Note from the Dean
Cooper-Wilson and Assisi Hall

Spring is coming!

Spring! It is late in coming this year, but it is definitely coming now. Last week we had our spring break, and we hope that both students and faculty come back refreshed. While many took advantage of the break to get some R&R, a few contributed some volunteer service work.
* Br. Edward Salgado took two students, Caitlin Ashley and Terry Netzel to Haiti to help with the work of the Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis.
* Dr. Dennis Merat with help from other volunteers including CBU students and faculty ran the Memphis and Shelby County Science Fair.

This month our newsletter focuses on our student groups and the Mathematics Department. As you can see in the article, our student groups in the different academic departments are very active. They provide a means for our students to socialize and provide service while focusing on common interests in their respective disciplines. Our Math Department takes its service role very seriously and has been very creative in trying to serve the needs of all CBU students. The article on the department details many of these efforts as well as the succcesses of its majors.

I hope you are enjoying these newsletters, and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you next month. If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to .

News of the Moment
Anatomy Event

Anatomy Event at Olympiad.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, has had a paper accepted for publication: "Choroidal Blood Flow Compensation In Rats For Arterial Blood Pressure Decreases Is Neuronal Nitric Oxide-Dependent But Compensation For Arterial Blood Pressure Increases Is Not" in the journal Experimental Eye Research. The authors are: A. Reiner, C.Li, N.DelMar and M.E.C. Fitzgerald.

The Science Olympiad was held on Saturday Feb. 20. The Director is Dr. Andrew Diener, CBU Assistant Professor of Mathematics. We had 5 teams registered and competing at the middle school level. We ran 19 middle school competitive events for a total of 64 students. At the high school level we had seven teams competing. We ran 18 high school competitions for 89 students. Our total number of competitors was 153 students on twelve teams. The state representatives from this area for the high schools are: in first place White Station High School, in second place Memphis University Schools (high school) and in third place Bartlett High School. The middle school representative is Memphis University Schools (MUS) (middle school). I should point out that while we had five teams competing at that level two of those teams came in from Little Rock, Arkansas. Since the state of Arkansas does not have a State level Olympiad, Arkansas teams may compete at regional competitions in neighboring states but are not eligible to compete at the state level. Thus, there were only two schools eligible for state competition from this region. As a result we sent only MUS.

Brain Awareness Week is this week, March 15-21. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, is hosting a group of 4th graders from Snowden Elementary School for a Brain Awareness Session on Tuesday, March 16. For more information, see the Brain Awareness Week website.

On March 17, the CBU Department of Chemistry will host the March Memphis Section Meeting of the American Chemical Society. The speaker will be Dr. Richard Pagni from the University of Tennessee. The title of his talk is “True and False Chirality – a 21st Century Perspective on the subject.” The talk will be given in AH 155 at 7:15 P.M.; all are invited to attend.

Alpha Chi, National Student Honor Society, is collecting children's books for their service project. They will bring these to the convention during March 25-28 in Little Rock in participation with Reading Is Fundamental. In addition, Catilin Ashley, Mary Jane Dickey, Caroline Mitchel and Chase de Saint-Felix will be presenting papers at the meeting.

Science Fair projects in Canale Arena

The image above shows some of the Science Fair
projects in Canale Arena at CBU.

The 56th Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair was held on March 10-12 on the campus of Christian Brothers University (CBU). About 130 projects were displayed in Canale Arena and several classrooms in Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences. Project judging began at 12 noon on March 11. There were 2 judging divisions this year: one for grades 6 through 8 and one for grades 9 through 12. The Awards Ceremony will be held on March 22 in Spain Auditorium of Buckman Hall on the CBU campus. If you are interested in more information about the fair, please contact Dr. Dennis Merat at The 2011 Fair will also be held at CBU on January 6 and 7.

This year's MHIRT students will be traveling to Heifer Ranch in Perryville Ark for the March 19-21 Heifer retreat. At this retreat students will participate in team building events and other challenges. They will stay in the global village.

