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

Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences
during a pretty fall day.

It is now fall (autumn). The sun is falling lower in the sky, and we are approaching winter. But this falling is usually accompanied by really nice weather. Not stormy like spring, not extreme like winter or summer. It is also FALL BREAK! Students have completed half of the fall semester and now have a week to re-energize. Some students, especially freshmen and sophomores, have received a wake-up call about what college is really about. Other students, especially the juniors and seniors, are starting to get deeper into their subjects and their majors. It is my hope and my expectation that all students are realizing how great and wonderful and full of promise the world is. It does take hard work, even for the brightest students. It does take disciplined thinking and time management. But it can be so, so rewarding! I personally love physics, and I want to share the beauty and power of my subject just like all of the professors wish to share their love of their subjects with their students.

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 have two feature articles in this issue: one on the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program which provides a tremendous opportunity for students to do, and get paid for, research in a completely new environment; and a second featured article on a couple of the tutors in the Math Center.

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
Dr. Varriano doing a demo

Dr. John Varriano performing a demonstration
at the SPS meeting.

The School of Sciences now has a new flat screen monitor in the entryway to the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences. We display different slide shows on this monitor including student research our students have done over the summer, pictures from recent field trips, and other things such as a slide show on the Math Center. If anyone has suggestions for slide shows to present, please let Dr. Holmes know at .

On Thursday, September 20, the CBU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) hosted a pizza, demos, and movie event. Physics Department members Dr. Ted Clarke and Dr. John Varriano presented several demonstrations while pizza was served. For images and videos, click here. The movie was then shown in AH 155.

Dr. Hines conducts a mock interview.

Dr. Hines conducts a mock interview.

On Thursday, September 27, Beta Beta Beta, the Biology honor society and student group, hosted an evening of mock interviews with medical professionals from the Memphis area. Students interested in pursuing health-related careers met with a professional in their field of interest and were interviewed as though they had applied to a professional school. The goal of the mock interview was to provide the students with insights on how a real interview might be conducted. Thanks to JD Wolfe and Anna Birg who planned the event.

Beta Beta Beta Mock Interviewers.

The interviewers for the Beta Beta Beta Mock Interview program.

Many thanks also to the medical professionals who participated in the interviews. The interviewers (many of whom were alums) included:
Dr. Melissa Hines, M.D., Biology 2006;
Dr. Mark Scott, Physicians Assistant and Director of CBU's PA program;
Dr. Frank Ramirez, Pharm. D., Chemistry 2008;
Beth Trouy, Physical therapist, Biology 1990;
Dr. Jana Pierini, M.D., Biology 2002;
Dr. Rick Alsobrook, O.D.; and
Dr. Shanna Wall, D.V.M., Biology 2002, not pictured.

Drs. Price and Fitzgerald with founder of Caritas Village.

Dr. Price (left) and Dr. Fitzgerald (right) with Nona,
the founder and manager of Caritas Village.

The Tennessee Theta chapter of Alpha Chi, a national honor society that is open to all majors, collected books last year. Several hundred new and used books were distributed in the Memphis area to: Headstart, Snowden Clue Program, and Caritas Village. Reading is Fundamental is a national organization that Alpha Chi supports. As soon as AX brought the books to these organizations, people started going through them. AX thanks all for the donations, and the chapter will again begin to collect books after Thanksgiving. For further information contact president Jada Owens (, Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology (, or Dr. Randel Price, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering (

Loading for a trip to the food bank.

Dr. Fitzgerald loading up for a trip to the food bank.

AX also participated in collecting over 400 lbs of food for the food bank along with other schools and organizations at the end of spring semester. The image is of Dr. Fitzgerld with CBU's mini cooper loaded up for a trip to the food bank.

Induction invitations to Alpha Chi, the interdisciplinary honor society, will be sent via e-mail after Fall break. The induction will be November 11 at 2 pm. Membership is by invitation only to the upper 10% of the senior and junior classes.

Upcoming Events:

Two students, Elton Banks and Eva Chen, are going with Br. Edward Salgado, Biology Professor Emeritus, to Haiti as part of the Medical Mission to Haiti effort.

