Author Archive

Mohammed Abdul Quadeer Siddiqui (MS ’64, PhD ’67)

Dr. Mohammed Abdul Quadeer (MAQ) Siddiqui passed away on August 19, 2021 at home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 84 years old.

MAQ was born in Hyderabad, India and was the second oldest of fourteen siblings. As a young adult, he frequented the local United States Information Service (USIS) office where he voraciously read LIFE magazines and consumed information on life in America. He became fascinated with cowboy movies, the Beatles, and U.S. politics. It was also at the USIS library where MAQ first learned about DNA in a textbook, piquing his interest in the human body and biology.

After graduating from Osmania University with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, MAQ decided to pursue a career in scientific research – a decision that was met with hesitation as his family expected him to attend medical school. MAQ applied to multiple graduate programs in the United States and Canada and ultimately accepted an offer from the PhD program at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.

To help finance his travel to the United States, MAQ worked as a field clerk for the local municipality’s Department of Agriculture, a job that required him to visit rural farmers and convince them of the benefits of using chemical fertilizers. Generally weary of the wilderness, MAQ was not fond of trekking to remote areas with no electricity and ample wildlife.

MAQ departed for America in December 1960 aboard the Neptune cruise ship, where he was to work on board in return for discounted fare. However, MAQ had only packed formal dress clothes which were inappropriate for his assigned job of cleaning the pool deck. After seeing him play table tennis, MAQ’s supervisor offered him a position scheduling and managing table tennis matches among the guests, in addition to providing lessons.

The Neptune sailed from Cochin, India to Genoa, Italy after which MAQ took a train to Calais, France and crossed the English Channel by boat. In Dover, England, he was completely unprepared for the winter weather and spent extra shillings to turn on the heater in the bed and breakfast where he was staying. After two days, MAQ flew to New York and stayed at a YMCA near 34th street. He then traveled to Houston, Texas, arriving at his destination 33 days after leaving India.

In Houston, MAQ found work as a gas station attendant but was fired on his first day for not knowing how to pump gas in unfamiliar American cars. He then started running biological samples between collection sites and the laboratory at the University of Houston, before eventually getting hired as a research assistant within the University’s Department of Biology. MAQ dove into his studies and found his passion in molecular biology, concentrating his doctoral research on the mechanisms by which antibiotics inhibit protein synthesis. MAQ was awarded a PhD in Biological Sciences in 1967.

MAQ completed post-doctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley amongst an inspiring scientific community of renown researchers. In 1969, he accepted a position at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley, New Jersey where he rose to the rank of Full Member in the Department of Biochemistry. MAQ’s research at Roche focused on the role of small RNA in protein synthesis and other physiological functions. In 1975, his laboratory became the first to isolate and clone a cardiac muscle gene.

In 1987, MAQ was appointed as the Chairman and Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Under his leadership, the Department grew to include over 30 researchers and secure $5 million in annual funding from the National Institutes of Health. MAQ also served as the Director of SUNY Downstate’s Center for Cardiovascular and Muscle Research. MAQ and his team conducted novel research to understand the molecular signaling pathways related to myocardial hypertrophy. His work led to two patents and formed the basis for future discoveries into the causes of left ventricular dysfunction and congestive heart failure.

Throughout his career, MAQ worked alongside several notable figures including Nobel Laureates, Dr. Severo Ochoa and Dr. Robert Furchgott. MAQ published over 150 papers and multiple book chapters on his research, many of which have greatly influenced the field of molecular cardiology. He was invited to speak at conferences and symposia across the United States in addition to Canada, Chile, Venezuela, China, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, India, Czech Republic, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Germany, Israel, and the Netherlands.

MAQ was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2003. When commuting from New Jersey to Brooklyn was no longer an option, MAQ continued to work from home, mentoring students over the phone and via email. He retired from SUNY Downstate in 2014.

