The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science Feb/March 2014  
Welcome to the Feb/March 2014 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.
Deng receives $534K NASA grant to study how space weather affects electrodynamics  

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

Wednesday, March 26
First day to register for Fall 2014 classes
ACES Symposium Wednesday, March 26
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.
Friday, March 28
Last day to drop classes for Spring 2014 semester
Friday, May 2
Last day of classes for Spring 2014 semester
May 3, 5-9
Final exams for Spring 2014 semester

Sunday, May 11
7 p.m. COS Spring 2014 Commencement
College Park Center

The College of Science and School of Architecture will have a joint graduation ceremony. Complete information 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 Spring 2014 show schedule is in effect through June 1. See the full schedule here.
Maverick Science
Keep up with the COS with Maverick Science
Read the 2012-13 edition of Maverick Science Magazine for the latest faculty, student and alumni news. Copies are available in the Dean’s Office (Life Sciences Room 206) and in LS 112. The next edition of Maverick Science is coming soon! Read the online version here.
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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
Yue Deng
Yue Deng, an assistant professor of physics, will receive $534,000 from NASA to study how space weather events such as solar flares drive vertical winds to affect electrodynamics in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Deng’s work could one day help operators of near-earth satellites, air traffic radar and electricity grids know how to best safeguard their systems from bursts of radiation and energetic particles. The research is funded through NASA’s Living With a Star initiative, which supports physics to further knowledge about the sun, its relationship to the Earth and its effect on life and society.
“Almost all the influence of space weather on our society is affected by dynamics in the upper atmosphere. Neutral wind in the upper atmosphere is very difficult to model and measure but it is still one of the most important parameters to consider,” said Deng, who joined the College of Science in 2009.
Read more on this story here.
Armstrong honored by American Chemical Society for his work in separations science
UT Arlington professor Daniel W. Armstrong will receive his second national award from the American Chemical Society in March, honoring his landmark contributions to the field of analytical separations.
The ACS Award in Separations Science and Technology, which is sponsored by Waters Corp., recognizes “the development of novel applications with major impacts and/or the practical implementations of modern advancements in the field of separation science and technology.” It was presented during the ACS national conference in Dallas on March 17.
“Throughout his career, Dr. Armstrong has worked to increase our understanding of the world around us through development of new instruments and analytical methods,” said Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs. "His international reputation has elevated the College of Science and the University overall, and we are pleased to see this recognition of his contributions.”
Armstrong, who holds the UT Arlington Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, joined UT Arlington in 2006. Throughout his career, he has developed more than 30 different types of columns used in chromatography, the science of separating molecules in gas or liquid for analysis.
Read more on this story here.
EES receives record cash pledge from Irving oil and gas company for master’s studies
Master’s studies in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science are receiving a significant boost with the donation of $300,000 by Pioneer Natural Resources Co., an Irving-based oil and gas firm.
The donation is the largest cash gift in the history of the department and will be disbursed in three annual payments of $100,000. The first payment was made in January.
“This is wonderful news for the department and for our master’s students in particular,” said Asish Basu, professor and chair of the EES department. “This generous donation will allow us to continue to improve our graduate program in the form of scholarships and research funding for master’s students. I would like to thank Pioneer Natural Resources for their generous donation and their commitment to science education in the North Texas area.”
Read more on this story here.
Chang receives $100K grant to develop a more tolerant inoculant for soybean crops
Woo-Suk Chang, an assistant professor in biology, will receive $100,000 from Novozymes Biologicals, Inc., a biotechnology company, to study symbiotic nitrogen fixation and discover a way to deliver nitrogen through a better inoculant in crops (i.e., soy-beans) which is more efficient and better for the environment.
Novozymes, with headquarters in Denmark, is the largest industrial enzyme production company in the world. Chang’s research has been supported by the company since 2009. The newest round of support will fund $100,000 for two-years starting in March 2014.
