The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science October 2013  
Welcome to the October 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.
College mourns passing of Asok Ray, 65, physics professor; memorial service pending  

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

November 4-9 2013 Science Week
The College of Science celebrates its students, alumni and faculty with a week of activities high-lighting their achievements and contributions. See the full schedule of events in this edition.
Monday, November 4
Registration begins for Spring 2014 semester
Monday, Nov 18
12 p.m., Library Parlor (6th floor)
Lecture Speaker Series

“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. Free.
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. See full details here.
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
Read the 2012-13 edition of Maverick Science Magazine. 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
The College of Science lost a dear friend and colleague with the death of Professor Asok Ray on October 11. The loss was particularly difficult for the Department of Physics since it came just two days after the passing of another longtime faculty member, Na’il Fazleev.
Dr. Ray, 65, died of complications from cardiac issues he had been dealing with for months. He came to UT Arlington in 1982 and spent the next 31 years making a huge impact on the department, the College and the University. He loved research but was even more passionate about his students and encouraging them in their studies and research, and taking a personal interest in their lives.
Dr. Ray was instrumental in developing the department’s doctoral program and served as the department’s graduate advisor for over 10 years. He was mentor to 39 master’s and doctoral students, including six at the time of his death. He also directed 15 post-doctoral fellows.
His research focused on electronic structures of the actinides, computational electronic structure theory of solids and surfaces, computational studies of nanostructures and clusters, and computational electron transport theory.
Dr. Ray earned a B.S. in Physics from Calcutta University, India in 1967. He received an M.S. in Physics from Oklahoma State University in 1973 and an M.S. in Mathematics from Texas Tech University in 1975. In 1977, he earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Texas Tech, where he was also an instructor, research assistant and visiting assistant professor.
In 1982 he came to UT Arlington as a visiting assistant professor. He was hired as a full-time faculty member in 1984. He was promoted to professor in 1992. Among the many honors he received during his career, Dr. Ray was given the UT Arlington Award for Distinguished Record of Research or Creative Activity in 2011.
A private burial ceremony was held October 16 at Moore Memorial Gardens in Arlington. An on-campus memorial gathering is being planned and details will be announced as soon as they are finalized. A full obituary will run on the College of Science website following the memorial.
Colleagues, friends remember physicist
Na’il Fazleev for his compassion, nobility
Na’il Fazleev will be remembered as a brilliant physicist whose research in condensed matter theory, surface physics, nanomagnetism, and positron physics earned him international acclaim. But to those close to him, he will also be remembered as a hard-working professor who cared for his colleagues and students, and a gifted musician and athlete.
Dr. Fazleev, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, died on October 9 at age 65 from complications of a stroke suffered two days earlier. A celebration of life service was held on October 11 at Moore Memorial Gardens in Arlington, followed by a reception and memorial at UT Arlington in the University Club in Davis Hall.
“Na’il was a key person in the history of our department,” said Alex Weiss, professor and chair of the UT Arlington physics department, and also a good friend and frequent collaborator of Dr. Fazleev. “He made tremendous contributions to our department in increasing the number of graduate students. He was always upbeat, always enthusiastic and always encouraging. I’ve heard from many faculty and staff telling me how much he had touched their lives, how he was a true gentleman and of how he will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Fazleev’s involvement with UT Arlington began in 1982, when he spent a year studying physics with John Fry on an International Research and Exchange Board scholarship. He returned in 1992 on a Senior Fulbright Lectureship and never left, serving as a visiting professor and associate professor. In 2004, he was hired as a full-time assistant professor, and he was promoted to associate professor in 2009.
Read more on this story here.
Biology doctoral student, graduate research assistant Chad Watkins killed in car accident
Friends and colleagues were stunned and saddened by the death of Chad Ryan Watkins, 38, a UT Arlington doctoral student and graduate research assistant in biology, who was killed in a one-vehicle accident on October 7 in Arlington.
