Christian Brothers University
School of Sciences Newsletter
October 2006

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

Featuring Biology and the MHIRT program

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: MHIRT program Featured Alums Thank you's Featured Department: Biology

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

Teaching versus research. American higher educational institutions are spread all over the spectrum when it comes to teaching and research. Some are well known for their teaching, some for their research. For smaller institutions, research, especially in science, can be very expensive. For larger institutions, because research can be so time intensive, teaching can become a secondary activity. All institutions struggle with finding an appropriate balance.

At CBU, we view research not so much as a competitor to teaching but rather as an important component of effective and enjoyable teaching. We have been fortunate in having generous donations from the Van Vleet and Assisi Foundations that have allowed us to obtain expensive equipment for laboratory components to many of our science courses. We have "solved" the research time problem by partnering with several area research centers, such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Zoo. Many of our students do research at these institutions under mentors who are full time researchers. Because our students have gained extensive lab experience at CBU, they are well prepared to join the research projects at these fine instututions.

As you can see in the following articles, research at CBU is alive and well, and it complements our teaching.

If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to jholmes@cbu.edu .

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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. CBU has reviewed several architectural desgins and has chosen one to pursue. We hope to be able to have a picture of the planned complex soon.

plot of solution

The image on the left is a plot from one of Dr. Becker's papers that was recently published.
Dr. Leigh C. Becker (Mathematics) is the author of two recently published research papers. One is entitled "Principal Matrix Solutions and Variation of Parameters for a Volterra Integro-differential Equation and Its Adjoint" and appears on the Web in the online journal Electronic Journal of Qualitative Theory of Differential Equations (No. 14, pp. 1-22, August 2006). The other paper "Stability, fixed points and inverses of delays" is coauthored with T.A. Burton and was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (136A, pp. 245-275, May 2006), which is a general mathematics journal publishing papers of international standard across the whole spectrum of mathematics, but with emphasis on applied analysis and differential equations.

MHIRT program at CBU begins 7th consecutive year. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald has completed the sixth year and has begun to start the seventh grant year for the Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant. (See the feature article below.)

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald has had a paper accepted for publication. As part of her continuing research into blood flow in the retina, Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, is a co-author on the article: "Bruton's tyrosine kinase is essential for botrocetin/vWf-induced signaling and GPIb- dependent thrombus formation in vivo" by J.Liu, M.E.C. Fitzgerald, M.C. Berndt, C.W. Jackson and T.K. Gartner in Blood June 2006;DOI 10.1182/blood-2006-01-011817

CBU learning resource on national website. Two photomicrographs Dr. Anna Ross took for students in her Embryology course are used in the glossary of NOAA's Coral reef information system web site. The photos are used to illustrate the terms gastrula and gastrulation in starfish. NOAA's Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) is designed to be a single point of access to NOAA coral reef information and data products, especially those derived from NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program.

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

CBU student Jenny Bernard with jaguar

The picture on the right shows CBU alum (2006) and MHIRT participant (summer 2005) Jenny Bernard with a jaguar at the Emas National Park in Brazil. Jenny is currently in veterinary school at UT-Knoxville. Click on the picture to see more pictures Jenny took during her MHIRT experience.

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. In addition, CBU is pleased to provide an excellent opportunity to do this research via internships at sites in Brazil and Uganda 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 and other regional academic institutions. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, is the program director. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from University of Memphis, St. Jude, Rhodes College, University of TN and Le Moyne Owen College. These faculty assist in the recruitment of students locally at their institutions.

Last month, Dr. Fitzgerald and CBU finished up the sixth consecutive year of the MHIRT grants with a Projects Symposium at CBU on Sept. 16. Dr. Fitzgerald is now beginning the seventh project year for research for this coming summer (2007). The MHIRT program is open to any US citizen or permanent resident; however, CBU students do receive preference, followed by local and then regional undergraduate students. The program can also accept 3-4 graduate students as well.

This past summer (2006), five students went to Uganda where they conducted three projects. The first project was a continuation of a malaria education project in Ishaka that was begun three years ago. This project has resulted in a non-profit organization ďEasy Access to Bed NetsĒ to be set up by two past students to provide inexpensive bed nets to people in villages around Ishaka. The second project was an assessment of psychological therapy for the displaced children in IDP camps in Northern Uganda. The students also worked in Hope North, an alternative camp set up by Okello Sam to assist children orphaned by the war in Northern Uganda. Some students also continue to work for change in Uganda after returning to the US, and the BBB biology honor society has had fund raisers to help with their efforts. The last project was a film project involving a fine arts graduate student from the University of Memphis who filmed interviews and the region for use with the research and to tell about the program in a documentary style. We also had a new faculty member join our team from Tennessee State University, Mohammed Kanu. Dr. Kanu has a Ph.D. in public health, and he will work with Teri Mason, Federico Gomez-Uroz and Ruth Valverde-Salas, all from CBUís School of Arts. This team worked closely with our students on the design and implementation of all three research projects. They are beginning to plan for next summerís program.

Twelve students went to Brazil this summer. They went to sites in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Florianopolis, and Emas National Park plus one new site in Belem and one new lab in Sao Paulo. As of right now three of these students, Adul Ba, Laura Anglin and Ashley Ragland will be presenting papers in the next few months at regional or national meetings.

Several MHIRT 2005 participants traveled to attend and present papers at the Society for Applied Anthropology last spring in Vancouver. CBU Assistant Professor Teri Mason attended with students Crystal Ton, Manny Patel and Beth DeBlanc. Also participants of the MHIRT 2005 program, Bob Dalsania and Reena Patel are co-authors on a presentation at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this month in Atlanta. Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Claudio Toledo, one of the Brazilian faculty, will also attend that international meeting and present this research.

