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School of Sciences Newsletter
November 2007

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

Featuring Computer Science and the Technology of Teaching

Note from the Dean News of the Moment Featured Article: Technology of Teaching Featured Alum Thank you's Featured Department: Computer Science

Dr. Holmes

A Note from the Dean

Science is more than a body of knowledge to be learned. It is an ongoing enterprise that continues to ask questions and attempts to solve the riddles of nature. As science progresses, not only new information but new ways of organizing that information and making sense of that information are discovered or invented. At CBU we are involved in this dynamic and ever changing enterprise by not only constructing a new building and renovating our present building to better house our teaching, we are also working on new ways of packaging our courses to better and more effectively teach our students. As you can see in the news of the moment below, we are going to offer a degree in biochemistry starting next year in our new and refurbished buildings. We have also worked out a whole new web design at www.cbu.edu!

Due to final exams, then the holidays, and then the logistics of starting up a new semester, the next newsletter is scheduled for February. I hope you have enjoyed the three newsletters from this semester, and I look forward to sharing more of our work with you next semester.

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

new building on Oct. 30

The new building is proceeding on schedule. The image on the right (click on it for a larger view) was taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30. For up to date pictures of the progress, visit Cooper-Wilson Center for Life Sciences construction pictures.

We are beginning the renovation of the existing School of Sciences building thanks to the generosity of The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc. Although the present Science building, built in 1967, has had minor renovations over the years, the Foundation’s support will be used for an extensive renovation that will significantly increase educational space for state-of-the art laboratories and classrooms. The existing Science building will be named Assisi Hall in honor of the Foundation’s long partnership with the University and their generous support of educational initiatives on the CBU campus, especially in the sciences and engineering. The renovation of Assisi Hall is part of the $14.2 million Science Project that includes the construction of the new Cooper-Wilson Center for Life Sciences. Both initiatives will be completed by August 2008 in time for fall classes.

Beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year, we will offer a major in Biochemistry. This degree will provide a strong preparation for both the workplace and professional schools, including pharmacy school or medical school. The program places emphasis on development of a wide range of laboratory skills that are needed in today’s biomedical laboratories, whether they are found in industry or academia. Because today’s research and development teams rely heavily upon an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, the program will strive to show interrelationships between disciplines and how techniques as diverse as mass spectrometry, NMR, PCR, and western blotting may be employed to solve complex problems. The paradigm is on our web page.

CBU has a new web design. The new design was "unveiled" at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 30. The address is still the same: www.cbu.edu. Almost all of our previous information is still there, but many of our higher level pages have taken on the new look.

hydrogen balloons ignited

The image on the left (click on it for a larger view) was taken during Chemistry week as part of the demonstrations in the quad. Seven balloons filled with hydrogen were ignited! Dr. Mike Condren, Professor of Chemistry, took the picture.

During National Chemistry week, Oct. 22-26, the CBU Chapter of the Student Affiliate of the American Chemical Society celebrated by providing demonstrations in the Quad during the lunch hour. Monday: hydrogen balloon detonation (see picture). Tuesday: Mentos & Diet Coke demo. Wednesday: Thermite Reaction. Thursday: Alcohol rocket and Gummy Bear Death. Friday: repeat of the hydrogen balloon detonation.

On Thursday, November 1, we had our annual Health Career Opportunities Fair. Representatives from the following institutions and programs were available to answer questions: Baptist College of Health Sciences; Lipscomb University School of Pharmacy; Southern College of Optometry; University of Memphis Lowenberg School of Nursing; University of Tennessee Health Science Center: College of Allied Health Sciences (includes programs in Cytotechnology, Dental Hygiene, Medical Technology, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy), College of Dentistry, College of Graduate Health Sciences, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and College of Pharmacy; and the Military Scholarship programs, including: US Air Force, US Army, and US Navy.

On Thursday, November 1, three Brazilian faculty members who mentor students in Brazil in our MHIRT program visited CBU to meet with students. The three are: Dr. Risoletta Marques "Use of heat shock protein expression as bioindicators in environmental pollution"; Dr. Padua Carobrez "Studying Defensive Behavior in Rodents to Understand Anxiety"; and Dr. Claudio Toledo "Glutamate receptor expression during development in the visual system". They talked about their work, their involvement with MHIRT, and talked with students interested in participating in the MHIRT program.

Dr. Bill Busler and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald gave talks about science in RS 395 Honors Special Topics: Science, Values and Religion taught this fall by Dr. Paul Haught.

