The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science April 2014  
Welcome to the April 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.
Latest class of College of Science graduates ready to celebrate Spring Commencement  

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

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.
Monday, June 2
First day of classes, Summer 2014 first 5-week session and 11-week session
Thursday, July 3
Last day of classes, Summer 2014 first 5-week session
Monday, July 7
Finals exams, Summer 2014 first 5-week session
Tuesday, July 8
First day of classes, Summer 2014 second 5-week session
Thursday, August 7
Last day of classes, Summer 2014 second 5-week session and 11-week session
Monday, August 11
Final exams, Summer 2014 second 5-week session
August 11-12
Final exams, Summer 2014 11-week session
Thursday, August 21
First day of classes, Fall 2014 semester
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
The 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science Magazine is here! Read Maverick Science 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 online version can be shared via social media and is available 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
Spring 2013 graduates celebrate their big day.
The College of Science will toast its newest graduates during the Spring 2014 Commencement ceremony, at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 11 at College Park Center.
Commencement is a special time of celebration when family and friends can come together and cheer on students whose hard work and dedication have earned them bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.
The College of Science will again have a joint ceremony with the School of Architecture. Guest speaker will be architecture alumnus Fred Perpall, a native of the Bahamas who came to UT Arlington to play basketball and run track, and had earned a master’s in architecture by the time he was 22. Perpall is chief executive officer and managing director of Dallas-based The Beck Group, one of the nation’s largest design-build companies.
Find complete details about College of Science Spring 2014 Commencement here.
Gonzales receives national advising award; she, Kroll and Chavis honored by University
Peter Kroll and Erin Gonzales Chavis
The College of Science strives to provide its students with all of the resources they need to be academically successful, and academic advising is an important part of that equation. The quality of the college’s advising was recognized with national and University awards in April.
Erin Gonzales, advisor for the UTeach Arlington program, was selected as one of 12 nationwide winners of the 2014 National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Outstanding Advising Award - Primary Advising Role. She also received the UT Arlington Outstanding Professional Advisor award.
Peter Kroll, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and graduate advisor for the department, received the UT Arlington Outstanding Faculty Advisor award.
Angeleah Chavis, an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Mathematics, was one of four academic advisors saluted by UT Arlington with honorable mentions. The University awards were presented in a ceremony on April 15.
Read more on this story here.
Chen discovers new nanoparticle that could improve photodynamic treatment of cancer
Wei Chen, professor of physics and co-director of UT Arlington’s Center for Security Advances Via Applied Nanotechnology (SAVANT), may have happened upon an advance in photodynamic cancer therapy.
Chen was testing a copper-cysteamine complex created in his lab when he discovered unexplained decreases in its luminescence, or light emitting power, over a time-lapse exposure to X-rays. Looking further, he found that the nanoparticles, called Cu-Cy, were losing energy as they emitted singlet oxygen - a toxic byproduct that is used to damage cancer cells in photodynamic therapy.
Because Chen also is leading federally funded cancer research, he knew he had found something unique. Testing revealed that the Cu-Cy nanoparticles, combined with X-ray exposure, significantly slowed tumor growth in lab studies.
Read more on this story here.
Microbiology junior Stevens becomes third COS recipient of Goldwater Scholarship
Jessica Dawn Stevens
A College of Science undergraduate who found her passion studying microorganisms and their role in ecology has been awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.
Jessica Dawn Stevens, a junior majoring in microbiology and biology, is among just 11 students in Texas named as Goldwater Scholars for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Another student in the College of Science, Emmanuel Fordjour, was recognized as an honorable mention in this year’s competition. Stevens is UT Arlington’s third Goldwater Scholar since 2012.
“The Goldwater Scholars program is well known for identifying top-flight students with potential to make a lasting contribution to their research fields. Having three students chosen as Scholars in three consecutive years is a testament to the caliber of UT Arlington students and the quality of our academic and research programs,” said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. “We are proud of Jessica and Emmanuel, and of the way that UT Arlington faculty members inspire our students to achieve their dreams.”
