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School of Sciences Newsletter
April 2009

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 Notes Featured Department: Physics

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

While springtime is usually a time of promise, for us in academia this is a time of both promise and fulfillment. Our students are wrapping up an academic year, and for some they are completing their college journey and preparing for the future. It is amazing to think that these students who are graduating are the same students who came to us a few years earlier. In some ways they are, and in many ways they aren't. Sometimes in the beginning it may be hard to recognize all of the promise, and even at graduation we haven't really seen all of the fulfillment. When you read the featured alum articles in these newsletters, though, you begin to really see that fulfillment.

This spring also marks the fulfillment of a life stage for two of our Sciences' faculty members, Dr. Michael Condren and Dr. Marguerite Cooper, both of whom are retiring from full time teaching after over 25 years at CBU in the Chemistry Department. I'm sure our alums will join me and the rest of the Sciences faculty in thanking them for their dedication to teaching and to our students. CBU is a much better place because of their work here. If you wish to send them an e-mail message on their retirement, their e-mail addresses are: Dr. Condren: mcondren@cbu.edu , and Dr. Cooper: mcooper@cbu.edu .

Our feature article for this issue is about student research. This is certainly one area that we can see tangible evidence of fulfillment in our graduating seniors. At CBU, teaching is our primary concern, and that teaching includes having students actively involved in a research project or internship. 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. If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to jholmes@cbu.edu .

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President's Reception

News of the Moment

The image on the right is from the President's Reception on Sunday, April 5.

Dr. Mike Condren has announced his retirement after this semester. Dr. Condren has been at CBU since 1981, and has been an active and valued member of the Chemistry Department ever since. Dr. Condren will be sorely missed. There is more information about Dr. Condren's career here at CBU on his faculty page and on his home page.

Dr. Marguerite Cooper has announced her retirement from full time teaching after this semester. Dr. Cooper, affectionately known as "Dr. Mom" to her students, has been at CBU in the Chemistry Department since 1977. Dr. Cooper plans on teaching a course or two next year, so she should be around to maintain her contacts with her fellow faculty members and her former and current students.

Lee Allen, an engineering alum and one of the sons of the School of Sciences' Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Leah Allen, was married on March 21 to Jennifer Longo, an arts alum and MHIRT participant. Congratulations to Lee, Jennifer, and Leah!

Brain Awareness Week event at CBU

The image on the left is of a thank you note to Dr. Fitzgerald for her workshop on the brain last month. Click on the image for a larger view.

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a national event sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience (http://www.sfn.org/baw/). This year it was March 16-22. Events occurred all over the United States with the University of Tennessee Neuroscience Institute presenting lectures on Brain Food at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology at CBU, has been organizing events and speaking to students about the brain since the beginning of the BAW program in 1990. This year 20 fourth graders came to CBU from Ms. Sherry Coates' Clue class at Snowden School. Dr. Fitzgerald set up the Neuro/Physiology lab in Cooper-Wilson with models and books describing special senses, the eye, the brain, and the peripheral nervous system. There were questions for the students to answer at the various stations. They spent about an hour at CBU along with 5 adult supervisors. Each student got hand-outs about the brain and CBU pens and T-shirts provided by admissions director, Ms. Tracey Dysart. The students liked their shirts, promptly put them on and we took a group shot. The “Just Think” was a fitting title for the Brain Awareness Week presentation. Within two days a sack of thank you notes arrived. These are on display in the Cooper Wilson hallway. They really enjoyed their time at CBU and one parent commented that when her son thinks about neuroscience he will think about CBU!

On Tuesday, April 7, CBU Assistant Professor of Physics Ted Clarke successfully defended his dissertation for his Ph.D. from the University of Memphis. Congratulations, Dr. Clarke!

The Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) held the Fortieth Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twentieth-Fourth Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad on Saturday March 28, 2009 at Christian Brothers University. Members of the CBU student section of the ACS assisted Dr. Mike Condren in running this event.

The image below is a group shot of the participants at the Tennessee Academy of Science meeting held on Saturday, April 4.

