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School of Sciences Newsletter
April 2008

By Johnny B. Holmes, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Sciences

Featuring Physics and Student Research

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: Student Research Featured Alum Thank you's Featured Department: Physics

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

We had a tour of the new Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences building a couple weeks ago for alumni, and it was really nice seeing what a beautiful and functional building it is turning into. This gives the faculty and staff that much more incentive to do the packing and moving that the new building and the refurbished building require this spring. We are all very busy, but as always the concern for our present students is our primary focus. Since the building is proceeding along so well, I have included a second view of the new building (see below) in this newsletter showing how the two Science buildings will be connected.

Our feature article for this issue is about student research. At CBU, teaching is our primary concern, and that teaching includes having students actively involved in a research project or internship. You can see some of the results of that research in the "News of the Moment" section of this issue. I hope you enjoy reading about what we consider a very important aspect of a CBU Science education.

I hope you are enjoying these newsletters, and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you next fall. I wish you an enjoyable summer, and I look forward to being able to report to you from our new building in September! If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to jholmes@cbu.edu .

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new building on April 2, 2008

News of the Moment

The new building is proceeding on schedule. The image on the right (click on it for a larger view) was taken on Wednesday, April 2. For up to date pictures of the progress, visit Cooper-Wilson Center for Life Sciences construction pictures.

Besides the work on the new Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences building, renovations to the existing building are taking place now. An elevator is being installed now, and the full renovation work is scheduled to begin on April 20. Some of the Sciences' faculty have already moved to temporary offices around campus, and we will all have to evacuate the building before April 20. All phone numbers and e-mail addresses should remain the same while we are in our temprorary offices.

The CBU chapter of Alpha Chi won a star chapter award presented at the national meeting last month. This year the CBU chapter: 1. nominated students for competitive scholarships (they have to prepare a paper and get two letters of recommendation); 2. had its faculty and students attend the national meeting and present papers; 3. had a scholarly event (our Senior Research Poster Session is now sponsored by the chapter); and 4. inducted new members. Dr. Malinda Fizgerald, Biology, is the chapter's sponsor, and Dr. Randel Price of Chemical Engineering is a co-sponsor. Congratulations to the members!

On Wednesday, April 9, we had the 8th Annual Faculty/Student Volleyball game. This is a fun charity event with the proceed going to the Church Health Center. Over $600 was raised with the student team beating out the faculty team two games to one. Click here for lots of pictures and more information.

view of the two Science buildings and the area between them

To the left is a view of the Cooper-Wilson building on the left and the present Science building (to be renamed Assisi Hall after the renovation this summer) on the right. Click on the image for a bigger view.

On Saturday, April 5, fourteen CBU students presented papers for the TENNESSEE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE at the West Tennessee Regional Collegiate Meeting held in Ellington Hall at the University of Memphis. Session I: Jason Porter, Nhu Truc Le, Eric A. Davis; Session II: Sami Helou, Angela D. Metz, Rebecca Scott, Casey C. Nazor, Indre Augustinaite, Phillip P. Nguyen; ; Session III: Indrani Biswas, Kimberly Williams, Brian Walter, Jeremy T. Armstrong, Michael Herr. The overwhelming consensus is that they each did an excellent job. CBU Biology students received three of the four Best Paper Awards. (There was a tie for the Award for Session III.) Best Paper Awards were presented to the following CBU students:
* Rebecca Scott for her Session II presentation, "Para-ts Mutant Flies Show Neuronal Damage After Ischemic Injury"
* Jeremy T. Armstrong for his Session III presentation, "Macular Pigment Optical Density’s Role in Macular Physiology and Disease"; and
* Kimberly Williams for her Session III presentation, "Maintenance of Beta Adrenergic Receptor Signaling in Human Microvascular Retinal Endothelial Cells."
Click here to see TAS 2008 Photos.

Kyle Summers, biology 2008, presented a poster in San Diego earlier this month at 49th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, sponsored by the Genetics Society of America. The title of his poster was "Dube 3a expression in neurons increases synaptic bouton number through regulation of Pb1 and downstream Rac targets."

Kyle Summers with his research poster

The image on the right shows Kyle Summers, Biology 2008, with his research poster. Click on the image for a slightly larger view.

The Thirty-Ninth Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty-Third Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad was held at CBU on Saturday, April 5. CBU and the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society are sponsoring this event.

