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

Early morning at the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences.

After a cold winter, a wet spring, and a hot summer, we have an absolutely beautiful fall. In science we are amazed at the power of nature, but we are also thrilled at its beauty and healing power. In addition to these general human perceptions of nature that we share with all academic areas, we in science are astounded at the elegance of natural law. How can so complicated a system as the natural world be understood with such simple fundamental laws? And even our progress shows how much more there is to nature than what we had originally imagined!

In this issue we feature the Biology Department. In terms of majors it is the largest department. To complement the department's health orientation, the newest member, Dr. James Moore, brings some youth and vigor to our environmental biology options. We also feature in this issue the MHIRT program, the Math Center, and a description of what a sabbatical is all about.

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
Dendrology Lab in action

Students working during their BIOL 394
Dendrology field trip on October 3.

Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology, has had a paper published: Short term assessment of Morphological Change on Five Lower Mississippi River Islands by J.E.Moore, S.B.Franklin, D.Larsen, and J.W.Grubaugh; 2011 in the journal Southeastern Naturalist 10(3): 459-476.

On Wednesday, September 21, there was a presentation on Ross University’s School of Medicine, and its School of Veterinary Medicine on campus.

On Thursday, September 22, there was a presentation on US Army Healthcare Scholarship programs on campus.

On Tuesday, September 27, the CBU section of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) held an impromptu meeting to talk about the recent report from CERN that neutrinos appear to go faster than light.

On Wednesday, October 5, Beta Beta Beta held its annual Mock Interview Workshop at 6:00 pm in the Cooper-Wilson Conference Room and various faculty offices in the building. The following participated as interviewers: Colleen Hastings, M.D., Chemistry 1996; Beth Trouy, P.T., Biology 1990; Chris Sage, Pharm.D., Biology 2005; Marie Bredy, Nurse practitioner; Jared Braddy, D.D.S., Biology 2000; Melissa Hines, M.D., Biology 2006; Jana Pierini Robinson, M.D. Biology 2002; Richard Jeu, Pharm.D.; and Carrie McIvor, B.S.N. Biology 2005.

On Wednesday, October 12, Stephanie Cole, Admissions Counselor for the ETSU Quillen School of Medicine, was available to answer questions regarding the M.D. program.

The Student Chapter of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) began the academic year with a Welcome Back Ice Cream Social. Other meetings have included Dr. Becker introducing the group to Fractional Derivatives and a session of Math Bingo.

Math Alums

Math Alums at the Alumni Weekend meeting.

In conjunction with Alumni Weekend, alums from the Math department met to catch up with each other and share experiences with current majors. The alum traveling the farthest was Glenn Weeks, ’89, who came from Virginia. Alums assembling in the department included: Matt Nelson, ‘08, Jason Sass, ‘99, Brandon Mitchell, ‘07, Micah Wheeler, ’05, Andrew Assadollahi, ’09, Caitlin Woodward, ’09, Brittany Course ’11, and Alan Killen, ’11. CS majors Teddy Salan, CS & ECE 2008; and Kevin Nuckolls, CS 2009, also attended. The group encountered additional departmental alums as we moved the gathering to the International Festival of Hops. The department is updating its contact information with alums and hopes to have even more at a future event. If you are an alum of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, please send updated contact information to Cathy Grilli (

Sustainability: What does it take to be green? Recently CBU faculty member Dr. Ben Jordan and his class were featured in an article in the Commercial Appeal. Several School of Science students are currently taking his class which is taught for the first time this semester. The class is entitled Introduction to Sustainability Studies and it is a part of a two-year program offering an enriched experience at CBU. The School of Science is participating in a campus-wide program promoting recycling. Beginning this semester, in the School of Science all paper, cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard now have containers that are positioned throughout the department to recycle these materials. This is currently being supported through a partnership with International Paper. While this is a small step, it is a beginning for our campus by making students and faculty think about the environment and reducing one’s carbon footprint. Hopefully, many more projects will be developed and implemented in the future.

