The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science June 2014  
Welcome to the June 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.
Beetle research by Demuth and Blackmon leads to new theory on Y chromosome loss  

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 Summer
2014 show schedule begins
June 3 and will run
through August 24. See
the full schedule here.
Maverick Science
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Maverick Science
E-Newsletter Archives
Jeffrey Demuth and Heath Blackmon
A UT Arlington research team says their study of genetic information from more than 4,000 beetle species has yielded a new theory about why some species lose their Y chromosome and others, such as humans, hang on to it. They call it the “fragile Y hypothesis.”
The biologists’ idea is that the fate of the Y chromosome is heavily influenced by how meiosis, or the production of sperm, works in an organism. They believe the size of an area where X and Y genetic information mingle or recombine can serve as a strong clue that a species is at risk of losing the Y chromosome during sperm production. Previous work has attributed Y chromosome loss to the lesser importance of genes it carries.
Ph.D. student Heath Blackmon and Jeffery Demuth, associate professor of biology, co-authored a paper published in the June issue of Genetics. Blackmon said most previous research into sex chromosomes has occurred either in mammals or the fruit fly. But, beetles are the most diverse group on the planet-scientists have already described and given names to over 350,000 species.
Read more on this story here.
National Science Foundation provides grant
to help market Dasgupta's arsenic analyzer
The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $200,000 to two UT Arlington researchers teaming with a private company to make an affordable, environmentally friendly field analyzer for arsenic levels in water.
The new technology was invented by Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, UT Arlington’s Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry, while working on a previous NSF grant. Aditya Das, senior research scientist at the UT Arlington Research Institute, and Scott Evans, president and co-founder of Texas-based technology company Chipotle Business Group, will direct the new project along with Dasgupta.
“In developing countries indigenous groundwater arsenic contamination is a very big problem, so it makes sense to build some way to detect this element in water so that we can classify what water is drinkable and what is not in remote areas,” said Das, who is also a member of the College of Engineering faculty. “Dr. Dasgupta’s approach allows for detection of two different types of arsenic in a very ‘green’ way.”
Arsenic is one of 10 chemicals the World Health Organization lists as a major public health concern, with millions of people at risk of chronic exposure in developing countries. Chronic exposure, which has also occurred in the U.S., can lead to serious health problems, including fatal cancers.
Read more on this story here.
Physics researchers develop nanoparticles
that could improve gene and drug therapy
Ali Koyman, left, and Samarendra Mohanty
UT Arlington physics researchers may have developed a way to use laser technology to deliver drug and gene therapy at the cellular level without damaging surrounding tissue. The method eventually could help patients suffering from genetic conditions, cancers and neurological diseases.
In a study published recently by the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the team paired crystalline magnetic carbon nanoparticles and continuous wave near-infrared laser beams for in what is called photothermal delivery. Authors of the new paper are Ali Koymen, a professor of physics; Samarendra Mohanty, an assistant professor of physics; and Ling Gu, a researcher in Mohanty’s lab.
The new discovery grew out of previous study where Koymen and Mohanty used a 50 to 100 milliwatt laser and the same carbon nanoparticle, which absorbs the beam, to heat up and destroy cancer cells in the lab. The team used the new photothermal delivery method in lab experiments to introduce impermeable dyes and small DNA molecules into human prostate cancer and fibroblast sarcoma cells.
Read more on this story here.
Campbell honored with special award by herpetologists at Tulsa pitviper conference
Jonathan Campbell, right, accepts a special award from Harry W. Greene, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University.
Herpetology experts from all over the world recently honored Jonathan Campbell, a UT Arlington professor known for his research on venomous snake biology, at a conference called The Biology of Pitvipers 2.
The meeting was June 4-7 in Tulsa, Okla. It celebrated the 25th year since a 1989 Biology of Pitvipers conference at UT Arlington, a meeting that resulted in a landmark edition of research called “Biology of the Pitvipers.” Campbell was one of the organizers of the 1989 gathering and an editor of the volume.
The organizers of this year’s event recognized Campbell as “Honored Guest” and presented him with an award “for outstanding contributions in herpetology and excellence in pitviper biology.”
Read more on this story here.
Former astronaut impressed with students’ ingenuity at Bernard Harris science camp
Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. talks with campers while they build homemade versions of Mars landers during the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at UT Arlington on June 20.
A roomful of middle school students from around the Metroplex got to hear from an astronaut and an engineer, and then got to form teams and build their own miniature Mars landing crafts from household items such as straws, bubble wrap and cotton balls. They then tested them to see which team’s spacecraft could land upright closest to a target.
The occasion was the fourth day of the two-week Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at UT Arlington. Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. - the first African-American to walk in space - and Exxon Mobil operations engineer Nancy Choi visited with the 48 campers and stressed the importance of education, and the opportunities that awaited those who study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Harris told the students that they have the ability and the talent to do anything they want to do and he encouraged them to make a difference through their involvement in science and math.
“These kids are sharp; you can see by the way they built their landers that they’re full of ideas and creativity,” Harris said. “The camp gets them excited about science and lets them get an idea of what college is like.”
This year marks the fifth time one of Harris’ camps have been held at UT Arlington. Those chosen to attend the camp must write an essay on STEM, have good grades and be members of a traditionally underserved and underrepresented population, among other requirements.
Read a Star-Telegram story about the camp here.
3 biology students earn awards for research at Texas Genetics Society annual meeting

