nature, in particular nitrogenase, the Fortier group has turned their sites to making new iron model compounds to learn more about the intermediates formed in the nitrogen fixation cycle.  They are targeting highly reactive iron-nitrogen compounds and using “super bulky” molecular scaffolds to capture these reactive molecules.

Their work will lead to new methods of iron mediated nitrogen transfer chemistry.

“The lessons that we learn will not only expand our fundamental knowledge of iron but will also give a peak into the chemistry that nature has done so well for so long,” explained Fortier.  “We are extremely thankful to the National Science Foundation for recognizing the importance of our work and providing crucial financial support for this project.”

The Fortier Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry specializes in the synthesis of metal containing molecules.  While people are most familiar with metals in their elemental form, as in hard and shiny coins, metals actually play an important chemical and biological role.

In the human body, the iron containing molecule hemoglobin transports oxygen through our blood while the iron enzyme cytochrome P450 in our livers are important for drug metabolism.

UTEP Doctoral Student Discovers Three Chameleon Species

University of Texas at El Paso doctoral candidate Daniel Hughes liked to catch lizards when he was little, but never imagined he would be catching and discovering new species of chameleons.

The Ph.D. candidate in UTEP’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program has discovered three new species of chameleons. The reptile trio, historically thought to be a single species, was found in different parts of the Albertine Rift in Central Africa.

The findings recently were published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

“We are hopeful that the formal descriptions of these three endemic chameleon species will be used to increase conservation awareness and galvanize transboundary protection efforts across these irreplaceable regions,” Hughes said.

The specimens were collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2009 and 2014, mainly by Hughes’ mentor Eli Greenbaum, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences.

The location is rich with biodiversity, but because of political unrest, researchers have been reluctant to go there. Greenbaum has been traveling and conducting research in the area for about 10 years.

“We had this really nice dataset with samples collected all throughout the range of a particular species which meant we could really figure out its true diversity,” Hughes said. “We took to the next step and ultimately described three new species.”

Kinyongia_itombwensis Hughes joined Greenbaum three years ago in the field, and specifically came to UTEP to study under Greenbaum in 2013. The new scientist was able to describe the three new chameleon species after carefully analyzing geographical, morphological, and DNA data; a process that was followed by nearly two years of external confirmation.

Two of the new chameleons, Rugege Highlands Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia rugegensis), and Itombwe Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia itombwensis), are named after the mountain ranges in which they’re found.

The third chameleon, Tolley’s Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia tolleyae), is named after herpetologist Krystal Tolley. Tolley,principal scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute in Cape Town, South Africa, has contributed significantly to chameleon research and first taught Hughes how to catch chameleons in Uganda.

“I think I went into shock when I found out, but also really happy,” Tolley said. “I have been working on chameleons for many years, and they really are my main topic of research. So to have a species named after me, for a group of animals where I’ve invested most of my research career is such a privilege. I’ve also been lucky enough to actually see this species in Uganda, together with both Danny and Eli. It’s aKinyongia_rugegensis sassy little thing, which really makes it a good fit.”

Hughes said the Albertine Rift (AR) is not only geologically unique, it also harbors more endemic vertebrate species than any other area of similar size on continental Africa.

“In these remote regions that are sometimes thousands of miles away from many people, it can be hard to relate,” Hughes said. “So, hopefully with our work we can start to bridge that gap to broaden our awareness that everyone’s actions have implications for these species from threatened regions they may never see. If conservation efforts in the various countries of the Albertine Rift cannot rapidly improve, many rare and potentially other new species will be lost.”

There are 206 described species of chameleons on the planet and Hughes hopes to continue Kinyongia_tolleyaefinding many more.

“A recent modeling study demonstrated that many habitats in the Albertine Rift, including those where the new species of chameleons are endemic, will likely be destroyed in the coming decades,” Greenbaum said. “As chronicled in my forthcoming book “Emerald Labyrinth: A Scientist’s Adventures in the Jungles of the Congo,” the coming years will almost certainly be the last opportunity to discover new species in the rapidly declining forests of Central Africa.”

