Note from the Dean
Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

The days are getting shorter, but work goes on in Cooper-Wilson.

I'm sitting at my desk contemplating the next "Note from the Dean" for this newsletter when inspiration walked in the door in the form of a student I had last year. She is a student athlete and needs some medical work done, but the timing is not yet set. She was just letting me know that this was coming up, that she had contacted her teachers, and that she was working things out as best she could. She indicated her teachers were all understanding and willing to work with her. To me, this is what CBU is all about: a student who is interested in her courses and faculty who are interested in the student's success. I'm proud to see this in action in the School of Sciences.

Our featured article in this issue talks about the possiblity of earning a science degree in three years. This was always possible, but now we show how it might be done. While this may not be for everyone, we know that many people have many different situations, and this may be of a good option for some.

Our featured alum is Dr. William Busler, Professor of Chemistry here at CBU. Bill graduated from CBU (then CBC) in 1966 and has taught full time in the Chemistry department for the past 30 years. He has announced his intent to retire after the end of this academic year. I hope you enjoy reading his story.

Our featured major in this issue is Computer Science. It can be a challenging major, but it can also be a very interesting major with good job prospects.

I hope you are enjoying these newsletters, and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you in February, after the holidays and after the start of the spring semester. If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an email now to .

News of the Moment

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology and Principle Investigator for the Minority Health International Research Training grant (MHIRT), has received notification that the grant has been extended for the upcoming 2011 year. Congratulations to Malinda and her staff!

Gulf Coast Trip

Students in action during the Gulf Coast Trip.

The Lasallian Fellows Program, made possible by the generosity of trustee Joyce Mollerup and her husband, Bob Buckman, is an annual fellowship program awarding $5,000 each to five members of the senior class whose scholarship, leadership and service reflect CBU's Lasallian values. Lasallian values include being committed to the service of the under-served, being sensitive to social and community needs, and putting faith into action. Students are nominated for this award by members of the CBU faculty and staff and selected based on the above criteria. Two of the five fellows are School of Sciences majors:
Jenessa Gebers (Psychology '11 and 2010 MHIRT participant)
Rachel Haag (Biology '11)
Wesley Hall (Mechanical Engineering '11)
Ashley Jones (Psychology '11)
Kathleen Nelson (Biology '11)

On October 28-30, 42 students along with Dr. Stan Eisen and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald went on the Gulf Coast Trip as part of two biology labs: BIOL 412 Ecology and BIOL 413 Parasitology. The group stayed at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, MS, and they did field work along the coast during their stay. This trip is a regular event in both of these courses. See images on the public facebook page and on the Biology Events page.

Death Warmed Over band

This year's Death Warmed Over band.

On Tuesday, October 19, twenty eight sophomore biology students from Memphis Catholic High School came to CBU to do a laboratory training skill session on the use of the microscope. Br. Edward Salgado, Professor of Biology, and Ms. Lynda Miller, Science Lab Coordinator, were the session instructors and were aided by a couple of CBU biology majors. The activity lasted two and a half hours.

On Tuesday, October 26, the members of Death Warmed Over, who have been resting in their crypts for a year, re-emerged, as they do this time of year, to play the Annual Lunchtime Benefit Concert for LeBonheur Children's Medical Center. The concert was performed in Alfonso Dining Hall. This year's Death Warmed Over lineup included: Larry Anderson (electric bass & vocals), Justin Escue (drums), Phillip Loewenberg (alto sax), Matt Vincent (vocals), and Dr. Stan Eisen (keyboard, guitar, and vocals).

MAA Pumpkin Carving context

MAA students carving their pumpkins.

On Thursday, October 28, CBU's Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America held its annual Pumpkin Carving and Mathematician Costume contests.

On Friday, November 12, CBU's Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America hosted its annual Chess Tournament in the Cooper-Wilson Center Lounge (2nd floor). A portion of proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology currently on sabbatical, was an invited speaker for the Explorer Connection at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. Her host was Dr. Mike Prushan in the Chemistry department. He was part of the LaSalle group and Dr. Fitzgerald was part of the CBU group that participated in the International Association of LaSallian Educators (IALU) in Rome last May. While Dr. Fitzgerald was at LaSalle, she met with Br. Michael (past president at CBU) and several people in the Biology and Chemistry departments.

Foaming Pumpkins demo

The Foaming Pumpkins demonstration during chemistry week.