The 12th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session is being held today, Tuesday, April 15. Seniors doing research projects from all parts of campus are participating. There are 53 posters being displayed. See the web page from last year's event.

CBU will be a test site for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association tests again this year. The date is today, Tuesday, April 15th.

Alumni News

From Rusty Rodriguez, Biology 2000, in a note to Dr. Fitzgerald: "I'm finishing up residency, with just 2 months to go. I'll move to Houston at the end of June, to start my fellowship at Baylor in pediatric cardiology July 1st. It will be mostly at Texas Childrens Hospital. I will take medicine boards in August and pediatrics in October. I have a poster presentation next month, and just submitted an abstract on Friday for an oral presentation in October at the cardiology section of the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in Boston I also recently became engaged--the plan is to get married in June 2009 at the end of the first year of fellowship. Otherwise, things are busy but going very well. I'm trying to sell my condo in uptown New Orleans, and enjoy the festival season here. We went to the French Quarter music festival this past weekend. The new science building looks great. Hope you're doing well, and I'll talk to you soon. Take care, Rusty"

Nick Newsom and financee

The image on the left shows alum Nick Newsom with his fiancee. Click on the image for a bigger view.
From Nick Newsom, Biology 2003: "Thank you for the newsletters that you have been sending. I enjoy getting the updates and reading about all the exciting changes at CBU. I just wanted to give you an update on some of my own recent news. First of all... my fiancee, Allison Chesser, and I will be getting married on May 3rd. She's a great girl and is also a student at UT College of Medicine, and we will both be graduating on May 30th (May will be kind of a busy month I guess). We also just got the great news that we both matched at Indiana University in Indianapolis! I will be in the Internal Medicine residency program and she'll be in the Med-Peds program. We are both excited and looking forward to this new step in our lives. It has been quite a journey thus far, and CBU has been a major stepping stone along the way. As I've said before, I don't think I could have been better prepared for medical school. I look forward to keeping in touch, and I wish everyone well with the move to the new building."

Sana Mujahid, Biology 2007, was a coauthor for a paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry entitled: "SUBTYPE-SPECIFIC RESIDUES INVOLVED IN LIGAND ACTIVATION OF THE EDGFAMILY LYSOPHOSPHATIDIC ACID RECEPTORS" . Congratulations Sana!

Here are the CBU graduates that will be graduating from the University of Tennessee Medical School this May with their residency matches:
* Nick Newsom: Indiana University in Indianapolis, Internal Medicine residency program
* Cina Joseph Ali: University of Tennessee COM-Memphis, Diagnostic Radiology/U of TN Methodist Hospital
* Reem Awwad: University of Tennessee COM-Memphis, Diagnostic Radiology/U of TN Methodist Hospital
* Janet Lillian Eichholz: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center-NC; Internal Medicine
* Sarah Elizabeth Stinnett: University of Florida COM-Jacksonville, Emergency Medicine
* Duy Toan Hoang "Tony" Vu: Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Internal Medicine

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students working in lab

Featured Story: Student Research

The power of our technological civilization is built upon science. How could we come so far in our understanding and utilization of nature that we could build such a complex and life sustaining society? A fundamental answer to that question is that science, for all its mystique, is a very human activity. It is based on human curiosity coupled with our ability to communicate with each other and with our posterity. In the CBU School of Sciences we try to foster that curiosity, and we try to make as efficient as possible that communication. Having our students actually do research is a very important component in that effort. To do research is to put in context what you have learned.

Students are prepared for their research by their work in the lab components of their courses. Most of our science courses have labs attached: 20 of the 25 biology courses have labs, and 12 of the 16 chemistry courses have labs. In the labs they not only get hands on experience with the theories and concepts discussed in the courses, they also get experience with state of the art lab equipment. This experience with the equipment makes our students attractive and valuable to the researchers who become their research mentors. (click here to see pictures from some of the labs..

Dr. Fitzgerald on the wall at the Heifer Ranch.

Pictured on the left is Dr. Fitzgerald half way up "the wall" at the Heifer Ranch where the MHIRT participants train. The next image below is Dr. Fitzgerald at the top of the wall. Click on both for larger views.

We provide many different opportunities for students to do scientific research. The Minority Health International Research Training Grant (MHIRT) is an opportunity to go to Brazil or Uganda to do research. In addition to paying all of the expenses, the grant provides a stipend to the students to do the research. We have reported in earlier newsletters about some of the activities that our students have participated through this grant.

