April brought few showers, but plenty of other exciting items occurred in the School of Natural Sciences.
Laura Munoz Day:
As mentioned in the February newsletter, Laura Munoz was honored this year for her 10th year of service. Given that Laura is the glue that helps hold our school together, a singular award did not seem sufficient. As such, Laura Munoz Appreciation Day, spearheaded by our own Br. Richard Critz, was held on March 30, 2012. SEU community members from across the University gathered in JBWN to thank Laura for her service, dedication, help and advice, sympathetic ear… during the past 10-years. The day’s events included a morning “tea-time” cake followed by an afternoon surprise “crowning.” The afternoon event was led by a Proclamation justifying Laura Munoz Appreciation Day. The Proclamation was several feet in length, and still did not encompass all the relevant details. Needless to say, the justification was easily made and the Proclamation passed. A rendition of “My Favorite Things” tailored to Laura’s working experience at St. Edward’s followed the Proclamation much to the delight of everyone in attendance. A “crowning” ended the “official” duties for the event at which time the attendees enjoyed good company and food. We are indebted to Laura Munoz for her hard work and unending dedication to everyone. We look forward to celebrating her 20th year of service within the Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University!
John Brooks Williams South “pre-view”
Every newsletter during the 2011-12 academic year has discussed fundraising events for John Brooks Williams South. With all the monies successfully raised, and plans approved, an official pre-view party was hosted on April 12 for members of the SEU campus and local community. Tom Mitzel, Dean – School of Natural Sciences welcomed the attendees. President George Martin presented a wonderful history behind the JBW Science complex project, illuminating how the new building will enhance student learning both in the classroom, and in experiential settings. Father Rick blessed the project (which worked well as everything appears to be ahead of schedule at this time!), after which the attendees were directed into JBWN. Students from the Mathematics and Computer Science departments highlighted the event, dazzling the crowd with activities based on research projects. From an algorithm that solves a Rubics Cube, to a tic-tac-toe game played on a three-dimensional curved surface, to the use of soap bubbles to explain curved surfaces, all attendees were treated to hands-on learning experiences of the type that will occur, and expand, in JBWS. Coupled with a large display of architectural renditions of JBWS, each attendee was given a Rubic’s Cube memory stick to help them remember the event. You may view a live web cam of construction process at the following address: http://188.8.131.52/view/view.shtml
(Username: JBWS, Pssd: guest). We are all eagerly anticipating fall 2013, and the opening of JBWS!!
The 11th annual Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) was held on the SEU campus April 20th. The Natural Sciences had a high level of participation with three of our students giving seminars and sixteen of our students participating in the poster presentation. Coupled with the Senior Seminar and external conferences, our students have remained quite busy this spring. It is always fun to discuss your research topics, and all of the students seemed to be enjoying the interactions while also gaining valuable experience. We congratulate them on doing wonderful work, and in articulating it to the community so clearly!!
Dr. Charles Hauser, Associate Professor Bioinformatics, co-authored a paper in Environmental Science and Technology with collaborators Rute Domingos, Dana Simon, and Kevin Wilkinson. The paper titled, “Bioaccumulation and effects of CdTe/CdS quantum dots on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii - nanoparticles or the free ions?” reports on the environmental risks associated with nanoparticles. The SEU group’s analysis of whole transcriptome sequencing showed that free Cd and quantum dots (QD) had distinctly different biological effects.
A total of 243 students from eight different schools in the Austin area including Westlake, Westwood, Leander High School, Vandegrift, Del Valle, Lago Vista, Liberal Arts and Science Academy and Calhoun High School in Port Lavaca participated in local examinations for the Chemistry Olympiad. The top ten students with a limit of two per school qualified to take the national exam. The national exam, consisting of three parts including a multiple section, an essay section, and a laboratory practical, was administered to eight students on April 20th at St. Edwards University. SEU students Pablo Romano and Omneya Nassar assisted Drs. Don Wharry and Candace Lawrence to administer the almost five hour long test. The top 20 chemistry students in the nation are chosen from the results of this test for a two-week chemistry camp in Colorado Springs, Co. Out of this group, six are chosen to attend the International Chemistry Olympiad that will be held in Washington, D.C. this year. It is an exciting series of steps, and St. Edward’s Chemistry department is proud to be a part of this process.