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.

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Featured Alums: Jesse Morgan (2001) and Jennifer Paxson (2006)

Jennifer Paxson and Jessie Morgan

This month we feature two recent grads who are going to graduate school. The picture on the left shows Jennifer Paxson and Jesse Morgan as they have lunch with Dr. Fitzgerald on 10/12/2006.

Jesse Morgan: When I graduated from CBU in 2001 with my BS in biology, I never would have believed at the time that graduate school was in my future. I had never worked in a lab before and had no idea of the work that could go on there. The required senior project left me no choice but to explore this area of science, which I did with an open mind. I was extremely fortunate to find myself in the lab of Dr. Len Lothstein of the UTHSC Department of Pharmacology. My background course work from CBU prepared me for the basic topics that were covered, but the hands on work truly opened up the world of laboratory science. My project that summer, the role of the drug AD198 in cell apoptosis, earned a first place award at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences.

After college, I decided to take some time off and began working as a student at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the lab of Dr. John Schuetz. I eventually was hired as a research technician, where I had several independent projects of my own ranging from drug transport in vitro to drug toxicity in animal models. This work has led to one publication and two manuscripts that are currently being written.

The five years since graduation have afforded me the time to think about my career path. If it had not been for CBU, I would never have stepped foot into a lab. With that beginning, I have found something that I love to do and am willing to dedicate the rest of my life to. I am currently in my first year in the IPBS program at UT and am looking forward to getting back in the lab after the first year of class work. In essence, the opportunities I have been afforded by both CBU and St. Jude have led me to the door of what I hope to be a prosperous and beneficial scientific career.


Jennifer Paxson hanggliding in Brazil

The picture on the right shows Jennifer Paxson enjoying some free time hanggliding over Brazil during her MHIRT sponsored internship. Click on the picture to see more pictures of her MHIRT trip.

Jennifer Paxson: I received a Bachelorís in Biology cum laude with a minor in Chemistry and Behavioral Sciences. While I attended CBU, I had two career related experiences. I was selected to participate in the MHIRT program run by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and worked in a Microbiology Lab at Analytical Laboratories, Inc in Memphis, TN.

The MHIRT program sends undergraduate and graduate students to the countries of Brazil and Uganda for 10 weeks each summer. The program pays for all the travel-related expenses and housing while you are there. You also get a stipend. I was lucky enough to be sent to Florianopolis, Brazil. I performed research at the Universidade de Federal de Santa Catarina with Dr. Risoletta Marques. My research investigated HSP-70 and GST in the gills of the oyster Crassostrea rhizophorae. This ended up being my senior research that CBU requires all biology students to have in order to graduate. When I was not in the lab, I had tons of fun exploring the city of Florianopolis, hanging out on it many beaches, and traveling throughout Brazil to Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Francisco do Sol, and Foz do Igaucu. I was totally immersed in the Brazilian culture and it was so amazing and a truly unforgettable experience. Also, through the MHIRT program, I had an opportunity to present my research in poster form at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in 2005 in Atlanta, GA and in powerpoint form in Gatlinburg, TN at the Regional ASB meeting.

Both working in a lab in the biotech industry and performing research at a university gave me great experience for Graduate School. I have now been at UT Memphis in the Integrated Biomedical Science PhD program for 6 weeks. The research experience I have already had, thanks to CBU, has given me a leg up on the other students and was the majority what was discussed at my interview for UT. This research also gave me a taste what the last 3 years of my PhD will be like. I am finding out that the classes, such as Freshmen Biology, Embryology, Pharmacology, Genetics, Animal Behavior, Applications of Memory, Biochemistry, Vertebrate Physiology, and Neuroscience, I took at CBU are helping me tremendously in the two classes I am taking now. Now though, I wish I would have taken Cell Biology and Immunology.

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Thank You's to Science Faculty

Michael Mascari

Michael Mascari, math major, physics minor, baseball player, class of 2002, is pictured on the left. He is currently teaching math, physics, and AP physics at Father Ryan High School in Nashville.

If it was not for the School of Science I would not be doing what I do now (Physics Teacher, Father Ryan High School). The small classroom created a better learning experience. All the professors knew my name. The professors believed in me and always challenged me to reach my highest potential.
Michael Mascari
Father Ryan High School
Science Department

The next one is from Jenny Bernard (2006) who is pictured earlier in the newsletter with the MHIRT feature story. Jenny is in veterinary school at UT, Knoxville.

  Hi Dr. Ross,
       I am taking microanatomy this semester. ...  I saved some of my cd's from histology [at CBU]
  so I have extra resources. ... I emailed my class your histology website as a resource already.  
  We have our first gross anatomy test this friday, then microanatomy is monday.  Monday is 
  covering epithelium, glands/ducts, peripheral NS, and muscle tissue.  I feel ahead of most 
  of the class with having taken histology already [at CBU].  
       Other than the first round of tests coming up, everything is going well here.  I feel 
  like I'm taking almost all of the biology classes I took my jr. and sr. years plus some in 
  one semester here.  
       Anyway, I hope everything is well at CBU.
  Thanks,       Jenny

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

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU serving about 120 majors. 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 new 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. Dr. 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, the most recent addition to the department, serves on the university Curriculum Committee and has been involved in starting up an honors Principles of Biology section.

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!


Biology Research

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 27 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, is quite impressive. The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools were highlighted in the previous newsletter.

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