The Forty-First Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty-Fifth Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad will be held at Christian Brothers University on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Students who earn top scores on the Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad will return to CBU to take the National Exam. Top scorers on the National Exam will be invited to join the U.S. team that will compete in the 2010 International Olympiad that will be held in Tokyo, Japan. The Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Chemistry Olympiad Examination are sponsored by the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society, the CBU Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society, and the CBU Department of Chemistry. For more information please contact Dr. Dennis Merat at

Research Poster Session in 2009

The image above shows biology students at the 2009 Research
Poster Session. What will their tee shirts say this year?
Clickk on the image for a larger view.

The West Tennessee Collegiate Division of the Tennessee Academy of Sciences rotates its spring meeting through colleges and universities in West Tennessee. It is CBU’s turn to host the event this spring. The meeting will occur on Saturday, April 10, 2010. Registration will begin at 8:30 AM. The meeting will run from 9 AM till 2 PM. Students may present in either a poster or power-point format, but are encouraged to do an oral presentation. Abstracts are due by March 19, 2010 via e-mail to Dr. Fitzgerald. These abstracts should not exceed 150 words. More specific instructions are available on the website. Abstracts can be submitted in any discipline of science, engineering and behavioral science. Student papers will be judged in each session and best paper awards will be given. Registration will be $10.00 per attendee to help defray costs and lunch will be served. For further information please contact Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald at

The Fourteenth Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session will be Tuesday April 20, 2010 in the Sabbatini Lounge of the Thomas Center. Titles of Posters are due by April 14th via e-mail to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald at Here are pictures from last year's session.

Alumni News

Dr. David McKenzie, Physics 1989, is one of the investigators for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory mission launched last month. David is involved in the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), a batter of four telescopes designed to photograph the sun's surface and atmosphere. David was a featured alum in the November, 2007 issue of this newsletter. For more info, see his web site.

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Featured Story: Student Groups

At CBU we strive to provide an effective and enjoyable education. One of the ways that we do this is to provide the opportunity for students to interact and learn from each other via student groups associated with the individual scientific areas. In the School of Sciences at CBU, we have the Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society for biology, the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, the Student Chapter of the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society of Physics Students. These groups allow students to not only socialize, but to learn from each other. They also provide a means to let students learn by providing service to others. Other student groups form by doing work in common, such as senior mentored research.

Beta Beta Beta Induction

Beta Beta Beta Induction this spring.

The Beta Beta Beta Biology National Honor Society is very active. Besides functioning as an honor society, the CBU chapter of Beta Beta Beta also serves as a Biology Club welcoming interested students to participate in a variety of social and career related activities. So far this year, it has:
* Held a Student/Faculty volleyball game for the Church Health Center in the spring of 09 and plans on doing this again this spring.
* Had a lunch for science majors at their opening meeting in September.
* Held mock interviews in September for students interested in applying for health professional schools.
* Organized and ran a Bowlathon fundraiser in December for a project in Uganda (see last month's newsletter).
* Held a Christmas party with the SMACS (chemistry) group.
* Had their Induction Ceremony in February.
* Helped run several events at the Science Olympiad held in February.
* Tour of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
* Back stage look at the Memphis Zoo
* Senior Farewell Day in April (with pizza and cake).

ACS members at Science Fair

ACS Student Affiliate members Erik Scott, Chirag Shah, and
Justin Edwards help register a Science Fair project
while Br. Joel Baumeyer looks on.

The Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) has received chapter awards in three of the last six years. This year, the CBU chapter:
* Provided demonstrations during the Alumni Weekend this fall.
* It celebrated National Chemistry Week with the Annual Mole Day Dinner on October 23 and co-sponsored the annual Christmas Party in December with Tri-Beta.
* Its members helped run several events at the Science Olympiad in February.
* It helped with the Science Fair held at CBU this past week (see image on the right).
* It will provide support for the Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad which will again be held on the CBU campus on March 20. The winners of the Local Examination will be invited to the National Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad to be held on April 24.
* It hosts one or two meetings a year for the Memphis Section of the ACS.
* Last spring, it offered free chemistry tutoring on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 PM.
* Beginning in April, the club will co-sponsor with the CBU Chemistry Department, a daytime monthly seminar series.
* The senior members present their research at a regional research conference held each April, alternating between the University of Tennessee at Martin or Murray State University in Kentucky.

