Christian Brothers University
School of Sciences Newsletter
April 2007

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

Featuring Physics and Student Research

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: Student Research Featured Alum Thank you's Featured Department: Physics

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

Effective and enjoyable education. That is the ideal that we strive for in the School of Sciences at CBU. As we come to the close of another academic year, can we see how close we have come to our ideal? A lot of hard work has been done by both students and professors. We hope that the work has been enjoyable, for the journey is important. But part of the enjoyment comes in the satisfaction in a job well done. In our featured story on student research, I think our effectiveness is well demonstrated. Our featured alum is just one example that shows us that what we do here does not end here.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the faculty for their work this year, and give my congratulations to all of our students, and particularly to our graduating seniors, for a good year's work.

If you have comments, questions or reactions, you may send an e-mail now to jholmes@cbu.edu . If you are interested, there are newsletters from the other CBU Schools (Arts, Business and Engineering). To see our past newsletters, visit our Sciences' Newsletters page.

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Science Center before new construction

News of the Moment

Say goodbye to this view. The image on the right shows a view of the present Science Center. Construction of a new science building is scheduled to begin this summer.

We have been working over the past month with the architects on filling in the details in the lab rooms of the new building and the renovation of the existing labs in our present building. It is really exciting to see the plans take shape. The architect's view of the new building was shown in the November newsletter.

Dr. Leigh C. Becker (Mathematics, on sabbatical) presented a paper entitled Asymptotic Stability for Scalar Linear Volterra Integro-Differential Equations at the Mathematical Association of America Southeastern Section Meeting on March 16, which was held at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia.

Ms. Cathy Carter (Mathematics), Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger (Biology), and Teri Mason (Sociology) were selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to participate in the Public Health and Liberal Learning project in Washington, D.C. in July, 2007. This faculty workshop will assist the CBU team in developing a General Education course in Public Health.


CBU participants at Alpha Chi meeting

CBU participants at the Alpha Chi national honor society convention in San Antonio. From left to right: Sheharyar Minhas (President of CBU's section of Alpha Chi and a biology major), Ashley Prevost (Secretary and a chemical engineering major), Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald (faculty sponsor and Professor of Biology), Sana Mujahid (Vice President and a biology major), and Jennifer Aldrich (member and a business major). They won the pinatas as door prizes. Dr. Fitzgerald received a 10 year service pin. Paper titles are in the March newsletter.

On Saturday, March 24, 17 CBU Biology seniors presented papers at the Western Collegiate Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting hosted by LeMoyne Owen College. CBU biology students won 3 of the first place awards in the 4 divisions that they participated in.

We just recently were notified that Sheharyar Minhas won an award for his presentation in the Cell and Molecular Biology section at the Tennessee Academy of Science meeting in October at Austin Peay State University. His paper was published in the on-line TAS journal.


Kanika Townsend at the TAS meeting in March

Kanika Townsend (on the left) received a participation award at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting last month. Kanika won a best presentation award in her division.

On March 20, Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald gave a lecture on the brain and brain function at White Station Middle School to Anne Whirley's combined CLUE classes 4-6 graders.

On Wednesday, April 11, we had the 7th Annual Faculty/Student Volleyball game. This is a fun charity event with the proceed going to the Church Health Center.

The Thirty-Eigth Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty-Second Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad was held at CBU on Saturday, April 14. Analice Hosey Sowell, Chemistry alum 2002, is serving as the Committee Chair for this event. CBU and the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society are sponsoring this event.

This year CBU will serve as a test center for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachersí Association (TMTA) high school math contest that will be held April 17th. Each year a little more than 5,000 high school students participate in the contest at different test centers across the state.

The 11th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session will be held on Tuesday, April 17. Seniors doing research projects from all parts of campus are welcome to participate.

On April 26, as part of the BIOL 103 Biology of Addiction course that Dr. Stan Eisen teaches, there will be a GODIVA CHOCOLATE TASTING SESSION. At the session you can learn about the way in which gourmet chocolates are prepared, and then learn the proper way to sample and appreciate white, milk, and dark chocolate. This sweet seminar will be held in the Montesi Executive Center, starting at 2:00 p.m.