Mr. Watkins, a Grapevine resident, began working toward a Ph.D. in biology in 2011, joining the lab of former assistant professor André Pires da Silva. He taught several classes at UT Arlington while conducting research in genomics, focusing on the anole, a small lizard found throughout the southeastern United States.
John Fondon, assistant professor of biology and a co-advisor of Mr. Watkins, described him as “independent, capable, good-natured and friendly,” and said Mr. Watkins was a “natural teacher.”
“He was passionate about science and truly loved teaching and mentoring,” Fondon said. “He was incredibly technically skilled, and very serious about science, but was also the most light-hearted and fun-loving member of the lab.”
Mr. Watkins was born on April 25, 1975 in Aberdeen, S.D. His family moved to Texas and he graduated from Grapevine High School in 1993. He attended Texas A&M University, studying biochemistry and genetics. He earned a B.S. in biology from UT Arlington in 2002 and taught science classes in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district before beginning graduate studies at UT Arlington.
In addition to being a faithful fan of Texas A&M athletics, Mr. Watkins enjoyed fossil hunting. He traveled as far as Florida in search of anole specimens for his research.
A funeral service was held October 12 at Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of North Texas or The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
Survivors include his mother, Cheryl, and stepfather, Dan Driscoll; sister, Elizabeth Driscoll; and uncles, aunts and cousins.
Mr. Watkin's family has created a website in his memory where friends can post their thoughts or stories of him. The site is
Students, faculty and alumni invited to take part in College’s Science Week 2013 lineup
The College of Science will celebrate its past, present and future from November 4-9 during Science Week 2013.
Science Week is an opportunity for the College to put a spotlight on the outstanding work of its students and faculty and to reconnect with alumni. Events will include (all are open to all unless noted):
Events will include (all are open to all unless noted):
Monday, Nov. 4
11-11:50 a.m. Trimble Hall Room 101 — Talk by Assistant Dean Ashley Purgason on “Overview of Research: What is it, how can you get involved, and how will you benefit from that experience?”
12-12:50 p.m. Life Science Room 124 — Talk by oceanographer and alumnus Dr. Robert Stewart (B.S. Physics ’63), professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, on “50 Years of Oceanography”. Free pizza lunch will be served.
3-4:30 p.m. Pickard Hall Room 313 — Dr. Ashanti Johnson, Assistant Vice Provost for faculty recruitment and Institute for Broadening Participation director, and Assistant Dean Ashley Purgason will talk with students about summer research opportunities, including funding, in Texas and nationwide. Students will also be able to sign up to receive info about IBP and research opportunities.
Tuesday, Nov. 5
2-2:50 p.m. COBA Room 147* — Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Ignacio Nuñez (B.S. Biology ’75) will conduct a mentor talk/Q&A session with Freshman Interest Group members. (*open to class members only)
Wednesday, Nov. 6
11-11:50 a.m. Trimble Hall Room 101 — Talk by Dr. Tom Windham, Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) consultant, on “Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Why you should and how you get there”.
12-12:50 p.m. Life Science Room 122 — Environmental Science Careers Panel Q&A with Stephen Brooks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Meghna Tare, UT Arlington Office of Sustainability; and a quartet of UTA alumni: Dr. Kenneth Tramm, Modern Geosciences; Susan Doerfler, Lockheed Martin; Dr. David Britton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and David Long, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
1-2 p.m. College Hall Room 106 — Health Professions Panel Q&A with UT Arlington alumni Dr. Ignacio Nuñez (B.S. Biology ’75), Dr. Hank Jacobs, D.D.S. (B.S. Biology ’82) and Dr. Jocelyn Zee (B.S. Biology ’04). The event will allow pre-med/dental students to ask questions of experienced health professionals.
4-5 p.m. Science Hall Room 106 — Talk by Dr. David R. Nygren, Distinguished Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and inventor of the time projection chamber, on “Gas-Filled Detectors: The Long-Distance Champions of Particle Physics”. Presented by the Department of Physics.
5-6:45 p.m. CPB Room 303 — Save the Night lighting assessment workshop* with Cindy Luongo Cassidy, owner of Green Earth Lighting, including walking tour of campus to critique installed lighting, followed by the Planetarium show “The November Night Sky”. (*to register for the free workshop, contact Arlington Conservation Council).