TAS meeting

On Saturday, April 4, twenty CBU Biology students presented research papers at the annual Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting hosted by Rhodes College. Click on the link for Photos along with the list of papers presented. CBU Students who received Best Paper Awards are listed below:
3 of the TAS winners The image on the right shows three of the award winners: Erica McMorise, Michelle Paul, and Stephanie Johnson.
* Session 1: 1st Place: Erica C. McMorise for her presentation on work done by Erica C. McMorise*, Anna N. Bukiya and Alex Dopico, Evaluation of in vitro Vasoactive Properties of Newly Discovered BK Channel Activators. Erica did her work with the other two authors from the Department of Pharmacology, University of Tennessee Health and Science Center.
* Session 2: 2nd Place: Emily Wong for her presentation on work done by Emily Wong* and Carolyn Apanavicius, Carbohydrate Distribution in Bamboo. Emily did her work with the other author at The Memphis Zoo.
* Session 2: 3rd Place: Blake A. Jackson for his presentation on work done by Blake A. Jackson* and Jack Grubaugh, Comparison of Flight Patterns and Habitat Preferences among the Ae.vexans, Cx. erraticus, and An. smaragdinus Mosquito Populations. Blake did his work with the other author at the University of Memphis, Department of Biology.
* Session 3: 1st Place: Stephanie Johnson for her presentation on work done by Stephanie Johnson*, Bruno D. Gomes, Givago da Silva Souza, Malinda E.C. Fitzgerald, and Luiz Carlos de Lima Silveira, Chromatic Discrimination Measured with MFVEPS. Stephanie did her work with the other authors from the Department of Biology, Christian Brothers University and Universidade Federal do Pará, Núcleo de Medicina Tropical, Belém, Brasil.
* Session 3: 3rd Place: Michelle Paul for her work done by Michelle Paul*, Wendyam A. Guiguemde, and Rodney K. Guy, Identification of Synergistic Antimalarial Therapeutics from a Collection of Bioactive Compounds. Michelle did her work with the other authors from the Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Here is a note from Erica's mentor, Dr. Alex Dopico, to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, the CBU director of mentored research: "Thank you for bringing great students to our lab and congrats to the CBU-UTHSC team! Alex"

Chemistry students at the regional ACS meeting.

The image on the left shows Dr. Dennis Merat (left), Dr. Mike Condren (sitting), CBU student presenters Antony Eddy, Tuyetdung Tran, Edward Derrick, and John Legge. Pictured at the right of the CBU group is President Elect of the ACS, Dr. Joe Francisco who is a distinguished professor at Purdue University. Click on the image for a larger image of the four seniors.

On Saturday, April 4, Dr. Mike Condren and Dr. Dennis Merat accompanied four CBU chemistry majors to Murry State University to the regional American Chemical Society meeting where the four seniors gave presentations of their research.
* Antony Eddy gave a presentation entitled: Calcium-Binding Protein of the Actinidia Deliciosa.
* Tuyetdung Tran gave a presentation entitled: Characterization of High Molecular Weight Calcium-Binding Protein from genus Ilex Opaca.
* Edward Derrick gave a presentation entitled: Development of an analytical method for quantitation of murine double minute 2 inhibitor Nutlin-3a in mouse plasma samples.
* John Legge gave a presentation entitled: Towards the total and stereoselective synthesis of nigricanoside A.

The annual President's Reception for Accepted Students was held on Sunday, April 5, in the dining hall at CBU. See the picture above. Click here for more images from this event.

On Tuesday, April 7, we had our annual Youth and Vitality (Students) vs. Old Age & Deceit (Faculty, Alumni, & Staff) Charity Volleyball Game. This year the faculty team won the first game, but the student team won the next two. All three games were close, but Youth and Vitality won out over Old Age & Deceit. We raised $500 for the Church Health Center. (See action picture below.)

On Tuesday, April 21, we will have our 13th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session from 11:00 am -2:00 pm in the Sabbatini Lounge (East Lounge), 2nd floor of the Thomas Center. Click here for a web page on last year's session.

Volleyball game

The image on the right shows action during the Youth and Vitality vs. Old Age and Deceit Volleyball game.

