MAVERICK SCIENCE E-News
  The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science February 2015  
Welcome to the February 2015 edition of Maverick Science E-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.
UT Arlington names Morteza Khaledi as new College of Science dean beginning August 1  

For Alumni

Alumni Relations
You can help the next generation of Mavericks

Andrew Baum
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. You can contact Nuñez at science@uta.edu or leave a message for him at 817-272-1497.

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

March 9-13
Spring Break vacation
ACES Symposium
Wednesday, March 25
E.H. Hereford University Center

The Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students, a daylong symposium which showcases the best of research being done by UT Arlington students in all disciplines. There are poster and oral presentation categories in a variety of divisions, with panels of judges awarding winners in each category. More information here.
Monday, April 6
Registration begins for Summer and Fall 2015 semesters
Friday, May 8
Last day of classes for the Spring 2015 semester
May 9, 11-15
Finals exams for the Spring 2015 semester
Friday, May 15
3 p.m. COS Spring 2015 Commencement
College Park Center

The College of Science will celebrate its newest group of graduates with the Spring 2015 graduation ceremony. Complete details coming soon.
Planetarium
Planetarium’s Spring schedule is under way
Looking for a fun, indoor activity during the cold winter months? Come see a show at the Planetarium at UT Arlington! The facility, one of the finest in the nation, offers a variety of exciting shows and programs year-round and is equipped with Digistar 5, the latest in planetarium software. The Spring schedule runs through May 24. See the schedulehere.
Maverick Science
Keep up with the COS with Maverick Science
Read the 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science for the latest College of Science faculty, student and alumni news. Copies are available in the Dean’s Office (Life Sciences Room 206) and in LS 112. The online version can be shared via social media and is available here.
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Maverick Science
E-Newsletter Archives
Khaledi
The University of Texas at Arlington has appointed Morteza Khaledi, professor and chair of the nationally ranked Chemistry Department at North Carolina State University, as dean of the College of Science.
Khaledi, whose research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and corporate entities is a renowned expert in mechanistic studies and bioanalytical applications of High Performance Capillary Electrophoresis and High Performance Liquid Chromotagrophy. He has chaired the Chemistry Department at the North Carolina State University since 2014 and previously served in the same position from 2005-11.
Under his leadership, the North Carolina State University Chemistry Department has enhanced its national reputation; added multiple endowed chairs valued at $1 million each; increased funded research from federal and state agencies, foundations and corporations; and developed innovative sources of revenue. The department also undertook substantial curricular reforms at the undergraduate and graduate levels and initiated new programs aimed at student access and success.
At UT Arlington, Khaledi will lead the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. He also will work closely with the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies, which offers students, faculty and industry access to the some of the world’s most sophisticated scientific instrumentation, and the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute.
He will lead a college that includes more than 100 faculty members with a strong record of external support.
“I am honored to join UT Arlington at a time when the University is clearly on the move,” Khaledi said. “The College of Science will play a critical role in realizing the vision of the 2020 Strategic Plan and affirming UT Arlington as the model for an urban, public research institution.”
Khaledi was selected from a highly competitive field of candidates following a national search. He officially joins UT Arlington on August 1.
Read more on this story here.
Dasgupta receives 2015 ACS J. Calvin Giddings Award for educational excellence
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry at UT Arlington, has received the 2015 American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education.
The national award recognizes a scientist who has enhanced the professional development of analytical chemistry students, developed and published innovative experiments, designed and improved equipment or teaching labs and published influential textbooks or significant articles on teaching analytical chemistry..
“I am a third generation university teacher. So, much of this honor I can credit to my father and grandfather - I am merely carrying on that tradition,” Dasgupta said. “I am especially honored by this award. I have been recognized for some research accomplishments or other in the past but this one recognizes for the first time my commitment to and love for teaching and that is why it is so gratifying.”
UT Arlington President Vistasp M. Karbhari said Dasgupta’s newest honor demonstrates the high quality of University faculty as exceptional models for advanced research and educational excellence.