During the week of October 25-29, the Chemistry department and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society gave daily demonstrations:
• Monday - What happens when you mix a Gummi Bear with Potassium Chlorate?
• Tuesday - Coke and Mentos
• Wednesday - Corn Starch
• Thursday - Demonstrations by Dr. Harmon Dunathan
• Friday - Foaming Pumpkins

Zoo Trip

Madeline Reynolds and Grace Hutchinson
with a starfish at the BBB zoo trip.

On Thursday, November 4, Beta Beta Beta held its annual "behind the scenes" trip to the Memphis Zoo. Steve Bogarty, Curator of the aquarium, took the students on a behind the scenes look at the aquarium.

On Thursday, November 11, Dr. Stan Eisen, CBU's Director of Pre-Professional Programs, organized a Health Career Opportunities Fair, with representatives from the following schools and programs:
* Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
* Medical Scholarship Programs (U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy)
* Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus
* Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine
* Sherman College of Chiropractic (Spartansburg, SC)
* Southern College of Optometry - Memphis
* University of Memphis Masters Degree Program in Public Health
* The University of Tennessee Health Science Center – Memphis with the following colleges:
• College of Dentistry
• College of Graduate Health Sciences
• College of Medicine
• College of Nursing
• College of Pharmacy
• College of Allied Health Sciences (Audiology & Speech Pathology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Cytotechnology, Dental Hygiene, Health Informatics & Information Management, Medical Technology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy
* West Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Neuroscience meeting

Students at the Neuroscience meeting.

Several students and one faculty member are presenting posters at the Society for Neuroscience undergraduate poster session (FUN) in San Diego this week (November 13-17).
From students working with the Minority Health International Research Training grant (MHIRT):
Analysis of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 Receptor Expression in Y79Retinoblastoma Cells by Dominique Garcia Robles*, Luiz R.G. Britto**, and Mauro Leonelli**
*Department of Chemistry, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN and **Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Extinction of olfactory fear conditioning in rats by Vanessa K. Walker* and Antonio Pádua Carobrez**
*Department of Biology, Christian Brothers University, Memphis Tennessee and **Departmamento de Farmacologia, CCB, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC.
From a Biology major:
Effects of a High Cholesterol Diet on Smooth Muscle and Cholesterol levels in Arteries of Variant Diameter by Amanda Fitzgerald*, Maria Asuncion-Chin**, Anna N. Bukiya**, and Alejandro M. Dopico**.
*Department of Biology, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennesee; and **Department of Pharmacology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.
From a CBU Biology faculty member:
Neurons of the Nucleus of Solitary Tract Regulating Choroidal Blood Flow are Under Inhibitory Control by Chunyan Li1, Malinda E.C. Fitzgerald 1,2, Nobel Del Mar1, and Anton Reiner1
1. Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, UTHSC, Memphis TN; 2. Department of Biology, Christian Brothers University, Memphis TN.

Gulf Coast Trip

Amanda Fitzgerald and Rachel Haag in the "field"
on the Gulf Coast Trip.

On Tuesday, November 2, several CBU students went to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for a tour and presentations. Nick Watkins, Biology 2011, wrote this about the experience: I thought it was a great experience. First, a few of the researchers and doctors gave presentations on thier road to graduate schools, how they ended up at St. Jude, and what type of work they do. After the presentations, we ate lunch with them and some other people who do research there, and we were able to talk to them one on one about anything we might have questions about. Next, about 30 posters were set up and we were given the opportunity to talk to each research team about what they did/are doing for their research. It was a great way to meet people and get a foot in the door for those of us who wish to work there at some point.

Beta Beta Beta will host its annual Bowling for Uganda bowlathon on November 19 at 6:00 p.m. All proceeds from the bowlathon benefit Hope North in Uganda, an establishment that provides refuge and education for Ugandan children dislocated in their country's civil war. Team packets can be picked up in Dr. Mary Ogilvie's office (Cooper-Wilson 113). Please sign up to have a great time and help enhance the life of a child!

Alumni News

From Laura Anglin, Natural Science 2007: Yes, I am in my second year at grad school at U of M in Anthropology. It's kinda crazy. I'm doing my graduate assistantship at Keep Tennessee Beautiful, and also working at Shelby Farms Park coordinating and preparing the new greenline and greenline related activities. I'm also getting a certification in nonprofit management. I do miss doing biology field work. It is world's different from anthropology. Not to say that anthropology is not fun, it's just so different.

