Christian Brothers University
School of Sciences Newsletter
March 2007

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

Featuring Mathematics and Student Groups

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: Student Groups Featured Alums Thank you's Featured Department: Mathematics

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

Effective and enjoyable education is the primary mission of the School of Sciences. This includes appropriate curriculums, enthusiastic in-class teaching, laboratory components for students to "play", the appropriate use of technology to "see" how things work, and it is capped off with research. Previous newsletters have talked about how all of these are being accomplished at CBU. Another important component of effective and enjoyable education is service: service for our students, service by our students, and service to our community. In this issue we feature the Student Discipline groups and their activities. These provide a service by our students to each other and to the community. We also feature the Math Department which provides many service courses to all parts of the university.

If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to jholmes@cbu.edu . If you are interested, there are newsletters from the other CBU Schools (Arts, Business and Engineering). To see our past newsletters, visit our Sciences' Newsletters page.

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courtyard between proposed new and existing science buildings

News of the Moment

The image on the right shows a view of the proposed courtyard that would be between the new Science building and the renovated existing Science Center.

Dr. Marguerite Cooper, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has been chosen to be honored as one of the University of Memphis' Outstanding Alums. Congratulations to Dr. Cooper!

Laura Anglin will be presenting a poster at the 2007 Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference in Orlando Fla on March 17th. The title of the poster is The effects of agricultural land clearing surrounding Emas National Park, Brazil on the viability and diet of the maned wolf and is coauthored with Ashley Ragsdale from the University of Memphis. This is their senior research and the result of MHIRT 2006.

The Memphis and Shelby County Science Fair will be held on March 19-22, 2007. CBU is one of the sponsors of the Science Fair and CBU's Brother Kevin Ryan, FSC is the Director. Judges are needed on Tuesday March 20, 2007 from Noon to 3 PM. If you can help, please send an e-mail now to kryan@cbu.edu .

The Thirty-Eigth Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty-Second Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad will be held at CBU on Saturday, April 14. Analice Hosey Sowell, Chemistry alum 2002, is serving as the Committee Chair for this event. CBU and the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society are sponsoring this event.

This year CBU will serve as a test center for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachersí Association (TMTA) high school math contest that will be held April 17th. Each year a little more than 5,000 high school students participate in the contest at different test centers across the state.

The 11th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session will be held on Tuesday, 17 April. Seniors doing research projects from all parts of campus are welcome to participate.


Group at conference on Global Health Education Consortium

Group at the Global Health Education Consortium held in the Dominican Republic. From left to right: Dr. Mohamed Kanu (TSU), Julia Hanebrink, Mechelle Elosiebo (M2 at UT), Ruth Valverde-Salas, Manish Patel, and Fredrico Gomez. Drs. Teri Mason and Malinda Fitzgerald are not in the picture.

Fredrico Gomez (CBU Visiting Instructor in Literature & Languages), Ruth Valverde-Salas (CBU Literature & Languages), Dr. Teri Mason (CBU Asst. Prof. of Behavior Science), Manish Patel (biology 2005, now UT M2), Mechelle Elosiebo(UT M2), Julia Hanebrink (psychology 2001), Dr. Mohamed Kanu (TSU) and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald (CBU Professor of Biology) attended a conference on Global Health Education Consortium, "Beyond Borders: Global Health and Migrating Populations". One paper was presented: An assessment on the mental health issues on the Acholi people with regards to the conflict occurring in Northern Uganda, and two posters were displayed: Minority Health International Research Training and Implementing Malaria prevention through education in Uganda. These presentations stemmed from research conducted in Uganda the summer of 2006 through the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald will be taking four students to the National Convention for Alpha Chi in San Antonio on March 15-18. Three students will be making presentations, two of these are biology and one is an engineering major with a biology minor. Sana Mujahid is presenting Characterization of Lysophosphatidic Acid 3 Receptor Using Computationally Guided Site-directed Mutagenesis. Sheharyar Minhas is presenting Incorporation of HA into H5N1 Vaccine Virus is Independent of Matrix Gene Origin. He has entered this presentation for the Benedict scholarship competition. Ashley Prevost is presenting CpG Island Methylation in Prostate Cancer Cell Line. Jennifer Aldrich will be attending as the voting member and the junior class representative.

