The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science May 2014  
Welcome to the May 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.
UT Arlington High Energy Physics group gets $2.5 million grant for continuing research  

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

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
Members of the UT Arlington High Energy Physics group are (clockwise from left) Profes-sors Andrew White, Andrew Brandt, Kaushik De, Associate Professor Amir Farbin and Pro-fessor Jaehoon Yu.
Physicists from UT Arlington who have traveled the world to support new scientific discoveries, including the widely publicized Higgs boson, have been awarded a $2.5 million, three-year Department of Energy grant to further their work.
The funding, which begins this month, represents a 25 percent increase from previous Energy Department base award grants to the College of Science’s Center of Excellence in High Energy Physics - a hearty recognition of the innovative ideas and research under way at UT Arlington.
“Our professors and students are known internationally for their expertise in the field of high energy physics, and this grant award is a strong endorsement,” UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said. “Whether it is working at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, processing huge volumes of data at our supercomputing center or inspiring tomorrow’s scientific leaders in the classroom, they are contributing greatly to our very understanding of the natural laws that govern our world.
“This award will ensure that the work they have been doing will continue to thrive,” he said.
Read more on this story here.
Distinguished physicist David Nygren to join UT Arlington, create particle detector unit
David Nygren, a renowned physicist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, has been appointed Presidential Distinguished Professor in the UT Arlington College of Science and will join the University this fall.
Nygren is known for inventing the Time Projection Chamber, or TPC, used worldwide for over three decades in a variety of applications in particle detection and discovery, ranging from relativistic heavy ion collisions to the search for Dark Matter, and extremely rare nuclear decays.
Nygren has worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1973 and was promoted to Distinguished Scientist in 1995 because of his invention of the TPC and innovations in charge-coupled devices used in digital imaging as well as medical imaging and pixel arrays. He is the only Distinguished Scientist currently working at the Berkeley Laboratory.
At UT Arlington, Nygren will establish a new unit to foster research at the forefront of particle detector technologies and train the next generation of detector experts. His UT Arlington appointment is partially supported by the University of Texas System Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention, or STARs program.
Read more on this story here.
Armstrong, students devise way to make pharmaceutical tests much more accurate
Daniel Armstrong
A UT Arlington chemistry professor, renowned for his work in the area of chemical separations, is leading an effort to find a more accurate way to measure water content in pharmaceuticals - a major quality issue for drug manufacturers.
Daniel W. Armstrong, UT Arlington’s Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, says the new technique could be 100 times more sensitive than one of the most popular current methods.
“The analysis for water in many consumer products, including drugs, is one of the most required tests done in the world,” Armstrong said. “Current methods have many shortcomings, including poor sensitivity and reproducibility; they cannot be used for all products and they can be time consuming. I believe our new ‘ionic liquid’ method offers improvements in all these areas.”
Read more on this story here.
College of Science Class of ’14 includes first graduates of UTeach Arlington program
Kaitlyn O’Dell was one of 22 UTeach Arlington students to graduate during the College of Science ceremony May 11. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The College of Science welcomed its newest alumni during the Spring 2014 Commencement ceremony on May 11 at College Park Center. Among the College of Science students receiving degrees were 22 students who comprise the first graduating class of UTeach Arlington, UT Arlington’s science and math secondary teacher preparation program.
The UTeach graduates were the focus of a May 14 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about area university commencement ceremonies.
The program is based on the original UTeach program, which was created in 1997 at UT Austin. The goal of UTeach is to address the shortage of highly trained science and math teachers in secondary schools by training students in elementary education and building up to high school education so they can graduate with degrees in their fields as well as teaching certificates.
One of the UTeach graduates, Kaitlyn O’Dell, is quoted in the article and says anyone wanting to become a teacher must first be passionate about what they’re trying to teach.
“You have to be excited about the subject,” O’Dell said in the article. “You cannot teach kids anything you are not excited about.”
Read the article here. See photos from the College of Science ceremony here.
Mohanty research team finds way to build neural connections at lower temperature
Samar Mohanty, assistant professor of physics, and doctoral candidate Bryan Black have discovered that the growing part of neurons like those in the cerebral cortex or the retina are sensitive to the minute temperature increase of less than one degree Celsius, Optics & Photonics News reported in its April issue.
In a paper published April 9 by the journal PloS One, the team described using a low-power near-infrared (NIR) laser directed ahead of a neuron to guide its advance.
The researchers found that the method can work at IR laser powers an order of magnitude lower than that used for prior optical force- and flow-based methods, the OPN story says. Further, they reported 100 percent efficacy of the technique in guiding a variety of neurons from mammals to amphibians, unlike the low efficiency of prior methods.
