Christian Brothers University
School of Sciences Newsletter
November 2006

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

Featuring Computer Science and Technology in Teaching

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: Technology in Teaching Featured Alums Thank you's Featured Department: Computer Science

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

In the distant past when I was in college (late 60’s & early 70’s), computers were large, expensive, and rare. Now, of course, computers are everywhere and come in all sizes and prices. As with everything else, computers have made a big impact on all aspects of higher education. For instance, they allow me to create and distribute this newsletter.

Because computers are so important and powerful in society, they provide an exciting area of study. Our featured department in this issue is Computer Science where we report on how CBU is approaching this rich field of study.

In addition to being a field of study, computers at CBU have had a major impact on both the classroom and the course materials. In this newsletter the featured article is on technology in teaching, and we show some of the ways that we use the new technology in our teaching. At CBU computers complement our teaching; they do not replace it. The individual attention to students as persons who are learners remains one of the most important components of our work. The mentoring of individuals and the modeling of professional and ethical behavior that happens between and among individuals is a major part of a CBU education.

Due to final exams, then the holidays, and then the logistics of starting up a new semester, the next newsletter is scheduled for February. I hope you have enjoyed the three newsletters from this semester, and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you next semester.

If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to . If you are interested, there are newsletters from the other CBU Schools (Arts, Business and Engineering).

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view of proposed New Science building

News of the Moment

Progress on new "Enhanced Science Complex". We are actively planning for a new science building and for the renovation of the existing Science Center. On the right is a picture of the present working proposal for the new building as viewed from the Central parking lot. Below that is a birdseye view of the present proposal for the whole complex. Click on each picture for a larger image (pdf file).

The goal of the "Enhanced Science Complex" project is to provide a new three story building with about 27,000 square feet that would be located just South of the present Science Center. It would be connected to the present Science Center. The project includes plans to renovate the existing Science Center (which has about 37,000 square feet). The cost of the project is estimated to be about 12 million dollars. CBU presently has 3.5 million dollars committed to the project.

birdseye view of proposed New Science building

The additional space will provide more lab space, more classroom space, and more student spaces. The preliminary plans include space for a student lounge and rooms for the student discipline groups, such as Beta Beta Beta (biology), Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, Society of Physics Students, and the Student Chapter of the Mathematical Society of America.

The added space will not upset the intimate and caring nature of our departments, since it will keep faculty offices on the same floor as the labs that those faculty teach in.

Dr. Fitzgerald with her poster

The picture on the left shows Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald with her poster at the Society for Neuroscience meeting held at the Georgia World Congress Center last month. The title of the poster is Differential expression of the AMPA-type glutamate receptors in the nucleus of Edinger-Westphal of embryos and young adult chicks. Her fellow authors are two CBU alums, Bob Dalsania (2006) and Reena Patel (2006), and two Brazilian researchers, R. S. Pires and C. A. Toledo from the Nucleo de Pesquisa em Neurociencias, Universidade Cidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The work was done as part of the MHIRT grant that was featured in our October newsletter.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald had another paper published, and this one had a co-author of a CBU alumna: Sustained upregulation of glial fibrillary acidic protein in Muller cells in pigeon retina following disruption of the parasympathetic control of choroidal blood flow by Toya D.H. Kimble (CBU class of 93), Malinda E.C. Fitzgerald and Anton Reiner in Experimental Eye Reseach Vol 83 (5) 1017-1030, 2006. Part of this work was part of Dr. Kimble's Ph.D. research. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 2003 from UT Memphis. She is currently a Biologic Research Associate II at Medtronic Biologics.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald was an invited symposium speaker at the International Congress of Eye Research. The title of her talk was Evidence for facial nucleus regulation of compensatory choroidal vasodilation in response to systemic hypotension in pigeons and rodents. Her co-authors on the submitted abstract were Mark LeDoux, Sherry Cuthbertson, and Anton Reiner. The meeting was held October 29-November 3 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Gulf Coast Field Trip 2002

The picture on the right shows Jennifer Tzefakes (2002), Jennifer Hoskinson McDonald (2003), and Dino Basic (2003), our featured alum this issue, participating in the activities of the Gulf Coast field trip in 2002.