7:15-8:30 p.m. UT Arlington Planetarium — Save the Night lecture and Q&A with Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, and Cindy Luongo Cassidy, owner of Green Earth Lighting.
Thursday, Nov. 7
12:30-2 p.m. Pickard Hall Room 313 — Dr. Tom Windham, Dr. Ashanti Johnson and Dr. Ashley Purgason will talk with students about summer research opportunities, including funding, in Texas and nationwide. Students will also be able to sign up to receive information about IBP and research opportunities. Windham will discuss research and funding opportunities at the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) at Colorado State University.
2-2:50 p.m. Trimble Hall Room 110 — Talk by Assistant Dean Ashley Purgason on “Overview of Research: What is it, how can you get involved, and how will you benefit from that experience?”
3-3:50 p.m. Science Hall Room 100 — Talk by Dr. Harold McNair, a pioneer of gas chromatography and professor emeritus in Chemistry at Virginia Tech, on “55 Years of Chromatography”.
6-8 p.m. UT Arlington Planetarium* — Freshmen Interest Group dinner with College of Science Dean Pamela Jansma. (*open to FIG members only)
Saturday, Nov 9
5-7 p.m., University Club, Davis Hall* — Dinner and tribute to John Fry, physics professor emeritus. (*by invitation only)
Math department receives $623K NSF grant to aid students seeking math-based careers
Members of the SURGE team and students (from top left, clockwise): Professor Hristo Kojouharov, Associate Professor Ruth Gornet, Associate Professor Barbara Shipman, Professor Jianzhong Su, student Elizabeth Martinez, Professor Tuncay Aktosun and student Omomayowa Olawoyin.
A new $623,608 National Science Foundation S-STEM grant to the UT Arlington Mathematics Department will help undergraduates with up to $10,000 in tuition and fees as they pursue their future in teaching, research or other math-based professions.
S-STEM stands for Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The recommended funding — which will be spread over four years — is the second S-STEM grant the math department has received. The first, which came in 2008, helped 46 students toward their degrees. A majority of those had come to UT Arlington from community colleges, and some graduates have continued to pursue advanced degrees in STEM areas.
“Mathematics is a key to real-life problems everywhere, from science and engineering to business, sports or music. By supporting students’ interest in a math major we are training graduates ready to lead tomorrow’s technological advances,” said Jianzhong Su, professor and chairman of the UT Arlington mathematics department.
Read more on this story here.
ON-TRAC program receives $150K boost from NSF to help with STEM teacher training
UT Arlington has received a significant financial boost in its effort to prepare students to become university teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The University’s Organizational Network for Teaching as Research Advancement and Collaboration (ON-TRAC) program has received a three-year, $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help in its mission of building a national faculty in STEM committed to enhancing undergraduate STEM education.
ON-TRAC is a member of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), a network of 22 national research institutions committed to helping STEM graduate and postdoctoral students develop effective teaching strategies for diverse learners. ON-TRAC’s $150,000 grant came from a $5 million NSF grant to CIRTL, which the 22 member institutions share.
Kevin Schug, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, is principal investigator (PI) for the ON-TRAC program. He said the grant will fund half of the University’s ON-TRAC costs for the next three years. The other half will come from the Colleges of Science, Engineering, Education and Health Professions, and the Offices of the Provost, Research, and Graduate Studies.
Read the article here.
Dasgupta, Schug team to co-author rewrite of popular analytical chemistry textbook
Kevin Schug and Purnendu ‘Sandy’ Dasgupta with a copy of the book they co-authored with Gary Christian.
When he agreed to help a close friend rewrite an influential textbook on analytical chemistry, Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta and admits he had no idea what he was in for. He’s just glad he asked Kevin Schug to join him in the epic task.
Dasgupta, the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, wasn’t feeling up to the monumental job when his old friend and colleague Gary Christian, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, asked him to help rewrite his book, Analytical Chemistry, three years ago. But he didn’t want to turn Christian down, so he decided to ask Schug, associate professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, to help.
