The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science Fall 2011  

Faculty News

Research grants
Gaik Ambartsoumian, assistant professor of math, is principal investigator for a three-year, $175,899 grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Mathematical Sciences, for a research project titled "Elliptical Radon transforms in image reconstruction." The project is dedicated to the study of elliptical Radon transforms (ERT), which play an important role in bi-static models of various imaging modalities such as near-field ultrasound tomography, synthetic aperture radar, geophysical exploration imaging, and sonar.

Andrew Brandt, professor of physics, is part of a team which received a new, $172,139 grant from the Department of Energy to continue work on a time-of- flight detector which could one day significantly boost measurement capabilities at the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the world's largest particle collider, in Geneva, Switzerland. Brandt has been working on the new proton sub-detector since 2006 as a member of the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. His goal is to construct the fastest detector ever deployed at a particle accelerator, with 10 picosecond, or trillionths of a second, time resolution.

Qinhong (Max) Hu, earth and environmental sciences assistant professor, was awarded a $457,891 grant by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America to study gas transport in the Barnett shale. Hu's proposal, entitled by "Integrated Experimental and Modeling Approaches to Studying the Fracture-Matrix Interaction in Gas Recovery from Barnett Shale", began in October and will evaluate the implications of low pore space connectivity, particularly in the fracture- matrix interaction, on low gas recovery in fractured shale.

Qinhong (Max) Hu is principal investigator for a $110,264 Department of Energy grant to examine the effects of pore-scale physics on uranium geochemistry in Hanford sediments. Hu will perform the laboratory experiments in collaboration with Toby Ewing of Iowa State University (with a separate funding of $40,000), who will conduct pore-scale network modeling. Findings from this 2-year exploratory grant could lead to full research grants.

Kayunta Johnson-Winters, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been awarded $199,988 from the National Science Foundation's Research Initiation Grant for Broadening Participation program. She will study an essential enzyme found in Mycobacteria tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Ren-Cang Li, professor of math, is principal investigator for a three-year, $169,941 grant from the National Science Foundation for a collaborative research project titled "Efficient Solvers for Nonlinear Eigenvalue Problems and Applications."

Yan Li, assistant professor of mathematics, is co-PI, along with Mario Romero-Ortega, associate professor of bioengineering (PI) and Youngtae Kim, assistant professor of bioengineering (co-PI), on a recent joint $2.2 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grant to further the development of technology that will allow amputees to naturally control and feel bionic limbs. The three-year grant is for their project titled "Cellular and molecular contribution to signal instability in peripheral regenerative neurointerfaces."

Yan Li, assistant professor of mathematics, has received a two year, $71,228 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health for a research project titled, "Pseudo semiparametric inference for case control studies".

Subhrangsu Mandal, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received a three-year, $444,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to look for chemicals in the environment that could interfere with normal hormone functions, causing problems with reproduction, behavior and de- velopment and fueling cancer growth. The money will be used to test items such as commonly used growth hormones, water from various sources, and milk for endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Subhrangsu Mandal was awarded $213,807 from the NIH for a proposal to explore how the biochemical mechanism of estrogen signaling is linked with control of blood cholesterol. Though NIH rules prevent him from accepting both grants, Mandal will continue studying that project.

Maeli Melotto, assistant professor of biology, and collaborator Sheng Hang He of Michigan State University were awarded an ARRA research supplement in the amount of $252,664 to supplement their $1.85 million National Institutes of Health grant titled "Stomate- based innate immunity against bacterial infection in Arabidopsis."

Pablo  Mora, assistant professor of psychology, has been awarded funding from the Austin-based Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to study how Latinos' cultural views affect their decision to seek mental health services and contribute to mental health disparities for Latinos. Mora will survey 140 Latinos aged 55 or older about their attitudes and beliefs toward depression and their own mental health.

Laura Mydlarz, biology assistant professor, received a $409,537 grant from the Organism-Environment Interactions Program (OEI) of the National Science Foun- dation to study disease in coral, particularly disease caused by environmental stress. The study, "Assessing the Effect of Environmental Stressors on Invertebrate Innate Immunity using a Coral Pathosystem," is a collaboration between Mydlarz, Ernesto Weil of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and John Bruno of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their research will focus on coral in the Caribbean which are affected by many bacterial and fungal diseases.

Ellen Pritham, assistant professor of biology, was part of an international team which precisely mapped the DNA code of the water flea, Daphnia pulex, the first crustacean genome to be sequenced. Daphnia emerges as a model organism for a new field - environmental genomics. Pritham said the genome holds some big surprises. More genes were found in the Daphnia pulex genome than any other animal ever sequenced. The Daphnia genome has about 31,000 genes compared to about 20,000 in humans. Among the journals to feature their work were Science and Nature.

The UT Arlington Mathematics Teacher Preparation Academy, a partnership between UTA and the Fort Worth and Arlington school districts, received supple- mental funding of $150,000 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) in February. The MTPA, led by James  Epperson (PI), associate professor of mathematics, Christopher Kribs Zaleta (co-PI), professor of mathematics and curriculum & instruction, and Theresa Jorgensen (co-PI), assistant professor of mathematics, has received $850,000 from the THECB since July 2009.

Papers Published
Manfred Cuntz, associate professor of physics, and doctoral student Jason Eberle co-authored a paper on research which could significantly broaden astrophysicists' search for planets in other solar systems by changing the way they think about the orbiting bodies. If correct, the findings could increase the opportunities for the discovery of new planets in candidate systems. The paper was published October 1 in the American Astronomical Society's Astrophysical Journal Letters. "On the reality of the suggested planet in the v Octantis System" is already available online. In the paper, the two scientists explore the possible existence of a proposed planet in a binary star system 69 light years, or 400 trillion miles, from Earth.