On Nov. 16-18, Br. Edward Salgado and Dr. Stan Eisen will take 39 students (who are in Biol 412 Ecology and/or Biol 335 Invertebrate Zoology) on this year's field trip to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS. CBU has a participation agreement with this lab that is operated by the University of Southern Mississippi. We were not able to go last year due to Katrina, but we are back on schedule this year. The purpose of the trip is to study the marine and salt marsh ecosystems. They will make one half-day boat trip around the sound and possibly land on one of the barrier islands if the weather permits. They will tour the parasite and marine biology laboratories and the marine aquaculture facilities. The students will collect samples of sea water for analysis, make measurements of oxygen content and turbidity, collect samples of marine plankton, fishes and invertebrates to study the food web; there will be one lecture about sea shore and salt marsh zonation; and the students will make weather measurements.

Br. Edward Salgado, Department Chair of Biology, spent fall break in Haiti as a volunteer for Haiti Medical Mission of Memphis. In the past, Br. Edward has brought some CBU student volunteers along, but due to the uncertain political situation in Haiti recently, this process has been halted. When the political situation becomes stable, he hopes to restart the student volunteers.

On November 2, Dr. C. Paul Robinson (1963), a physics alum, gave the M.L. Seidman Town Hall Lecture at CBU on The Energy Facts of Life Worldwide. He just retired from his position as President of the Sandia National Laboratories. Among his many accomplishments he served as chief negotiator and head of the US Delegation to the US/USSR Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty. In his talk Dr. Robinson showed data on the relation between energy use and productivity in various countries. Dr. Robinson emphasized that energy is not so much a finite resource as it is a creation based on our research. Oil was not a valuable resource until we recognized and developed it. Similar developments on other sources of energy are proceeding around the world that have the potential of supplying energy that would last billions of years at our current rate of use.

Bowling for Uganda

Bowling aficionados (faculty, students and alums) had their chance to show off a bit on Nov. 10 at Tri Beta’s 2nd annual Bowlathon for Hope North in Uganda. Beta Beta Beta (CBU’s honorary biological society) sponsored the Bowlathon in support of the Ugandan community which serves the living and educational needs of families displaced by an ongoing civil war. Over the past several years, CBU students participating in the MHIRT (Minority Health International Research Training) program have spent summers at Hope North both helping and learning. Nineteen teams of 5 bowlers representing all levels of prowess (or lack thereof) converged on the All-Star Lanes Bowling Lanes vying for the coveted title of “Best of the Bowling Bucs”. Taking first place and a hefty trophy was the science faculty/staff team, followed by Kappa Sigma in 2nd place and TKE in 3rd place. Although much of the money pledged by sponsors is still out, at last count over $800 has been collected for the Ugandan community.

Two CBU Science students, Carter Nazor and Whitney Heath were accepted into Alpha Chi, the National Honor Society, on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Two CBU students will present papers in the cell and molecular biology section of the Tennessee Academy of Science at Austin Peay State University on Friday, the 17th of November. Sheharyar Minhas will present a paper Incorporation of HA into H5N1 vaccine virus is independent of M1 gene origin. Sana Mujahid will present a paper Characterization of the lysophophatidic acid 3 receptor via computationally-guided site-specific mutagenesis. Br. Kevin Ryan will present a paper entitled Keplerian Motion at the History of Science section of this same conference.

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Featured Story: Technology in Teaching

Many faculty members at CBU have made very good use of technology in the classroom and in their course support materials. Powerpoint provides a useful classroom tool. As with any tool, it has the potential to be abused, but it also has the power to be a way of providing clear and concise notes including images and graphs. Some of the professors post the powerpoint presentations on their web sites as a way of providing good class notes that can be annotated by the students in lecture, freeing up time for the students to listen and participate in class. Another powerful tool is spreadsheets that can show numerical techniques and provide simulations. These also are sometimes posted on professors’ websites and can be used and experimented with by students.

student presentation in Physical Chemistry lab

The image on the right shows a student making a presentation in Physical Chemistry lab using the presentation tools in the classroom.

But computers provide more than just powerpoint and spreadsheets. In the Physics Department here at CBU, I have worked with Dr. John Varriano to create computer homework program sets that have been downloaded by hundreds of other educators around the world. I started this work in about 1980, so there are now plenty of CBU science and engineering graduates that are familiar with these. Based on student comments on course evaluations and student performance on tests, these program sets are a useful learning tool.

