It seems the month of March was over before we knew that February had ended. To say that it was a busy month is quite the understatement. A mixture of student presentations, advisory board meetings, event planning, etc. taking place above the normal demands of teaching and research schedules kept everyone in the School quite busy. The warming temperature puts an extra bounce in our step and good thoughts in our daily planning as we move into the final few weeks of the spring 2012 semester.
Advisory Board Meeting
Members of the School of Natural Sciences Advisory Board gathered at Fleck Hall on March 23 for their spring meeting.
As part of the morning agenda, members were given updates on Advancement goals. With JBWS fundraising completed, the next focus is to establish endowments for student summer research, and instrumentation purchases and maintenance. There was animated discussion about student stewardship and how the Advisory Board members could integrate themselves further into this process. A mentoring program has been in place through the Advisory Board for a number of years, and this year members discussed how to expand their outreach to SEU students. We look forward to further developments in this area. Drs. Laura Baker and Michael Kart expressed gratitude for finally having a “home” for Computer Science in JBWS and shared how the new facility will advance the goals of the department over the next several years. The 2012 Lucian/Kozmetsky Center conference was discussed and generated great interest among the members, several of whom are on the Lucian Symposium planning committee. This year’s event will take place both on campus, and in the city of Austin, beginning on Thursday evening and finishing late Friday afternoon. It will be a great way for SEU to reveal its interest, and participation, in current global events while ensuring that the local community has a role in SEU’s future at a high level as well.
Lunch for the Advisory Board members was served at Wild Basin. The group was given a tour of the facilities with a highlight on recent indoor renovations and outside projects around the main building. Members were apprised of the academic goals for the next several years with respect to more fully integrating Wild Basin into the SEU culture. Members were driven back to the main campus so they could view students giving their Senior Seminar presentations to end the day.
Senior Seminar was held on March 23, 2012. There is not a better way to end a Friday than watching our students present the culmination of their research projects at the Senior Seminar event. Not only is the individual work amazing, but having all the departments and programs running their senior seminar presentations simultaneously reveals the true extent to which faculty in the School of Natural Sciences work with students on experiential projects and learning areas. It is a powerful event to say the least, and it is humbling to see so many good students presenting so many wonderful projects.
John Brooks Williams South:
Fencing has been erected to cordon off the construction area for the JBWS building project. Construction is officially underway, and the fall 2013 opening date is just around the corner! I would like to thank Physical Plant for maintaining excellent lines of communication. Although we will have a few months of “pinched” space around JBWN, any discomfort will be well worth the final project!!
The JBWS preview party is scheduled for April 12, 2012. Students from mathematics and computer science will showcase their work and provide other demonstrations relevant to projects that will be enhanced by the new building. I look forward to seeing them WOW the crowds.
Twenty-five Natural Sciences students and nine faculty traveled to Alpine, Texas for the annual Texas Academy of Science meeting, March 1-3, 2012. Students and faculty presented their research during poster and oral sessions, and were recognized for their outstanding work at the awards banquet held Friday evening. In total, St. Edward’s students received 10 awards, amounting to $2400 in prize money. Six students received honorable mention awards for oral or poster presentations, and in the poster category, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards went to SEU students. The Texas Academy of Science also grants research awards to undergraduate and graduate students who submit outstanding research proposals; Junior Biology major Linda Armstrong received the second place research award in the undergraduate category. Additionally, Associate Professor of Biology Trish Baynham was inducted as a fellow of the Texas Academy of Science in recognition of her outstanding contributions to science research and education in Texas, and her service to the academy.
Dr. Allan Hook gave a presentation entitled “The Joys of Wasp Watching” to the Lakeway Cub Scout Pack 442. As part of the presentation, Dr. Hook brought insect drawers with displays for the scouts to see firsthand.
Linda Armstrong has been awarded a National Cancer Institute R25# Summer Research Experience in the University of Texas MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Research Training Program. This is a highly competitive program, and she is congratulated for her hard work leading to this opportunity. We look forward to hearing about her experience.
Biology major Erika Guin ('14) won an award for her research presentation "The effects of pesticides on the growth of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Azotobacter vinelandii in soil samples" in the microbiology section at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in St. Louis, MO. ABRCMS is the largest national professional conference for biomedical and behavioral science students, with over 1500 presentations by student researchers over the four day conference.
