The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science August 2013  
Welcome to the August 2013 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 If possible, please include a high-resolution headshot photo of those mentioned in your items.
Purgason plans to boost undergrad student research in new role as COS assistant dean  

For Alumni

UT Arlington Alumni
You can help the next generation of Mavericks

Andrew Baum

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 or leave a message for him at 817-272-1497.

Memorial fund created to honor Truman Black

Andrew Baum
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

Monday, September 2
Labor Day holiday
Wednesday, Sept 4 12 p.m.,
Library Parlor (6th floor) Lecture Speaker Series

"New Frontiers in Brain Cancer Research" by Luis F. Parada, professor and chair of the Department of Developmental Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Free.
Friday, Sept 6 3 p.m., CRB 114 Lecture Speaker Series
"Keeping Cool With HFCs: Science Behind Their Present and Future Use" by A.R. Ravishankara, Director of NOAA Boulder Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Free.
Wednesday, Oct 30
Last day to drop classes for Fall 2013 semester
November 4-8 2013 Science Week
The College of Science celebrates its students, alumni and faculty with a week of activities highlighting their achievements and contributions. Details coming soon.
Monday, November 4
Registration begins for Spring 2014 semester
Thursday, Nov 28-29
Thanksgiving holidays
Wednesday, Dec 4
Last day of classes for Fall 2013 semester
December 7, 9-13
Final exams for Fall 2013 semester
College of Science Fall 2013 Commencement Sunday, Dec 15 7 p.m., College Park Center
The College of Science and School of Architecture will have a joint graduation ceremony. More information coming soon.
The Planetarium at
UT Arlington

