The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science September 2013  
Welcome to the September 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.
Team successfully tests model to improve treatment of reactions to medical implants  

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

Friday, October 18 3 p.m., CRB 114 Lecture Speaker Series
“Fuel from Water: The Light-Driven Generation of Hydrogen” by Richard Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rochester. Free. Refreshments will be served in CRB 112 starting at 2:45 p.m..
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 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
Liping Tang, left, and Jianzhong Su are working together on a way to predict foreign-body reactions in medical settings.
A team from the UT Arlington has used mathematical modeling to develop a computer simulation they hope will one day improve the treatment of dangerous reactions to medical implants such as stents, catheters and artificial joints.
The work resulted from a National Institutes of Health-funded collaboration by research groups headed by Jianzhong Su, chairman and professor in the College of Science’s mathematics department and Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering in the College of Engineering.
Results from their computational model of foreign-body reactions to implants were consistent with biological models in lab tests. A new paper describing the results has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Immunological Methods.
“Foreign body reactions are very complex, involving many cells, proteins and other biological elements. The experimental measurement data are really scarce to capture the entire process,” Su said. “We overcome this difficulty by learning from what happens in wound healing, a similar biological process.”
Read more on this story here.
Research reveals wetlands could be critical in revitalizing streams polluted by acid rain
A team of UTA biologists analyzed water samples in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Photo courtesy of Sophia Passy.
A team of UT Arlington biologists working with the U.S. Geological Survey has found that water-shed wetlands can serve as a natural source for the improvement of streams polluted by acid rain.
The group, led by associate professor of biology Sophia Passy, also contends that recent increases in the level of organic matter in surface waters in regions of North America and Europe - also known as "brownification" - holds benefits for aquatic ecosystems.
The research team's work appeared in the September issue of the journal Global Change Biology.
The team analyzed water samples collected in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, a six million acre region in northeastern New York. The Adirondacks have been adversely affected by atmospheric acid deposition with subsequent acidification of streams, lakes and soils. Acidification occurs when environments become contaminated with inorganic acids, such as sulfuric and nitric acid, from industrial pollution of the atmosphere.
Inorganic acids from the rain filter through poorly buffered watersheds, releasing toxic aluminum from the soil into the waterways. The overall result is loss of biological diversity, including algae, invertebrates, fish, and amphibians.
Read more on this story here.
Undergraduate student Gurak wins $50K EPA fellowship for his work in ‘green chemistry’
UT Arlington junior John Gurak was recognized by the EPA for his work in the area of “green chemistry.”
A UT Arlington junior who found a way to blend a passion for chemistry with ideals of environmental sustainability is getting help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to further his education and his research.
John Gurak is one of fewer than 40 scholars nationwide to be awarded the EPA National Center for Environmental Research’s two-year fellowship for undergraduate study this year. It provides $50,000 over two years to cover costs of tuition, books, lab supplies, travel to conferences and other expenses.
Gurak said he’s thankful for the fellowship, which recognizes his work in UT Arlington assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry Frank Foss’ lab. He will also do an internship at an EPA lab in summer 2014.
“I have always thought that if you do something you should do it the best that you can,” Gurak said. “If we can do chemistry and make it more sustainable, we should.”
Read more on this story here.
Kroll part of team building advanced new computer-based ‘genome’ for materials
A multidisciplinary team of UT Arlington scientists and engineers is assembling a computer-based “genome” that will aid in the design and development of advanced new materials that are super hard, can resist extreme heat, are highly durable and are less expensive through a new, $640,000 National Science Foundation grant.
The work is funded through a 2011 White House “Materials Genome Initiative” intended to cut in half the time it takes to develop novel materials that can fuel advanced manufacturing. The effort has been compared with the national Human Genome Project launched in the 1980s.
Stathis Meletis, chair and professor of the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, is leading the interdisciplinary team, which includes Peter Kroll, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Jiechao Jiang, a research associate professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department.
The UT Arlington team will focus on the areas of extremely hard and high-temperature resistant coatings for advanced materials using current and new methods at the atomic and nanoscale level to achieve the project’s objectives.
Read more on this story here.
Nagoshi joins UTA faculty as Psychology/School of Social Work associate professor
The Department of Psychology welcomes a new faculty member to its ranks this semester with the addition of associate professor Craig Nagoshi. Nagoshi holds a joint appointment with the College of Science and the School of Social Work.
Nagoshi arrives at UT Arlington after 24 years as an assistant and associate professor in the Social Psychology program in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. Prior to that he worked two years as a staff fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Addiction Research Center in Baltimore, where he researched the psychological characteristics of illegal drug users and was involved in pharmacological studies of intravenous cocaine responses. His postdoctoral training at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado in Boulder involved researching the genetic/environmental bases of responses to alcohol, as well as the genetic/environmental bases of cognitive abilities.