Alumni News
Dominique and Stephanie.

The image on the right shows Dominique Garcia-Robles, Chemistry 2011, and Stephanie Johnson, Biology 2009, at their white coat ceremony at the Southern College of Optometry.

Joe Alfonso, Biology 2012, spent the summer doing ecological research in the Colorado Rockies with Dr. Scott Franklin from the University of Northern Colorado.

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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, 2012. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.

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Featured Story: The Math Center Tutors
Math Center

Math Center in action.

The Math Center is a very popular place and continues to set new records for usage. It is a place for free one-on-one tutoring in math. It is also a place to do your math homework by yourself or in a study group with others in the center.

The Math Center tutors will help any CBU student with a math question or problem. They provide assistance in a warm and congenial atmosphere. They can get you through the toughest homework problem. They're here to help you learn math.

Location: Cooper-Wilson 321

Phone: 901-321-3245.

Below are profiles of two of the tutors. Profiles of some of the other math tutors can be found in previous issues of this newsletter.

Takeva Hicks, Math Center Tutor

Takeva Hicks, Math Tutor

Sophomore Takeva Hicks is a graduate of Byhalia High School. She has been tutoring for a year in the CBU Math Center. Her expertise brings her tutoring capabilities up to and including Calculus II. Takeva is a member of ACS (American Chemical Society) and serves as a peer counselor for incoming freshmen. Takeva is majoring in Chemistry.

Trey McGinnis, Math Center Tutor

Trey McGinnis, Math Tutor

Freshman Trey McGinnis graduated from St. Benedict at Auburndale. Although he has just started tutoring in the CBU Math Center he has been tutoring with the Memphis Dyslexia Foundation since 2010. He tutors all math courses up to and including Calculus I. Trey is a member of the Honors Program and also of IEEE, an electrical engineering organization. Trey is a double major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

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Featured Alum: Amanda Fitzgerald, Biology 2011

My First Few Experiences as a Graduate Student
By Amanda Fitzgerald

Part 1: Research Trip

Many of you know that I went on a boating trip to the Gulf of Mexico at the beginning of my graduate school experience. I have begun my program in marine environmental toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin this August. Every summer the lab goes on a sampling trip, I went this summer prior to officially starting classes to see what it was like. I have written a bit about my experiences on the boat and starting as a TA at one of the largest schools in the US. The boat trip in the Gulf was a lot like all my trips to the Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL), only MUCH longer on the boat.

Day One, on the Pelican (our boat see picture below): Current location: 29 deg N, 90 deg W; heading due south, temperature 85 deg F. The crew is very friendly and the cook is this old Cajun swamp guy who looks like he has never left this area. He stocked the fridge with all of the best foods, fruits and snacks you can think of and we have free reign of the kitchen. For dinner tonight I had an awesome sandwich with fresh blackberries on the side. We are pushing off at 11:44 pm and our first sampling is due to take place at 4 am. The little town where the boat was docked is called Cocodrie, LA, and it is totally isolated. There is only one road that goes in and out and the town is inhabited by about 400 people and most of them are fishermen or work for fishermen. The equipment on board the Pelican is extensive, if I had to guess I think the net worth of this boat is a few million dollars. There is a guy whose job is only to make sure that all the equipment works. We brought our own stuff including two huge boxes of dry ice and two travel containers of liquid nitrogen. As of now, we are collecting brains and gonads of Atlantic croaker and flash freezing them for later analysis. Due to the large amount of drought the hypoxic area, where we need to collect, is very small this year.