Alumni News

Whitney Appling, Biology 2006, recently became engaged to Ryan Talbert. Whitney is current attending the University of Mississippi Dental School in Jackson. Ryan is a Registered Nurse and a 1st Lieutenant in the air National Guard.

Stephen Wetick, Natural Science 2000 and last month's featured alum, and his wife are now proud parents: "Claire Cecile Wetick was born March 19th at 6 lbs, 7 oz. Mom and baby are doing well.......we could use more sleep however."

Kim Ries, Biology 2003, and Alan Whittington, Math 2005, were married in Memphis on July 12, 2008, and currently reside in NYC. Alan will be graduating from Columbia University in May 2009 with a Masters in Actuarial Sciences. Kim is currently attending the Fashion Institute of Technology where she will graduate with a degree in Jewelry Design.

Jose Divya, Natural Science 2007, has been accepted to the St George's University School of Medicine program.

Kyle Summer, Biology 2008, has been accepted to the Ph.D. program in Integrative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Memphis. He has been working in the laboratory of Dr. Lawrence Reiter in the Department of Neurology since graduation last spring.

Fourth-year medical student Manny Patel, Biology 2005, matched with his first choice, radiology at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Another fourth-year medical student, Eric Weirich, Biology 2003, matched in anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, which is the same program that Adam Cartwright, Chemistry 2002, is in.

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Biol 362 Junior Seminar

Featured Story: Student Research

The image on the right shows Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger reviewing a research poster with the student creators, Raelyn Pirtle (right) and Supriya (Susy) Ponnapula for BIOL 362.

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..

MHIRT group at the wall at the Heifer Ranch.

Pictured on the left is the MHIRT group at "the wall" at the Heifer Ranch where the MHIRT participants train. Click on the image to see another image of Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, the MHIRT program director, on the wall.

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.

The MHIRT participants this spring attended a weekend retreat from March 27 to 29 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 (see image on the left). 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.

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.

In the "News of the Moment" section, the senior research of this year's biology and chemistry majors was detailed. In the MATH senior seminar this year, Andrew Assadollahi is studying a linear delay differential equation model of the feedback control of the level of a liquid in a leaking tank. He and Dr. Becker are collaborating on a Maple worksheet to solve linear delay differential equations using the method of steps. Ryan Blankenship is studying Dirichlet problems; that is, finding solutions of Laplace's equation in a domain with preassigned values on the boundary of the domain. He is also writing a Maple program that will solve some Dirichlet problems with simple boundaries in electrostatics. John Legge is studying resolvents of linear Volterra integral equations of the second kind. He and Dr. Becker are collaborating on a Maple worksheet that will help compute analytical forms of resolvents for certain types of kernels of nonconvolution type (they believe no one has done this before because of the complexity of the computations). The title of his research is Linear Volterra Integral Equations and their Resolvents. Two other seniors are working with Dr. Bedrossian on projects for the dual degree in Math and Computer Science.

students working in the neuro lab at UT

In the image on the left, Kyle Summers, Biology 2008, and Xiong Lin, Biology 2010, are working in a neuroscience lab in the Department of Neurology at UTHSC. Click on the image for a bigger view.

As part of Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald's BIOL 451L Neuroscience Lab, CBU students have been doing research in a neuroscience lab at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Dr. Lawrence Reiter is the Director of the Drosophila Transgenetic Core, and Kyle Summers, Biology 2008, and Will Bodeen, Natural Science 2008, are working in his lab as technicians. They also assist in the teaching of lab techniques to the CBU students. These students are investigating siRNA expression on six different genes that have been implicated in a motor neuron developmental disorder. They are learning about both molecular biology and imaging.

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: Emily Biggs Rettinger, Pharm.D., Chemistry 2000 See Emily with her husband and son in the image on the right. Click on the image to get a bigger view.