UTEP’s Advanced aGent Engagement Team (AGENT) Explores World of Virtual Reality

Whether you like talking to machines or not, artificial agents will be part of our future. The Advanced aGent ENgagement Team (AGENT) at UTEP is working to make sure your interaction with these virtual personalities is a worthwhile experience.

“Artificial agents are an increasing part of our lives, whether you are shopping online or renting a car, getting service and I, for one, want to see that agents that are more useful to me, more natural to me and avoid having to make me adapt the way I talk,” explained David Novick, Ph.D., professor of engineering leadership. “I want them to be helpful and to let me talk the way I want to talk.”

Novick formed the team in 2012, and since then they have published 20 papers on interaction in immersive and virtual environments. They have created tools for building agent-based systems and used these tools to develop several applications.

“The long term goal is to create artificial agents who are helpful and natural to talk with or interact with humans,” said Novick. “Right now when people work with machines we have to adapt ourselves to what the machines are doing. We are trying to create artificial computer generated systems that are more natural for humans to deal with. We want to move the interaction over to the human side instead of having people act like robots. To do that we run experiments about what is natural or what creates rapport, what creates engagement, and in order to run those experiments we have to build systems where we can actually use them.”

UTEP College of Business student Monica Pena has experienced many of the team’s creations.

“It is incredible to see how technology is advancing so fast and even more fascinating to see it right here at UTEP,” said Pena. “It is very inspiring to have a group of people at my university create such amazing things.”

Pena has interacted with a variety of multiple agents, but has a couple of favorites.

“Notably, I experienced a demo of a haunted house, which was created for Halloween a couple years ago. It had jump scares and music that would most definitely set the haunted ambiance. The rooms were creepy and made me unsure as if I actually wanted to finish the game. It felt real, as you controlled your gaze and steps,” Pena explained. “The Merlin demo was definitely a good one as I was able to help him in his quest of destroying a monster by actually calling out spells with my own voice. I walked through a forest along Merlin, who really did look like the character. Although I used it some time ago, I still remember the stress and reality of seeing a huge monster standing in front of me as I anxiously screamed the spells, hoping to defeat him, which I successfully did. It definitely does bring a sense of accomplishment. My friends still make fun of me because I kept screaming ‘Inflammo!’ so loud.”

In 2015 the team received the award for Outstanding Demonstration at the 17th ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction a system for virtual agents and an immersive interactive application titled “Survival on Jungle Island.”

In “Survival on Jungle Island,” an embodied conversational agent (ECA) and a human interact, using speech and gesture, in a 40-60 minute adventure composed of 23 scenes. A study conducted with the adventure showed that rapport increases when the ECA asks the human to perform task-related gestures and then perceives a human performing these gestures.

In the jungle adventure, the system simulates a survival scenario in which the player interacts with the ECA, Adriana. To survive, both human and ECA must collaborate, cooperate, and build a relationship.

“We’re trying to help educate students,” said Novick. “It’s exciting and fun, but there’s a serious educational component. There’s a serious research component. We are really doing fundamental research about the nature of interaction.”

Doctoral candidate Adriana Camacho has been a student on Novick’s team for four years and helped to start an organization for students called GameBuilders!. Camacho said students work collaboratively to improve agent connections.

Recently the team’s lab held an open house to showcase four systems developed collaboratively on campus.

“Gods in the Neon City”

  • The virtual reality gaming system will be used this fall to determine how to improve rapport between people and artificial agents.

“Boston Massacre History Experience Project”

  • The educational experience for 8th graders was developed jointly with Brad Cartwright, Ph.D. in the Department of History with graduate student Laura Rodriguez.

“Recipe Hunt”

  • The interactive experience, developed for the Smithsonian Latino Center, involves the search for the authentic recipe for chile con queso, developed in cooperation with Sylvia Khan, Ph.D., in the Department of Communication.

“Movies/Vacations”

  • The immersive application for study of agent naturalness allows participants to chat about favorite movies and vacations with an artificial conversational agent.

Visitors had the opportunity to experience the simulations and interact with a life-size virtual agent.

“We are building these agents to see if we can connect with them,” Camacho explained. “With educational agents, we can determine if students connect with the agent and learn much more than just using a textbook. In the recipe system, people can connect with the agent and learn more about the culture and more specifically about recipes in El Paso.”

