MAVERICK SCIENCE E-News
The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
March 2017
 
Gatchel receives American Psychological Foundation’s Award for Life Achievement
Robert Gatchel
A University of Texas at Arlington psychologist who has completed groundbreaking work in health psychology – particularly in the causes, assessment and treatment of chronic pain behavior – has been named recipient of one of the highest honors in psychology.
Robert J. Gatchel, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Nancy P. & John G. Penson Endowed Professor of Clinical Health Psychology, has been awarded the American Psychological Foundation’s 2017 Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology. He also is the director of the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health and Chronic Illnesses.
The award recognizes a distinguished career and enduring contribution to advancing the application of psychology through methods, research and/or application of psychological techniques to important practical problems, according to the APF’s website.
Gatchel will receive the award during the 125th Annual American Psychological Association Convention, scheduled for Aug. 3-6 in Washington, D.C. APF President Terence Keane will present the award at the convention.
Read more of this story here.
Mydlarz leading NSF-funded study of coral immunity and susceptibility to disease
From left: From left, Marilyn Brant, Laura Mydlarz and Erinn Muller are collaborating on the project. Photo courtesy of Laura Mydlarz.
Laura Mydlarz, UTA associate professor of biology, is leading a new study aimed at quantifying how susceptible coral species are to disease by examining their immunity through a series of novel experiments and approaches.
Mydlarz is principal investigator of the project, titled “Immunity to Community: Can Quantifying Immune Traits Inform Reef Community Structure?” and funded by a two-year, $220,331 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences. Co-PIs are Marilyn Brandt, research associate professor of marine and environmental science at the University of the Virgin Islands, and Erinn Muller, staff scientist at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida.
Over the past three decades, environmental changes — including global warming — have likely led to the sharp increase in coral disease in reefs around the world. Unhealthy coral reefs cannot support the fish and other forms of life that make reefs such vibrant and diverse ecosystems. Coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea are disease hotspots and many reefs have experienced population collapses due to outbreaks of disease, Mydlarz explained. Coral species vary in their susceptibility to disease, but the reasons behind this variation are unknown.
Read more of this story here.
Kribs utilizes mathematical modeling to predict student success, dropout rates
Christopher Kribs
Christopher Kribs, UTA professor of mathematics and curriculum & instruction, has used mathematical modeling to demonstrate that negative peer pressures can spread in a high-risk setting, influencing students’ decisions to drop out of school.
“This study postulates that social behavior can spread interpersonally through social interactions and influences, just as infectious diseases can,” said Kribs, who is also an expert in mathematical epidemiology with research supported by the National Science Foundation.
The study showed that students who are failing at two or more subjects are
at risk for dropping out, largely due to their increased interactions with other
failing students.
“Positive parenting is clearly very important for students but the study discovered that there is a point where negative peer influences overcome positive parental influences,” Kribs said. “We feel there is a real opportunity to intervene at the school level to reduce dropout rates by controlling negative influences.”
The study was published in the January 18 edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Read more of this story here.
Biology student Lilley’s drug detection system featured in Star-Telegram story
Jessica Lilley with her research poster. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Jessica Lilley, a junior majoring in biology and microbiology and minoring in chemistry and psychology, was featured in a March 21 Fort Worth Star-Telegram story previewing UTA’s Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students symposium.