He received his Ph.D. in Human Variability Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1984. His recent research interests have focused on the nature of gender identity and how this relates to the bases of gender-based prejudice, which can act to define and disempower women, in general, and also lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual individuals. He also continues his longstanding interest in the psychological and social bases of alcohol and other drug use and abuse. Another continuing line of research has focused on religiosity/spirituality’s relationships with psychological and social functioning.
Nagoshi is an author of 103 peer-reviewed research articles, six book chapters, and eight reviews/commentaries. In October, Springer will release the book Gender and Sexual Identity: Transcending Feminist and Queer Theory, co-authored with Julie Nagoshi and Stephan/ie Brzuzy.
Levine discusses why people’s brains are to blame for repeatedly playing the lottery
Daniel Levine, professor of psychology, was quoted in a story in the online edition of the science magazine Nautilus about why so many people play the lottery. The article says that people’s brains are unable to calculate the complex odds involved in playing the lottery.
The article claims that people are blind to the tremendous mathematical odds against winning and thus fall prey to marketing. Seeing advertisements about winning the lottery make people fantasize about how they would spend the money. This activates the same parts of the brain that would become active if we actually won.
In the article, Levine notes that commercials about the lottery “hit home because fantasizing about winning the lottery activates the same parts of our brains that would be activated if we actually won. Picturing ourselves in a limo activates visual areas of the brain, while imagining the clink of champagne glasses lights up the auditory cortex. These areas have links to the brain regions involved in emotion, decision-making, and motivation.
“The motivational areas of the brain can be heavily influenced by vivid day-dreaming,” Levine says. “Just like seeing something can activate the emotional system, so can envisioning it.”
Read the article here.
Schug co-authors article explaining team’s research into effects of natural gas drilling
Kevin Schug, associate professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, co-authored an article with UT Arlington graduate Brian Fontenot and visiting scholar Zacariah Hildenbrand, in the Sept. 11 edition of the online journal Oil & Gas Monitor about their research into the potential effects of natural gas extraction on water quality in the Barnett Shale.
The article, “Elevated Heavy Metals Near Natural Gas Extraction Sites in the Barnett Shale”, discusses their recently peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science and Technology, an American Chemical Society journal. The study sampled 100 private water wells to assess the potential effects of natural gas extraction on water quality in the Barnett Shale.
“Our analyses revealed levels of heavy metals above the Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) in private well water samples located near natural gas extraction sites,” the co-authors state in the article.
“Our data suggest there may be a correlation between natural gas extraction and elevated levels of heavy metals and alcohols in private well water since elevated compounds occur on average less than 2 kilometers away from natural gas wells and these compounds were historically at low levels,” the article says.
Read the article here.
Gough discusses research into effects of warming in Arctic on migratory songbirds
Laura Gough, associate professor of biology, is quoted in an article in the September-October edition of Audubon magazine titled “Arctic researchers race to uncover effects of global warming on songbirds”.
The article discusses the work being done by Gough and her colleagues, who are studying whether climate change is causing shifts between when Alaska’s migratory songbirds arrive and breed and when the insects that the birds and their chicks rely on are abundant.
“The migratory songbird picture is just a big hole in our knowledge," Gough says in the article. “We just don't understand what's happening.” Gough is a co-investigator of the project.
“Because the birds are migratory, if they arrive on the tundra and bugs are peaking at different times, or there are too many storms and they can’t breed, and it happens several years in a row, it’s going to affect their population numbers farther south,” Gough also states.
Read the article here.
Castoe talks on WBAP radio of how genetic research with snakes could benefit humans
Todd Castoe, assistant professor in biology, was interviewed by WBAP radio during an on-campus broadcast on August 30 about his research in herpetology, genetics and genome biology.
“All vertebrates have a similar set of genes that we share with them, which is why we can do research on monkeys or on mice or whatever, and say something about human biology,” Castoe said during the interview. “The thing that’s amazed us and confused us as scientists, and has us very excited, is that snakes can do all these things that no other vertebrate can do.”
Castoe said that among other things, snakes can shrink their internal organs during fasting, then have them return to normal when they eat. He said scientists are trying to understand how snakes can use essentially the same set of genes as other vertebrates in an entirely different way.
“If we can figure that out, maybe we can tweak the way human genes behave to basically be able to redo or remake these crazy changes that we see in snakes for the betterment of human health. … We’re trying to understand how snakes can turn certain genes on and off, and in what sequence and what organs, that we can learn from. If we can do these things with drugs, for example, in humans then maybe we can really help the heart regenerate itself after a heart attack, or maybe we can help people who have had liver failure to essentially grow new liver tissue.”
EES grad student Myers helps company win national award for pollution prevention
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 the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) for efforts in reducing and, in some cases, eliminating hexavalent chromium from its processes.
Myers was one of four Associated Air employees on hand to accept the MVP2 award on September 18 in Washington D.C. In May, AAC won the Texas Environmental Excellence Award (TEEA) for the same project. The City of Dallas will also recognize Associated Air during the Blue Thumb Awards later this year. This means that in one year, Associated Air will be recognized for its environmental initiatives from local, state, and national organizations.
The award 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.

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.