Welcome to the first edition of the 2011-12 School of Natural Sciences Newsletter. I am hoping to put out a newsletter one time per month to update us all with respect to recent activities and projects taking place within our School. I have compiled this letter based on feedback from each of the departments over the past month. It is through your contacts that we are able to keep our community updated with respect to these activities and projects.
If you have a story that was not included within this newsletter, it only means that it was not forwarded to me. I can always try to place it in the next newsletter so do not despair. I look forward to receiving your news items, and to sharing them with the rest of the School.
John Brooks Williams South:
Joe DeMederios spoke at the faculty meeting on August 24 with respect to fundraising and scheduling for John Brooks Williams South. At that time, $4.3 million was still required to reach our goal. At present, that number is down to $2.5 million. I want to thank each of you who has helped in this process by helping spread the great story of teaching and scholarship that takes place every day within the School of Natural Sciences. These stories are what excite donors about our program, and give them the confidence to help us build our future.
To help reach out to more potential donors, Joe DeMederios and I have begun a “Mitzel Mixer” program comprised of ia series of events that will allow me to reach out to potential donors and tell the story of our School. We will be having mixers in Austin, San Antonio, and Houston to name a few locations. I am always looking for an exciting tale, and your input is greatly appreciated in this endeavor. We are very close to finishing this phase of the JBWS project, and this is extremely exciting so let’s keep moving forward!
The overall building project is still on schedule with fundraising to be complete in January of 2012 followed by groundbreaking to begin in April 2012. As part of the scheduling, faculty members in Math, Computer Science, Science, and Physics are being asked to have a final look at architectural plans prior to September 30. We are quickly moving from theoretical to actual building.
During the summer of 2011, six biology students spent a week shadowing government scientists at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Southern Regional Research Station in New Orleans, LA. The students: Erika Guin, Taylor Henegar, Matt Perez, Madison Shaft, Anabel Rodriguez and Katie Hughes, were paired with a scientist-mentor, and spent the week working in the labs. Research projects ranged from the identification of genes involved in aflatoxin-resistance in corn, to the identification of microbial agents that could aid in termite control. The trip was part of a USDA funded grant program led by Dr. Patricia Baynham, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Lisa Goering, Assistant Professor of Biology. Prior to the trip, students participated in 6 weeks of research at St. Edward's; student research projects can be seen at: http://testacademic.stedwards.edu/usda_grant/participants20112012. During the 2011-12 Academic year, Dr. Baynham is on sabbatical supported by USDA funding. She is pursuing food safety research with collaborators at Texas A&M University in College Station and developing a Microbiology of Food Safety biology elective course. Additionally, she is developing a section of SCIE 4345 (History and Philosophy of Science) that (if approved) will be offered in the spring of 2013.
Dr. Allan Hook attended the Bolivian Section of the International Society for the Study of Social Insects held on August 1-4 at the University of West Indies, Trinidad. As part of the conference, Dr. Hook presented his work on: Behavioral ecology of a communal nesting mud-dauber, Trypoxylon manni in Trinidad, West Indies (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae).
Dr. Donald Wharry and Dr. LeAnn Rowe hosted the third annual 3M hands on chemistry workshop for high school teachers during the week of July 18-21. This summer twenty-one teachers from area high schools participated in the four-day workshop designed to provide in depth knowledge of hands on demonstrations and experiments that teach the key chemistry concepts covered in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).
Dr. Wharry had a recent publication entitled “The Study of Substitution and Elimination Reactions Using Gas Chromatography: An Examination of the Effects of Alkane and Base Structure on Product Distributions.” The article was published in the Journal of Chemical Education
Luis Alcala, junior Biochemistry major, participated in the Honors Premedical Academy at Baylor College of Medicine. This summer experience was the first of two internships for students who participate in JAMP (joint admissions medical program). During the five week program students attended weekly lectures in various medical school courses such as Anatomy, Physiology and Medical Ethics as well as participating in a MCAT preparation course. In addition Luis shadowed a number of Baylor College of Medicine physicians including primary care physicians, a pediatrician, and a podiatrist while they were treating patients at a public health clinic in downtown Houston.
Mignon Fitzpatrick, Junior Biochemistry major, participated in an eight-week research experience for undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin. Mindy conducted research in the lab of Dr. Jason Shear (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry). Her project was entitled “Improving Visualization of Cultured Cells During in situ PhotoFabrication”. The Shear lab uses multiphoton excitation (MPE) to perform site-specific photochemistry such as fabrication of 3D materials. In addition to the lab work, Mindy attended weekly lab meetings and gave both oral presentations and a poster presentation over her findings.
Ten chemistry and biochemistry majors conducted research for six weeks along with the chemistry faculty. The Welch Foundation departmental research grant has funded summer research at SEU for the past 23 consecutive summers. Some of the research projects conducted included synthesizing nucleobase components to make hydrogen bonded biocompatible gels, utilizing molecular dynamics of MMP1 and MMP3 to analyze movement and potential structure of a flexible loop motif, utilizing infrared spectroscopy to study physical structures of alcohol compounds and intramolecular/intermolecular hydrogen bonding, identifying components of lotions, developing a method to determine the origin of wines, and identifying volatile organic compounds in desert shrubs.
Chemistry faculty members J.D. Lewis and Candace Lawrence accompanied thirteen students to the 241st National meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California from March 26-29. Students Kaila Pavelka, David Stephens, Kyralyssa Hauger, Moises Mejia, Mina Nakhla, Cody McMeans, Clarity Argall, Ekene Okolo, Jennifer Bennett, Zack Theis, Mary Tran, Amanda Flores, and Nicole Wile presented research findings at the meeting in papers co-authored with faculty members.