Lilley’s research project, a drug detection system, uses a laser and a mass spectrometer to break down the molecular structure of fingerprint residue and identify drugs by their molecular weight the article says.
“I would just need to take a thumbprint,” Lilley says in the story, “and I could tell you within a minute whether this person had been in contact with a drug” — and which drug. “This expedites the process.”
Lilley, a Watauga native, began working on her project last summer in Prague, where she was able to receive some funding and lower-level drugs for her research..
Read more of the Star-Telegram story here.
College of Science students claim awards during 2017 ACES research symposium
Eight College of Science students earned awards for their research projects during the 2017 Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students symposium March 22 in the University Center.
College of Science students receiving the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Poster Presentation were: Shafaq Amdani Moten, a graduate student in physics, and Christina Koo, an undergraduate student in biology. Moten’s project was titled “Overcoming the Challenges of Storing Plutonium Oxides” and her faculty mentor is Muhammad Huda, associate professor of physics. Koo’s project was titled “Effects of the copper tolerance protein on symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria Bradyrhizobium japonicum” and her faculty mentor is Woo-Suk Chang, associate professor of biology.
College of Science students receiving Office of Research Poster Presentation Awards were: Min Gao, graduate student in earth & environmental sciences (“Continental hydroclimate during the late Paleocene-early Eocene greenhouse condition in the Greater Green River Basin, SW Wyoming, U.S.A.”; mentor: Majie Fan, assistant professor of earth & environmental sciences); Misty Martin undergraduate student in chemistry (“Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization – mass spectrometry for the characterization of groundwater microbiome”; mentor: Kevin Schug, professor of chemistry & biochemistry); Chuong Nguyen, graduate student in chemistry (“Gas chromatography and metal analysis of produced water treatment with Brita filter”; mentor: Kevin Schug, professor of chemistry & biochemistry); Ilia Ponomarev graduate student in chemistry (“Computational Studies of Crystalline and Amorphous Silicon Nitrides”; mentor: Peter Kroll, associate professor of chemistry & biochemistry); Halie Rion, undergraduate student in chemistry (“Surfactant Based Coacervation in Protein Extraction”; mentor: Morteza Khaledi, College of Science dean and professor of chemistry & biochemistry): A. Paige Wicker, graduate student in chemistry (“Online SFE-SFC-MS for Direct Extraction and Analysis of Designer Drugs in Urine Samples”; mentor: Kevin Schug, professor of chemistry & biochemistry).
Read more about ACES here.
UTA to host annual ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp for middle schoolers
Dr. Bernard Harris provides pointers for student campers during his foundation’s 2016 camp at UTA.
The University of Texas at Arlington is hosting the 2017 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp from June 11-23.
Applications are now open for middle school students aspiring to study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) and experience college life at the same time at http://www.uta.edu/sciencecamp.
While living on the UTA campus for two weeks, these future innovators will have an all-expenses paid STEM learning experience and mentorship from Dr. Bernard Harris and ExxonMobil engineers. Students will also participate in interactive, project-based classes, meet university faculty and students, and learn from secondary school teachers and STEM educators. Other offerings include experiments, museum visits and hands-on learning opportunities.
“STEM careers offer wonderful opportunities and open doors for students who choose them. The camps serve to encourage and inspire the creativity and enthusiasm in students who are interested in STEM,” said Harris, president of The Harris Foundation and the first African-American to walk in space. “My goal with the camps is to empower the next generation of innovative thinkers, particularly those who may be socio-economically disadvantaged and have limited exposure to available options for careers in STEM.”
Read more of this story here.
Highland Park High School claims trophy during 17th Annual UTA Calculus Bowl

