MAVERICK SCIENCE E-News
The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
July 2016
 
Welcome to the July 2016 edition of Maverick ScienceE-News. This monthly e-newsletter provides information about College of Science events involving students, alumni, faculty and staff. To contribute items for inclusion, please send an email to pederson@uta.edu. If possible, please include a high-resolution headshot photo of those mentioned in your items.
Dasgupta team devises new way to measure blood samples used in infant HIV screening
Purnendu ‘Sandy’ Dasgupta
Researchers from The University of Texas at Arlington have demonstrated that electrical conductivity can be an effective means to precisely measure the amount of blood present in dry blood spot analysis, providing a new alternative to the current preferred approach of measuring sodium levels.
Dry blood spots are a pinprick of blood blotted on filter paper and allowed to air dry, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Simple and inexpensive, dry blood spot analysis is routinely used to screen new-borns for metabolic disorders and has also proven effective in diagnosing infant HIV infection, especially in developing countries where health budgets are limited.
“Our new method, which involves using an electrode probe to measure electrical conductivity, has proven accurate to within one percent,” said Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis and James Garrett Professor in UTA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It also has the considerable advantage of using up none of the sample where the currently preferred approach uses around half the sample.”
Dasgupta and his co-author Jordan Berg, professor of mechanical engineering at Texas Tech University and co-director of the Nano Tech Center, published their findings, “Evaluation of the amount of blood in dry blood spots: ring-disk electrode conductometry,” in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
Read more of this story here.
Jin and UT Southwestern partner to improve accuracy of cancer radiation therapy delivery
Mingwu Jin
Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are collaborating on two projects to improve the accuracy of the delivery of cancer radiation therapies and minimize the exposure of healthy tissues.
For one project, Mingwu Jin, UTA assistant professor of physics, is working with Xun Jia and Yiping Shao of UT Southwestern’s Department of Radiation Oncology to simulate the effect in the body of heavy ion cancer therapies.
“Heavy ion cancer therapies are an option for terminal cancer where conventional radiation is not effective, but delivery of therapy has to be more precise as the radiation levels are much higher,” Jin said. “We are using UT Southwestern’s database on cancer patients to simulate monitoring the effects of the therapy in the human body, with an aim to develop a new real-time dose monitoring technique that improves the precision of delivery.”
Jin has also been awarded a $153,543 National Institutes of Health grant, in collaboration with Jing Wang and Xun Jia from UT Southwestern, to improve the quality of image-guided radiotherapy techniques that allow for direct visualization of the target and relevant anatomy. This technology enables physicians to monitor the dose delivered to patients and update their treatment as needed.
Read more of this story here.
Four UTA professors named finalists for Tech Titan Awards honoring innovative educators
Tech Titan finalists from UTA include, clockwise from top left: Sandy Dasgupta, Liping Tang, Laura Mydlarz and Kevin Schug.
Tech Titans has named four University of Texas at Arlington professors finalists for the 2016 Tech Titans awards. The prestigious honor recognizes the educators’ outstanding innovations in science and engineering, and for developing successful new educational models supporting undergraduate research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Finalists are:
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis and James Garrett Professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, for the Tech Titans Technology Inventors Award;
Kevin Schug, professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry; and Laura Mydlarz, associate professor and associate chair of biology, for the Tech Titans of the Future University Level Award;
Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering, for the Tech Titans Technology Inventors award.
The Tech Titans Awards were launched in 2001 by the Metroplex Technology Business Council, which is North Texas’s largest technology trade association, representing a quarter of a million employees through more than 300 member companies. MTBC changed its name to Tech Titans in August 2015.
Read more of this story here.
Park, graduate students create images of Large Magellanic Cloud supernova remnants
Map created by Sangwook Park, Andrew Schenk and Seth Post. Courtesy of American Astronomical Society Nova website.
Three UTA scientists — assistant professor of physics Sangwook Park, and graduate students Andrew Schenk and Seth Post — created maps featured on the American Astronomical Society Nova website that coincides with the recent publication the trio had in The Astronomical Journal.
The paper, published May 27 and titled “A Chandra study of the interstellar metallicity in the Large Magellanic Cloud using supernova remnants,” makes new measurements of the interstellar medium abundances for several elements, describes the data, explains the regional selection, spectral extraction and model fitting applied to each supernova remnant, and compares their work to the pioneering study done in 1998 by J.P. Hughes and colleagues.
The vibrant images were created by mapping data from the Chandra X-ray telescope into three colors: red, green and blue. The forward shocks of supernova remnants sweep up the interstellar medium as they expand, heating it and causing it to emit the X-rays that Chandra observes, the article explains.
Read the American Astronomical Society Nova website article here. Read the Astronomical Journal paper here.
McMahon says it’s too early to gauge impact of invasive zebra mussels on lakes in Texas
 