“Dr. Dasgupta is remarkably accomplished, and his work in analytical chemistry addresses some of the most critical issues in our world,” Karbhari said. “This recognition by such a prestigious institution serves as testament to his commitment to teaching and research excellence as well as his dedication to developing the next generation of leaders in discipline.”
Read more on this story here.
McMahon receives National Invasive Species Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award
McMahon
The National Invasive Species Council has honored Robert McMahon, UT Arlington professor emeritus of biology, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior, which help to direct the Council, presented the award during National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015, held Feb. 22-28 in Washington, D.C.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding leadership and achievement over the course of a career in the areas of research, prevention, management and/or control of invasive species. McMahon is widely known for his research on invasive aquatic mollusks, particularly zebra and quagga mussels, Asian clams and apple snails.
“I consider this award the capstone to my more than 42-year career studying aquatic invasive species as a faculty member in UT Arlington’s Department of Biology,” McMahon said. “I feel very honored to be chosen by this national organization to receive this award.”
James Grover, interim dean of the UT Arlington College of Science, said McMahon’s contributions over the years exemplify the growing importance of UT Arlington as a national research university.
“Dr. McMahon is an outstanding scholar whose work has had impact across the United States and beyond,” Grover said.
Read more on this story here.
Chowdhury receives $354K NIH grant for protein research using mass spectrometry
Chowdhury
A UT Arlington bio-analytical chemist exploring proteins, their structures and functions by using cutting-edge analytical instrumentation called mass spectrometry has received an Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health.
The $354,749 in funding will help in identifying host-defense protein interactions networks caused by environmental and external agents.
Saiful Chowdhury, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the principal investigator on the project. He is developing a mass spectrometry-based chemical cross-linking technology that will provide information on large-scale protein signaling networks in their natural biological conditions.
“Proteins reside inside and outside of the cells, and when we open the cells, most of the interaction information that can help us to better understand disease processes gets lost,” Chowdhury said. “Current biochemical methods are not very efficient to analyze system-level or large-scale protein interaction networks. Through innovative analytical techniques, and by chemical cross-linking of proteins before cell analysis, we can overcome current limitations.”
Read more on this story here.
Mohanty team details new method of using optogenetics in the brain to control pain
Mohanty
A new study by a UT Arlington physics team in collaboration with bioengineering and psychology researchers shows for the first time how a small area of the brain can be optically stimulated to control pain.
Samarendra Mohanty, an assistant professor of physics, leads the Biophysics and Physiology Lab in the College of Science. He is co-author on a paper published online February 25 by the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers found that by using specific frequency of light to modulate a very small region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC, they could considerably lessen pain in laboratory mice. Existing electrode based ACC stimulation lacks specificity and leads to activation of both excitatory and inhibitory neurons.
“Our results clearly demonstrate, for the first time, that optogenetic stimulation of inhibitory neurons in ACC leads to decreased neuronal activity and a dramatic reduction of pain behavior,” Mohanty said. “Moreover, we confirmed optical modulation of specific electrophysiological responses from different neuronal units in the thalamus part of the brain, in response to particular types of pain-stimuli.”
The research focused on chemical irritants and mechanical pain, such as that experienced following a pinprick or pinch. Mohanty said the results could lead to increased understanding of pain pathways and strategies for managing chronic pain, which often leads to severe impairment of normal psychological and physical functions.
Read more on this story here.
UT Arlington to host conference focusing on issue of metal contamination in urban soils
Hunt
UT Arlington will serve as host for the 2015 International Conference of the Society of Environmental Geochemistry and Health – United States Section. The conference, titled “Urban Soils and Metal Contamination: Issues & Remedies”, will be held March 30 through April 1 in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
The conference will provide a forum for discussion among research scientists, government agency personnel, industry representatives, remediation managers, public health practitioners, and others with interest in problems posed by contaminated urban soils.
