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

The image above is from the Commuter Fair that was held on October 1
right outside the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

CBU has inaugurated a new president! On Sunday, October 11, we celebrated the inauguration of Dr. John Smarrelli as the new President of Christian Brothers University. He has made it clear to us that he supports the CBU mission of excellence in teaching, and he will work to further that goal. His academic background is in biology, so he understands the laboratory work and needs in science. We welcome Dr. Smarrelli to CBU and we congratulate him on his inauguration.

I would also like to express thanks to Mr. Lance Forsdick who took over as Interim President (for the second time!) upon the death of Br. Vincent in May of 2008. President Forsdick did a wonderful job, and we greatly apppreciate his willingness to step in when he was needed. It was during his first interim period that the effort for the new science building began, and it was during his second interim period that the new Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences and the refurbished Assisi Hall were dedicated.

Our feature article for this issue is about our Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant. This is part of our mentored research effort, and one that provides a life-changing opportunity for a few of our students to go to Brazil, Uganda or Thailand and work for about 10 weeks during the summer with all expenses paid plus a stipend.

You never really know what the consequences of your actions will be. During the summer of 2008, the daughter of one of our math professors, Dr. Leigh Becker, had a terrible automobile accident. One of the doctors who treated her was Dr. Raul Cardenas, a CBU graduate and our featured alum this month. Later that fall Dr. Cardenas also helped treat Dr. Becker's son for Burkitt's lymphoma. Both patients are doing remarkably well, thanks in large part to Dr. Cardenas.

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 jholmes@cbu.edu .

News of the Moment
MHIRT presentation

The image above shows Caitlin Ashley making
her presentation at the MHIRT Projects Symposium.

The Mid-South Coalition for Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Projects Symposium and Wrap-up for Summer 2009 Projects was held Saturday, September 19 from 9 a.m.- Noon, at Christian Brothers University.

On September 23 Anmol Khan, CBU senior, gave a presentation at the Pediatric Research Day symposium at LeBonheur Children's Medical Center. The title of the talk was Cystic Fibrosis: Defining a Novel and Rare Mutant 5549NCFTR. The presentation came as a result of her mentored research work this summer.

On September 24, the CBU section of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society held elections, and we wish to congratulate the new president Erik Scott, vice president Ting Wong, Secretary Cathlyn Chan, and Treasurer Thang Pham.

Forensic presentation

The image above shows Ms. Julia Hanebrink demonstrating
differences between male and female skulls.

On September 29, CBU's chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the Biology National Honor Society, hosted mock interview sessions. These mock interviews give students a chance to practice their interviewing skills with professionals in their field of interest. Health professionals came and gave 30-minute interviews.

On Wednesday, September 30, CBU forensic anthropology students and adjunct lecturer, Ms. Julia Hanebrink, traveled to the West Memphis School District (WMSD) Instructional Center in West Memphis, Arkansas to introduce Mrs. Madeleine Boilesí middle school students to forensic science. Approximately 50 students from the WMSD Gifted and Talented Program participated in a forensic anthropology seminar led by Ms. Hanebrink. After the seminar, the CBU forensic anthropology class led the WMSD students through mock criminal investigations using hands-on lab experiments. The students got a glimpse of what it means to be a forensic investigator and how bones can help address questions about life and death.

On October 8, Beta Beta Beta held a meeting in which Ms. Julia Hanebrink, MHIRT Program Coordinator, spoke about Hope North in Uganda.

On October 11, Dr. John Smarrelli was inaugurated as the new President of Christian Brothers University at St. Peter's Church in downtown Memphis. Click here for pictures.


Alumni News

On October 8, Br. Ed Siderewicz, FSC, President and Co-Founder of the San Miguel Schools in Chicago, a CBU alum with a major in mathematics, was awarded the Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Award for Peace and Justice.

Melody Allensworth, Biology 2009, will be attending the Society for Neuroscience www.sfn.org meeting in Chicago with Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, on Oct 17-21st. Melody is a co-author on a presentation that is a product of her senior research and MHIRT project in Florianapolis, Brazil in 2008. The title is: Efficacy of Prazosin in the Extinction of Contextual Conditioned Fear in Rats by F. H. DO MONTE, M. ALLENSWORTH, A. P. CAROBREZ.

Chantel Engelberg, Biology 2008, received the first University of Tennessee Department of Ophthalmology, Hamilton Eye Institute, fellowship in 2006. She has been working at the Hamilton Eye Institute since graduation. She has just been accepted into the Casey Eye Institute of the Oregan Health and Science University (OHSU).

Return to top

Featured Story: Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant

CBU prides itself on effective and enjoyable teaching. An integral part of such teaching is having the students perform research. In recognition of this, all science majors at CBU are required to do either a senior research project or an internship. There are different ways for students to perform their research: with a CBU professor, with a researcher at another local institution such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or with a researcher in the studentís hometown.

Caitlin Ashley and Ting Wong in Brazil

Caitlin Ashley and Ting Wong in Florianopolis, Brazil.

In addition to the above opportunities, CBU is pleased to provide an excellent opportunity to do this research via internships at sites in Brazil, Uganda or Thailand with all expenses paid and a stipend through a Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a major collaborative project involving CBU, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and other regional academic institutions. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, is the program director. Dr. Teri Mason, CBU Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences, serves to coordinate the Uganda sites and Ms. Julia Hanebrink, CBU Adjunct Lecturer of Behavioral Sciences, is the program coordinator. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from the University of Memphis, St. Jude, Rhodes College, University of Tennessee at Memphis and Le Moyne Owen College. These faculty assist in the recruitment of students locally at their institutions. The summer research projects allow students to assist underserved individuals in Brazil, Thailand and Uganda. Students and professors travel to these countries to conduct research on health related projects that benefit the native populations who are frequently underserved in health care. Approximately 15 students are sent on a MHIRT trip every year in the summer after having participated in preparation workshops the prior spring.