MAQ’s natural mentorship abilities extended to family and friends as well. He regularly sent money to his family in India, beginning from his time as a loan-assisted student at the University of Houston. One by one, he paid the way for each of his twelve siblings to receive an education and move to the United States. MAQ was a patient and open listener for anyone that came to him for professional or personal advice. He provided heartfelt guidance to numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

As a scientist, MAQ was keenly aware of the nature of a progressive condition like Parkinson’s Disease. He faced a degenerative diagnosis with dignity and fortitude, never once allowing it to become a crutch.

MAQ was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends from near and far, especially during the final years of his life. He will always be known as a brilliant, soft-spoken academic and avid tennis and cricket fan with a dry sense of humor and penchant for desserts. First and foremost, MAQ will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and dear friend.

MAQ is survived by his wife of 37 years, Samena Siddiqui; daughter and her husband, Norain and Montgomery; son and his wife, Umair and Flor; granddaughter, Serena; in addition to eight brothers, three sisters, and many nieces and nephews. MAQ is preceded in death by his parents, Mohammed and Quaderunissa; elder brother, Afzal; and younger brother, Akhlad.

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Parviz Ghavami (Ed.D. ’03)

Parviz Ghavami / January 10, 1943-June 14, 2020

Parviz Ghavami was born in Shahr-e Kord, Iran on January 10, 1943 to Ali Agha Ghavami and Nosrat Ghavami. He was one of 7 children, and the only engineer in the family, getting a Bachelor of Science from Sharif University of Technology. His career began as a mechanical engineer working in the petroleum industry in Iran and the former Soviet Union (now Russia). In the late 1970s, despite having a stable career doing what he loved, Dr. Ghavami decided to take a gamble on the American dream, and emigrated to Portland, Oregon, where he would earn his Master of Science from the University of Portland on August 10, 1979. He would later move to Harlingen, TX, where he was a college professor in Math and Science at Texas State Technical college for 25 years. He was never one to stay satisfied with knowing “just enough,” though. So he continued to educate himself, all while raising his son by himself, and would earn himself additional advanced degrees from the University of Houston, the University of Texas Pan-American, and most recently, Texas A&M University-Kingsville. His hard work and self-sufficient mentality came to fruition when he earned his Professional Engineer license in 2010 from the State of Texas. This allowed him to start his own engineering consulting firm which certified buildings in the area for safety and structural integrity. He is survived by his son Reza, and his dear companion of over 20 years, Mary. Parviz was passionate about gardening, traveling, and cooking traditional dishes of his motherland. He also translated several science fiction books from English into his native Farsi language. His last publication was an English-language college textbook, Mechanics of Materials.

When Parviz Ghavami passed away after a one-year battle with cancer, his son, Reza Ghavami wrote this tribute to the University of Portland where Parviz earned his first of many degrees:

“I would like to share the remarkable story of a proud UP alumnus, my father, Parviz Ghavami, who took his last breath on Sunday, June 14, 2020. He is probably the prime example of the American dream, emigrating from Iran with my mother in the late 1970s, and finding his new home in Portland, where he would earn his master of science in mechanical engineering in 1979. I was born in Portland in 1978, so I must express my gratitude to the University for the opportunity given to my father to pursue his dreams and provide for his family. Before his passing, Dr. Ghavami ran his own civil engineering consulting company. Before that, he taught math and science at a technical college in Harlingen, TX, where he spent most of his life. His professional engineering degree is what made it possible to start his own consulting work, and he always told me he owed the University a lot of gratitude for giving him the education and skills to realize his goals in life. My dad was my best friend in life and an inspirational hero that I owe all of my success to. Thank you for accepting him back then and giving him a gateway into this country and a better life.”

In November 2020. Reza drove to Portland from Dallas, TX, to inter his ashes at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Alex López Negrete (FS ’81)

Alex López Negrete (FS ’81), President and CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications is proud to receive the “2021 American Advertising Federation’s Mosaic Champion Award for Diversity and Inclusion”.