“The project’s goal is to develop a more tolerant inoculant,” Chang said. “Hopefully we will find a more environmentally friendly and tolerant inoculant so that farmers can use it more effectively.”
Read more on this story here.
Fondon co-authors study of colors in ‘fancy pigeons’ that reveals mutation hotspot
A research team led by John ‘Trey’ Fondon, left, recently published a study on gene mutation in pigeons.
A UT Arlington team exploring pigeons as a model for vertebrate evolution has uncovered that mutations and interactions among just three genes create a wide range of color variations. One of those genes, they also found, may be an example of a “slippery gene” more prone to evolutionary changes.
John “Trey” Fondon, an assistant professor of biology, is co-author of a study that begins to unravel the molecular basis for the color palette of domestic pigeons breeds known as “fancy pigeons.” Due mostly to organized breeding in Europe and Asia, there are hundreds of types of pigeons that have evolved to include numerous color variations on the blue/black model, including shades of gray, red, and brown.
The genes in the study have previously been linked to skin and hair color variation among people, as well as the development of melanoma.
“The pigeon really has been neglected as a model system, and we are changing that,” Fondon said, adding that such studies can help in an overall understanding of vertebrate systems. “The things that shape diversity also shape disease.”
Read more on this story here.
UT Arlington chemists to test groundwater in 4 counties for presence of contaminants
The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District is seeking water well owners in Parker, Wise, Montague and Hood counties to participate in a groundwater quality study in partnership with UT Arlington researchers through a private firm.
The quality study will provide new data to the district through the testing of over 30 water quality parameters. Study organizers are hoping to gather at least 100 samples in the area.
The private firm collecting the samples, Inform Environmental LLC, is owned by Zacariah Hildenbrand, a UT Arlington research associate. Hildenbrand and Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry at UT Arlington, performed a similar study in 2011. The results, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and co-authored by Hildenbrand and Schug, characterized the water quality near natural gas extraction sites.
UT Arlington and Inform Environmental have developed a range of testing methods to analyze the samples for specific contaminants such as arsenic and may identify elements commonly used in unconventional drilling.
Read the article here.
Research team proves that effect of mass can be measured and matters at nanoscale
A team of UT Arlington researchers has proven that the effect of mass is important, can be measured and has a significant impact on any calculations and measurements at the sub-micrometer scale.
The findings help to better understand movement of nano-sized objects in fluid environments that can be characterized by a low Reynolds number, which often occurs in biological systems. The unconventional results are consistent with Newton’s Second Law of Motion, a well-established law of physics, and imply that mass should be included in the dynamic model of these nano-systems. The most widely accepted models omit mass at that scale.
Alan Bowling, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, collaborated with Samarendra Mohanty, an assistant professor of physics, and doctoral students Mahdi Haghshenas-Jaryani, Bryan Black and Sarvenaz Ghaffari, as well as graduate student James Drake to make the discovery.
Read more on this story here.
Rodrigues writes about lost microbes and Amazon’s ability to capture carbon dioxide
Jorge Rodrigues, assistant professor of biology, wrote an article for the January 10 edition of The Conversation, a British website which features analysis, news, research and commentary. Rodrigues’ article focused on his research in the Amazon rainforest.
In the article, titled “Lost microbes are eroding Amazon’s ability to capture carbon”, Rodrigues talks about his research in the Amazon rainforest. “Despite its great plant and animal diversity, it is one of the least understood ecosystems for its microbial diversity,” Rodrigues says in the article. “There are 100 million microorganisms in a single gram of forest soil, making them the largest repository in the world of novel genes.”
Rodrigues cites work he co-authored which was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in which “we found a surprisingly large shift in microbial community composition when rainforests became pastures, confirming earlier studies. This may have major implication on how nutrients are cycled in the new ecosystem.”
Read the article here.