Registration opened for the 4th Annual 3M High School Teachers Workshop for High School Science Teachers. The event will be held June 25-27. This has been a highly successful event that has expanded during the summer 2012 program to allow more attendees, while offering an “advanced” program for returning participants. Drs. Don Wharry, LeAnn Rowe, and Candace Lawrence are involved in the development and oversight of the workshop. 3M provides funding for the event, and 3M personnel assist with the workshop. We look forward to hearing more about the event in the June Newsletter.
Graduating seniors in the Department of Chemistry or Biochemistry have amassed a variety of acceptances to graduate programs, pre-professional schools and job offers for the fall 2012 academic season. Their accolades are listed below:
Jason Chau will attend the Texas A&M HSC Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville. He was also invited to interview at Texas Southern University in Houston and was interviewed and accepted to the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. Jason will continue to serve as a Pharmacy Tech I in the Seton Healthcare Family network until pharmacy school.
Casey Maguire will attend the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program at Baylor University. He was also accepted to Tulane University and West Virginia University.
Beverly Pappas will attend the Graduate Program at The University of the Pacific.
Pablo Romano will attend the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program at The University of Oregon.
Kelly Servage will attend the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program at Texas A&M University. She was also accepted to Baylor University and Colorado State University.
Brenna Sura will attend the Dental School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Zachry Theis will attend the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program at Baylor University.
Patrick Young has accepted a job offer as the Quality Assurance/Laboratory Technician at Independence Brewery. He was offered a similar position as the packaging line operator at Hops and Grain Brewing.
Ali Khorasani was offered and will start as a new Test Technician at
Thermo Fisher Scientific in Austin, TX.
Department of Chemistry faculty members Candace Lawrence and J.D. Lewis, and twelve senior students from the department, attended the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego March 24-27, 2012. Students Jason Brodlowicz, Patrick Young, Pablo Romano, Jason Chau, Ali Khorasani, Casey Maguire, Beverly Pappas, Leslie Loh, Hilary Vaughan, Brenna Sura, Whitney Edwards, and Kelly Servage presented the following papers co-authored with their faculty supervisors:
CHED 1320 - Jason A. Brodlowicz and J.D. Lewis, "Comparison of infrared OH stretching bands in short-chain and long-chain primary alcohols"
CHED276 - Hillary Vaughan and Henry Altmiller, "Formation of benzene from common food preservatives"
CHED274 - Patrick A. Young and Henry Altmiller, "Determination of metals in beers brewed in central Texas"
CHED259 - Leslie Loh and Henry Altmiller, "Determination of the origins of Texas wines using AAS"
CHED1310 - Beverly Pappas, Zachry Theis, and J.D. Lewis, "Using infrared OH stretching bands to study intramolecular hydrogen bonding and ring puckering in cyclic alcohols"
CHED 557 - Jason Chau and Mary A. Kopecki-Fjetland, "Identification of phytogenic volatile organic compounds in Larrea tridentata (creosote bush)”
CHED 592 - Whitney Edwards and Mary A. Kopecki-Fjetland, "Coning methodology for serine carboypeptidase II"
CHED 1023 - Ali Abbas Khorasani, Omneya Nassar, and Candace M. Lawrence, "Synthesis of guanosine hydrogels with water-soluble aromatic functional groups"
CHED 248 - Casey Maguire, Kelly A. Servage, and Donald Wharry, "Forensic analysis of lotions via hydrolysis and derivatization using GC-Mass Spectroscopy"
CHED 247 - Kelly A. Servage, Casey Maguire, and Donald Wharry, "Forensics analysis of the fatty acid components of hand lotions using GC/MS"
BIOL360 - Pablo G. Romano, Moises Mejia, and Eamonn F Healy, "Acetylenic inhibitors of ADAM10 and ADAM17: In silico analysis of potency and selectivity"
BIOL206 - Brenna R. Sura and Eamonn Healy, "Resveratrol effects on PGHS-1 using molecular modeling: Applications in biochemistry"
Junior environmental chemistry major Alisha Multer and junior biology major Gretchen Kroh also attended the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego. Alisha and Gretchen presented the following papers:
CHED1161 - Alisha D. Multer, Keith Hohn, Praveen Vadlani, and Nathan McGraw, "Production of 2,3-butanediol from biomass using a hybrid biochemical/catalytic approach"
CHED214 - Gretchen E. Kroh and Michael A. Grusak, "Comparison of root iron uptake rate in Carya aquatica and Carya illinoinensis”
The American Chemical Society Student Chapter at St. Edward's University received a "commendable chapter" award on March 25, 2012 at an awards ceremony at the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego, CA. The officers of the ACS Student Chapter are: Pablo Romano (President), Kelly Servage (VP), Carley Little (Secretary), Patrick Young (Treasurer), Omneya Nassar (Activities Coordinator). The faculty sponsors are Drs. J.D. Lewis, Don Wharry, and Candace Lawrence.