Calculus Bowl director Hristo Kojouharov, left, and UTA math department chair Jianzhong Su, right, stand with members of Highland Park’s team during the trophy presentation.

The competition was fierce and very close but in the end, Highland Park High School prevailed, edging out Cistercian Preparatory School of Irving to earn the championship trophy at the 17th Annual UTA Calculus Bowl on March 3.
The annual event, a fast-paced playoff game which features teams of high school students matching wits while answering a series of challenging calculus problems, drew 24 teams from around the North Texas region.
The win was Highland Park’s first at the Calculus Bowl, topping the school’s runner-up finish in 2012. Members of the Highland Park team included Bhavana Thota, Sandra Kong, Richard Luo, Michael Xie, Michael Zhan and faculty advisor Charles Tillerman.
Cistercian, which hadn’t participated in the event since 2005, claimed its best-ever finish. Team members included Chris Bender, Hudson Kirkpatrick, Demetrius Rowland, Isaac Joseph, Adam Hoard and faculty advisor Richard Newcomb III.
Learn more about the Calculus Bowl here.
Cuntz part of team making discovery of new class of X-ray pulsating variable stars
Cuntz
Manfred Cuntz, professor of physics, was part of a team of American and Canadian scientists who discovered a new class of X-ray pulsating variable stars, the website phys.org reported.
The new X-ray observations were obtained by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and published March 23 in The Astrophysical Journal.
The prototype star after which all Cepheids are named, δ Cephei ( δ Cep) is, at a distance of 890 light years away, also one of the closest of its type, the phys.org article says. Cepheids are a famous class of pulsating variable stars and among the most astronomically important objects in the universe. By measuring the pulsation periods and brightness of Cepheids, astrophysicists can measure distances to other galaxies and calibrate the extragalactic distance scale. Cepheids also play an increasingly vital role in the effort to precisely measure the expansion rate of the Universe and to resolve the developing Hubble discrepancy.
According to the article, data recently returned for δ Cep from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, combined with previous X-ray measures secured with the XMM-Newton X-ray satellite, have shown that δ Cep has X-ray variations occurring in accord with the supergiant star's 5.4 day pulsation period. X-rays are observed at all phases of the star's pulsations, but sharply rise by ~400% near the times when the star swells to its maximum diameter of about 45 times that of the Sun.
The research team, led by Scott Engle and Edward Guinan of Villanova University, previously used the Hubble Space Telescope to study ultraviolet emission lines from d Cep and other Cepheids. These emission lines originate in plasmas of up to 300,000 degrees Celsius; cooler than X-ray emitting plasmas but still far hotter than the surfaces of the stars, the article said. The ultraviolet emissions also vary in accord with the Cepheids' pulsation periods but sharply rise after the Cepheid reaches minimum radius, as opposed to the X-ray emissions which peak just after maximum radius. The team is still studying exactly why the ultraviolet and X-ray emissions peak at such different phases of the star's pulsations.
Read the phys.org story here. Read The Astrophysical Journal article here.
Schug, Shipman to join panel for discussion of ways to enhance excellence in teaching
Schug Shipman
Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, and Barbara Shipman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of mathematics, will be among the panelists during a panel discussion session titled “Maintaining and Enhancing Excellence in Teaching at an R-1 University” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5 in College of Business Building, Room 239..
As UTA enhances its reputation as a Carnegie R-1 University, it is critical to continue setting new standards in teaching and learning, ensuring that UTA is known for advances and excellence across the board. The panelists will discuss the importance of excellence in teaching, thoughts on how UTA as a campus might continue to build on the high levels we have today, and the panelists’ thoughts about the future. The event will also, time permitting, include a moderated question and answer session with the audience.
In addition to Schug and Shipman, panelists include Mary Crow, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, College of Education; Kenneth Roemer, professor of English, College of Liberal Arts; and Teresa Taber Doughty, dean, College of Education.
Schug and Shipman were honored as 2016 Fellows of the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Schug received the UT System Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award in 2014. Shipman was inducted into the UTA Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2006 and received the UT System Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award in 2010.
Those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP for the event by March 31 here.