Cédric Feschotte, associate professor of biology, and postdoctoral research associate Clément Gilbert co-authored a paper on their study uncovering virus fragments from the same family as the modern Hepatitis B virus locked inside the genomes of songbirds such as the modern-day zebra finch. "The fragments had been there for at least 19 million years, far longer than anyone previously thought this family of viruses had been in existence," the co-authors said. The paper was published in the September 28 edition of PLoS Biology, the flagship journal of the Public Library of Science. The article, entitled "Genomic Fossils Calibrate the Long-Term Evolution of Hepadnaviruses," marks the first time that endogenous hepadnaviruses have been found in any organism.

James Grover, biology professor, is part of a team whose research is featured in the Winter 2011 edition of txH20, the magazine of the Texas Water Resources Institute, as well as in a special edition of the magazine. The team includes Daniel Roelke of Texas A&M University and Bryan Brooks of Baylor University. The study, the Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney Assessment Initiative, focused on the biology and ecology of golden algae (Prymnesium parvum) in Texas lakes. The algae has caused major fish kills in river systems around the state. The research led Grover and colleagues to discover three approaches to lake management that seem to work in preventing or reducing golden algae blooms in Lake Granbury. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Julian Hurdle, assistant professor of biology, led a four-member research team whose work, "Targeting bacterial membrane function: an underexploited mechanism for treating persistent infections", was published in the January edition of the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology. The review discusses "the emerging concept that disrupting the bacterial membrane bilayer or proteins that are integral to membrane function (including membrane potential and en- ergy metabolism) in dormant bacteria is a strategy for treating persistent infections. ... Despite some drawbacks, membrane-active agents form an important new means of eradicating recalcitrant, non-growing bacteria."

Pamela Jansma, dean of science, Glen Mattioli, earth and environmental sciences professor, and researchers at several other universities co-authored a study which presented strong evidence that the Jan. 12, 2010 Haitian earthquake was caused by a previously unmapped fault and not one that experts first suspected. The researchers said "a significant seismic threat for Haiti and for Port-au-Prince in particular" remains because the earthquake didn't release significant accumu-lated strain from the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault as was first believed. Their paper, "Transpressional rupture of an unmapped fault during the 2010 Haiti earthquake," was published in the November 2010 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

J. Ping Liu, professor of physics, is featured in a new article in Nature News about the quest to produce the "next generation" of super-powerful magnets. The article, in the April 6 edition, mentions the 2006 work of a team led by Liu, which pioneered a new manufacturing method which used steel balls to grind up magnetic material to produce nanoparticle grains which retain their magnetic properties. His group continues to work on the project.

"An MRI-based study of children with dyslexia by associate professor of psychology Timothy Odegard was published in the journal Neurocase. The study could explain why a small percentage of dyslexic children don't respond to current teaching strategies. Emily Farris, Odegard's doctoral student, is the lead author on the paper that details the findings from Odegard's team.

Linda Perrotti, assistant professor of psychology, and graduate students Samara Morris Bobzean, Torry Dennis and B.D. Addison had a paper published in the Nov. 20, 2010 edition of Brain Research Bulletin. The paper was titled "Influence of sex on reinstatement of cocaine-conditioned place preference".

Christopher  Scotese, earth and environmental sciences professor, co-authored a review in the book "Cenozoic Mammals of Africa," which says that the landscape of Central Africa 65 million years ago was a low-elevation tropical belt, but the jury is still out on whether the region's mammals browsed and hunted beneath the canopy of a lush rainforest. Scientific evidence for a tropical rainforest at that time is weak and far from convincing. The journal Science Daily was among the publications to report on the findings. Scotese co-authored the review with colleagues from SMU and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The book is published by University of California Press.

Lee Ann Frederick, a lecturer in the Department of Biology, was one of nine UT Arlington recipients of the 2011 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards given by the UT System. Frederick is among 72 winners systemwide of the award, which honors classroom excellence.

Robert Gatchel, Psychology Department chair and the Nancy P. and John G. Penson Endowed Professor of Clinical Health Psychology, was named recipient of the 2011 American Psychological Association Division 38 Award for Outstanding Career Contributions to Health Psychology. The APA Division 38 facilitates collaboration among psychologists interested in the psychological and behavioral aspects of physical and mental health.

Robert Gatchel was named a recipient of the 2011 Graduate Dean's Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring award, which recognizes his commitment to mentoring graduate students and helping train them for professional careers.

Levent Gurdemir, director of The Planetarium at UT Arlington, was elected president of the SouthWestern Association of Planetariums. SWAP is a regional association of planetarium professionals associated with schools, museums, science centers and private institutions from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Ramon Lopez, professor of physics, in October was named as the 2012 winner of the Edward A. Bouchet Award by the American Physical Society. The national award recognizes a distinguished minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research. As a recipient of the Bouchet award, he will be invited to speak to students, faculty and administrators of at least three academic institutions where the impact of his visit on minority students would be significant.

Jianzhong Su received the Research Excellence Award for his work in computational neuroscience at the 2010-11 College of Science Awards Ceremony on April 19.

The following COS faculty members were honored by the University during the annual Spring Meeting of the Faculty and Associates on May 2 in the E.H. Hereford University Center: Asok Ray, professor of physics, Distinguished Record of Research or Creative Activity award; Nilakshi Veerabathina, lecturer in physics, UT Arlington Service Learning Award; Martha Mann, associate professor of psychology, who was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers; and Jianzhong Su, professor of mathematics, Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, Graduate level.