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Biology Research Poster Session students 2006

Featured Story: Student Groups

The picture on the right shows the Biology Seniors who participated in the Research Poster Session last April.

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 disciplines. In the School of Sciences at CBU, we have the Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society for biology, the Student Affiliate 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 - see the image on the right.


BBB at the zoo

The picture on the left shows some Beta Beta Beta members at the Memphis Zoo. Click on it to go to more pictures from this event.

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 and plans on doing this again this spring.
* Held an interview workshop for students interested in applying for health professional schools.
* Went to the Zoo.
* Held a Bowlathon fundraiser for a project in Uganda.
* Helped out with the Memphis Marathon.
* Held a Christmas party with the SAACS (chemistry) group.
* Formed a team of 15 people for the Haiti Tour D'Esprit at Holy Spirit church. This was a 24-hour race for the Haiti Medical missions.
* Made and sold Christmas ornaments for the Memphis Muslim Medical Clinic.


combustion cannon for SPS

The image on the right shows SPS student members Phuc Nguyen (left) and Austin King (right) prepare to fire the combustion cannon that the group built to help celebrate national Chemistry Week. The cannon uses the combustion of an aerosol propellant to launch potatoes across the quad.

The Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) has received a Commendable Chapter Award from ACS for its activities during the academic year (2004-2005) and Honorable Mention for the previous year (2003-2004). It helps celebrate National Chemistry Week by giving lunchtime demonstrations in the quad, and it provides support for the Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad which are held at CBU in the spring. It hosts one or two meetings a year for the Memphis Section of the ACS.

Piís appeared across campus on March 14th to celebrate Pi Day and announce the return of the CBU Student Chapter of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA). Members gathered that afternoon for some puzzles and appropriate irrational games. Of course, refreshments included pi(e). The group is making plans to celebrate Math Awareness Month 2007, Math and the Brain. During 2007, CBU students will also mark "The Year of Euler" as this is the 300th anniversary of that mathematicianís birth.

The CBU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has won an Outstanding Chapter award for three of the last four years including last year (2005-2006). It helped with the Science Olympiad last February and held many demonstrations for the university community throughout the year. These included sunspot viewing sessions and the observation of Mercury transiting the Sun with the department's telescopes. The group also held a bottle rocket competition and built and demonstrated a combustion cannon (see the photo on the right) to help celebrate National Chemistry Week.

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Featured Alums: Yelena Lapova-Garber, DVM, BS UTCVM 2004, CBU Biology 2000, and Jenny Bernard, Biology 2006 This month we feature two alums, one is a working verterinarian, the other is in vet school.

biology majors 2000

The picture on the left shows the biology majors at the research poster session in 2000. Yelena is on the bottom row second from the right.

from Yelena Lapova-Garber: Veterinary medicine is a very diverse profession. Although most veterinarians practice privately, other choices include corporate, specialty, and shelter practice, public health, government/military service, research, academia, etc. Within the scope of private practice, one may choose to work with companion animals, exotic pets, horses, cattle, swine, poultry, fish, and combination of thereof. Also keep in mind that it's not unusual to change your mind as you go through the curriculum. Some students that dream of nothing but horses end up practicing small animal medicine, vice versa, and some discover joys of a certain specialty, industry, or a particular species. Possibilities are endless, and there is something for everyone. I have tried private and shelter practice, and for now settled on relief work. I enjoy taking a different road every morning, flexible scheduling, helping and learning from different hospitals, and meeting different people. This line of work, however, requires much flexibility and discipline as a self-employed individual and tax payer.

I would like to mention that if you are interested in this profession, you must not only enjoy working with animals, but people as well. Dogs don't walk into the office with a credit card in their teeth and tell you they've been vomiting for three days, or they forgot their heartworm preventative last month. Most have humans attached to the other side of the leash. From clients and your medical team to sales representatives, financial advisers, specialists, etc., you must be able to get along and maintain a working relationship with a variety of individuals. Please do not underestimate this fact while settling on veterinary medicine.