Human-computer interaction is the graduate student’s focus. She specifically helped the agent appear more lifelike by developing her breathing in a few of the scenarios.

“If they’re more natural then maybe we can relate to them much more.”

More information about the team’s work is at isg.cs.utep.edu.

“People are excited about virtual reality and that’s great to keep the momentum for something more impactful,” said Camacho. “Entertainment is great and we all want to have fun, but if you can have fun learning, that’s even better.”

Author:  UC Staff – UTEP Communications

New Miner Metro Shuttles Have Soft Summer Launch

UTEP’s Parking and Transportation Services conducted a soft launch of its new Miner Metro Shuttle service on June 12, 2017.

PTS purchased 21 buses of three sizes that will accommodate from 17 to 36 passengers. All are equipped with seat belts, air conditioning and can serve ADA passengers.

Each white shuttle—built in 2016 and 2017—is marked with the new design brand of three vertical orange bars at a slight angle. The artwork represents an abstract “M” for “Miners” and each orange bar mimics the acronym “MMS” for “Miner Metro Shuttle.”

The full shuttle fleet will hit the streets in fall 2017.

“The initial feedback has been positive,” said Ruben Chavira, Parking and Transportation Services director. “The students seem pleased.”

Information: 915-747-6161 or parking.utep.edu

Author:  Danny Perez – UTEP Communications

Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications

UTEP’s Korir, Amusan Garner C-USA Athlete of the Year

UTEP claimed two superlative Conference USA track and field honors as Emmanuel Korir and Tobi Amusan were named C-USA Male and Female Track Athletes of the Year, announced by the league office on Friday afternoon.

“Both athletes are very special and talented. He [Korir] was the best candidate for our league and would most likely do very well other top conferences as well,” head coach Mika Laaksonen stated. “A lot of work goes into these things and Tobi worked incredibly hard over these past two years and she absolutely deserves this award, they both do.”

Korir ran a world best 1:14.97 in the 600m earlier this year at the New Mexico Cherry & Silver meet, which was his first race on an indoor 200m banked track. The freshman followed that up by capturing the NCAA title in the 800m (1:47.48) at the same track in Albuquerque, N.M., with a time of 1:47.48. The freshman is one of three athletes in the world to run an outdoor sub-45 400m and a sub-1:44 in the 800m.

The Kenyan native won the NCAA outdoor title in the 800m (1:45.03) and is the first Miner to win both titles in the same year.

Amusan was the leading scorer for the Miners with 25 points at the C-USA Indoor Championships and notched a meet record in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.01. The sophomore helped her team win its third consecutive conference title. Amusan qualified to the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles where she notched a sixth-place showing.

The outdoor season started with a bang, as she set a school record (12.63) in the 100m hurdles at the UTEP Springtime meet. She followed that with a first-place finish at the 2017 Clyde Little Field Texas Relays in the 100m hurdles, setting a meet record time of 12.72. The Nigerian native scored 24.5 points at the C-USA Outdoor Championships leading the women’s team to its first ever outdoor conference title.

Both athletes were named semifinalists for college track and field’s high individual honor, The Bowerman Award. The women’s three finalists will be announced on Wednesday, June 21 and the men’s finalists will be announced Thursday, June 22.

For more information on UTEP track and field, follow the Miners on Twitter (@UTEPTrack) and on Instagram (uteptrack).

UTEP Tennis Pens Two for 2017-18 Season

New UTEP Tennis Head Coach Ivan Fernandez announced his first two signees on Friday. Erandi Martinez Hernandez and Alisa Morozova will join the Miners for the 2017-18 season.

Martinez Hernandez graduated from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, a prestigious high school in Mexico City. She has been ranked among the top-five under-18 players in Mexico and has won three Grade 1 tournaments in both singles and doubles.

Hernandez reached the semifinals of the Masters Championship, a qualifier for a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tournament in Mexico, and reached the quarterfinals at the Tampico International Tournament last August, where she faced several players that are now playing Division I tennis.

“I have been recruiting Erandi for a couple of months already,” Fernandez said. “I know that she’s got a lot of wins in Mexico against players that are now in Division I, so I have a really good idea of the level that she’s going to bring to the program. She’s very solid in singles and doubles and I think that she’s going to be a great addition to this team, especially having competed against a lot of collegiate players. She’s going to come in with a lot of international experience and she has been highly ranked in Mexico for her whole career. I definitely expect her to make an immediate impact in the lineup.”