The CBU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has won an Outstanding Chapter award for three of the last six years. SPS Activities this year include:
* SPS members showed physics demonstrations for alumni and families at Alumni Weekend this fall.
* SPS members ran four events at the Regional Science Olympiad held last month (see News of the Moment above): Pentathlon, Physical Science, Egg ‘O Naut, and Shock Value.
* SPS sponsored a talk by Dr. Jerome Goldstein of the University of Memphis at CBU in November.
* SPS members refurbished a large apparatus demonstrating gravitational potential energy. The students dubbed this apparatus the “loop of death”. It consists of a long track made from electrical conduit formed into a large loop. A bowling ball is released and travels around the loop while a person sits inside the loop. Ted Clarke, Assistant Professor of Physics, obtained it from the University of Memphis where it was headed for the trash. SPS members spent several hours repairing it with the help of Mr. Bob Moats in the Engineering Machine Shop. The maiden launch occurred on March 3 and was a huge success! Click to see a video of the apparatus in action.

Fall 2009 MAA Chess Tournament

The image above is from the MAA Chess Tournament.

The CBU Student Chapter of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA) continued to build on its signature activities. They like to incorporate food in all activities and ice cream sundaes welcomed students to campus in September. Students got quite creative with their mathematical pumpkins at the second annual, “Dress Like A Mathematician Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving.” Costumed mathematicians that visited included Hilbert and Omar Khayam. Fall activities continued with the successful 2nd Annual Chess Tournament benefitting St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The image on the right is from the Chess Tournament held in the Student Lounge in the new Cooper-Wilson science building. Steven Menezes claimed the Chess Prodigy title this year. Just before Thanksgiving, the MAA joined with SPS to hear Dr. Jerome Goldstein speak. Members continued the tradition of decorating the department for Christmas along with singing our Calculus Carols. The debate over who discovered calculus, Leibnitz or Newton, was the topic of the January meeting while origami creations were the focus of February’s general meeting. This year pi day, 3/14, was again over Spring Break, but that doesn’t stop the group from eating pi(e) on 3/16, a little late! Students will recognize Mathematics and Sports as the theme of this year’s Math Awareness Month. Some planned April activities are officer elections, another ice cream social, and attending presentations by graduating math majors. In addition to the Chess Tournament and helping with the Science Olympiad, MAA members serve the community by assisting with the TMTA (Tennessee Mathematics Teachers' Association) Contest. On April 20th, high school students come to CBU to compete in six categories: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus, Statistics, and Calculus. While CBU has served as a testing site for several years, we will have significantly more participants this year. Plans are to fill the gym arena with contestants. MAA members will be involved in preparation and organization before the date. That Tuesday, they will register and welcome students as well as help monitor tests.

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Featured Alum:
Minoli Perera, Pharm.D.,Ph.D., Biology 1997
Dr. Minoli Perera and her family

Dr. Minoli Perera and her family

I guess my story starts like many other immigrants; I was born in Sri Lanka, a small island in the Indian Ocean. My parents moved to the United States from Africa (a stop in their odyssey to Memphis). But we finally settled here and after a few years my story intersects with CBU. My time at CBU was fun and freeing and most of all good training for what was to come. I finished my BS in Biology in 1997 and started in the dual degree Pharm.D, Ph.D program at the University of Tennessee (just down the street). I remember graduate life as grueling. Not only was I taking all the regular Pharmacy classes, but I was also taking graduate class towards my Ph.D. In my last year in Pharmacy school, my Ph.D advisor moved to The Ohio State University. I finished my Ph.D in Ohio in 2003, and decided to pursue fellowship training. I really wanted something that would put both my clinical training and basic science skills to good use. I decided to join the Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics fellowship at the University of Chicago. This was an intense two years of learning Human Genetics (something I had not taken since my time at CBU) and a lot of advanced training on becoming a translational scientist. I am now on the faculty at the University of Chicago in the Department of Medicine. My research focuses on pharmacogenomics, basically how genetics can help predict how well a drug will work or who is more likely to get side effects. In between all the science I married a wonderful man and have one great little boy. We live in Chicago (right by Sox stadium, GO SOX). I really love the city and life in Chicago, though I miss the “winters” in Memphis.