CBU is a fantastic place to start pursuing your dream of becoming a veterinarian, and I must give credit to many courses and professors as I may not have made it without them. Please take advantage of Embryology, Immunology, and Anatomy courses offered at the CBU. Also, check the coursework for the first 2-3 years of the veterinary curriculum at your desired institution, and prepare yourself beyond prerequisites. Keep in mind that veterinary hospital is a business. As many colleges of vet med do not emphasize business education, I would highly recommend to those interested in private practice to prepare at the CBU by engaging in the study of business, finance, and marketing.

Last but not least, work or volunteer at a veterinary hospital, local animal shelter/humane society, the zoo, wildlife rehabilitation center, or any other place that employs a veterinarian. Work the schedule that the doctor works, mentally involve yourself with the problem solving and decision making process, and otherwise try to "walk a mile in their shoes." This is a wonderful, giving profession, and you will have a chance to help not only animals, but families that love them. Proactive academic, mental, and emotional preparedness will not only help your dream come, but ensure that the profession is true to your expectations.


Jenny with a baby giraffe

On the right Jenny Bernard is with a baby giraffe. Click on the picture to see a picture from the October newsletter that shows Jenny with a Jaguar in her lap.

from Jenny Bernard: I graduated from CBU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in the spring of 2006, and in just one semester of veterinary school I can see how my education at CBU prepared me for this next step of my career. In some ways, veterinary school has not been that different from CBU. For example, professors in veterinary school are always willing to take time to help students, a key feature of the CBU community. While at CBU, I had the opportunity to work in the research department at the Memphis Zoo on giant panda nutrition and behavior projects. I also traveled to Brazil with the MHIRT program to work on the Jaguar Conservation Project in the Pantanal. Click on the picture to see a picture from that trip. These opportunities were two key learning experiences that not only helped me decide that I wanted to go to veterinary school, but also, undoubtedly, helped me get in the program.

In the first semester of veterinary school I took a combination of all of the upper-level biology courses that I took my junior and senior years at CBU. The undergraduate courses offered at CBU prepared me not only for the classes, but also for the tremendous workload in veterinary school. Having taken courses in physiology, immunology, histology, embryology, and parasitology at CBU, I felt more comfortable this first semester, knowing that I had seen the material before and recognized many of the topics covered. After one semester, I certainly feel that the experiences I had and courses I took while at CBU have prepared me for veterinary school and for whatever lies thereafter.

I am definitely going to South Africa this summer. We're staying at the vet school in Pretoria. Another first year student is going with me, and Dr. Kennedy is going to go down there with us for the first weekend. We'll get to see the cheetah reserve and we're probably going to take an extra week at the end of the summer to travel to Kruger national park and some other places while we're there.

Also, I was accepted to the Masters in Public Health program at UT. We can do a concentration in community health education, health planning administration, or veterinary public health which is obviously the one I'm doing. Veterinary public health involves working wtih both human and animal health in areas of food safety, zoonotic diseases, biosecurity, and public policy. My main interests are in the zoonotic disease and biosafety aspect. I don't really want to go into private practice and I know this will open up some other opportunities.

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Thank You's to Science Faculty

The thank you note below is from Patrice McKinney, a 2006 CBU Computer Science alum.

Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 08:40:42 -0600 (CST)
From: Patrice N. McKinney
To: yanushka@cbu.edu
Subject: Hello

Hi Dr. Y,

I hope that all is well for you.  I am not sure of how many of your old
students write you back after they have graduated.  I just wanted to give
you an update of myself.  In August, I started a temp job for a company
called Primacy Relocation here in Memphis and in October I was hired perm
full time doing programming stuff.  I was an Associated Programmer
programming in RBasic using Advanced Revelations (not sure if you have
heard of that or not).  However, in December I took another job at FedEx
with the job title of Associated Programmer Analyst.  Life is good so far.
 My son is growing by the seconds.  My goal, in a few years, return to CBU
and get my masters in Engineering Management (hopefully).  Well, I know
that I never said this while I was your student but after entering into
the work force I think that it is much needed: the CBU staff prepared me
for my future very well; from the entry-level math problems to the hard
labs in your programming classes.  I now understand why design is so
important.  Thanks for your efforts and never-ending teaching.