“This conference will be a great opportunity for UT Arlington to have expert speakers from entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) talk about recent changes made in things like guidance levels for lead in children’s blood that CDC has recently promulgated,” said Andrew Hunt, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and organizing chair of the conference.
Asish Basu, professor and chair of the EES department is also on the organizing committee. Conference welcoming remarks will be made by Carolyn Cason, UT Arlington vice president for research.
Sponsors of the conference include SEGH, Shimadzu Corp., MRi, Springer, Modern Geosciences, the UT Arlington College of Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Office of Sustainability.
UT Arlington students will be admitted to the conference free of charge when they present their UTA ID card. Students planning to attend are asked to RSVP beforehand at segh@uta.edu.
Learn more at the conference website here.
Photo highlights research by UT Arlington physicists about supernova remnant’s shape
This image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory shows the 1a supernova G299. Photo courtesy of NASA/Chandra.
A recent NASA news release and photo highlight a work published by Sangwook Park, assistant professor of physics, and Seth Post, a graduate student in physics, which studies the shape of a Type 1a supernova remnant using data collected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory.
The paper by Park and Post, along with six co-authors from around the world, appeared in the Sept. 1, 2014, issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The scientists’ findings suggest that a very lopsided explosion may have produced the supernova remnant, which is named G299.2-2.9 (G299 for short) and is located within the Milky Way galaxy.
Type Ia supernovas have long been known to be uniform in their extreme brightness, the NASA news release said. This is important because scientists use these objects to accurately measure the distances of galaxies billions of light years away, and to determine the rate of expansion of the Universe. Traditional theoretical models of Type Ia supernovas generally predict that these explosions would be symmetric, creating a near perfect sphere as they expand. These models have been supported by results showing that remnants of Type Ia supernovas are more symmetric than remnants of supernovas involving the collapse of massive stars, according to the NASA release.
However, astronomers are discovering that some Type Ia supernova explosions may not be as symmetric as previously thought. G299 could be an example of such an "unusual" Type Ia supernova. Using a long observation from Chandra, the researchers discovered the shell of debris from the exploded star is expanding differently in various directions.
Read the NASA news release here. Read The Astrophysical Journal paper here.
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku delights crowd during sold-out UT Arlington lecture
Physics students who attended the talk by Michio Kaku (center) included, from left, Niyousha Davachi, Austin Mears, Jeanette Miller, Timothy Watson, Ying Wun Yvonne Ng, Marialis Rosario, Randall Gladen and Andrea Marlar. Courtesy photo.
Michio Kaku, professor of physics at City University of New York and noted expert on theoretical physics, enlightened and entertained a packed Texas Hall audience with his accessible approach to physics and its impact on the future during a talk on February 19..
Kaku, whose talk, “Physics of the Future”, was part of the Maverick Speaker Series, is one of the most widely renowned contemporary figures in science. His particular area of specialty is Einstein’s unified field theory, which Kaku is attempting to complete. He is also known for his work in predicting trends that affect business, commerce, and finance. Kaku has written several best-selling books and is currently the public face of the Science Channel.
A question and answer session and an autograph session followed Kaku’s talk. Watch a video of highlights from Kaku’s lecture here.
Deadlines approaching for students to apply for College, departmental scholarships
Through the generosity of alumni, faculty and friends of the College of Science and its departments, a variety of scholarships, endowments and awards are available each year for which students may apply. These scholarships, listed by department, can be found on the College’s website here.
This year, the deadline for students to apply is Wednesday, March 18 in most cases. The deadline for Earth and Environmental Sciences scholarships is Wednesday, April 1. Faculty members are encouraged to alert students of these deadlines and urge them to apply as soon as possible.
Maverick Science magazine is available in print, online
The 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science Magazine includes College of Science highlights from the past year and features in-depth looks at some of the College’s outstanding faculty, students and alumni.
The magazine’s online version can be shared via social media, is downloadable and is compatible with smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Print copies of the magazine are available in the Dean’s office (Life Science Building Room 206) or in Life Science Building Room 112.
Read the online version here.