Upcoming Events:

The week after break the Student Chapter of MAA will decorate the math department for Halloween in anticipation of our annual Dress Like A Mathematician Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving. The party is scheduled for October 28th. Plans are underway for our annual Chess Tournament to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The date is November 11. We’ll finish the semester with our annual Christmas Party complete with Calculus Carols.

On Thursday, November 17, we will hold our Annual Health Career Opportunities Fair, anchored by the various colleges at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. There will also be representatives from other regional health-related programs. More information on this will be coming out soon.

Alumni News

Shawn Morgan, Mathematics 2006, and Natalie (Newton) Morgan, M.A.T. 2007, celebrated the birth of their son Theodore (Teddy) Charles Morgan on June 1st of this past summer. Shawn teaches math at Christian Brothers High School, and Natalie teaches Spanish at Tipton-Rosemark Academy.

Jennifer Marie Paxson Saputra, Biology 2006, had a paper accepted for publication: Effects of sensory or motor nerve deafferentation on oromotor function in mice by . Shires CB, Saputra JM, Stocks RM, Sebelik ME, Boughter JD Jr., 2011 Jun;144(6):915-20. Epub 2011 Mar 1. Jennifer is working on her Ph.D. at UTHSC in Neuroscience.

Dr. Reena Patel, Biology 2006, has graduated from medical school at the American University of Antigua. She is beginning to interview for internships/residencies.

Kathleen Nelson, Biology 2011, was married on October 8 at St Ann Catholic Church in Bartlett. Her husband is Michael Goldberg. He graduated from Mississippi State University and works in recreation. Kathleen is currently in Physical Therapy School at UTHSC.

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

by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, MHIRT Program Director and Professor of Biology

CBU prides itself on effective and enjoyable teaching. An integral part of such teaching is having the students perform research internships. 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, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), or with a researcher participating in grant funded research anywhere in the U.S.

MHIRT group from summer 2011

Group photo of MHIRT students and faculty for 2011.

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 Kenya with all expenses paid and a stipend through a Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a major collaborative project involving CBU, and other regional academic institutions that started in 2000. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, is the program director, Mrs. Julia Hanebrink, CBU Adjunct Lecturer of Behavioral Sciences, is the program coordinator aided by Mr. Dustin James as assistant coordinator. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis and LeMoyne 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, Uganda, and Kenya. Students and faculty travel to these countries to conduct research on health related projects that benefit the native populations. US students also work closely with faculty in foreign university sites. Approximately 15 students participate in this MHIRT program each year in the summer after having participated in preparation workshops the prior spring.

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 the foreign sites. All continue to be globally involved. It is wonderful for our students to have this life altering experience. Deadline for applications this year is December 31, 2011. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.

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Featured Story: The Math Center

by Br. Joel Baumeyer, Math Center Director

Math Center usage chart

Math Center Usage Chart

Since the opening of the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Health Sciences, the Math Center (Lab), under the direction of Br. Joel Baumeyer and situated in CW 321 on the third floor of the Center, has flourished and has been of service to more and more students each semester. The chart on the right shows the growth of the Math Center. The success of the program can be attributed to several things. The center is located near the math classrooms for the most part, and also close to the offices of the math professors. But, also, the center has been manned by very competent tutors who know their math, are pleasant to work with and who are very encouraging and upbeat. Students seem to prefer peer tutors to professors for most of their questions.

The room itself lends to the study atmosphere. It is open, available, comfortable and equipped with computers, supplies and aids to encourage a study atmosphere. At times, groups of students gather together to study a particular subject and help one another with their homework. All-in-all the center has responded to the needs of CBU math students so that many of them continue to return time and again to use the facility. There is one caveat, however, it would be even better if a greater variety of students would find and use the Math Center.

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Featured Story: What Exactly is a Sabbatical?

by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology

As you probably read in the last newsletter, I was on sabbatical for the academic year 2010-2011. I have had several people ask what I did, and exactly “What is a sabbatical?

Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Arabic Sobat, from Hebrew shabbat i.e., Sabbath, literally a "ceasing") is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, sabbatical lasts a year. Quoted from Wikipedia

Technically a sabbatical would be for one year; however, it is much more common to obtain a semester off. At CBU, in your sixth year you may apply for a sabbatical. There is a committee consisting of elected faculty members that review and rank the proposals. These proposals are then passed to the administration to decide if the sabbatical will be awarded. If a faculty member wants to go out of town for their sabbatical, they must arrange for travel, and potentially rental of their house. I chose to stay in Memphis, most of the time, working in the lab with Dr. Reiner, my long time collaborator at UTHSC. The good thing about a sabbatical is it allows you to learn new things, have professional development (which for me is research) and time to rejuvenate from teaching full time. Once you have completed your sabbatical, you submit your report on what you accomplished. You also are to share your newly acquired information with your peers.

Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Toledo's Staff in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Dr Fitzgerald and Dr Toledo's staff in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It is difficult to condense 365+ days in a short article, but I will try. During my time away from CBU I was able to complete a lot of tasks; I started with my traditional vision meeting, in which I was made a fellow in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). A couple of MHIRT students joined me and we gave several poster presentations. This was followed by a fantastic several weeks at the International Association of Lasallian Universities (IALU). This was an absolutely wonderful experience in Rome, where I met faculty from the US and all over the world that teach at Lasallian Universities. I learned so much about John Baptist de LaSalle and our global universities. Several faculty and I have kept in touch. I have even published a short report on teaching with Dr. Luis Vincent from Barcelona on How to provoke creativity and innovation within the classroom by modifying the role of faculty. Through contacts made in Rome, I went to LaSalle in Philadelphia and gave a seminar about my research as well as talking to faculty and students about the MHIRT program. Several other trips occurred over the summer of 2010, of course one included a trip to Brazil. I was an invited speaker at the FeBSE meeting, which is the Brasilian National Federation of Biological Science. I talked about the MHIRT program and then visited some potential labs. The saddest thing I had to do was go to my long time friend and colleague’s lab after his untimely death in May. We had several projects almost finished and I obtained some data and visited with his family. Hopefully, we will be able to complete some of the studies. A positive result of the Brasil trip was the addition of three new Brasilian faculty members participating with our MHIRT program. (I also got to see Rio for the first time.) Fall travel involved the neuroscience meeting in San Diego, where I presented a poster, attended meetings and brought three CBU students to a special undergraduate poster session sponsored by Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN). It was a great meeting and several UTHSC faculty came to the posters to see our student’s accomplishments.

In the research lab I learned and perfected three new techniques to expand my research methods skills: Electroretinal Grams (ERG), confocal microscopy and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). These skills are mostly clinically based and allow me to follow changes in the experimental animal’s visual system longitudinally, rather than at one fixed point. This greatly expands questions that can be asked and answered with non-invasive techniques. I have been able to finish several projects and start several more. I wrote a NSF training grant with Dr. Matt Ennis, which if funded will provide more paid student internships at UTHSC. I was also able to bring in more CBU students into several labs to participate in projects easier because I was at UT all the time. I heard the grapevine much better (ie who had a position coming open). At one time, I think we had four students from CBU in Dr. Reiner’s lab, and everywhere I went on campus I ran into CBU science students that were in labs conducting research internships. Even during these tough economic times we obtained three student fellowships to fund merit based research. It seems like everywhere I go I find current or past CBU students.

Floripi Faculty and Dom Garcia Roubles

Faculty from Federal University of Santa Catarina
and CBU alumnus Dominique Garcia Robles.

On a down side my mother became very ill in November 2010, and because I was on sabbatical I was flexible and could go to my parent’s house and help as needed. While I was unable to complete some of my planned travels in the spring of 2011, I did help organize the Collegiate Division of TN Academy of Science at UTHSC. Students did attend the Alpha Chi national meeting in San Diego in March, and we did have the Alpha Chi Research Poster Session that Mrs. Leah Allen and Dr. Randal Price organized. I had a lot of fun, too, as well as working in the lab in the summer of 2011. It was a wedding summer, because it seemed like there was one-two weddings a weekend from July onward. What fun it was seeing everyone’s family and friends at a wedding! It was a great joy to see “MY” students mature and move on the marriage, graduate school, medical school, dental school, and pharmacy school. They were everywhere!