  McMahon
Robert McMahon, professor emeritus in biology, is quoted in a July 15 Fort Worth Star-Telegram story about zebra mussels and their arrival in Tarrant County.
McMahon has been studying zebra mussels for years, and he isn’t sure what will happen now that the invasive species has been spotted in Tarrant County, the story reports.
“You can’t make a prediction right now,” McMahon says in the article. “The population is in the very early stages of infestation. The question is whether they’re going to have explosive growth like Ray Roberts and Texoma.”
Zebra mussels can litter beaches, clog pipes and attach to boats. In Tarrant County, they have been detected in Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth. Their populations have soared in other Texas lakes, including Texoma, Ray Roberts and Belton, the article said. However, their numbers have also declined in some locations following large population growth. Both drought and flooding can contribute to a decrease in their numbers.
“It’s going to be 10 years until we know what their impact will be,” McMahon said in the article. “We’re just a few years into this. There’s not enough data yet, but we think they might be starving themselves out by removing all of the plankton and nitrates and phosphates out of the water. But there needs to be constant monitoring.”
Read the Star-Telegram article here.
UTA’s Planetarium featured in article which spotlights some of Arlington’s hidden gems
The Planetarium at UT Arlington
The Planetarium at UT Arlington was included in a July 5 Dallas Morning News Guide feature on “8 Hidden Gems in Arlington” which profiled fun things to do in Arlington.
“The Planetarium offers a rotating schedule of stargazing sessions combined with prerecorded screenings of starry skies to let all us wannabe astronauts indulge in the mysteries of the universe,” the article said.
The Planetarium, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, offers entertaining and educational shows year-round to the general public and groups of students from area schools. The facility features a 60-foot diameter dome and state of the art Digistar 5 DLP Projection system. Shows combine stunning visual effects on the dome with powerful surround sound to transport audiences to all reaches of the universe, from a light-speed trip to see mysterious black holes to a wild safari inside the human body.
Read the Morning News article here. Learn more about the Planetarium here.
Life Sciences Building undergoing numerous renovations in time for Fall 2016 semester
Among the work being done in the Life Sciences Building this summer is a complete redo of the second floor freshman teaching labs.
As anyone who has been in or around the Life Sciences Building the past couple of months is well aware, the building is in the midst of a big renovation project this summer.
Major upgrades to many of the building’s laboratories and classrooms are well under way, with most scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the Fall 2016 semester on August 25, according to Bill Poole, UTA Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Campus Operations. Total cost of the project is approximately $3 million.
Among the items included in the project are complete renovation of the four large classrooms on the first floor (LSB 118, 119, 122 and 124), including asbestos abatement, new HVAC, new lighting, ceiling and carpet, fixed seating and modular student instruction, teaching stations, and installation of a fire sprinkler system.
The second floor freshman teaching labs and support rooms (LSB 200, 201, 202, 203, 205 and 307) are getting a complete redo, including asbestos abatement, new HVAC, plumbing, electrical, finishes, cabinetry and modular student instruction/lab worktops, exhaust system with snorkels to tables, teaching stations, and installation of a fire sprinkler system.
Other components of the renovation include investigation of exterior brick for water penetration or structural deterioration/failure; renovation of two second-floor laboratories for new faculty; renovation of two psychology suite areas on the third floor; installation of fire sprinklers in necessary areas; an initial phase of faculty office renovations; and addressing piping deficiencies where necessary. Some of the projects will continue through the fall semester.
The Life Sciences Building, which is 210,612 square feet, opened in 1970 as the Business Administration and Life Sciences Building. Business moved into its own building in 1977 and LSB is now shared by the Departments of Biology and Psychology.
Mervin Childers, longtime UTA professor of math and Arlington resident, dies at age 91
Childers
Mervin Robert Childers, who was a longtime professor of mathematics at UT Arlington, passed away on July 10 in Arlington at age 91.
Mr. Childers was born on June 11, 1925, in Bogata, Texas, to Robert Childers and Maude Morris Childers. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a veteran of World War II. An Arlington resident since 1955, he was a former Sunday school teacher and long-time deacon at First Baptist Church. He joined Arlington State College — which became UT Arlington in 1967 — as a mathematics professor, retiring in the 1990s after a 36-year career.
A funeral service was held July 14 at First Baptist Church in Arlington, followed by interment in Moore Memorial Gardens, Arlington.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Genetty Ballard Childers; daughters, Ann Elise Childers Kearns and Pam Childers Wade and husband, Mark; sister, Louise James; grandchildren, Chad Kearns and wife, Tasha; Caleb Wade; and Taylor Wade; great-grandson, Grayson Kearns; and several nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to the Blessing the Generations Campaign at First Baptist Church of Arlington, 301 S. Center St., Arlington, TX 76010.