“I knew that this was going to take time, but I had no idea how much time it would end up consuming,” Dasgupta said. “I did not really expect Kevin to say yes. Perhaps in a way I was hoping that he would say no and then I would tell Gary no, that I wasn’t really ready to take this on. To my surprise — and to be honest, even after some subtle discouragement of how it’s going to be a lot of work, etc., — he wanted to do it!”
Read the article here.
Liu receives research grants for projects on rare-earth-free magnets, magnetic thin films
J.P. (Ping) Liu, professor of physics, recently received three new research grants. The first is a $490,000, two-year grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop rare-earth-free nano-composite magnets (manganese and bismuth-based) which will not be dependent on the expensive rare-earth elements currently used in most magnets. The second is a $300,000, two-year grant from the Department of Defense Army Research Office for research on magnetic thin films. The third is a $100,000 industrial sponsor grant for research on bulk magnetic materials.
Research led by Liu which developed a new and simple technique to make na-noscale FeCo particles with good magnetic properties was featured in the October 3 edition of the online journal
Liu was one of a select few speakers invited annually by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to give lectures at the Nagoya Institute of Technology and Osaka Prefecture University from October 1-4.
Liu also gave invited talks at recent international conferences including the 7th International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies on July 3 in Singapore; the 8th Pacific Rim International Conference on Advanced Materials and Processing on August 8 in Waikoloa, Hawaii; and the International Conference on Advanced Materials on September 24 in Qingdao, China.
Read the article here.
UTA, MIT scientists successful in imaging cellular processes in silicon environment
A team of scientists from UT Arlington and MIT has figured out how to quantitatively observe cellular processes taking place on so-called “lab on a chip” devices in a silicon environment.
The new technology will be useful in drug development as well as disease diagnosis, researchers say.
In a paper published in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports, the team said it overcame past limitations on quantitative microscopy through an opaque media by working with a new combination of near infrared light and a technique called quantitative phase imaging. Quantitative phase imaging is about a decade old. It uses shifts in phases of light, not staining techniques, to aid specimen imaging - earning the term “label-free.”
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of quantitative phase imaging of cellular structure and function in silicon environment,” said Samarendra Mohanty, assistant professor of physics and head of the Biophysics and Physiology Laboratory at UT Arlington. Mohanty is corresponding author on the paper.
Read more on this story here.
Shimadzu instrumentation worth millions fuels transformative year for UTA research
Students at UT Arlington now have access to cutting-edge Shimadzu instrumentation.
UT Arlington offers students a new level of experience with the most sophisticated scientific instrumentation this fall with the opening of two new teaching laboratories as part of the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies.
The newly-opened labs and the Center for Bio-Molecular Imaging, which will open November 15, are part of a $25.2 million investment in research. The Institute gives UT Arlington students and faculty six diverse centers of excellence in which to share instrumentation and innovations across disciplines. The wealth of technology also puts UT Arlington in a unique position to support research and development across the U.S. and attract outside investments.
With the new labs, UT Arlington becomes home to the widest range of instruments from worldwide technology leader Shimadzu Corp. in the United States.
Read more on this story here.
Mavericks in Math brings area elementary school girls to campus to learn about math
Over 100 fifth and sixth grade girls from Arlington schools attended the Mavericks in Math event on October 19.
The Department of Mathematics hosted a day of Mavericks in Math for over 100 fifth and sixth grade girls from Arlington elementary schools on October 19 at Pickard Hall.
The event had three goals: encouraging the study of mathematics among young women, especially minorities and those from low-income families; providing an enriching and encouraging environment for promoting positive attitudes toward mathematics; and continuing to develop a strong connection between UT Arlington and Arlington ISD students and math teachers.
“The girls had a great day of engaging mathematics activities and encouragement to continue studying mathematics, led by UT Arlington math students,” said event organizer Theresa Jorgensen, associate professor of math. “Our goal was to encourage the study of mathematics among young women, especially those from economically disadvantaged families. Motivating girls at this young age can bear long-lasting fruit as they select their academic paths through middle school and high school.”