Lopez Negrete Communications is the nation’s largest independent, Hispanic-owned and operated full-service advertising and marketing services agency.

Alex’s insightful leadership has guided Lopez Negrete from a pioneer to the vanguard agency it is today. He is truly bicultural, calling both Mexico City and Houston “home.”

His passion for advertising excellence, creative brilliance, and helping clients’ growth and profitability is infectious, and has fueled the success of the agency and the Lopez Negrete team as a whole. Alex’s leadership also extends to the community, where his passion is felt across his major roles on local and nonprofit boards.

Thomas Fenske (’76)

Thomas Fenske (’76) graduate from CLASS majoring in English and History and published author of 5 novels is rocking his UH tie as an extra on the set of a new movie, MAKING HIM FAMOUS, currently filming in North Carolina.

Shane Ros (’14) and Ashley Grijalva (’18)

Shane Ros and Ashley Grijalva wed on April 3, 2021 in Gulf Shores, AL.

The Katy, TX native, Shane was a wide receiver (#19) for the UH football team. A former walk-on, he earned a scholarship at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Shane received the Committed Cougar Award, presented annually to a Houston player who shows extraordinary commitment to the UH Football program, at the conclusion of the season that saw him finish with 23 receptions for 337 yards and three touchdowns, along with 12 special teams tackles. His career came to an end due to injury. He remained with the Houston program as a student assistant for Coach Tony Levine, working with the program’s receivers and special teams.

The Gilbert, AZ native, Ashley competed on the UH Swimming Team. As a UH freshman she swam top time at the AT&T Winter National Championships and was named to the All-American Athletic Conference Team as a sophomore and junior. In high school, Ashley was crowned state champion and East Valley Tribune Swimmer of the Year.

Michael Urbis (’85) and Larry McClaugherty (’72)

The Texas Hill Country is Alive with Houston Cougars

After retirement, Larry McClaugherty and his wife Kathy moved to the Texas Hill Country. In a short time Larry has successfully connected UH Cougars living in the Texas Hill Country.

Larry McClaugherty (’72) and Michael Urbis (’85) are connected through Robstown, Texas, The University of Houston and the Texas Hill Country. Larry and Michael both grew up in Robstsown – even living across the street from each other. Michael graduated from the UH Bauer College of Business.

Now they all live in the Texas Hill Country and are part of the Hill Country Houston Cougars. Recently Michael stopped by the McClaugherty home for a photo op with Houston Cougar Boulder.

The “Boulder” is from Boulder Design at the Texas Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg.

Bill Morgan (’63) and Larry McClaugherty (’72)

The Texas Hill Country is Alive with Houston Cougars

After retirement, Larry McClaugherty and his wife Kathy (also a UH graduate) moved to the Texas Hill Country. In a short time Larry has successfully connected UH Cougars living in the Texas Hill Country.

Larry McClaugherty (’72) and Bill Morgan (’63) are connected through their hometown of Robstown, Texas, and The University of Houston and the Texas Hill Country. Larry and Bill are graduates of the University of Houston College of Pharmacy.

Bill’s first job out of pharmacy school was at City Drug in Robstown. Now they all live in the Texas Hill Country and are part of the Hill Country Houston Cougars. Bill recently stopped by the McClaugherty home for a photo op with Houston Cougar Boulder.

The “Boulder” is from Boulder Design at the Texas Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg.