Dr. J.D. Lewis, Professor of Chemistry, is co-author of a paper entitled "Determination of Te-Te Force Constant in Potassium Tritelluride by Raman Spectroscopy in Liquid Ammonia and N,N-Dimethylformamide Solutions" recently accepted for publication in Spectroscopy Letters.
Several members of Women in Science and American Chemical Society clubs recently helped volunteer at the 2nd Annual Think Pink event, which was sponsored by the Young Professionals for the Cure (YPC). The event was an educational community event to help spread awareness about breast cancer and breast cancer research. Dr. Candace Lawrence is a member of the YPC and helped co-chair the volunteer effort. The students who volunteered were Kaitlin Berry, Marian Chen, Leslie Loh, Jenna Rozacky, Joseph Tang, and Mai-Anh Van Dinh.
On April 20th, St. Edward's University played host to the annual Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society. The event coordinated by Colleges Against Cancer students and advisor, Angel Wilson (from the Academic Success Center), helped raise over $12,000 for ACS. Although a campus and community event, some of our own Natural Science students were crucial in planning the event. Biology major Paloma Reinoso coordinated the event and was instrumental in conducting the first Relay for Life at St. Edward's last year. Other Natural Science majors involved in the planning were Linda Armstrong, Gretchen Kroh, Matt Perez, Luis Alcala, Perouza Parsamian, Amanda Rivera, Lan-Anh Van-Dinh, Cynthia Tapia, Stephen Roberts, Zachary Fusco. The Blue and Gold Committee recognized this event for embodying the values of Service, Spiritedness and Taking Risks.
On April 20-21, 2012, three computer science faculty members, Drs. Laura Baker, Michael Kart, and James McGuffee, attended the 23rd annual South Central Regional Conference of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC). Dr. McGuffee presented the paper "The Security Assessment Teaching Case Module" and Dr. Kart conducted a tutorial session on "Behavior-Driven Software Development.” During the conference, Dr. McGuffee was elected to a three-year term on the nine member regional steering committee. Dr. Kart is currently serving on the steering committee (his term ends in 2013). Dr. Baker serves as the region's Papers and Program chair and is the elected vice-president of the national consortium (CCSC).
The 2013 CCSC:SC conference will be held at LSU Shreveport. After that, St. Edward's University will be the host site for the South Central regional conference for at least three years (2014, 2015, and 2016). St. Edward's University was chosen as a site for its central location in the region, the on-campus ability to host the conference, and the excellent faculty and administrative support for CCSC. The conferences will take place in the brand new John Brooks Williams South facilities.
Dr. Edward Early spoke at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston, MA on January 4, 2012. His talk, entitled "Discrete Dynamical Fibonacci," discussed how standard techniques in linear algebra can be used by students to discover a surprising formula for Fibonacci numbers. The JMM is the world's largest annual math conference, with this year's attendance topping 7000 registered participants.
Dr. Early also spoke at the CombinaTexas conference in Georgetown, TX on April 21, 2012. His talk, entitled "Character Polynomials," presented joint work with student Kirby Baker on how counting arguments can be used to explain the occurrence of certain positive numbers that arise in representation theory. CombinaTexas is an annual regional conference in combinatorics, though attendees come from all around the country.
What an incredible year to date!!! The summer months appear to be shaping up to be equally as exciting, so stay tuned for more events from the School of Natural Sciences.
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 May newsletter to Dean Tom Mitzel (firstname.lastname@example.org)