Scorer's table at the Beta Beta Beta Bowlathon

On Saturday, November 10, Beta Beta Beta hosted its annual Bowlathon to benefit Hope North in Uganda. About a dozen teams participated and over $1,000 was raised. The picture on the right shows the scorers table at the Bowlathon. From left to right: Dr. Teri Mason, MHIRT coordinator for Uganda and Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences, Daniel Darnell, Biology 2008 and BBB treasurer, Dr. Mary Ogilvie, BBB faculty advisor, and Jennifer Hendrick, biology alum 2006. Click on the image for a larger view.

Kyle Summers, Biology major class of 2008, presented a paper at the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students. It was held in Austin, TX Nov 7-11. His paper is entitled: "Distribution of 5HT2A receptors in the Superior Salivatory Nucleus Neurons of the rat." Co-authors are Dr. Malinda E.C.Fitzgerald and Dr. Claudio A.B. Toledo. This presentation is the result of his summer research in Sao Paulo Brasil, part of the NIH-funded MHIRT program.

Alumni News

Second Lieutenant Michelle (Driscoll) Lawrence, Biology alum and 2004 Dominic Dunn award winner, will leave for Iraq soon. She will serve 15 months as an officer in the Medical Corps of the 101st Airborne Division. Her husband, Capt. Charles Lawrence left last month to begin his second tour. They will be stationed together in one of the military compounds outside Baghdad.

Kanika Townsend, Biology alum 2007, is engaged to Will Robinson, an ITM alum 2005. Their wedding date is July 12, 2008.

Patrick Shirley, Natural Science alum 2006, is engaged to Ashley Espinoza. No date has been announced.

Nick Newsom, Biology alum 2002 and 4th year medical student at UT-Memphis, is engaged to Allison Chesser. She is also an M4. They plan on getting married in May.

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Featured Story: Technology in Teaching

physics computer homework example

The image on the left shows a screen from one of the computer homework programs developed at CBU on the theory or relativity.

Many faculty members at CBU have made very good use of technology in the classroom and in their course support materials. Powerpoint provides a useful classroom tool. As with any tool, it has the potential to be abused, but it also has the power to be a way of providing clear and concise notes including images and graphs. Some of the professors post the powerpoint presentations on their web sites as a way of providing good class notes that can be annotated by the students in lecture, freeing up time for the students to listen and participate in class. Another powerful tool is spreadsheets that can show numerical techniques and provide simulations. These also are sometimes posted on professors’ websites and can be used and experimented with by students. Some of our professors use WebCT as a tool to provide graded homework and class information.

But computers provide more than just powerpoint and spreadsheets. In the Physics Department here at CBU, I have worked with Dr. John Varriano to create computer homework program sets that have been downloaded by hundreds of other educators around the world. I started this work in about 1980, so there are now plenty of CBU science and engineering graduates that are familiar with these. Based on student comments on course evaluations and student performance on tests, these program sets are a useful learning tool.

students working with computers in biology lab

The image on the right shows students working with computers using the Biopac system in a BIOL 217 Human Anatomy and Physiology lab. Click on the image to go to the course web page. The students are working on lab #10, Muscle Physiology and Physiogrip.

Biology is very image intensive, and our biology faculty have used the ability of the computer to store and retrieve images quickly. Particularly outstanding in this area is Dr. Anna Ross. She has shared with me many notes of thanks from around the world for her resources she makes available on the web. And the biology resources on our intranet are even more extensive!

In chemistry, molecules exist in three dimensional space, so the computer is now an important tool to “see” these molecules in 3-D. We have a Molecular Modeling Center on the chemistry floor to aid our students in this. Dr. Mike Condren, professor of chemistry at CBU, is one of our local experts on the use of WebCT since he has developed several of his chemistry courses with this tool.

In mathematics, the department uses the Maple programs to help visualize functions in several dimensions (parameters). Not only do the math faculty use this tool, they also create tools that they share with others in the world. For instance, Dr. Leigh Becker worked with a CBU student, Micah Wheeler, on his senior research that was presented at the 2005 CBU research poster session. It was entitled A Trapezoidal Method for a Volterra System of Integral Equations. A Maple worksheet was developed from this research, and it has been published by Maplesoft at its Maple Application Center web site.

The use of computers in the lab is everywhere. They provide excellent tools in the gathering of data and in the analysis of that data. Almost every instrument now has a computer interface. We try, however, in the labs to really let the students see and understand what is really going on and not just learn to push buttons.