The MHIRT participants this spring attended a weekend retreat (see last year's retreat) at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville Ark. During the weekend they participated in team building events and stayed in the Global Village that is a model for how people live around the world. One of the activities included a climbing wall. These students are from CBU and from several other universities in the MidSouth and the South East of the US. They will be going to Uganda, Brazil and Thailand.

Dr. Fitzgerald at the top of the wall at the Heifer Ranch.

We also provide opportunities closer to home for our students to do research. In the junior year, our biology majors through their BIOL 362 Biology Seminar are exposed to research being carried on in the area including work done at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Zoo. We try to find each student a mentor in an area that appears interesting to the student. Sometimes the research that our own faculty do opens possibilities for student research.

We are very proud of the research that our students have performed. We have reported in the issues of this newsletter throughout the year including this issue (see News of the Moment section above) some of the conferences that our students have attended to presented the results of their research. For a more detailed look over the past several years, see our research web page. One of the marks of the success of our students is seen in the articles that our students have helped write. Over the past 10 years, our students have co-authored with their research mentors 28 artilces that were published in peer-reivewed scientific journals. A listing is available on our student publications web page.

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Featured Alum: Shanna Wall, Biology 2002

Shanna Wall on the left

The image on the right shows Shanna (left).

Greetings from Dickson, Tennessee! This is Shanna Wall, class of 2002. I guess technically I should introduce myself as Dr. Shanna Wall. I graduated from CBU with a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. After 4 long and tortuous years, I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

The professors of the science department prepared me incredibly well for the trials and tribulations of vet school. For example, we covered Embryology in 5 hours in my first semester anatomy class. That was one of the few topics I had the jump on compared to my classmates. I guess looking at a 48-hour chick embryo is like riding a bike.

Of course, neither CBU nor UTCVM could truly prepare me for “the real world”. Most of us that go into veterinary medicine go in with the idea that we can save the world, one pet at a time. In reality veterinarians must navigate through deal human issues just as frequently as pet issues. Sometimes I end up taking care of the human caretakers even more than their pets.

I start a new job the week of St. Patrick’s Day. The job is with Banfield, the Pet Hospital, which is affiliated with the Petsmart pet stores. I never thought that I would go into corporate medicine, but it is a great opportunity to provide high-quality preventative care to a broad client base. It will be a huge change (I hope) from my practice in Small-town, West Tennessee. Wish me luck and good luck to all of you!


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Thank You's to Science Faculty

There are two "thank you's" this month. The first is from a current student directed to several of the Sciences' faculty members. The second is from an alum directed to Dr. Anna Ross, professor of Biology.

Daniel Darnell and Hallie Rose with their Junior Seminar poster

Pictured on the left are students Hallie Rose and Daniel Darnell (see his thank you note below) with their Junior Seminar poster. Click on the image for a slightly larger view.

Dear Respected Professors,

For my summer research I will be working with Dr. Richard Webby, PhD. Dr. Webby is a native of New Zealand. He is St. Jude’s head of Virology and Infectious Diseases. He has been featured on the Larry King Live program on CNN and various other news programs (click here for a transcript of his appearance on LKL). He is described as: “one of the world's leading experts in influenza vaccine and development.” He often works in conjunction with the NIH to assist in influenza research. He has many publications and his work is highly referenced.

He is currently testing various vaccine efficacies on C57BL/6 mice. His goal is to develop an effective vaccine for the H5N1 influenza strain (the Avian Flu virus) if it should ever “make the jump to humans.” Currently, if the virus were to mutate and become infective to humans, we have no specific vaccine for it. While there are anti-virals that may diminish the effects of the virus, there is nothing to combat/kill the virus. He works to identify humanized monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against H5N1 in these mice. He uses PCR, Reverse genetics, DNA Microarray Analysis, and Bioinformatics to perform the ongoing work for a vaccine. Once positively identified, he attempts to transform the mAb into a form that humans can recognize and use to attack the H5N1 virus. I will be working with Dr. Webby directly and indirectly with his staff of lab assistants, post-docs, and Grad students. He currently has a new office and new labs in the Chili’s Care Center on the St. Jude campus. The Chili’s Care Center building was just completed two weeks ago.

I am THOROUGHLY excited about this opportunity. Thank you for your help in getting me this position. I will keep you posted on his work and what exactly my job will entail. In conclusion, thank you for pushing me so hard in so many classes…I might not be in this amazing opportunity if not for your hard work and dedication to providing me (and all the students at CBU) with a quality education.