For Alumni

Alumni Relations
You can help the next generation of Mavericks

Nunez
Nuñez

Did the University of Texas at Arlington change your life? Do you want to help a future Maverick? Call Dr. Ignacio Nuñez, the chair of the College of Science Advisory Council. He’d love to help get you involved on campus again. The Advisory Council is issuing a challenge to each alumnus and to each member of our North Texas community who believes in our mission. The challenge: Give one day a year and $1,000 annually (that’s just $83.33 a month) to benefit the students of UT Arlington. Dr. Nuñez was a first-generation college student, and UT Arlington made it possible for him to attend medical school and create a life vastly different than that of his parents. Did UT Arlington change your life too? Let’s work together to help the next generation. To learn more, please contact College of Science Director of Development Christie Mosley-Eckler at 817-272-1497 or cmeckler@uta.edu.

Memorial fund created
to honor Truman Black

Andrew Baum
Black
A special fund has been created to honor the memory of Dr. Truman Black, professor of physics and beloved member of the UT Arlington family, who died on Sept. 12, 2012.
Donations to the fund may be mailed to:
Truman D. Black Scholarship Fund at The University of Texas at Arlington
Office of Development
P.O. Box 19198
Arlington, TX 76019-0198

Calendar of events

Thursday, August 11
Last day of classes for Summer 14-week session, 11-week session and second 5-week session

Thursday, August 25
First day of classes for Fall 2016 semester

Friday, September 2
College of Science’s Welcome Back Ice Cream Social 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. LSB lobby

Planetarium
Planetarium offering cool summer lineup

Check out The Planetarium at UT Arlington’s lineup of fun and exciting shows for the summer! The summer 2016 schedule runs May 31 through August 28.
Tuesdays
2:00 pm - Texas Stargazing
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
Wednesdays
2:00 pm - Dynamic Earth
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
Thursdays
2:00 pm - One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
Fridays
2:00 pm - We Are Astronomers
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
Saturdays
1:00 pm - One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
2:30 pm - Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
5:30 pm - We Are Astronomers
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
Sundays
1:30 pm - Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
3:00 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity

For tickets, reservations or further information, please contact The Planetarium at UT Arlington.
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