“This technique enables us to build well-defined neuron connections at a basic level, and then develop these neurons into complex neural circuits,” Mohanty said in the OPN story. “This will allow us to carry out optical stimulation and activity-imaging over the whole neural-network.”
Read the OPN story here. Read the paper in PloS One here.
UT Arlington neuroscience team wins Brain Bowl championship for 2nd straight year
UT Arlington team members included, from left, Christopher Folk, Andrew Womack, Gaurang Gupta, John Perish, Matt Fisher, Danica Womack and Breeanne Soteros.
A team of UT Arlington psychology students topped the competition at the 2014 Brain Bowl and successfully defended the title won by UT Arlington last year.
The Brain Bowl is an annual quiz show-style contest which tests students’ knowledge of neuroscience, hosted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. UT Arlington defeated teams from Texas A&M and UT San Antonio to ensure the trophy will stay in Arlington for another year.
Team members included Matt Fisher, Christopher Folk, Gaurang Gupta, John Perish, Breeanne Soteros, Andrew Womack and Danica Womack. Linda Perrotti, assistant professor of psychology, is the team’s faculty mentor.
See a video of the competition here.
Website features story on biology doctoral student Asmus’ study of insects in Alaska
Ashley Asmus does vacuum sampling in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Frontier Scientists.
Ashley Asmus, a doctoral student in biology and graduate research assistant, was featured in a May 20 story and video on Frontier Scientists, a website set up to share news about discoveries in the Alaskan Arctic.
Asmus is working with associate professor of biology Laura Gough, who explores the effects that a warming climate is having on plant communities in the Alaskan tundra. A video team followed Gough’s NSF-funded research group around in Alaska for several weeks last summer, and the piece on Asmus is the first of the videos from that endeavor to be posted online.
Asmus uses a large reverse leaf blower to collect insect specimens, which are then examined in the lab in a process called vacuum sampling. She also uses other methods to collect the bugs.
“I study bugs on the tundra. I used to think I wouldn’t study bugs; I thought maybe I would study birds or something cute like that,” Asmus said in the story. “And I remember I had an entomology class as an undergraduate. My entomology teacher would make fun of me and ask what bugs those birds were eating as if that was the real, important question. And he turned out to be right.”
Read the story here.
Study of water wells by Schug, colleagues
is focus of story in Colombian newspaper
Kevin Schug
Kevin Schug, UT Arlington’s Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, was interviewed in a piece in the Columbian newspaper El Spectador, explaining the results of a 2013 study in which he and colleagues examined 100 private water wells for effects of natural gas drilling. Colombia will soon begin allowing hydraulic fracturing for unconventional oil and gas exploration and the story focused on potential consequences.
The study of water wells and near the Barnett Shale, conducted by Schug and Brian Fontenot, a UT Arlington graduate with a doctorate in quantitative biology, showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic and selenium closest to natural gas extraction sites.
The study led to publication of a peer-reviewed paper which focused 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.
The El Spectador story (in Spanish) is available here. (spanish)
UT Arlington physicists discuss their role in world’s largest experiment at film screening
A portion of the ATLAS calorimeter at the Large Hadron Collider. Photo courtesy of PF Productions.
Physics faculty members from UT Arlington and Southern Methodist University conducted a Q&A session following screenings of Particle Fever, a documentary about the world’s largest particle collider, on May 16 and 17 in Dallas.
The documentary follows the inside story of six scientists seeking to unravel the secrets of the universe, documenting the successes and setback’s in the planet’s most significant and inspiring scientific break-through, according to the film’s website.
The film details the building of the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest machine ever built by humankind, at CERN headquarters outside Geneva, Switzerland. UT Arlington physics faculty members and graduate students played a role in the LHC’s creation, building pieces of the collider which were shipped to CERN. They have also been active in research at CERN since the LHC became operational in 2010.
Read more on Particle Fever here.
Levine discusses reasons why consumers shop for products online in journal article
Daniel Levine, professor of psychology, is quoted in a March 13 story about online shopping in Medill Reports, an online journal produced by journalism students at Northwestern University.
The story examines reasons for the increasing number of new online shoppers, who are largely “young, affluent Millennials who are drawn to and enjoy this gamified version of shopping.” They like being told what to buy or what’s popular. Most consumers, however, believe the main draw is the discounts, the story contends.
In the story, Levine agrees that discounts — although not necessarily just those online — are a powerful incentive for people to shop. “Even before computers and websites, people would grab bargains if the price seemed less than they would expect to pay somewhere else,” Levine says in the story.
Read the story 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.