Have you been to a show at the planetarium lately? 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 Fall 2013 schedule begins September 5 and runs through December 1.
See the full schedule here.
Maverick Science
New edition of Maverick Science magazine
The 2012-13 edition of Maverick Science Magazine has arrived! Copies are available in the Dean's Office (Life Sciences Room 206) and in LS 112. The magazine has the latest College of Science news and features about faculty, students and alumni. The website version is online here.
Follow the COS on Facebook and Twitter
Facebook LogoKeep up with the College of Science on the popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter, and stay informed Twitter Logoabout what's going on and upcoming events in the College of Science.
Maverick Science
E-Newsletter Archives
Ashley Purgason definitely won't need any time getting used to her new surroundings.
That's because Purgason, who started her tenure as College of Science Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Research and Student Advancement on August 12, is no stranger to UT Arlington. As a student, she earned a B.S. in Biology with Honors in 2006 and a M.S. in Biology in 2007. She was also a member of the UT Arlington Lady Mavs basketball team, where she was named an Academic All-American in 2004. While working on her master's degree, she also served as director of Women's Basketball Operations.
In her role as assistant dean, her main responsibility will be to ensure that research becomes an essential component of the undergraduate experience in the College.
To accomplish this goal, Purgason will identify best practices for undergraduates, including: coordinating research threads in laboratory courses for majors; advising students on research opportunities, fellowships and programs; seeking funding opportunities for undergraduate research; and encouraging undergraduate participation in conferences. Purgason will also facilitate student success in the core curriculum and teach one course per semester in the role of assistant professor of practice.
Read more on this story here.
Tanizaki receives 2013 UT System Board of Regents award for teaching excellence
Seiichiro Tanizaki, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, is one of nine UT Arlington faculty members to receive a prestigious award for teaching excellence from the UT System Board of Regents.
In all, 63 educators from across the UT System were recognized this year. The honors come with a $25,000 cash award and recognize faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The professors were recognized August 21 during a ceremony in Austin.
"I am very honored to be selected for this award and appreciate the support of the Chemistry Department and the College of Science," Tanizaki said. "I am also thankful for the wonderful students here at UTA—they inspire me. This is very rewarding. Though teaching is hard work, it is also incredibly engaging and exciting. I learn something new about chemistry and about teaching every semester. Receiving this award encourages me to continue developing my teaching skills."
The honor is the second major award for Tanizaki in two years for his work in the classroom. In 2012, he received the UT Arlington Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2007, he was recognized as Favorite Faculty Member by Freshman Leaders on Campus (FLOC), a campus-wide organization.
Read more on this story here.
Hurdle selected for prestigious National Institutes of Health scientific review panel
The National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review has chosen UT Arlington assistant biology professor Julian Hurdle to serve on a prestigious study section, one of the bodies that reviews grant applications, makes recommendations and surveys the status of research in a particular field.
Hurdle, a specialist in molecular microbiology and bacterial infectious diseases, will serve on the Drug Discovery and Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance Study Section through June 30, 2017.
"Dr. Hurdle is an accomplished researcher who is working hard to build a better understanding of the role bacteria play in disease," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. "We are pleased to see him recognized by his colleagues and take on this active role in helping to determine where important research funding flows."
Hurdle joined the UT Arlington College of Science in 2010 and, in 2011, he was awarded a five-year, $1.9 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Read more on this story here.
Armstrong selected to 2013 Class of Fellows by The American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society has named chemistry and biochemistry professor Daniel Armstrong to its 2013 Class of Fellows, recognizing his innovative achievements in the lab as well as his effective, engaging outreach projects.
Armstrong, UT Arlington's Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, has authored more than 550 publications, including 29 book chapters and one book, and holds 20 U.S. patents. His development of new methods for separating chemical mixtures in solution or as gas has led to advances in realms of science essential to pharmaceutical drug development and disease identification and treatment. For example, he is considered the "father" of pseudophase separations, a type of liquid chromatography that provides higher selectivity for substances with lower cost and less volatility and toxicity than previous analytical methods.
"Dr. Armstrong's incredible body of work represents the epitome of the research excellence and trailblazing dedication we encourage our students and professors to aspire to," UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said. "His recognition as a fellow is exceedingly well-deserved."
Read more on this story here.
Hu honored for work in geoscience with Geological Society of America fellowship
Qinhong "Max" Hu, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences in the UT Arlington College of Science, has been named a fellow by The Geological Society of America, an honor reserved for scientists making distinguished contributions to the geosciences.
Hu has been at UT Arlington since 2008. Prior to that, he worked at the U.S Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research specialty is in describing and exploring the processes by which fluids (air, water and hydrocarbon) move through porous and fractured porous media in the Earth, such as tight rock formations.
"Dr. Hu's world-class efforts to advance earth science are evidenced by an impressive history of publications, presentations, funding and professional honors," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. "As a newly-named fellow, he will undoubtedly continue these contributions in the years to come."
Read more on this story here.
Study finds feelings of superiority linked to negative attitudes toward Latino immigrants
Feelings of entitlement and superiority that go beyond patriotism and love of country may be a key predictor for Americans who will feel or behave negatively toward undocumented Latino immigrants, according to a study by a UT Arlington research team.
The researchers, including associate professor of psychology Jared Kenworthy, Ph.D. program graduate Patricia Lyons and Ph.D. candidate Lauren Coursey, looked at those enhanced feelings of superiority - referred to as group-level narcissism - along with a factor called national in-group identification in a new work to be published in the August issue of the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science. National in-group identification happens when a person's individual identity is strongly tied to and dependent on their membership in a group, like being an American.