Bob Dalsania, D.D.S., Biology 2006, was married labor day weekend to Chandni Patel. Bob is doing a 1 yr residency at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, in advanced education in general dentistry. He alternates weeks at UT and Christ Community in Hickory Hill.

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Featured Story: Degree in Three Years?
CHEM 115 lab

The image above shows students working in the CHEM 115
General Chemistry lab. Click on the image for a larger view.

The traditional expectation for the length of college is four years. But does it really require four years? Certainly, the amount of knowledge is expanding exponentially, but how much do we really have to know? Technology is also expanding exponentially, but how much can it really aid (and shorten) the learning process? Do we have to learn the technology in addition to learning the science? For some of the health professional schools, for example physical therapy, entry into these schools does not usually require a college degree, although only the highest performing students usually get in without one. For others, for example pharmacy, they are requiring more in the way of undergraduate courses. Graduate schools also are expecting their entering students to be well prepared, and if they are not, those students will be required to take some undergraduate courses before they begin their graduate studies.

Neuroscience lab

Students working in the Neuroscience Lab

Are the students entering college better prepared than in the past, or less prepared? In some cases, these students are less prepared, and we have worked to have courses, such as the ALG 115 and 120 courses and the CHEM 101 course, to adequately prepare students to succeed in the basic science and math courses. In other cases, these students come in with dual enrollment or advanced placement (AP) scores that indicate students have advanced further than the standard high school curriculum. It is for these students that we have developed paths to graduate in three years.

We have placed on the web (linked from the CBU Sciences' main page) possible three-year paradigms for students to earn the various science or math degrees along with the necessary amount of college credit the entering student would need to bring in. These paradigms have all of the course requirements of the traditional four-year paradigms, so the quality of the degree is not compromised.

There are reasons other than strictly course requirement ones for a four-year college experience, such as developing maturity and taking time to explore different ideas and possibilities. For advanced students who wish to enjoy the full four-year experience, we have the possibility of earning degrees in more than one area. These dual degree possibilities along with the course checklists can also be found on the web - see the link off of the CBU Sciences' main page.

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Featured Alum: Dr. William Busler, Ph.D., Chemistry 1966
Dr. William Busler

Dr. William Busler, Professor of Chemistry

Editor's note: the article below is written by Dr. Busler himself.

The featured alumnus in this issue is Bill Busler, a.k.a. Dr. William J. Busler, Professor of Chemistry at CBU. Bill graduated from CBU (then known as Christian Brothers College) in 1966 with a degree in Chemistry. Prior to that, he had attended CBC High School, graduating in 1962, when it was still located on the present campus of CBU.

After attending graduate school in Physical Chemistry at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh for a year, Bill grew tired of the cold winters and brusque Yankees, and transferred to the UT Memphis Department of Biochemistry. He studied under Dr. Robert J. Hill, who had previously determined the amino acid sequence of hemoglobin, and finally obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1977, setting an endurance record unlikely to be broken. He turned in his doctoral dissertation with five minutes to spare on the day of the final deadline.

While in graduate school, Bill discovered that he had an irrepressible urge (if not the requisite talent) to write music, composing several pieces which have actually been performed in public. For several years, he led the music program at the UT Catholic Interfaith Center, playing the guitar and growing a beard.

During those years, Bill served as Vice President of Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, obtaining thousands of signatures on petitions and attending hundreds of meeting and hearings, culminating in the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit Interstate 40 from going through Overton Park. Forty years later, he is still VP of the original CPOP group, most of the officers and members having died before getting around to officially disbanding. Always seeking practical solutions, Bill closed the resulting gap in I-40 by suggesting that the Department of Transportation designate the northern perimeter I-240 as I-40.

Bill also dabbled in beekeeping for a number of years, and helped to transform the Beekeepers’ Club from a bunch of good old boys having a good time to an academic institution, complete with monthly lectures and even an annual Short Course in Beekeeping. He eventually had to give up the hobby when he discovered he couldn’t run fast enough anymore.

Meanwhile, in 1972, he married Karen Drane, now Principal Flutist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, who has been a stabilizing influence on his previously aimless life.

Also in 1972, Bill was hired as the Planetarium Director at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, fulfilling a lifelong dream to actually get paid for engaging in astronomy, his first love. While there, Bill designed and supervised the installation of the new 50-foot planetarium, with a Minolta star projector which many feel is the most accurate in the world. To this day, Bill uses his planetarium days as an excuse for why it took him eleven years to get his Ph.D.