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Featured Alum: David McKenzie, 1989 Physics alum

David McKenzie The picture on the left shows David McKenzie, our featured alum. (click on it for a larger view)

I graduated from CBU (then CBC) in 1989 with a B.S. in Physics. I started college with an EE major, but the physics labs were so much like a 'magic store' that I was soon captivated and changed my major. True, there were only a handful of physics majors at the time; but the small classes and focused attention of the faculty are qualities of my CBU experience that I wouldn't trade. After CBU, I attended graduate school at the University of Delaware in the Joint Program of the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Bartol Research Institute. There I received my M.S. for research on flare stars using the local observatory; and I received my Ph.D. for research on the solar corona using an X-ray telescope on the Yohkoh solar-observing satellite. I got totally hooked on operating telescopes and making observations, an interest that started while I was a student at CBU, and which placed me in a perfect position for my current work. And also at UDel, I met my wonderful wife, Wendy.

I was hired right out of grad school to do Education & Public Outreach, and mission operations, for the Yohkoh satellite mission. That brought me to Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. After ten years at MSU, I'm now an Assistant Research Professor of Physics. My specialties are solar physics, solar observations, solar flares, and magnetic reconnection. I advise undergraduate and graduate students on research projects about the Sun, and I oversee a team of grad students, postdocs, and research scientists responsible for operating telescopes on two satellites: NASA's TRACE mission, and the Japan/US/UK Hinode mission. For the Yohkoh mission, and for the Hinode mission, being involved in operations means that sometimes a person has to travel to Japan for several weeks. Darn the luck. All in all, I've spent about 20 months in Japan, feasting on the history, culture, food, sightseeing, and international camaraderie. And in California, DC, Hawaii, Norway, and Scotland.

filament lift off

The picture on the right (click on it for a larger view) shows a super-snazzy image of a solar eruption. It was taken by the TRACE satellite, and shows solar plasma with temperatures near 1.25 million degrees C.

Bragging a little? You bet! I couldn't be happier: we're doing cutting-edge astrophysics as an integral part of the scientific community. But more than that, I have the opportunity to help the next generation of scientists, by being involved in the training of graduate students and undergrad researchers and giving them hands-on experience with the instruments and the data. Along the way, I constantly remember my time at CBU, and strive to give my students the same 'magic store' experience I had.

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Thank You's to Science Faculty

This thank you came to Dr. Johnny B. Holmes, Physics professor, from a physics student at the University of Sussex in the UK:

To: jholmes@cbu.edu 
Subject: thanks 
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2007 15:38:02 +0100 
Organisation: University of Sussex, IT Services 

Hello Sir
My name is Ioakim Vakis and I am a physics student. currenty i have 
solid state physics exams and i was searching on the net for 
resources. well i dont know if i was allowed to have access to your 
notes - in any case i had and i view your notes. well , you did GREAT 
job with extremely analytic explanations. 
congatulations. thanks .

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

CBU offers two related degrees in the broad field of computing with courses taught in three schools. The School of Business offers courses in Information Technology Management (ITM), the School of Engineering has a major in Computer Engineering (ECE) and the School of Sciences has a major in Computer Science (CS). The ITM courses prepare a graduate to manage software that solves problems in a business environment. The ECE degree prepares a graduate to design hardware and software. The CS degree prepares a graduate to develop software. A computer scientist designs algorithms to solve applied problems efficiently with software in such areas as video games, search engines, bioinformatics and secure communication. For example, one reason why Google is such a widely used tool for web searches is the speed and quality of its search algorithm.

Computer Science Lab

The picture on the left shows Dr. Bedrossian in a Computer Science lab.

Dr. Pascal Bedrossian, a CS faculty member, used a genetic algorithm to create a final exam schedule that meets the needs of both students and faculty. His algorithm creates a final exam schedule that a) has no conflicts for students; b) has no student taking four exams on any day; c) allows faculty to schedule multiple sections in one time slot for a common final exam; and d) minimizes those students who have three exams on one day. His algorithm represents a significant improvement over the old way where some students had to resolve conflicts of two finals in the same period and common final exams for multiple sections were difficult to accomodate.

Our Computer Science majors take an internship course in their junior year where they help to develop software for local businesses. They next take a capstone course in their senior year in which they complete a software project for industry in order to gain additional experience and use their skills and knowledge bases to solve a real problem.

The Computer Science degree requires an option in computer engineering, information technology management, bioinformatics or forensics. Bioinformatics applies techniques of computer science to solve biological problems at the molecular level. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital uses bioinformatics as one of its research tools to find cures for diseases. A computer scientist in forensics applies techniques of computer science to answer questions in the legal field.

CBU offers the opportunity to obtain dual degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and dual degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics.

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