MHIRT group at Heifer Ranch

The 2009 MHIRT group at the Heifer Ranch.
Click on the image for a larger view.

The most wonderful things happen as a result of these summer research experiences. Students go on to graduate programs in dentistry, medicine, public health, and biological sciences. Some dedicate their lives to helping others by setting up non-profit organizations, or working with refugees from Burma. All continue to be globally involved. It is wonderful for our students to have this life altering experience. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.


Return to top

Featured Alum:
Raul Cardenas, M.D., Biology 1997
Raul with his lovely wife

Raul with his lovely wife, Dr. Rowena DeSouza.
Click on the image to get a bigger view.

I was born in Memphis in 1975, probably while my dad was doing what I do today. My journey, so far, has taken me many places, but Memphis is still the one I remember with most fondness. I was raised in Merida, Mexico where I attended a Catholic high school. After finishing, I returned to Memphis at age 18 to obtain a college education. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from CBU, where I graduated with honors. In addition, I recall having a great time while at CBU. Afterwards, I attended Medical School in Nashville, TN where I received my medical degree in 2003, graduating near the top of my medical school class. I married my med-school sweetheart, Dr. Rowena DeSouza and, once my hectic life as a resident comes to an end, we wish to one day start a family. I credit her for all of my happiness today. After Med-school, I completed my surgical internship in 2004 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Ever since then, I have been a Neurosurgery resident at LSUHSC-Shreveport, where I currently reside with my wife. Among other things, I have been the author of several publications and have also contributed to many scientific publication articles. I am a resident member of the Louisiana Neurosurgical Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurosurgical Surgeons. I am very proud to be a Physician, a third-generation Neurosurgeon and a CBU grad, and it means the world to me when I can return a patient back to his/her daily surroundings to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. Hopefully, my journey will bring me back to Memphis someday.

Return to top

Thank You Notes to Sciences Faculty

This month we have a thank you note to Dr. Mike Condren, Professor Emeritus, who retired at the end of the last academic year.

Subject: Just a general thank you regarding your online PowerPoints in
Instrumental Analysis
From: David Shinn
Date: Thu, September 10, 2009 1:12 am
To: mcondren@cbu.edu

Dear Professor Condren:

After deciding to take a hiatus from teaching in 1999 to raise my sons I
returned to teaching at the University of Hawaii in 2006. My job was to
teach analytical and instrumental chemistry and labs as well as general
chemistry. The point of this email is to thank you for your willingness
to place your PowerPoints online for others to be able to view and
possibly work with. At the time I had never even used PowerPoint and it
was only through Google that I found your sets and I felt they were very
orderly and generally pretty decent, particularly as far as templates go.
That first year I used quite a few of them verbatum with minor edits here
and there. Along the way, by using your Powerpoints as the fundamental
learning templates and picking up a few more tricks I feel I can honestly
say that I've gotten to a stage of being able to put a pretty decent set
of slides together. Quite honestly, you deserve a lot of credit for this
and I just wanted you to know that.

At first I was afraid to admit to the above. The reason being was back in
1995, while teaching in a visiting position at a major University and
webpages were quite new, a "colleague" got very disgruntled when I chose
to use his class webpage as a template for my classes. Of course today
many systems have templates for departments to use, etc........along the
same line of what I was doing. Was it thievery back then, I do not think
so.....but that is how it was perceived.

Not a complete surf bum, I'm actually quite savvy myself in certain lines
of computing applications. My most recent work has been with
algorithmitizing/parameterizing static textbook problems for use with
online homework platforms. I've done a few projects with a good number of
the major players (WileyPlus, Prentice Hall Grade Assist, WebAssign,
etc).....actually fun work.

Anyway, I just thought I would drop a thank you note to you for your
willingness to share.

Your publically collegial spirit is appreciated,
David Shinn

Return to top

Featured Department: Biology
Genetics lab

The image above is from the BIOL 311 Genetics Lab in the new CW 120
lab room. Click on the image for a larger view.


The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU serving 139 majors (99 biology and 40 biomedical science). The department has a very good record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. It also has had some of its graduates go on to other science related careers.

One of the strengths of the Biology Department is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society. Br. Edward Salgado, as Chair of the department, has led the department to develop a very strong overall curriculum that includes a Biology degree and a Biomedical Science degree. Dr. Stan Eisen, as Director of the Pre-Health Program, works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field via both individual counseling and via his web pages and Caduceus newsletters.


A&P lab

The image above is from the BIOL 217 A&P Lab.

Dr. Anna Ross is famous for her departmental and course web pages that support the students in their learning. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students early in the Biological Careers course for sophomores and in the senior research including the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Mary Ogilvie runs the Junior Seminar that prepares students for their senior research and she also serves as moderator for the Biology student group Beta Beta Beta. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger serves on the Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Assembly and is teaching the honors Principles of Biology section. The newest member of the department, Dr. Katie Sauser, offered a new course in toxicology in the spring and is the department's safety officer.

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 25 biology lecture classes and 20 of them have labs attached!


The image below shows students working in
the BIOL 415 Immunology lab.

Immunology Lab

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles courses (BIOL 111 & 112). It continues in the sophomore year with a Careers Course (BIOL 275) where students shadow two professionals and hear presentations made by many others. It continues with Biology Seminar (BIOL 362) in the junior year where students see presentations made by area researchers and are helped with choosing a senior project. It then culminates with the Senior Research project (BIOL 463, 464 & 465) where students do research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at a local or area science meeting. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and 28 have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive. The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.