In 1977, Bill decided that finishing up his doctoral dissertation and running the Planetarium was not really enough, so he began teaching two sections of General Chemistry at CBC during his lengthy lunch break. This continued until 1980, until on the very day Mt. St. Helens erupted, Bill and the Museum Director came to the same conclusion: everyone would be better off if he left the Planetarium and became a full-time teacher at CBC. (Valuable lesson learned: “Never be more conscientious than your boss!”)

And so it was that Bill finally came to devote his full attention to his third love – Chemistry – after giving up (at least temporarily) his first two: music and astronomy. From 1980 until the present day, Bill has taught at CBC (and then CBU), first as Lecturer, then Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and finally “full” (of what?) Professor. He served as Department Chairman on and off for fifteen years, and is intensely grateful he no longer holds that position. Over the years, he has had more than a thousand students, many for several courses, including Principles I and II, then again for Physical Chemistry and Astrophysical Chemistry. He is reluctant to estimate the number of lab reports he has graded, for fear it will trigger a bout of depression.

Not wishing to wind up on the public dole, Bill and Karen have become real-estate moguls, buying up goblin hovels at foreclosure and renting them out to people who must have dropped out of Chemistry at some point.

Not wishing to set any more records, Bill will be retiring at the end of the academic year, in May 2011. His plans include not grading any more lab reports, finishing several astronomy books, writing the Great American Symphony, gardening, traveling (as soon as the TSA is abolished), sleeping every morning until after dawn, and not grading any more lab reports. He might even dabble into politics, starting out modestly, such as running for Bartlett Dogcatcher on the Conservative platform.

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Thank You Notes to Sciences Faculty

This month we have two thank you notes to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology. The first is from a 4th grade CLUE class, and the second is from a college professor.

thank you note

One of the thank you notes from a 4th grade CLUE class.
Click on the image for a larger view.

Dr. Fitzgerald received a bunch of thank you notes from about 20 4th grade CLUE students who visited her neuroscience lab. The image on the right shows one of the notes.


Below is the second thank you note.

From: "Christy Carter"
Date: Fri, July 23, 2010 11:37 am

Hi Malinda,

This is a note to say thanks for the work you have done organizing the collegiate meeting for the western region this year. The abstracts we receive from this region are very well written and I appreciate the work the students and their advisors do. I know it takes time, but they are doing good work and it shows in the students' abstracts and presentations. Keep up the good work.



Christy T. Carter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Tennessee Tech University
Biology Department

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Featured Major: Computer Science

CBU offers two related degrees in the broad field of computing with courses taught in three schools. The School of Business offers courses in Management Information Systems (MIS), the School of Engineering has a major in Computer Engineering (ECE) and the School of Sciences has a major in Computer Science (CS). The MIS courses prepare a graduate to manage software that solves problems in a business environment. The ECE degree prepares a graduate to design hardware and software. The CS degree prepares a graduate to develop software. A computer scientist designs algorithms to solve applied problems efficiently with software in such areas as video games, search engines, bioinformatics and secure communication. For example, one reason why Google is such a widely used tool for web searches is the speed and quality of its search algorithm.

Computer Science lab

The image on the above shows students working in the Computer Science Lab.
Click on the image for a larger view.

Dr. Pascal Bedrossian, a CS faculty member, used a genetic algorithm to create a final exam schedule that meets the needs of both students and faculty. His algorithm creates a final exam schedule that a) has no conflicts for students; b) has no student taking four exams on any day; c) allows faculty to schedule multiple sections in one time slot for a common final exam; and d) minimizes those students who have three exams on one day. His algorithm represents a significant improvement over the old way where some students had to resolve conflicts of two finals in the same period and common final exams for multiple sections were difficult to accomodate.

Our Computer Science majors take an internship course in their junior year where they help to develop software for local businesses. They next take a capstone course in their senior year in which they complete a software project for industry in order to gain additional experience and use their skills and knowledge bases to solve a real problem. Our best graduates find jobs with companies such as Microsoft, Google and the New York Times.

The Computer Science degree requires an option in computer engineering, information technology management, bioinformatics or forensics. Bioinformatics applies techniques of computer science to solve biological problems at the molecular level. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital uses bioinformatics as one of its research tools to find cures for diseases. A computer scientist in forensics applies techniques of computer science to answer questions in the legal field.

CBU offers the opportunity to obtain dual degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and dual degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics. As mentioned in the featured article above, we are developing course checklists for additional dual degree options in CS with Biology, Chemistry and Physics.