The day included workshops and games, and a visit to the Planetarium for a special panel discussion where the girls asked questions of four women with varied backgrounds who use mathematics in their careers, including Minerva Cordero, College of Science associate dean and professor of mathematics; Melinda Au, system engineer for Lockheed Martin and a Ph.D. student in mathematics; Wendy Okolo, a Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering; and Iris Alvarado, a Ph.D. student in mathematics who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Over 70 mathematics undergraduate and graduate student volunteers from UT Arlington helped with the event. The girls who attended were a highly diverse group: approximately 50 percent were Hispanic and 30 percent were African-American. The free event was held with funding support from the Mathematical Association of America Tensor Program for Women and Mathematics, the National Science Foundation, the Association for Women in Mathematics, and the UT Arlington College of Science.
UT Arlington physics entertains, educates kids at 10th Aviation & Transportation Expo
UT Arlington team members included, front row from left, Robert Bruntz, Nilakshi Veerabathina, Andrea Marlar, Sarah Moorman; back row from left, Jeremiah Browne, Kyle van Zuiden, Ashley Herbst, Elijah Murphy and Timothy Hoffman. Not pictured are Monica Hernandez and Benjamin Rodriguez.
The UT Arlington physics team educated and entertained area students at the 10th annual Aviation & Transportation Career Expo on October 4.
The event, sponsored by DFW International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration, American Airlines and Tarrant County College, was held at the C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth and the American Airlines hangar at DFW Airport. More than 3,000 students and about 1,000 teachers and administrators from 60 North Texas schools learned about aviation, transportation and science in general at the Expo.
More than 50 organizations represented the industry, government and academia. UT Arlington has been involved in the Expo since the first event 10 years ago. In that time, UT Arlington has performed experiments and helped to educate more than 30,000 K-12 schoolchildren at the event. This year’s team, led by Nilaksi Veerabathina, senior lecturer in physics, included Robert Bruntz, physics staff, and undergraduate physics students and Society of Physics Students members Andrea Marlar, Elijah Murphy, Timothy Hoffman, Ashley Herbst, Sarah Moorman, Monica Hernandez, Jeremiah Browne, Kyle van Zuiden and Benjamin Rodriguez.
Physics activities included demonstrations associated with liquid nitrogen; mechanical electrical generators, and microwave oven to create spark discharges and mild shocks; wheels and rotating stools for moment of inertia and gyros; and squeaky magnets to explain electric and magnetic field. Students and teachers were also presented informational materials from the Department of Physics, the College of Science, the UT Arlington Planetarium and University admissions office.
For more about the event, click here.
Cuntz secures $15K NASA grant to update Planetarium’s show on SOFIA observatory
The Planetarium at UT Arlington has been awarded a $15,000 grant by the NASA Education & Public Outreach program to fund an updated version of the Planetarium’s show about the Strato-spheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA.
SOFIA is an airborne observatory that will complement the Hubble, Spitzer and other space telescopes as well as major Earth-based telescopes. It is a highly modified Boeing 747SP (Special Performance) carrying a 100-inch effective-diameter, infrared telescope capable of making observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest ground-based telescopes. SOFIA makes observations at altitudes between 39,000-45,000 feet and captures images in the infrared spectrum between 0.3 and 1,600 microns. SOFIA is a joint program between NASA and the German Aerospace Center.
Since the debut of the Planetarium’s original show, SOFIA has obtained many additional findings, which the new show will include. Manfred Cuntz, professor of physics, was principal investigator of the proposal which secured the new funding. Levent Gurdemir, Planetarium director, will develop the new content.
“This funding for updating UTA’s Planetarium show on the SOFIA space mission will make a major contribution to the UTA Astronomy program’s science education outreach activities through the Planetarium,” said Alex Weiss, physics department chair.
Learn more about SOFIA here. For more on the Planetarium at UT Arlington, click here.