John J. Hammerle (’65, M.Ed. ’69)

John J. Hammerle (Music Education, ’65, M.Ed., ’69), retired Executive Director of Fine and Performing Arts, Dallas Independent School District, named top Director of Fine Arts in North Texas and recipient of the Hummer Award by the Score a Goal in the Classroom, served as Adjunct Professor, Dallas County Community Colleges, is currently a private instrumental music instructor, and has been a professional performer with the Houston Symphony, American Wind Symphony, and the Dallas Wind Symphony. He has taught in public schools throughout Texas, as well as serving as Supervisor of Music in San Angelo Texas, and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. His Internationally famous Westchester High School Band, of the Spring Branch Independent School District, achieved 11 continuous Sweepstakes and numerous Special Awards and trophies. It was the featured band at all Oilers Football home games in the Astrodome. It also captured the coveted Six Flags Over Texas Best of class, topping over 55 bands from 11 states, and won the top honors in the New York Macy’s Parade with 15 minutes of international coverage as the first high school band from Texas in the NY Macy’s Parade. Gov Preston Smith declared an Honorary Day for Hammerle and the band. He is currently an Adjudicator and consultant for National Festivals and consultant for school districts throughout the U.S., most recently serving on the North Central Association of Accreditation of the Chicago Public School Districts.

Bud Buschardt (’63)

Obit in process for Bud Buschardt (’63) Adjunct Professor at University of North Texas. Bud was the
Former Program Director for “Timeless” format at ABC Radio Networks. He Studied Radio and Television at the University of Houston. Buschardt was a Texas Radio Hall of Fame inductee.

Vanessa Gilmore (J.D. ’81)

Houston judge becomes trailblazer for women in law with historic career on federal bench
KTRK
By Gina Gaston
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 6:00PM

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Judge Vanessa Gilmore is a trailblazer in the legal field who made history when she took the federal bench.

But Gilmore will be leaving the bench on January 2, 2022, pivoting to a destination unknown.

She already bought a retirement gift for herself.

“I just wanted to have a ring that symbolizes me leaving the gilded cage of the federal judiciary and going out into the world,” she said.

In 1994, Gilmore was the youngest ever appointee to a federal judgeship at just 36 years old.

A legal career wasn’t the plan when she enrolled at Hampton University, historically Black college and university, at age 16 to study fashion.

After graduating, she worked as a buyer for Foley’s in downtown. Then an inside job apartment burglary changed everything.

“I filed my little lawsuit, went to court, tried my little case, got me a little bit of money. I thought, ‘Hang on. I could do this some more. I’m going to go to law school.'”

Being a female student at the University of Houston Law School in 1979 was still rare, but she didn’t experience sexism there or when she practiced law.

“Now, do I have lawyers who try to push back on me and think that they might be able to take advantage of the fact that I’m a woman? Of course, I do. Does it work? No.”

And her accomplishments have also not shielded her from racism. You might remember the 2007 trial of Tyrone Williams, the truck driver who smuggled 70 immigrants in the back of his trailer in 2003. Nineteen of them died of dehydration, overheating and suffocation.

Judge Gilmore had Williams’ case, and the other defendants who recruited him.

“I said, ‘I don’t think that this is a death penalty case. Why are you seeking a death penalty against this man? And why are you only seeking a death penalty against this man and not the 13 other defendants that were involved in this case?'”

The fifth circuit took the case from her after she said that.

“There was so much explicit bias in the way that the entire case was handled that it really made me lose confidence in the justice system,” Gilmore said.

The jury eventually agreed with her and Williams was sentenced to life.

Outside of the courtroom, Gilmore speaks to her peers often about implicit bias and to her students about her journey.

Gilmore is also an author of several books, including one for kids who have an incarcerated parent. She lobbied Texas Southern University to start a program to support those families.

“I’m not there in a judicial capacity necessarily. I tell them, ‘I know you don’t think that we’re here to help. You think that we’re just here to put you in jail, but we can help too.'”

But her biggest passion is reserved for her son, whom she adopted when she was 44.

“He got a job as a diaper model, earned some money and we use that and put that money away in his college account.”

Sean is in college now, and his empty nester mom is ready to spread her wings.

Gilmore tells women you can have it all, though not at the same time, and the time has come for her to try something new.

“I’ve enjoyed being here. I would not have picked it for myself but I’m glad it picked me.”

She was the first UH law school grad to sit on a federal bench and is now looking forward to golfing, practicing her salsa dancing, and not shy about saying, making time for romance!