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Andrew Michael, Biology alum 2006, with his senior research poster

Featured Story: Student Research

The image on the left shows Andrew Michael, 2006 biology alum, presenting his research poster at the CBU Student Research Poster Session last spring.

The power of our technological civilization is built upon science. How could we come so far in our understanding and utilization of nature that we could build such a complex and life sustaining society? A fundamental answer to that question is that science, for all its mystique, is a very human activity. It is based on human curiosity coupled with our ability to communicate with each other and with our posterity. In the CBU School of Sciences we try to foster that curiosity, and we try to make as efficient as possible that communication. Having our students actually do research is a very important component in that effort. To do research is to put in context what you have learned.


The wall at the Heifer Ranch where MHIRT participants train.

Students are prepared for their research by their work in the lab components of their courses. Most of our science courses have labs attached: 20 of the 25 biology courses have labs, and 12 of the 16 chemistry courses have labs. In the labs they not only get hands on experience with the theories and concepts discussed in the courses, they also get experience with state of the art lab equipment. This experience with the equipment makes our students attractive and valuable to the researchers who become their research mentors.

Pictured on the right is "the wall" at the Heifer Ranch where the MHIRT participants train.

We provide many different opportunities for students to do scientific research. The Minority Health International Research Training Grant (MHIRT) is an opportunity to go to Brazil or Uganda to do research. In addition to paying all of the expenses, the grant provides a stipend to the students to do the research. We have reported in earlier newsletters about some of the activities that our students have participated through this grant.

The MHIRT participants this spring attended a weekend retreat (see last year's retreat) at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville Ark. During the weekend they participated in team building events and stayed in the Global Village that is a model for how people live around the world. One of the activities included a climbing wall. These students are from CBU and from several other universities in the MidSouth and the South East of the US. They will be going to Uganda, Brazil and, for the first time this year, Thailand.

The picture below shows Br. Edward with four biology seniors last year at the CBU Student Research Poster Session.


Br. Edward Salgado with four biology senior research presenters in 2006

We also provide opportunities closer to home for our students to do research. In the junior year, our biology majors through their BIOL 362 Biology Seminar are exposed to research being carried on in the area including work done at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Zoo. We try to find each student a mentor in an area that appears interesting to the student. Sometimes the research that our own faculty do opens possibilities for student research.

We are very proud of the research that our students have performed. We have reported in the issues of this newsletter throughout the year including this issue (see News of the Moment section above) some of the conferences that our students have attended to presented the results of their research. For a more detailed look over the past several years, see our research web page. One of the marks of the success of our students is seen in the articles that our students have helped write. Over the past 10 years, our students have co-authored with their research mentors 28 artilces that were published in peer-reivewed scientific journals. A listing is available on our student publications web page.

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College Hastings in her student days at CBU

Colleen Hastings in her student days at CBU is pictured on the left.

Featured Alum: Dr. Margaret (Colleen) Hastings, 1996 Chemistry alum

I graduated from CBU in May 1996 with a Bachelorís degree in chemistry and started medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in August of that same year. I still havenít left the UTHSC. I completed med school in the top 10% of my class thanks to the terrific education that I was privileged to receive at CBU. It really felt good to do just as well as my classmates who had spent a fortune on Ivy League colleges.

After obtaining my M.D. in 2000, I finished training in a dual residency in internal medicine and pediatrics in 2004 and obtained board certification in both specialties. I am currently in the third year of a four year med/peds nephrology program. As part of my fellowship, I will finish a Masterís degree in epidemiology this spring. Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease. The Epi program has concentrated on the appropriate design and statistical analysis of clinical research. Though my primary research interests include renal transplantation and glomerular disease, I am excited to be the first author on an abstract examining the role of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in the prediction of increased left ventricular mass in children. This abstract was selected for a platform presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societiesí/American Society of Pediatric Nephrology meeting in Toronto this spring.