Status update Pelican, Day 2. Current Location: 29.36 deg N, 90.00 deg W, water temperature 29.9 deg c. Total injuries=2: 1 blister, 1 puncture wound from angry fish. I can't see the shore from the boat but it feels like I can due to the amount of oil rigs. It is impressive and the number is multiplied due to unused oil rigs and these miniature platforms that I assume are for trial drills. For every active oil rig there are at least three unused platforms. Sleep was hard to get last night, the sea was very calm but Kay and I, being the only girls and mere graduate students, were subjected to the room closest to the engine. There is also this constant sound of sloshing water due to the fact that our beds are actually underwater. I am thoroughly convinced that the shower is bigger than our bedroom. We woke up this morning to pancakes and fresh fruit and a fresh haul of croaker. One of the scientists on board is doing some tagging experiments and we all got a chance to tag a croaker with a radio transmitter. He then gave us a run down of this $500,000 robot that was lowered into the water. Most of the activity occurs in 10 minute intervals with a couple of hours in between, so I have been alternating reading and watching the TV to keep myself busy. The most interesting character so far has to be the head engineer. Upon his arrival he began cussing repeatedly about this and that, then he sat down and ate almost a whole chicken. He wanders around and grumbles at everyone then disappears upstairs in the cockpit. He's ranked at about an 8.5 on my 1-10 scale of saltyness.

Status update Pelican day 3: Location 28 deg N, 90 deg W. All day today was spent driving in circles trying to follow the fish we tagged yesterday. Therefore the Internet and TV didn't work because satellites don't work in circles??! We finally started working after dinner and one professor didn't really explain what we were doing at all, and I wasn't allowed to touch anything. That made me, of course, incredibly frustrated and useless so I dissected brains out of about 15 fish just to keep myself busy. The weather is amazing, the moon looked awesome, I got to see a dolphin and a giant school of fish feeding at night. Drama On the boat: Salty man and Cajun guy got into an argument and I understood about three words total, two of which were curse words. I need to get in on this secret boat lingo.



Status Update Pelican day 4: Location 29.7 deg N, 90.12 deg W. We are headed to the Mississippi delta to get a severe hypoxic sample and will arrive there at around 2 am. That is how long it takes to get there from our current location. So we are going to be working at 2 am, because that is when we will get there and we have a schedule to keep. I am ready. I slept a lot today so I am prepared for tonight. Today was another long day of nothing, I read about 5 hours and burned through my biochemical book. I also already finished a book I brought with me and am halfway through another. I officially stayed up all night and it has confused me in such a way that I now don't know what day it is or even when "last night" was. I can't even really piece together the past two days because I slept a little during the day and a little at night, but not a lot in total. For those skeptics out there, I do have a picture of the sunrise. We went to the mouth of the Mississippi river and that area that was supposed to be severely hypoxic is in fact not at all. We ran a trawl anyway and all we caught was pelagic fish, no oceanic species, so we had to throw them all back. We did however catch a small shark on the last trawl. We snagged the net on something, and it came up with a hole in it. We were pretty worried for a while, but really why should we? We have a Cajun bayou born sailor in our midst and he quickly returned with a small pair of glasses and an old wooden net repair kit. He then proceeded to repair the net by hand. Those Cajun men, they are like a Swiss army knife, I think everyone should have them in their fav 5. The next two trawls we got a whole bag of starfish and a bunch of we are running a little low on samples right now. Currently, we are East of the Mississippi in an area that is supposed to be "normal" or unaffected by runoff, because the current moves to the west. The water is a lot darker and there is significantly less wildlife, but the water is deeper so it supports different types of species. Hopefully we will get more than a bag of rocks next time.

We are officially done sampling and on our way back to Lumcon, which is the home base for this boat. There is a storm coming from the south so I am kind of glad that we are done today and not a few days later. It started raining today so I didn't get to spend too much time outside. We were pretty unlucky with trawling, we only got about 10 fish, but that was enough for our sampling. We are going to spend the night on the boat anyway, even though we will be near land but the town where we are going is like two hours away from the nearest hotel. I'm kind of glad to be back, because it has been however many days and I have cabin fever and I have read all my books and I'm ready to get off the boat! This is my last day on the island, where the laboratory is. It is a barrier island called Mustang Island, South of Corpus Christi. I am spending it recovering from the trip. Now that I am back on solid ground, I have been feeling constantly dizzy and nauseous. If I stand up too fast or for too long I get the feeling I might fall over. All 16 of us on the boat did grow pretty close, it might be due to the forced proximity of sharing just 2000sq feet together or because of how much we had in common. All of us (almost) were there voluntarily and it probably takes a certain type of person to want to spend time on the ocean. Though I did go through some serious bouts of cabin fever, I could see myself getting used to being on a boat for a while which is good because if things go my way I will be doing a lot more of this in my graduate career.