When I came back to CBU in the fall of 2011, I had not only traveled, presented seminars, written articles, mentored two CBU students in their pursuit of their Ph.D.; I had also met some great people, and some I hope will be lifelong friends. I now have a slightly different outlook on teaching and what I think students need to be more successful. I have begun to implement these ideas in my classes. It is good to be around the students again, watching them grow and chose their life career. It was also nice to feel missed. One would hate to think that you are not missed at all over a year. I have enjoyed the alumni that pop in and fill me in on details of their life, continuing working with the MHIRT students and staff. Facebook makes me feel sometimes that some students have never left and even though they are miles away. I see babies, dinners, and fun family times, and I share mine with them. Part of my mind has been stimulated and allowed to wander where it wanted to and think deep and abstract thoughts that there isn’t time for normally in the day to day teaching world. The other part of my mind rested and every once in a while interjected ideas. I highly recommend a sabbatical. It is not easy, change is difficult, starting and planning research and then moving back into your previous situation teaching classes, setting up labs. You have to be disciplined to accomplish what you set out to do (and not play all the time). You have to establish a routine; getting paid during the sabbatical is something else you have to work out. I had arranged for funds from a grant. It covered the part of my salary that was not covered from CBU. Many more things happened, but I’m thinking this report is long enough. So….if you are interested visit my images on Facebook, of the sabbatical adventures of Dr. Fitz. I wonder if I can wait another 6 years to apply again?

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Thank You Note to Sciences Faculty

This month we have a thank you note to Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology.

Dear James,

What a joy to meet you! Thanks so much for joining us for our first-ever Mid-South Naturalist Program. We thought that we secured the best speakers for this inaugural season, and we were right. You and Dan together meant that neither of you had to prepare too much, and our participants got the best of both worlds.

I told Dan already that one of our participants declared that you two were our best speakers. Your information was understandable without being too elementary. Your manner is very approachable which allowed all of the questions you were asked. I'm pretty sure you'd still be there today answering questions!

Good luck with your new position. I'm a big James Moore fan now, but clearly have heard of you too late. another of our speakers suggested that we contact you even before Dan suggested it. I hope you'll join us again. Consider yourself welcome anytime.

Peace and grace,


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Featured Department: Biology
Students in the BIOL 415L Immunology lab

Students in the BIOL 415L Immunology lab.

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 143 majors (92 biology and 51 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (20 biochemistry, 32 natural science and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. There have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students have chosen as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, 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, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the new department chair, with the retirement of Br. Edward Salgado last May. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and is currently teaching a special topics course in Dendrology. Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

Botany class with rootball

The image above shows the BIOL 216 Botany Lab class in
action collecting plants for their lab project. They must collect
at least 20 species or 10 families and professionally prepare them
for herbarium preservation. They not only have learned to identify
most plants down to species, but many can identify groups down
to family on site.

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the Junior Seminar. This seminar course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser, has offered a variety of courses, most recently one in Toxicology and is the department's safety officer. Dr. James Moore is the newest member of the department and he is anxious to get students involved in his research projects on the Mississippi river. Ms Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to co-ordinate the laboratory preparation and overseeing the work-study students. She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

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 30 biology lecture classes and 21 of them have labs attached! In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. Last spring Dr. Joy Layton taught a course in Entomology and it was so popular she is teaching another class entitled an Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology in the spring of 2012. A new member to the CBU community, Bro. Tom Sullivan, is teaching part time in the biology department while also being the Director of Campus Ministry. Next semester he will be offering a special topics course with a laboratory on Lichenology.

The image below shows students laying down on the job
for science in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab.

Human Physiology 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). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing up their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is where students see presentations made by area researchers and which helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct 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), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. 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.