My husband, Clay Rogers (CBU í95), and I live in Lakeland, Tennessee with our two little girls. Emily is very proud to have recently celebrated her fourth birthday. Her sister, Kathryn, will have her first birthday in April. Clay works for XO Communications.

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Thank You's to Science Faculty

The thank you note below is from Franchette Pascual, 2003 biology alum.

Aloha!  How's everything at CBU and Memphis?  I'm just thrilled to share a good news-- 
I'll be doing Neurology residency at UC-Davis (my 1st choice) and internship at Univ of 
Utah.  Believe me or not, the fact that I did my undergrad at CBU added extra flavor on 
my residency application.  I was amazed how interested my interviewers were to know more 
about CBU.  It was almost always brought up.  And of course, all I could say was how 
supportive the faculty members were, how advantageous it was to have small classes, and 
the great diversity of cultures and backgrounds.

Hope everything is going well.  Regards to all the faculty members.

Sincerely,
Franchette Pascual 

illustration done by Rosie Britton

The illustration on the right was done by Rosie Britton under the direction of Ms. Janna Travis, CBU Assistant Professor of Art. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

The next thank you comes from Rosie Britton, a senior biology major.

Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 10:15:34 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Thank you
From: "Rosie L. Britton"
To: "Anna Ross" 

Hello, Dr. Ross! I just wanted to say that I am utterly thankful for all
of the advice in study tips that you have given me.  I have put more time
in my study hours and it is paying off.  Again, thank you!
Sincerely,
Rosie

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

image of thumbprint without and with high pass filter

The pair of images on the right show an example of the usefulness of a spatial filter. The left image shows an unaltered thumbprint image, and the right image uses a high-pass filter. The edges of the lines are enhanced allowing for easier reading of the print. The images were produced by students in PHYS 415L (Optics Lab), one of the upper level physics courses offered by the department.

The Physics Department serves essentially every Science and Engineering student at CBU. In addition to its service courses, the department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and in Engineering Physics. Most people recognize that you can teach with a physics degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in physics. There are lots of other career options with a physics degree. Our recent majors have entered graduate programs in physics and other related disciplines at institutions including Harvard, Tufts, Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee, and University of Arizona.

As with the other science disciplines at CBU, many of the physics courses at CBU have labs associated with them. The department has designed the lab experiments to directly support the lectures, and the faculty have written their own lab manuals (10 of them!) for the lab experiments. Since these lab manuals are produced in house, they are very inexpensive (which helps the student's budget), and they are also very efficient since they are custom made for our lab experiments and our lab equipment. In addition to the labs that support the many service and introductory courses, the department has a very nice and well equipped optics/laser lab. Like all CBU labs, our labs are devoted strictly to undergraduate education.


bed of nails with cinder block

SPS students demonstrate physics principles with a bed of nails in the picture on the left.

As with other Sciences' departments, the Physics Department has a chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) on campus. Dr. John Varriano serves as the faculty moderator. The CBU chapter is very active, and has won Outstanding Chapter awards three of the past four years!

Br. John Monzyk is the Director of the West Tennessee (regional) site for the Science Olympiad. He has served in this capacity for the past two years. Many Science and Engineering faculty and many of our students have volunteered their time and expertise to help with this event.

Br. Kevin Ryan, adjunct assistant professor, again served as the Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Science Fair this spring. As with the Science Olympiad, many of the Sciences faculty and some of our students helped with the judging of this annual event.

Dr Johnny Holmes and Dr. John Varriano have worked on a project called Computer-Assisted Homework for Physics (CAHP) that consists of 48 individual programs that provide physics homework problems for students in which the computer immediately grades and provides feedback to the students. These programs are available to the public for free, and so far over 600 people world wide have downloaded these programs. CBU students have consistently indicated on student evaluations of courses that these programs are a valuable learning tool.

This 2nd spring evening term, Dr. Varriano is teaching the NSCI 122 The Nature of Light course in a hybrid format which means the class materials are all on a DVD and the class meets just once a week to perform the labs and discuss the material. Dr. Varriano developed the materials for this format and recorded the DVD this past summer. We are all very interested in how this works out in practice.

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