Newsmakers: NASA grant funds UT Arlington study of space weather

Ramon Lopez

NASA grant funds UT Arlington study of space weather

University of Texas at Arlington physicist Ramon Lopez received a $502,956 NASA grant to study the role of solar wind fluctuations in solar wind-geospace coupling.

The grant is sponsored by NASA’s Heliophysics Supporting Research Program, which selected 30 of 221 proposals submitted for consideration. A total of $5.4 million was awarded for the new class of projects.

Heliophysics is the science of the sun-Earth connection through the space environment. This fast-developing field of research covers many traditional sub-disciplines of space physics, astrophysics and climate studies.

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“This grant will support our ongoing work in understanding the near-Earth space system and space weather, and it provides opportunities for UT Arlington students to be involved in cutting-edge research,” said Lopez, who joined UT Arlington’s College of Science in 2007.

James Grover, interim dean of the UT Arlington College of Science, said the NASA grant will enhance the capacity of the Department of Physics to study the near-Earth space environment. “This project is an example of the high-impact research under way at UT Arlington. Dr. Lopez’s work will provide critical information to help manage the satellite and communications technology that we all now depend on,” Grover said.

Lopez is the author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and a science book, Storms From The Sun. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he has an extensive history of service on national science and education committees, such as the National Academies of Science committee that produced the 2011 report Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Most recently he was one of the co-chairmen of the writing team that produced the Next Generation Science Standards.

Banking & Finance

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Casey Fry has joined Southside Bank’s investment services division as a financial adviser in the Fort Worth market. Fry will advise clients in wealth management, retirement, and estate and education planning. He will focus on the expansion of investment services in the Cityview, Cleburne and Granbury markets. Fry has more than nine years of experience in the financial services industry and carries a Series 7, Series 66 and group life insurance license.

Hilltop Holdings Inc., whose subsidiaries include PlainsCapital Bank and PrimeLending, named David E. Geschke as CEO of SWS Financial Services and director of retail for Southwest Securities. The two companies became part of Hilltop Holdings earlier this year with its acquisition of SWS Group Inc., a provider of investment and financial services. James H. Ross, president and CEO of SWS Group, resigned earlier in April. Geschke will play a key role in the company’s growth plans. The firm is currently integrating with First Southwest, a broker-dealer in Hilltop’s family of companies. Geschke began his career as a financial adviser and has more than 28 years of experience in the investment and financial services industry, including senior field and back office roles at H&R Block Financial Advisors and Ameriprise Financial.

Boards & Organizations

New board members for the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth are Chairman Michael Bennett, Bennett Benner Partners; Sandra McGlothlin, Empire Roofing; Larry Chilton, Frost Bank; Keri Redford, Integra Realty Resources; and Joel Heydenburk, Jackson Walker.

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Meloni McDaniel has been appointed president and CEO of TEXO, The Construction Association. McDaniel has been with TEXO since October 2013 and has led the member programs and services efforts. Previously she worked at The Beck Group for nine years in various capacities including architecture, construction and business development. She is incoming chairman of the Society of American Military Engineers Fort Worth Post and is active with the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

The 2015-2016 board of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators includes: President Lisa Boyd, Brackett & Ellis; Past President Susan Morgan, Bakutis, McCully & Sawyer; President-Elect Tim McKay, Harris Finley; Treasurer Kelli Kennedy, Taylor Olson; Secretary Sandra Gamez, McDonald Sanders; Membership Lisa Grigar, Broude, Smith & Jennings; At-Large Director Sylvia Coatney, Bush Firm; Human Resources Chairman Holly Ginn, Bush Firm; Financial Management Chairman Karol Fate, Ross & Matthews; and Operations Management Chairman Tony Lansford, Cantey Hanger.

Jake Ramsey, associate attorney in the litigation section at Decker Jones PC, has been elected to the board of the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association. Shareholder Janet Hahn, a member of the firm’s corporate section, has been elected to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce board.

Honors & Awards

The Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth has honored Ben Loughry, managing director at Integra Realty Resources Inc.’s Dallas-Fort Worth office, with this year’s Susan A. Halsey Founder’s Award, and Tyler Arbogast,development director at James R. Harris Partners LLC, with its Outstanding Young Leader Award. Loughry has been active in the real estate business since 1969. He has been an independent fee appraiser since 1981. From 1977-1982, he was vice president of Ashland Development Inc. Prior to that, he was the president of a Fort Worth-based real estate company. He has served as president of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors and on the board of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Currently, he serves on Integra’s board and is a founding stockholder.

Arbogast manages multiple residential developments and provides analysis and due diligence on prospective residential and commercial projects. He began his career in 2003, is now focused on the development of large-scale master-planned communities and has done research on existing mass transit systems throughout the United States. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, formerly as treasurer of the North Texas District Council and then as chairman for the Young Leaders Group. He is also active within the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, currently serving as chairman of the Young Leaders Council.

To acknowledge his recent induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Doug Hawthorne, founding CEO emeritus of Texas Health Resources and a double graduate of Trinity University, and his wife, Martha, made a $50,000 gift to the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation to establish scholarships for graduate students in Trinity’s health care administration program. The Martha and Doug Hawthorne Family Fund Scholarship will provide five $10,000 scholarships, one per year, to an exemplary second-year student in the HCAD program. Trinity honored Hawthorne’s leadership in the health care industry and service to the university with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1995. He is currently chairman of Trinity’s Board of Trustees and has been a trustee since 1997. He has served as a mentor to HCAD students and is a frequent speaker and adjunct faculty member.


Veronica Chavez Law joined the law firm of Brackett & Ellis PC. Her practice consists primarily of real estate transactions, banking and commercial lending matters, and other business and commercial transactions.


Dollamur Sport Surfaces named Dave Rossi as senior vice president of marketing and retail sales. A 25-year veteran of the sports industry, Rossi was chief operating officer for Pivotal 5 in Chicago. He also was chief marketing officer of Schutt Sports, held marketing positions with Sportcraft, Maurice and ERO Industries, and was one of the original buying team members of The Sports Authority. At Dollamur, his responsibilities will include branding, product strategy, public relations, website development, social media, trade show management, event support, sponsorships, direct marketing and oversight of new products.

Real Estate

Marcus & Millichap hired Cody Payne in its Fort Worth office. Payne will focus on the disposition of office buildings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Prior to joining Marcus & Millichap, Payne worked with Sperry Van Ness, where he specialized in office investment sales and leasing, was involved in more than 500 transactions and was recognized as a Heavy Hitter & Top Producer from 2007-2010. Payne received a Top 35 Under 35 designation in 2009 and 2010 from Black’s Guide.


Texas-based Vasari LLC, the largest Dairy Queen franchise group in Texas and second largest in the United States with 76 locations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, hired Heidi Awan as director of human resources. She has more than 15 years of professional HR management experience in the industry. Prior to joining Vasari, Awan led regional HR and staffing support for Darden Restaurants, covering 119 restaurants across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Earlier in her career, she had executive HR positions with ThyssenKrupp Elevator, ServiceMaster/TruGreen Landcare and Transamerica.

Send newsmakers to Betty Dillard at