COS Alumni

Alumni Spotlight
Stan Jumper




When he was 8 years old, Stan Jumper saw a segment on the NBC Today show about an exploration geologist and knew right away that’s what he wanted to do when he grew up. He stuck to that plan, receiving a B.S. in Geology from Texas A&M University in Commerce, then coming to UTA, where he earned a master’s in Geology in 1978. He worked as an exploration geologist for Union Oil Co. of California and Base Enterprises, and was a vice president of exploration for Martin Exploration and exploration manager for Murexco Petroleum. He also earned an M.B.A. from SMU in 1988, and for the past 26 years he has been an executive with Lewis Energy Group of San Antonio, where presently he is executive vice president of exploration. He is a certified petroleum geologist and a member of the San Antonio and Houston Geological Societies and the Houston Geophysical Society. He’s always happy to share the wisdom he’s gained from 40 years in the industry with those just starting out. Earlier this month he visited UTA to give a talk to Earth & Environmental students and faculty about issues critical for employment in the exploration geology industry.
Birthplace: Paris, Texas
Years at UTA: 1976-78
Favorite professor: Charles Dodge, former geology professor and department chair who died in 2001.
Advice for students: “The best advice I received was from Dr. Dodge. He told me the most important thing was to take classes and do thesis work germane to your professional aspirations, graduate with your master’s in geology quickly and get to work in the industry where you can apply your education. While Dr. Dodge was a controversial figure at UTA, he had the greatest impact on my professional career and his advice and guidance were invaluable. I knew no one that cared about his students more than Dr. Dodge.”

UT Arlington Alumni Association

COS Students

Student Spotlight
Priscilla Glenn




Priscilla Glenn’s fascination with genetics started at an early age. Curious about why her brother’s eyes were blue while she, her parents and two sisters all had brown eyes, she asked her second grade teacher and got her first lesson in genetics . By the time she reached high school, it was the only subject that truly held her interest. “When it was time to pick a major in college, there was never any doubt in my mind that this was the route to go,” she said. At UTA she joined the lab of Jeff Demuth, associate professor of biology, in the spring of her freshman year and has been involved in research ever since. Glenn is also a member of the Honors College, co-president at the University Catholic Center and lead resident assistant at Vandergriff Hall. In addition, she’s a stand-out member of the UTA track and field team, where she has competed in the pole vault since her freshman year. Set to graduate in May, Glenn will start doctoral studies at the University of California at Davis in the fall, equipped with a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) to help fund her studies. The GRFP is a highly competitive award (only 2,000 recipients from a pool of over 13,000 applicants) which provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the institution).
Birthplace: Plano
Current Status: Senior
Started at UTA: Fall 2013
Major: Biology
Favorite professor:Jeff Demuth (her faculty mentor), and Corey Roelke, lecturer in biology. “Dr. Roelke is very knowledgeable about his field and about how the real world works. He is also extremely funny and even when the topic is boring, he usually has one or two stories you can’t help but laugh at.”
Where she hopes to be in 5 years: “I hope to have completed my Ph.D. at the University of California at Davis and be working as a post-doc within the field of horticulture and plant breeding.”

UTA student organizations

COS Fall 2016 Dean's List

Calendar of events

Monday, April 3
Registration for Summer and Fall 2017 terms begins

Friday, April 7
COS Annual Spring Picnic
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Central Library Mall
All students, faculty and staff are invited to join us for food, games and fun!

Friday, April 28
Resumé and Careers Interview Workshops
1:30-4:15 p.m., Geoscience Building Room 109
Undergraduate and graduate science students can receive tips and advice on writing resumés and job interviews.
Wednesday, May 3
COS Spring Faculty & Staff Meeting and Awards
3:30-5 p.m., University Center Bluebonnet South Room
All COS faculty and staff are invited to attend this meeting, where year-end awards will be presented.
Friday, May 5
Last day of classes for Spring 2017 semester
May 6, 8-12
Final exams for Spring 2017 semester
Friday, May 12
College of Science Spring 2017 Commencement ceremony
7 p.m., College Park Center. Complete details here.

Planetarium at UTA

Planetarium
The Planetarium at UTA, one of the finest facilities in the nation, is equipped with a state of the art Digistar 5 DLP Projection system. The facility hosts shows, school field trips, special events and private functions. The Fall 2016 show schedule runs now through November 27. For show schedule, tickets, reservations and more, visit The Planetarium at UT Arlington and plan your trip to the stars today!

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