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Thank You Notes to Sciences Faculty

This month we have a thank you note to Dr. Arthur Yanushka, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 11:54:23 -0500
From: McAuliffe Michael
Subject: Hello from an old Student

Dear Dr. Yanushka,
You likely don't remember me, but I will never forget you. My name is Michael McAuliffe, and I had you for calculus III during my first sophomore semester in 1979 at what was then CBC. I had an experience in your class that has inspired me throughout my life. I have told this story to friends throughout the years, and I recently realized that I never shared it with you, though you were the main part of it...I want to share this story, one that I will never forget...

I was a good math student in your class (A's & B's), and your teaching style always held my attention (that is complement!). It was most the way thru the semester, and a big test was looming on the horizon... Triple integrals as I recall.

I wouldn't have bombed the calc test so catastrophically if the girl I was dating for three years hadn't dumped me 2 weeks before... I was unable to study or focus on anything really. Just before the bell rang, after going through the exam, and fielding questions from the class, you instructed to me to stay after and you needed to speak with me. Not sure exactly what was going thru my head at that point, but I expected it was not going to be good...

After the class filed out, you looked at me and said " I'm not sure what's going on in your life Mr. McAuliffe, but this is not your work." You then took my test, tore it up, threw it in the trash, handed me a second test and asked me to hand it in the next day. After I walked out of your room, I got in my car and cried. I cried not because I was distraught over my girlfriend, but because someone gave a second chance to redeem myself at a time when I was about the lowest I had been up to that point in my life... you saw the good in me, and you gave me an opportunity to redeem myself. It has inspired me very since.

So, after 30 years, I wanted to take this opportunity to say "Thank you" for seeing I was having a bad day (actually, it was several weeks), and offering me a second chance. Your actions have positively influenced me for a lifetime, the true litmus test for a great teacher. You are a great teacher not only due to the lessons you presented in class, but because of the example you've been to others throughout the years.

I hope you are in good health and spirits, and that things are well at CBU. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Best wishes after 30 years
Michael McAuliffe

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Featured Department: Mathematics

The Mathematics Department serves essentially every CBU student and is probably the biggest service department at CBU. It provides courses for Arts majors, courses for Business majors, and many courses for Engineering and Science majors. It offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics, a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics, and a dual degree in Math and Computer Science. There are options in the math degree in bioinformatics with a minor in biology or chemistry, and an option in forensics with a minor in biology. Most people recognize that you can teach with a math degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in Math. There are lots of other career options with a Math degree.

Math Center Tutors

The picture above shows the Math Center tutors.
Click on the picture for a bigger view.

Math for some students is a fascinating and wonderful subject. For others it is something initially feared and dreaded. This wide range in attitudes and backgrounds in mathematics provides quite a challenge for the department. To handle this challenge, the departmental faculty have tried many different teaching techniques and use a wide array of tools.

It all starts with trying to place students at the appropriate level. The initial placement is based on ACT scores, but the department offers placement tests for those who think their ACT results do not really indicate their level of skill and knowledge.

The mathematics department continues to explore ways to increase student success. To meet the needs of students who require a review of algebra before attempting other mathematics courses, the department has recently created a pair of new ALG courses. The department offered these for the first time this year in the Professional Studies program, and will offer them in the day program this coming fall. They are designed to prepare the student for Finite Math. The Math 103 course was designed as a prerequisite for those that will take Precalculus and Calculus. Both the ALG courses and the MATH 103 course use computer tutorials to supplement instruction by the professor. These tutorials allow students to spend more time concentrating on individual weaknesses.