Part 2: Teaching Assistant (T.A.)

I thought I would also share a bit about my first days as a T.A. at one of the biggest universities in the US! I had my first three lab sections and my first full week of class. I thought I would keep you updated on my attempt on turning college freshmen into worldly thinkers of the 21st century...or something like that. The first lab was on nautical navigation, which is pretty cool and just includes being familiar with lat & log. I did manage to make it through all three classes that I teach with only one person asking me "um do we need to know this" and another guy who was using his cell phone to answer all of the questions. This lab was pretty heavy on the math part and I was a bit nervous about how in depth I would need to answer questions, but I pulled through in the end. It's hard to try to convince people this is something worth knowing when everyone in the class has an iphone with a gps on it. One of my classes is at 8 am and I'm at least 90% sure that no one even remembers what I said the whole time. I'm not sure I even remember what I said. I think everyone's heart rate and body temperature returned to normal at about 9:30.

Later in the semester: the freshmen had their first exam yesterday. I received a ton of emails such as "I don't know what to study", and I even had three students miss lab, because they didn't study for the test enough. As we were entering the classroom, my professor surprised me by telling me that he had chosen me to stand up in front of the whole class and go over the test. ME?? Talk to 300 students? I have to say it was quite daunting standing up there with a microphone, talking to all 300 of them. However, after a few minutes I have to say I got over it. Two of my labs I T.A. in are really awesome, we are getting along great and all of them are doing well. They even laughed at one of my jokes!!!! But my 8 am is struggling, I walk in and there are 20 crusty eyed college students in their PJs staring back at me, with all the hate and dislike they can muster up at 8:00. I feel about as respected as a DMV employee. I am working on ideas to liven them up, like throwing cereal and bananas at them or brewing coffee in the lab. Next week I'll experiment. I also have my first exams next week and I am anxious to have them under my belt so I can gauge how the rest of the semester will be.

So far I'm having a great time, I seem to have gotten used to all of the walking around this huge campus, but not quite accustomed to the commute time. I never allow enough time to get anywhere so as a result I am still usually late. All in all I feel well prepared for my life as a graduate student and I'm enjoying the change of pace. Austin is fantastic! Hope you enjoyed reading about my first Gulf sampling trip and the start of the semester from the other side. It is overwhelming at first the size of the classes compared to CBU, but the graduate classes are smaller and the labs that I teach are, too. Until next time.

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Thank You Note to Sciences Faculty

This month we have a thank you note to Dr. Arthur Yanushka, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science.

To: Arthur Yanushka
Date: June 7, 2012

Lloyd Smith has recommended your work as instructor at Christian Brothers University.

Dear Arthur,

I've written this recommendation of your work to share with other LinkedIn users.

Details of the Recommendation: "Excellent professor who will challenge you. Definitely not easy, but always available to help if you stop by his office. If want to work hard, have fun, and most importantly - learn useful stuff - enroll in one of "Yanushka's" classes."

Service Category: Professor

Year first hired: 1999

Top Qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity

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Featured Department: Biology
Students in the BIOL 311L Genetics lab

Students in the BIOL 311L Genetics lab
are preparing agarose gels.

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 127 majors (92 biology and 35 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (29 biochemistry, 38 natural science, 23 chemistry, 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. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area. 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 department chair. 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 will be teaching BIOL 346 Evolution in the spring. 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.

Ecology class on a field trip

The image above shows the BIOL 412 Ecology Lab class
on a field trip.

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.

Human A&P I lab

The image above shows the BIOL 217L Human
Anatomy & Physiology I lab in action.

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. In the spring of 2012, Dr. Joy Layton taught a course entitled an Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology. Bro. Tom Sullivan is teaching part time in the biology department while also being the Director of Campus Ministry. This semester he is teaching BIOL303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens.

Human Physiology Lab

The image above shows a student laying down on the job
for science in the BIOL 312 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.