Gatchel co-authors article on chronic pain management for American Psychologist issue
Robert Gatchel, a distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health and Chronic Illnesses, co-authored one of nine articles for the February–March 2014 “Chronic Pain and Psychology” special issue of the American Psychological Association publication American Psychologist.
The article Gatchel co-authored is titled “Interdisciplinary Chronic Pain Management: Past, Present, and Future”. An APA study found that chronic pain relief is more likely when psychological science is involved. The article reviews the history of pain management, discusses major components of a “true” interdisciplinary pain management program, focuses on evidence-based outcomes of these programs, notes the barriers which have blocked wider use of such programs, and discusses future directions in interdisciplinary pain management.
Read the article here.
Russian grant to aid ’big data’ development based on computing tool co-designed by De
Computer tools that Kaushik De, professor of physics, co-designed for use by the Large Hadron Collider project will be the basis for a new $3.4 million "mega-grant" project, various news outlets reported on February 20. reported that the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has awarded a $3.4 million “mega-grant” to Alexei Klimentov, physics applications software group leader at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, to develop new “big data” computing tools for the advancement of science. The project builds on the success of a workload and data management system built by Klimentov and collaborators to process huge volumes of data from the ATLAS experiment at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where the famed Higgs boson — the source of mass for fundamental particles — was discovered. Brookhaven is the lead U.S. laboratory for the ATLAS experiment, and hosts the Tier 1 computing center for data processing, storage and archiving.
The new tools will be complementary with a system developed by De and Brookhaven physicist Torre Wenaus for processing ATLAS data. That system, called PanDA (for Production and Distributed Analysis), is used by thousands of physicists around the world in the LHC's ATLAS collaboration.
Read the story here.
Epperson quoted in Star-Telegram article about Texas dropping Algebra 2 requirement
James Epperson, an associate professor of mathematics, is quoted in a February 18 story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Texas no longer mandating Algebra 2 as a basic high school graduation requirement for most students.
Some educators warn that not taking the course could cost time and money later, the story reported. “If you don’t take Algebra 2, you will be shut out of a college degree in business,” Epperson said in the story. “You won’t ever become a scientist or an engineer.”
Epperson says that he is “very concerned about certain communities not understanding the ramifications,” adding that he worries that girls or minority students might end up opting out of the math. “We have a shortage of scientists and engineers from the United States,” Epperson said. “This won’t alleviate that problem.”
Read the article here.
ACES symposium slated March 26; College of Science leads in number of submissions
The outstanding research done by UT Arlington students will be showcased during the Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) symposium on Wednesday, March 26 in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
The one-day, university-wide event allows students to present their research either in poster format or through oral presentations. Undergraduate and graduate students work with faculty mentors to write and submit abstracts, and approved abstracts are turned into posters or oral presentations for the event. Panels of faculty members will judge the entrants, and cash prizes are awarded to the top-rated entries in a variety of divisions.
With 129 abstract submissions, the College of Science had the largest number of submissions of any college or school on campus; the College of Engineering was next with 80. The overall number of submissions this year set a new ACES record.
Find complete information about the 2014 ACES here.
New website, UTA DNA, offers showcase for exciting news, events happening on campus
UT Arlington recently launched a new website, UTA DNA, to showcase the many outstanding efforts going on across campus and bring them together in a central, easily accessible location.
The site is the result of collaboration between the office of UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari, University deans and vice presidents, who identified 12 themes for 2014. The site is organized around the 12 themes and provides opportunities for each college, school, and administrative unit to highlight events, programs, news, and activities that will connect in meaningful ways.
“The site showcases the 12 themes and promotes a broad spectrum of news and events that bring them to life and make them accessible to our key audiences,” Karbhari said in an email announcing the site in February. “Information is pushed to the site through a variety of feeds and tags from the University’s online calendar, News Center, and microsites. It will constantly change and will be a dynamic place to explore.”
Faculty and staff are encouraged to use the hashtag #UTAdna when promoting programs, news and events via social media such as Twitter.
Check out the UTA DNA site here.