The St. Edward’s Chapter of the American Chemistry Society was awarded “Commendable Chapter Award” for its 2010-11 activities as reported in the ACS Student Chapter report. The award this year is one step above the award received in 2009-10 and only one step lower than the highest possible ranking. Chapter officers Pablo Romano, Zack Theis, and Omneya Nassar prepared the annual report leading to this recognition. Thank you to Pablo, Zack, and Omneya for articulating so well, the accomplishments of the St. Edward’s University ACS chapter, and congratulations to all the students who contributed to this nice venture.
The Computer Science Senior Project class, COSC 4347, is participating this semester in the HEB Developer's Challenge. This program is sponsored by the HEB Information Systems Department. The 'challenge' is to produce software web applications that promote and increase customer loyalty. Three teams of four students each are representing St. Edward's University. Teams from other local universities are participating. The challenge website is http://www.hebdeveloperchallenge.com/index.php.
The challenge engages students to develop web applications that have “an awesome visual interface” and incorporate “correctly applied algorithms to deliver speedy results.” The student teams interact with HEB professionals and use software tools that we use in St. Edward’s computer science classes that are standard tools in the HEB organization. For the students, this is an excellent opportunity to work with an excellent professional organization.
Mathematics major Rogelio Ortiz participated in an NSF funded summer (June 13-July 22, 2011) REU at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Rogelio worked with a group in the area of graph theory, specifically on “an algorithm for a one-maximal nearly perfect set.”
Dr. Jason Callahan was awarded full funding to participate in the 14th Annual Legacy of R. L. Moore Conference in Washington D.C on the theme “The Many Faces of Inquire-Based Learning.” He also participated in the Mathematics Research Communities program under the conference them of “The Geometry of Real Projective Structures.” The program was held in Snowbird, Utah. In July he participated in the Undergraduate Faculty Program of the Park City Math Institute in Utah where he co-authored an introductory Topology book. He also served as primary author for two chapters during the conference and has edited another. In August, Dr. Callahan attended the 2011 MathFest Conference and Workshop as a Project NExT fellow, a development program for new PhDs in Mathematics.
Dr. Edward Early organized and led the Texas team for the American Regions Math League Competition. The Texas team, comprising 41 junior high and high school students from around the state, traveled to the University of Iowa in Iowa City for the annual competition. The top team won the Iowa site award (highest score among teams at the Iowa site; there are also sites at Penn State, UNLV, and the University of Georgia). For more information about ARML please visit: http://www.arml.com/index.php and for more information about the Texas team please visit:
http://myweb.stedwards.edu/edwarde/ARML.html. Dr. Early also mentored a group of three high school students in a research project on graceful graphs at the Texas Mathworks Honors Summer Math Camp at Texas State University. The students’ work will be entered into the upcoming Siemens competition. For more information about the HSMC please visit the following site: http://www.txstate.edu/mathworks/camps/hsmc.html. Dr. Early submitted the winning design in this year's MAA T-shirt design contest. The design and award announcement may be found at the following website: http://www.maa.org/news/2011tshirt.html Dr. Early has joined the Question Writing Committee for MATHCOUNTS, which is a three-year term. More information about MATHCOUNTS may be found at: https://mathcounts.org/.
Michael Saclolo participated in the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Euler Society held July 25-27, 2011 at Carthage, College, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He gave a presentation on how Euler viewed the idea of equilibrium in mechanics, based on Leonhard Euler’s paper on the topic, “Essay d’une démonstration métaphysique du principe général de l’équilibre,” a paper that he and student Abby Jones have begun translating from French to English during the summer.
Michael Saclolo, along with Peter Wake of the Philosophy Department, has completed a translation of Euler’s “Recherches physiques sur la nature des moindres parties de la matière,” (Physical investigations on the nature of the smallest parts of matter). This past summer the translation was accepted for inclusion and can currently be accessed in the Euler Archive (http://www.eulerarchive.org/), an online repository of Euler’s works in the original and translation. This is the third such translation by Saclolo and Wake that has been accepted into the archive.
Dr. Richard Kopec has been selected to participate in an NSF-STEP Leadership workshop in Oregon on October 17. There were over 60 applicants from STEP awardees from across the nation of which twenty-five were selected for STEP Leadership positions, one of whom is Dr. Kopec. The goal of the workshop is to build a strong national community of practice among STEP grantees, and to involve SEU in the process.
The FARM workshop, held August 15 -1 9, 2011 had 23 of 24 LLC students participating in what was the second Freshman Accelerated Research Methods Workshop. The week began with a welcoming pizza-pool party at the SEU pool on Sunday evening, followed by workshops in the various science disciplines represented on campus that included a mix of both lecture and laboratory activities: Dr. Chuck Hauser for bioinformatics, Dean Tom Mitzel for chemistry, Dr. Michael Kart for computer science, Dr. Edward Early for mathematics, and Dr. Fidelma O'Leary for biology. The 23 participants each completed an online evaluation of the activities each day, which were overwhelmingly positive. Several of the students have already expressed interest in participating in summer research projects planned for the following summer.
It was certainly a busy summer, leading into an even more robust fall within the corridors of the School of Natural Sciences. The accomplishments shared by our colleagues above reveal the dedication, desire, and hard work that this community puts forth on a daily basis.
I would like to thank everyone for sharing their activities and I look forward to learning about what the month of October will bring forth.
Please send your activities for inclusion in the October newsletter to Dean Tom Mitzel (firstname.lastname@example.org)