Emily Biggs Regginger with her son and husband

I graduated from CBU with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry in May 2000. In August of the same year, I started pharmacy school at UT Health Science Center. After finishing my first semester, I really felt like CBU had prepared me for the challenges that I had faced academically and in my day to day life, and I still feel that way today. I also became an active member of the professional pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi and held the office of secretary my second year. I worked at St. Francis Hospital inpatient pharmacy to gain experience in a hospital setting. (I had previously worked for an independent and a chain pharmacy.)

In May of 2004, I graduated with honors and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. After receiving my license, I started working for SuperD, and I continue to work there today. I also continue to work for St. Francis on an as needed basis. I am a member of the Memphis Area Pharmacist Society, American Pharmacist Association (APhA), Tennessee Pharmacist Association (TPA), and the Christian Pharmacist Fellowship International (CPFI).

While attending pharmacy school, I met my husband, Paul, who also works for SuperD pharmacy here in Memphis. We have a 3 year old son, Matthew. We enjoy traveling, going to the Mississippi Riverking's hockey games, and spending time with family. We are also members of First United Methodist Church.

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Thank You Notes to Science Faculty

This month we have two thank you notes, one to Dr. Anna Ross on some of her web materials, and one to Dr. Mike Condren who will be retiring after this semester.

Subject: Thank you for Advice regarding histology course
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008
From: Davis, Ralph
To: "Dr. Anna E. Ross"

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your wonderfully comprehensive response to my questions about teaching histology. I appreciate the time you took to craft your answers. They were (and will continue to be) very helpful as I attempt to improve my histology course. Your 20 years of teaching histology has obviously enabled you to create an amazing course and I know that I have already benefitted greatly from your advice ¬ your long experience helps me not feel quite so bad about my course as I begin my 3rd time teaching histology. Like you, I really enjoy teaching histology and have learned so much by teaching it. I am very envious of your webmaster skills ¬ clearly those skills have also contributed to the outstanding quality of the courses you teach.

I believe that I will make my lab drawing requirement an optional part of the course. I could give students some bonus points for doing it, but not make it required. I have had several students say that drawing helps them to slow down and better learn spatial and size relationships between structures(especially students more artistically inclined - or visual learners), but I know not everyone needs that sort of help. My rationale in the past was taken from that old Da Vinci quote, something to the effect that “the person who does not draw, does not observe.” But of course Da Vinci lived before digital images by the hundreds of thousands! Many learn best just by looking at lots of examples of a given tissue using different stains or different techniques, and there is no excuse these days with the plethora of histology image websites out there.

I like your ideas for getting the students more involved by submission of questions and perhaps even of images (perhaps labeled and unlabeled) for extra credit. We have a microscope with a digital camera, but unfortunately, have to time share it with some other courses that also need to use it. Also the resolution is not quite as good as I would like it to be, especially for high magnification views. I think that part of the problem is the boxes of old microscope slides I have which I have been trying to gradually update with new purchases (because of fading, etc.). I have some old Southern Biological slides that are probably antiques ¬ I don’t think Southern Biological even exists anymore! I think that most of our slides are fifty or 75 years old (or older).

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:02:45 -0500
From: Mark Page
To: 'Dr. S. Michael Condren - Chemistry' 
Subject: RE: Chemistry Olympiad


I hope all is well with you.  I believe I heard this is your last one and
then you are retiring?  True or not, let me thank you for always putting on
a first rate competition and running a successful program at CBU.  Having a
love of science shows through and is obvious to all and your work is greatly
appreciated by the local high school teachers.  You are a credit to your
school and I thank you for the collaborative efforts.


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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 six years! Dr. Ted Clarke, our new Assistant Professor of Physics this year (who recently defended his dissertation - see the News of the Moment section in this issue), has helped the student chapter refurbish and get working a demonstration on circular acceleration that we pictured in last month's issue.

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.

While the new building project completed last summer added brand new labs for biology, chemistry, and computer science in the new Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences, physics was not completely left out. With the Math Department offices moving to the top floor of Cooper-Wilson, the Physics Department was able to reclaim space on the bottom floor of Assisi Hall. This added space allowed us to add a Natural Science lab (AH 113) and get expanded space in our Advanced Lab (AH 114). The department also obtained a room for the Society of Physics Students.

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