Leon Alberto Venegas ('10) was accepted for doctoral studies in Fall 2012 in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The position includes 5 years of Teaching and/or Research assistantships that provide over $30,000 per year in support in the form of stipends, tuition and fee waivers. Leon was a McNair Scholar while at St. Edward's and has been working as a research technician at the University of Texas at El Paso since his graduation.
Megan Martinez and Isabelle Seydoux (Sp11) were both accepted into the masters program in Bioinformatics at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA. This accelerated masters program, designed for entrepreneurial students, blends comprehensive coursework, research experience and a professional externship, to provide a solid foundation for employment in industry, government or academia.
Emilisa Organ, Chelsey Friedrichs, and Ghishlan Erdin are working on a project in collaboration with Drs. Erik Hom at Harvard University and Elizabeth Harris, Duke University, to sequence candidate genes for genetic marker loci in an effort to link the physical (DNA) and genetic maps for the unicellular green algae, Chlamydomonas. The results will be included in a genome re-annotation paper that will include these students as authors.
Matthew Wolski and Miguel Angulo are continuing a project characterizing the stress response of algal cells due to limiting phosphate. This project was initiated last summer when Matthew worked in the lab of Dr. Arthur Grossman, Carnegie Institute Plant Science, Stanford University, and Miguel at St. Edward’s. They have mapped high throughput RNASeq data to the reference genome and are continuing to identify biochemical pathways that are differentially regulated in response to phosphate stress.
Jordan Jones, Chelsey Friedrichs and Aaron Luckevich presented a poster titled, “Analysis of the Effects of Sulfur on Selenate Accumulation and Toxicity in Chlamydomonas” at the 115th Texas Academy of Sciences meeting in Alpine, TX. Their work focuses on characterizing the competition between sulfur and selenium for import pathways and the resulting toxic effects of imported selenium.
Dr. Eamonn Healy has been invited to present his research at the Fall 2012 meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia. At a symposium on "Drug Discovery in Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor and Drug Resistance" organized by the Computer in Chemistry section of ACS, Dr. Healy will present a talk on: “Tyrosine kinase inhibition: Ligand binding and conformational change in c-Kit and c-Abl,” based on his earlier publication in FEBS Letters (FEBS Lett. 2009, 583, 2899-2906).
Dr. Michael Saclolo has given an update from Angers:
I just gave my first set of exams (a couple during the week of Feb. of 13-17, then last week, as we had a break Feb. 20-24, to follow the French calendar). I am finding that I am spending more time doing preparation here, and this is probably due to basically three new preparations, plus a course I have not taught for a few years.
I have been looking through the online catalogs of the national library of France (based in Paris) to take advantage of the resources there (especially for Euler related stuff). I have been and plan on going to Paris at least once a month, and two weeks ago I managed to go to library (well one of the two main branches) and obtain a library card that allows me full access to things as an academic researcher, including the manuscript library. So far I have managed to help out a colleague (also from the Euler Society) who needs copies of some manuscripts. I have found some of what he needs and can obtain copies for him. As many libraries like it, it is quite a production to go in. For example, for the manuscript collection, you have to check almost everything, and they provide you with a clear plastic briefcase in which you put your laptop, a special pencil and paper. In the other (bigger) branch, actually the main research library, you have to reserve a seat in the reading room ahead of time.
Other than that, I seem to be spending a lot time shopping for food. Without a car and the refrigerator not being too big, I have to go more than once a week. Fortunately there a couple grocery stores that are walking distance (less than 10 min.) not to mention the farmer’s market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. As for other leisure stuff, we have organized excursions every three weeks or so on a Friday (the last one was this past Friday to an old abbey and a chateau--actually this one was organized to coincide with the other professor's topic in one his classes). I also joined a volleyball club (you do that here to play) that meets Wednesday evenings.
It hasn't been too cold lately, so that's good.
Samantha Parsons (who is also in CAMP), has been accepted into the SURF Program this summer. She will be working on cancer research through MD Anderson.
March was certainly a busy month!!! Even with spring break, there did not seem to be enough time to catch your breath before April barged through spring’s door. What a tremendous set of events for the students, and the opportunities they were given to present work this past month were all due to the hard work and mentorship of the School of Natural Sciences faculty members. I thank each and every one of you for your dedication and hard work!!
As always, your stories are what populate the monthly newsletters so please keep them coming!!
You may forward events and information for inclusion in the April newsletter to Dean Tom Mitzel (email@example.com)