Read more on this story here.
Biology student Fordjour receives national honor for research on dangerous bacteria
Emmanuel Fordjour
UT Arlington student Emmanuel Fordjour was a sophomore when he sought out Julian Hurdle, an assistant professor of biology, and asked if he could help research ways to fight a dangerous, hospital-acquired disease called Clostridium difficile infection, or CDI.
Just two years later, Fordjour’s work with Hurdle has put him in an elite class - named a winner of the Washington D.C.-based Council on Undergraduate Research’s 2014 Posters on the Hill competition. Fordjour is one of just 60 undergraduate scholars from across the United States selected from a field of 600 applicants. The winners presented their research to members of Congress, congressional staffers and staff from government agencies in late April.
Fordjour, a double major in biology and microbiology who plans to graduate in 2015, said the achievement represents another of the “mind-blowing” opportunities he has had since choosing to attend UT Arlington.
Read more on this story here.
Cuntz leads research which finds F-type stars hold promise for habitable planets
Cuntz Sato
Scientists searching for habitable planets beyond Earth shouldn’t overlook F-type stars in favor of their more abundant, smaller and cooler cousins, according to new research from professor of physics Manfred Cuntz and Ph.D. student Satoko Sato.
Stars fall into seven lettered categories according to their surface temperature, but they also differ in other factors such as mass, luminosity and abundance in the universe. Scientists looking for habitable planets typically have focused on the less massive end of the spectrum, where our own G-type Sun as well as the even less massive K and M-type stars reside.
F-types are the in the middle of the scale, more massive and hotter than our Sun. Their increased ultraviolet radiation has been thought to be a limiting factor for sustaining life. In addition, there just aren’t as many of them.
“There is a gap in attention from the scientific community when it comes to knowledge about F-type stars, and that is what our research is working to fill,” Cuntz said. “It appears they may indeed be a good place to look for habitable planets.”
Read the article here.
Armstrong team finds way to significantly boost sensitivity of drug tests for athletes
UT Arlington researchers have unveiled a powerful new tool for catching bad behavior in the sports world - a testing method for evidence of performance-enhancing drugs that can be up to 1,000 times more sensitive than many current tests.
Daniel W. Armstrong, who holds the UT Arlington Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, and Hongyue Guo, a graduate student in Armstrong’s lab, presented the research March 18 at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Dallas.
“How much of a drug someone took or how long ago they took it are beyond the analyst’s control. The only thing you can control is how sensitive your method is,” Armstrong said. “Our goal is to develop ultra-sensitive methods that will extend the window of detection, and we may have developed one of the most sensitive methods in the world.”
Read more on this story here.
Walsh receives $100K Luminant grant for graduate student's research on mosquitofish
Amanda Boyles dissects a G. affinis sample in the lab of Matt Walsh, right.
Matt Walsh, an assistant professor of biology, has received a $100,000, two-year grant from Luminant Energy which will fund a study of how heated thermal effluent from power plants influences the evolution of a common species of fish.
The grant, which was awarded through Luminant’s Environmental Research Program, will support research by Amanda Boyles, a second-year master’s student in Walsh’s lab. Boyles will conduct experiments on Gambusia affinis, or western mosqui-tofish, near the Big Brown Power Plant outside Fairfield, about 100 miles southeast of Arlington.
“This study has the potential to add to our knowledge of how changes in environmental factors can affect a species’ development,” Walsh said.
Boyles’ experiments will involve a population of G. affinis residing in the main reservoir of Lake Fairfield, and a population of G. affinis exposed to thermal effluent discharged by the power plant in the “hot pond” which adjoins the plant. The experiments to be conducted include phenotypic trait assays and two sets of reciprocal transplant experiments.
Read more on this story here.
Mandal team’s study finds link in synthetic compound and breast cancer tumor growth
UT Arlington biochemists say their newly published study brings researchers a step closer to understanding how the commonly used synthetic compound bisphenol-A, or BPA, may promote breast cancer growth.