Biology is very image intensive, and our biology faculty have used the ability of the computer to store and retrieve images quickly. Particularly outstanding in this area is Dr. Anna Ross. She has shared with me many notes of thanks from around the world for her resources she makes available on the web. And the biology resources on our intranet are even more extensive!

In chemistry, molecules exist in three dimensional space, so the computer is now an important tool to “see” these molecules in 3-D. We have a Molecular Modeling Center on the chemistry floor to aid our students in this. Dr. Mike Condren, professor of chemistry at CBU, is one of our local experts on the use of WebCT since he has developed several of his chemistry courses with this tool.

In mathematics, the department uses the Maple programs to help visualize functions in several dimensions (parameters). Not only do the math faculty use this tool, they also create tools that they share with others in the world. For instance, 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.

The use of computers in the lab is everywhere. They provide excellent tools in the gathering of data and in the analysis of that data. Almost every instrument now has a computer interface. We try, however, in the labs to really let the students see and understand what is really going on and not just learn to push buttons.

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Featured Alum: Edin Meevludin (Dino) Basic (2003)

Dino Basic in Bosnia

The picture on the left shows Dino in Bosnia. He is currently attending the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City.

I graduated from CBU in 2003 with a degree in Biology. I enrolled at CBU one year after I moved to the United States from Europe and as it turned out – it was a great pick. Still struggling with some language problems and cultural differences, I found a great group of friends and teachers at CBU that really helped me and showed me how to approach many things. I wanted to pursue medicine from the beginning and that was the biggest reason why I moved to the States in the first place, but I was not familiar with all the details needed to get there. That is where the faculty and advisors at CBU came in.

My one big discovery that happened my junior year of college was the fact that there were two branches of medical schools – following the same ideas but accomplishing this through some very different principles. All I knew about prior to this, was the allopathic approach and knew very little, or nothing, about the osteopathic side of it. To make the long story short, I applied to two allopathic medical schools, both in TN, and eight osteopathic schools nationwide.

I am in my fourth year of med school now and things are nearing an end, finally. Looking back at everything, I truly think that CBU has given me more than just a good educational base for further achievements. I learned to negotiate the twisty roads that one needs to cross sometimes in order to get to where one wants to go, and I learned to do it with confidence and, some might even say, style. I learned that asking sometimes was not enough, but actually standing up and yelling was the right thing to do – in moderation of course.

So, before I get carried away completely with this, here is my advice to those interested in medicine. The process might look intimidating and complicated but it is really not. You have great resources (and not only in books, but also in the heads of your advisors), great connections and awesome teachers at CBU – so use them!!! Do not be too lazy to ask, do not be afraid it is going to sound stupid, and do not postpone it until tomorrow.

Be aggressive and organize yourself, consider every option and don’t think it is going to go unnoticed because it does not. Once you meet your new classmates at the medical school of your choice, and see how much more prepared you are for everything, you will than fully appreciate the place we call CBU.

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Thank You to Science Faculty

Oscar Herrera

Oscar Herrera, chemistry graduate of 2006, is pictured on the right.

Hi! Dr. Busler:

Hope the semester is going well. ... I don't remember if I told 
you but I'm working at Buckman Laboratories, Tech Services Department. 
I'm a lab technician, temporary only.

Anyway, one of the purposes of my visit was to tell you all
about something that happened at work that day. Up until now
they had been using a PE 1600 FT-IR, like the one on the
table of the Instrument Room. Well, now they bought a
Spectrum 100 FT-IR, pretty similar to the one that is used
for Organic and Analytical lab courses. I thought it will be
a good recruiting pitch for students to say that it is TRUE
that CBU, especially Chemistry, uses state-of-the-art
equipment in their laboratory courses to teach their
students. Other chemists in my lab are asking ME for
guidance in how to operate the machine since I'm familiar
with the software and all.

I told Dr. Merat and he said he had seen that case in other
places too. I hope everything is going well ...


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

CBU offers three related degrees in the broad field of computing. The School of Business has Information Technology Management (ITM), the School of Engineering has Computer Engineering (ECE) and the School of Sciences has Computer Science (CS). The ITM degree prepares 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 picture on the left shows Dr. Bedrossian in a Computer Science lab.

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.

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.

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