Previous research has found that strong in-group identity is not necessarily a predictor of negative attitudes toward other groups. The UT Arlington team found, however, that attitudes changed when a strong in-group identity was paired with an average or above average group narcissism. Then, negative attitudes toward undocumented Latino immigrants were more likely.
"When you look at the rhetoric surrounding undocumented, Latino immigrants in the United States, the perspectives vary widely - from those who characterize undocumented immigrants as criminals to those who support expanding full citizenship rights," Lyons said. "We were interested in understanding how and why attitudes varied so widely from a psychological perspective. The group narcissism measure gave us a way to understand these attitudes."
Read more on this story here.
UTA research finds potential well water contaminants highest near natural gas sites
Brian Fontenot, left, worked with Kevin Schug and a team of researchers to analyze samples from 100 private water wells.
A new study of 100 private water wells in and near the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic and selenium closest to natural gas extraction sites, according to a team of researchers that was led by UT Arlington associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Kevin Schug.
The results of the North Texas well study were published online by the journal Environmental Science & Technology on July 25. The peer-reviewed paper focuses on the presence of metals such as arsenic, barium, selenium and strontium in water samples. Many of these heavy metals occur naturally at low levels in groundwater, but disturbances from natural gas extraction activities could cause them to occur at elevated levels.
"This study alone can't conclusively identify the exact causes of elevated levels of contaminants in areas near natural gas drilling, but it does provide a powerful argument for continued research," said Brian Fontenot, a UT Arlington graduate with a doctorate in quantitative biology and lead author on the new paper.
Read more on this story here.
Interdisciplinary studies student Henry receives Hamilton Planetarium scholarship
Trevor Henry has worked at The Planetarium at UT Arlington since 2007.
Trevor Henry, a student presenter/educator at The Planetarium at UT Arlington and a senior in interdisciplinary studies (biology, geology and teaching) has been selected to receive a Hamilton Planetarium Scholarship.
The scholarship is the second of the year awarded by the Hamilton Planetarium Scholarship Fund, Inc. In addition to a cash award which is renewable on an annual basis, the scholarship entitles Henry to memberships in the international and regional planetarium associations.
"I was really just so thankful and shocked they chose me for the scholarship," Henry said.
Planetarium director Levent Gurdemir said in addition to being great with the school-age students who frequently visit the Planetarium, Henry has thorough knowledge of the facility's Digistar 5 technology, having completed technician training last year.
"Trevor is an enthusiastic presenter, educator and technician," Gurdemir said. "He is doing fabulous work at the Planetarium and is inspiring young kids about science."
For more on the Planetarium at UT Arlington, click here.
EES grad student Myers helps company earn statewide award for pollution prevention
Aaron Myers, left, was one of a group of Associated Air Center employees who received congratulations from Gov. Rick Perry for winning a 2013 TCEQ award.
Aaron Myers, an environmental analyst with Associated Air Center in Dallas and a master's student in Earth and Environmental Science at UT Arlington, helped Associated Air win a 2013 Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
The award, for Pollution Prevention, was given to Associated Air for creating a safe alternative to hexavalent chromium, which is used to meet rigorous requirements for corrosion protection. Hexavalent chromium, typically found as chromate salts within surface coatings or conversion coatings, is highly toxic.
The facility team of which Myers is a part came up with a way to use an alkaline detergent wash and solgel conversion coating instead of the "alodine" (chromate conversion) coating. The team was able to further reduce the amount of chromate primer used by applying it only to the structural metal parts which require it, and switching to a more environmentally friendly primer for the parts which do not.
"This was a team effort and there are many cogs in the wheel," Myers said. "If one cog fails, the whole project fails. It really requires all personnel on board to implement a sustainability or continuous improvement project. No one can do it by himself."
Watch a video about the team's efforts here.
Medical student and biology alumnus Alam earns pair of fellowships for his research
Ali Alam a second-year medical student at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine who earned a B.S. in Biology from UT Arlington in 2012, received two fellowship awards over the summer for his research into the most common and malignant form of brain tumor, glioblastoma.
The first award is the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship. Alam was one of only 20 students selected from the United States and Canada and was the first Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine student to win the award. The fellowship award is for $2,500.
The second award is the Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, given by Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society. Alam was first nominated by his chapter as the lone entrant from his medical school, then was selected by a national committee from Alpha Omega Alpha. Fewer than 60 people are selected each year. The fellowship award is for $5,000.
Alam also has co-authored several papers, including one from last summer about a rare type of brain tumor, subependymoma, that he wrote with mentor Amy Heimberger, an associate professor at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. That work has been submitted and is under review for publication in PLoS ONE. Alam presented research from that article in April at the 2013 American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.
Provost's Fall 2013 Lecture Speaker Series features variety of science-related topics
The UT Arlington Office of the Provost will host a Lecture Speaker Series bringing experts in a variety of science fields to campus this Fall. The lectures are free and open to UT Arlington faculty, staff and students. The schedule includes:
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 12-1 p.m. — "New Frontiers in Brain Cancer Research" by Luis F. Parada, the Diana K. & Richard C. Straus Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Library Parlor (6th Floor).
Friday, Sept. 6, 3-4 p.m. — "Keeping Cool With HFCs: Science Behind Their Present and Future Use" by A.R. Ravishankara, NOAA Senior Scientist and Director of NOAA Boulder Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. CRB Room 114.
Friday, Oct. 18, 3-4 p.m. — "Fuel from Water: The Light-Driven Generation of Hydrogen" by Richard Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rochester. CRB Room 114.
Monday, Nov. 18, 12-1 p.m. — "Psychology and Medicine: Translational Research on Stress, Behavior and Disease" by Nancy E. Adler, the Lisa & John Pritzker Professor of Psychology, Director of the Center for Health and Community at The University of California, San Francisco. Library Parlor (6th Floor).

Newest edition of Maverick Science magazine is online

     The electronic version of the 2012-13 Maverick Science magazine, the official magazine of the College of Science, is now online! The magazine includes highlights from the past year and features in-depth looks at some of the College's outstanding faculty, students and alumni.
     Print copies of the magazine can be picked up in the Dean's office (Life Science Building Room 206) or in Life Science Building Room 112.
     The web version of the magazine is online here. It also contains links to past issues of Maverick Science.