This is the fifth year of a special course, Math 129, that was designed to improve success for engineering students. The math department calls it MIFE (Mathematics Immersion for Freshman Engineers). Dr. Pascal Bedrossian and Ms. Cathy Carter have been team-teaching Math 129 in the fall semester. In it, students meet for nine contact hours each week and cover the topics of Pre-calculus and Calculus I. The students who succeed in the course are pleasantly surprised in Calculus II when the lectures are less than an hour!

MAA members

The image above shows the MAA members. Click on it for a bigger view.

Br. Joel Baumeyer continues to serve as Director of the Math Center which offers free assistance in mathematics, physics, and computer science to CBU students. Tutors are typically CBU students majoring in mathematics, engineering, or the sciences. These tutors take pride in offering their services to their fellow students. Since moving into the new Math Center room in Cooper-Wilson, student visits have increased from about 1,000 per semester to above 2,100 per semester. See the picture above to see our tutors!

In the upper level courses, the department uses the MAPLE programs to help make the material as visual as possible. Br. Walter Schreiner spent many hours of the past couple summer revising and updating MAPLE worksheets and aligning them with our new calculus text. Dr. Leigh Becker continues to publish worksheets at the Maple Application Center web site. He also uses MAPLE in his manuscript Ordinary Differential Equations: Concepts, Methods, and Models. CBU uses this manuscript as the text for Differential Equations. Dr. Holmes Peacher-Ryan is doing research on the robustness of maximum likelihood factor analysis using five-valued Likert data. As an example of five-valued Likert data, consider the sort of questionnaire we have all seen in which we answer "1" for "strongly agree", "2" for "agree", "3" "neutral" or "don't know", "4" for "disagree", and "5" for "strongly disagree". Maximum likelihood factor analysis is a statistical technique which finds underlying factors or "causes" of the pattern of responses to a group of questions.

plot of solution

The solution of a delay differential equation shown
in the figure appears in the Maple worksheet "Constant
Delay Differential Equations and the Method of Steps."
It was written by Dr. Leigh C. Becker and published
by Maplesoft in 2009.

Three seniors, Andrew Fayne, Dennis Guy, and Dustin Perry, will graduate in May with B.A. or B.S. degrees in mathematics. Besides the usual array of mathematics courses, math majors must also take two semesters of seminar (Math 481–482) in their senior year. In Senior Seminar I this past fall, Dr. Leigh C. Becker introduced the seniors to metric spaces, Banach spaces, and the Contraction Mapping Principle. In this semester’s Senior Seminar II, all three seniors are applying what they learned in Senior Seminar I and in their math courses, primarily the analysis and linear algebra courses, to study certain types of functional differential equations. Andrew is studying the existence and uniqueness of continuous solutions of Volterra integral equations while Dustin is focusing on periodic solutions of such equations. Dennis is studying a certain type of population model that is a delay differential equation. Andrew is also a computer science major and interns with FedEx. Upon graduation, Dennis will be commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and will start the Navy’s Nuclear Power School sometime in the summer. Dustin is student teaching this semester at Christian Brothers High School and already has a teaching position for the fall semester.

Evidence of the Math Department's success in its teaching can be found in the results of the EBI Engineering Exit Assessment test given to senior engineering students where the questions on satisfaction with required coursework in Calculus and Differential Equations (as well as in Physics and Chemistry) score well above the national average for engineering schools. Senior mathematics majors are also required to take the MFAT (Major Field Achievement Test) in mathematics in April, which is based on the GRE mathematics subject test. Last year’s five math seniors did remarkably well---their average MFAT math score was higher than 82% of the average institutional scores of some 260 colleges and universities!

The Math Department also provides service to the university and community through the Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America. In addition, Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is the CBU site director for the West Tennessee section of the Science Olympiad (see news of the moment section earlier in this newsletter). The Math Department also provides the support so that CBU can be a test site for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association high school tests in the spring.