Take care,
Patrice N. McKinney

student using web resources in a biology lab

The picture on the left shows a student in biology lab using the web resources created by Dr. Anna Ross.

Although this next item is not a "thank you" from one of our grads, it does show the appreciation of others for the web work of one of our faculty. Dr. Anna Ross has web pages that are recommended by other colleges. The Galveston College Tutoring Center has at the top of its Tutoring Links section the statement: "These sites include a list of helpful links to active Internet sites where students can find additional information to help them understand terminology and processes in the biological sciences." Further down, when it refers to Dr. Ross's pages, it says: "Dr. Anna E. Rossí home page is a helpful site with links to Biology and A&P tutorials." Under the Library Learning Center at Galveston College, it refers to Dr. Ross' web site with: "Dr. Anna E. Rossí home page is a helpful site with links to Biology and A&P tutorials." The University of Texas Medical School at Houston lists her Histology course web page on their Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Histology Web Links page. Dr. Terri Stilson at North Seattle Community College links to some of her pages and describes the pages as: "Links to her classes, which include A&P. Her A&P online resources are pretty nice, and categorized by subject. Also links to tons of other resources, like nursing resources (and Animal Behavior, if you're into that sort of thing). "

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Featured Department: Mathematics
(In each issue we feature a different department or major.)

Math Center in operation

The picture on the right shows a Math Center tutor helping a student with a problem.

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, courses for ITM and Computer Science 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 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.

In the beginning courses, the department uses examples with real data to try to show how useful the math is, and it uses graphing calculators to make the math as visual as possible. To support all math courses, but especiallly the beginning math courses, the department runs the CBU Math Center where students can get free tutoring help.


plot of solution

The image on the left is a plot from one of Dr. Becker's papers that was recently published.

In the upper level courses, the department uses the MAPLE programs to help make the material as visual as possible. The department not only uses Maple routines in the language's libraries, it also develops routines for the courses it teaches. Sometimes these routines are submitted to MAPLE and made available on its website. As reported in the November newsletter, Dr. Leigh Becker worked with a CBU student, Micah Wheeler, on his senior research that was presented at the 2005 CBU research poster session. It was entitled A Trapezoidal Method for a Volterra System of Integral Equations. A Maple worksheet was developed from this research, and it has been published by Maplesoft at its Maple Application Center web site. In his senior seminar project last year, Shawn Morgan explored predicting the outcome of CBU baseball games using Markov chains. This yearís seniors are investigating the connections between mathematics and Rubrikís cube, sudoku, music, and hexagonal patterns in Pascalís triangle.

During the Spring 2006 and Fall 2006 semesters, Dr. Holmes Peacher-Ryan worked as a statistician at the Urban Child Institute with political scientist Dr. Doug Imig of the University of Memphis. His work at the Urban Child Institute has included: (1) analysis of national data on twentieth-Century political movements around child labor, child care, child health, and child abuse, and (2) analysis of census data and public school data for relationships between family variables, socioeconomic variables and indices of child well-being. Dr. Peacher-Ryan is also working with Dr. Mary Battle of the University of Memphis on a meta-analysis of pedagogical techniques for teaching writing composition and reading literature together.

In a continuing effort to improve the quality of our students who pursue an elementary teaching licensure, the Math department recently collaborated with the CBU Education department to create a new two course sequence: Math 151 Numerical Concepts for Elementary Teachers and Math 152 Math Topics for Elementary Teachers. These courses review the basics behind the math taught in elementary school and introduce interesting ways of teaching this basic but important material.

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.

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Sciences home page that includes links to previous issues
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