Thanks again,
Daniel Darnell

Hi Dr. Ross,

As far as program is concerned it is a very competitive program. Only 1 out of 7 students who applied were 
accepted into this program. It's is mch better than some state schools. Plus you get to study a year in UK 
before doing your rotations anywhere you want in States or accredited hospital around the world (for free 
electives). Since it's an acclerated program the classes are from 9:00am-5:00pm and then of course you have 
late night studying. Besides US medical ethics, biochemistry, and gross anatomy and embryology (and lab), 
we also have histology and cell biology (and lab) for the first semester.  I am glad I had histology at CBU. 
It helped me so much that I would be struggling if I didn't had it before.  The pace is so fast that during 
the first week of medical school we covered most of the  material what was in our first two exams at CBU 
(did first 8 chapers of the book). The only difference of histology is that we have clinical book with 
pathological histology images.

The Histology Books I am using are:
     Basic Histology (Junquiera, Carneiro)
     Color Atlas of Histology (Gartner, Hiatt)
     Clinical Histology book

I will keep the school updated as the semester progresses.I will return to Memphis for my last summer (in 
med school) and  might do research at St. Jude or just relax.

Hopefully, when I retun I will get to see the new science building fully operational.

Sincerely yours,


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Featured Department: Physics

(In each issue we feature a different department or major.)

physics lab with oscilloscopes

The image on the right shows Dr. Varriano in a physics lab (PHYS 202) on the operation and use of an Oscilloscope. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

The Physics Department serves essentially every Science and Engineering student at CBU. In addition to its service courses, the department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and in Engineering Physics. Most people recognize that you can teach with a physics degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in physics. There are lots of other career options with a physics degree. Our recent majors have entered graduate programs in physics and other related disciplines at institutions including Harvard, Tufts, Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee, University of Arizona, and University of Memphis.

As with the other science disciplines at CBU, many of the physics courses at CBU have labs associated with them. The department has designed the lab experiments to directly support the lectures, and the faculty have written their own lab manuals (10 of them!) for the lab experiments. Since these lab manuals are produced in house, they are very inexpensive (which helps the student's budget), and they are also very efficient since they are custom made for our lab experiments and our lab equipment. In addition to the labs that support the many service and introductory courses, the department has a very nice and well equipped optics/laser lab. Like all CBU labs, our labs are devoted strictly to undergraduate education.

physics research project equipment

The image on the left shows an optical system set up by Matthew Nelson, Mathematics, 2008, for his senior research project on applications of Fourier transforms. The intensity pattern formed by the middle lens turns out to be the Fourier transform of the intensity pattern of the object (located in the circular holder and illuminated by the red laser light). In addition to physics majors, students majoring in other areas such as mathematics and engineering have performed research in the optics lab of the Physics Department Click on the picture to get a bigger view.

As with other Sciences' departments, the Physics Department has a chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) on campus. Dr. John Varriano serves as the faculty moderator. The CBU chapter is very active, and has won Outstanding Chapter awards three of the past five years!

Br. John Monzyk is the Director of the West Tennessee (regional) site for the Science Olympiad. He has served in this capacity for the past three years. Many Science and Engineering faculty and many of our students have volunteered their time and expertise to help with this event. Next year, Dr. Andrew Diener of the CBU Math Department will take over as director from Br. John who is moving to Kentucky. Dr. Ted Clarke will join the physics faculty in August as Br. John's replacement.

Br. Kevin Ryan, adjunct assistant professor, again served as the Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Science Fair this spring. As with the Science Olympiad, many of the Sciences faculty and some of our students helped with the judging of this annual event.

Dr Johnny Holmes and Dr. John Varriano have worked on a project called Computer-Assisted Homework for Physics (CAHP) that consists of 48 individual programs that provide physics homework problems for students in which the computer immediately grades and provides feedback to the students. These programs are available to the public for free, and so far over 600 people world wide have downloaded these programs. CBU students have consistently indicated on student evaluations of courses that these programs are a valuable learning tool.

As with everyone else in the School of Sciences, the Physics Faculty are busy getting ready for the renovation of the current Science Center. With the Math offices moving over to the new Cooper-Wilson building, the physics floor will get a new lab (in the old S107 classroom) and two replacement classrooms (for the old S107 and S112 rooms). The department is also getting a replacement room for its Optics/Laser lab. It's a lot of work, but we are eagerly anticipating the new and revamped buildings!

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