Subhrangsu Mandal, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Arunoday Bhan, a Ph.D. student in Mandal’s lab, looked at a molecule called RNA HOTAIR. HOTAIR is an abbreviation for long, non-coding RNA, a part of DNA in humans and other vertebrates. HOTAIR does not produce a protein on its own but, when it is being expressed or functioning, it can suppress genes that would normally slow tumor growth or cause cancer cell death.
High levels of HOTAIR expression have been linked to breast tumors, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, sarcoma and others.
Mandal and Bhan found that when breast cancer and mammary gland cells were exposed to BPA in lab tests, the BPA worked together with naturally present molecules, including estrogen, to create abnormal amounts of HOTAIR expression. Their results were published online in February by the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Read more on this story here.
College of Science students' research earns numerous awards at annual ACES symposium
The 2014 Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) research symposium featured a record number of submissions, and the College of Science had more of them than any other college/school. That fact was borne out by the large number of awards won by College of Science students during the daylong event March 26 in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
The ACES Symposium is a university-wide event that showcases the best of UT Arlington’s undergraduate and graduate students’ research and creativity. Students submitted their abstracts and those selected presented their work either in poster format or in oral presentations. A panel of faculty judges selected the best work in a variety of categories, and cash prizes were awarded during the closing dinner.
Read more on this story here.
Gurdemir appears on KTVT Channel 11 TV
to explain spectacular total lunar eclipse
Levent Gurdemir, director of the Planetarium at UT Arlington, appeared on KTVT Channel 11 TV before dawn on April 14 to talk about the total lunar eclipse which occurred overnight April 14-15.
“Something extraordinary is going to happen,” Gurdemir said of the eclipse, when the full Moon passed through the umbra — the dark inner core of Earth’s shadow.
The planetarium presented a special showing of its show Back to the Moon for Good on April 14 to celebrate the rare occurrence - the previous total lunar eclipse in North America happened in 2011.
The eclipse had five stages. During the total eclipse stage, the Moon is dimly lit by a deep orange or red glow, which is why the event is sometimes called a “blood moon.”
Watch video from the broadcast here.
Dallas science and engineering magnet school wins second consecutive Calculus Bowl title
SEM team members included Wesley Runnels (captain), Sirjan Kafle, Murali Subramanian, Quinn Torres and Monh Tran.
Hebron High School team members included Anirudh Sivakumar ; (captain), Athena Chen, Rikin Tanna, Srija Seenivasan and Abdullah Khan.
The competition is always fierce at the UT Arlington Calculus Bowl, and this year was no different. In the end, none of the challengers could prevent the defending champion from retaining their title.
The School of Science and Engineering Magnet of Dallas (SEM) held off a strong challenge from Hebron High School of Carrollton in the final round to earn its second straight Calculus Bowl championship on February 28 in Pickard Hall.
In all, teams from 26 high schools around the Metroplex competed in the 14th annual event, in which teams try to be the first to correctly answer a series of challenging calculus questions. The preliminary rounds whittled the field from 26 to 10. SEM and Hebron were tied at the end of the final round, necessitating a sudden-death tiebreaker question. SEM got the correct answer just ahead of Hebron to clinch the win in dramatic fashion.
SEM now has titles in the only two Calculus Bowls in which it has competed. Hebron was participating in its 10th Calculus Bowl, and its runner-up finish was its highest ever.
The Calculus Bowl is one of many K-12 outreach programs conducted by the Department of Mathematics each year. Learn more about it here.
Maverick Science magazine is available in print, online
The 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science Magazine is here! The magazine includes College of Science highlights from the past year and features in-depth looks at some of the College’s outstanding faculty, students and alumni.
The magazine’s online version can be shared via social media, is downloadable and is compatible with smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Print copies of the magazine are available in the Dean’s office (Life Science Building Room 206) or in Life Science Building Room 112.
Read the online version here.