Morozova recently graduated from the Gusev Secondary School in Russia, where she has been ranked among the top under-18 players the last three years. Morozova represented the Yaroslavi Regional Team as the No. 3 singles player and has won more than 10 Russian Federation Tournaments in singles and doubles.

“I spoke with Alisa’s sister a little bit and she told me that if she had been playing here in the U.S. she would have a UTR [Universal Tennis Rating] of 9 or 10, which is a very high level,” Fernandez said. “Her sister, who played for four years at St. John’s and just graduated, told me that she would probably play in the middle of the lineup at St. John’s, who just won their conference and went to the NCAA Tournament. Alisa is a very young player but she is very well-rounded. She’s also going to be capable of playing in the middle of the lineup here. We’re very fortunate that we were able to get her in so quickly and get her signed right away. She’s a very solid player, she’s going to mature and keep developing and both she and Erandi will definitely be in the lineup as true freshmen.”

Korir Named Bowerman Award Semifinalist

Emmanuel Korir has been named a semifinalist for college track and field’s highest individual honor, The Bowerman Award, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Thursday.

Korir wrapped up his freshman season with a sweep of both 800m national titles. The Kenyan is the first Miner to win the 800m NCAA title since Peter Lemashon outdoors in 1978, and the first to achieve the feat at both NCAA Indoors and Outdoors in the same year.

The All-American holds school records in the indoor 800m (1:46.75), the outdoor 800m (1:43.73) and the outdoor 400m (44.53). Korir is one of three athletes in the world to run a sub-45 400m and a sub-1:44 in the 800m.

Three finalists will be announced on Thursday, June 22 from the following list of semifinalists:

KeAndre Bates, junior, jumps, Florida

Edward Cheserek, senior, distance, Oregon

Christian Coleman, junior, sprints/jumps, Tennessee

Grant Holloway, freshman, hurdles/jumps, Florida

Fred Kerley, senior, springs, Texas A&M

Josh Kerr, sophomore, mid-distance, New Mexico

Emmanuel Korir, freshman, mid-distance, UTEP

Ioannis Kyriazis, junior, throws, Texas A&M

Filip Mihaljevic, junior, throws, Virginia

Lindon Victor, senior, combined events, Texas A&M

For more information on UTEP track and field, follow the Miners on Twitter (@UTEPTrack) and Instagram (uteptrack).

Amusan Named to the Bowerman Watch List

EL PASO – UTEP’s Tobi Amusan has been named one of 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman Award, announced by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday afternoon.

In her second appearance at the NCAA Championships Amusan, the 2016 runner-up in the 100m hurdles, captured the 2017 title with the fourth-best performance in the event in collegiate history.  Her time was 12.57 seconds. The last Miner to win the event at the NCAAs was Kim Turner (1984). Amusan edged defending champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (12.58).

The Nigeria native broke the UTEP school record in the event earlier this year at the UTEP Springtime Meet, stopping the clock at 12.63. Her time of 12.57 demolished that record and set a personal best.

Amusan is the first UTEP female on The Bowerman Watch List since Blessing Okagbare on May 7, 2010.

Be sure to follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter and uteptrack on Instagram for everything track and field.

UTEP Men’s Program Ranks 10th in the Nation

The UTEP men’s program for both cross country and track and field ranks 10th in the nation announced by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Tuesday evening.

The USTFCCCA Program of the Year Award is given annually to the most outstanding cross country and track and field programs in each of the NCAA’s three divisions. In order to be eligible for the award, teams must qualify for each of the NCAA Championships.

The rankings honor the institutions that achieve the most success each academic year over all three seasons (cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field), based on the school’s finishes at the NCAA Championships.

UTEP’s cross country team finished 29th at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The track and field team finished 22nd at the indoor NCAAs and 23rd at the outdoor NCAA Championships. The Miners tallied a total of 77 points.

UTEP is the only Conference USA representative in the rankings.

Be sure to follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter and uteptrack on Instagram for breaking news.

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