Clifford Rodgers and Alissa Hendricks

Three UT Arlington biology students earned awards at the Texas Genetics Society’s 41st Annual Meeting, held April 24-26 in Waco.
Alissa Hendricks received the award for Outstanding Undergraduate Platform Presentation; Eldon Prince received the Outstanding Graduate Student Platform Presentation award; and Clifford Rodgers received the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation award. All three are students in the lab of Trey Fondon, assistant professor of biology.
Prince graduated with a Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology in May; Hendricks and Rodgers are undergraduate students in biology. Prince’s project was titled “The basis of rapid evolutionary change in the canid lineage”; Hendricks’ project was titled “Why Sex is Important: Radically Different Lifespans of Genetically Identical Individuals Under Stress”; and Rodgers’ project was titled “Genetic mapping and characterization of the Sox10 deletion mutation in the domestic pigeon”.
Learn more about the Texas Genetics Society here.
Physics Ph.D. student De La Garza receives 2014-15 NASA/Texas Space Grant fellowship
De La Garza
Jose De La Garza, a doctoral student in physics and applied physics, has been selected as a NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year. The fellowship consists of a $5,000 supplemental stipend.
De La Garza just completed his first year of doctoral work and is doing research in the lab of his faculty mentor, Yue Deng, assistant professor of physics. He focuses on neutral wind data analysis and simulation in order to gain further insight about the dynamics of the upper atmosphere. He received a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from UT-Brownsville in spring 2012.
“It was a very happy moment for me,” De La Garza said of the moment he learned he had been chosen as a fellow. “I felt very fortunate to be considered as part of the NASA fellowship consortium. The fellowship will enable me to pay for my tuition for the year 2014-15."
Learn more about the Texas Space Grant Consortium here.
Gatchel co-authors second in six-book series on musculoskeletal pain in the workplace
The cover of the second volume
in a six-book series co-authored
by Robert Gatchel.
The second volume in a six-book series on health, disability and work and co-authored by Robert J. Gatchel, the Nancy P. & John G. Penson Endowed Professor in Clinical Health Psychology, was recently published by Springer.
The second volume, The Handbook of Muskuloskeletal Pain and Disability Disorders in the Workplace, is set to be released by the end of the year. Gatchel’s co-author is Izabela Schultz, a professor of Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of British Columbia.
The second volume reviews and synthesizes current conceptual research and treatment advances across a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders; focuses on the most effective treatments to return workers back to occupational settings; and delves into complexities involved in the assessment and treatment of particular musculoskeletal pain and disability disorders.
The book may be purchased from the Springer website here.
Schug’s research testing water quality in North Texas wells is focus of online report
Research by Kevin Schug, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, that aims to determine if oil and gas drilling and gas and waste disposal generated by the work is contaminating groundwater was the focus of a June 17 story by StateImpact Texas, a reporting project of National Public Radio member stations.
“We can stand in a neutral case and look at this very objectively using analytical techniques that can say whether there is or is not an impact,” Schug says in the report.
An initial analysis of samples from 100 private water wells near drilling sites in the Barnett Shale region of North Texas found a third of them had seriously elevated levels of heavy metals, including arsenic. But the metals occur naturally in soil, and a definitive link to drilling was not made, the report states.
Read the StateImpact Texas report here.
Shimadzu Institute’s search for business partners is focus of FW Business Press story
The UT Arlington Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies has been reaching out to several companies to serve as research partners – including many smaller startups and entrepreneurial ventures, the Fort Worth Business Press reported in a June 6 story.
The laboratory was established in 2012 through the support of Shimadzu Scientific Instruments and UT Arlington. The Shimadzu Center For Advanced Analytical Chemistry includes a large number of mass spectrometers, as well as state-of-the-art supporting peripheries and other spectroscopy instrumentation. The institute was renamed Shimadzu in February to honor a $7.5 million gift from Shimadzu Scientific Instruments.
“We have seven centers with different research areas,” Joe Barrera, director of the Shimadzu Institute, said in the story. “We’re looking for research opportunities that can easily or quickly translate to market solutions. We have not only instrumentations, but companies can hire our own expertise and they can give a lot of research insight and drive some research insight for companies or small startups that don’t have that expertise.”
Read the story here.
Arlington State College alumnus, longtime NASA employee Jackie Fisher dies at age 75
Jackie Lynn Fisher, an Arlington State College alumnus and longtime NASA employee who played an integral part in helping land a man on the moon in 1969, died from pulmonary fibrosis on May 30 at age 75.
Mr. Fisher, a Wimberley resident, was born April 30, 1939 in Jet, Okla., to Woodford Pascal Fisher and Dorothy Berneice Kelly Fisher. After his family moved to Texas, Mr. Fisher graduated from Mexia High School in 1957. He attended Sam Houston State University, then transferred to Arlington State College, now UT Arlington, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in math and physics in 1961.
He then went to work at the Naval Air Missile Test Center in Point Mugu, Calif. The following year, Mr. Fisher accepted a position with NASA at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, later named the Johnson Space Center. At NASA he worked in avionics and software development and witnessed history, from the earliest U.S. manned space flights in the Mercury program, to the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s, to the Space Shuttle program, through the origins of the International Space Station. He retired from NASA in 1998.
His hobbies included genealogy, music and travel. A self-taught violinist, he took lessons during retirement to improve his technique and played for eight years in Wimberley’s Starlight Symphony Orchestra. Several of his grandchildren and a daughter-in-law took up violin-playing through his influence.
Mr. Fisher is survived by his wife of 54 years, Janice Thornton Fisher; daughter Laura Armer and her husband, Barry; son Kevin Fisher and his wife, Doreen; son Jonathan Fisher and his wife, Miki; grandchildren Justin Armer, Emma Armer, Kirby Fisher, Kyle Fisher, Lindsey Fisher, Sophia Fisher and Adrian Fisher; brother W.P. Fisher Jr.; sister Gladys Liles and her husband, George; sister Karan Plummer; sister Billie Hatfield and her husband, Gary; sister Dorothy Ordieres; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Jimmy Fisher.
A celebration of life service was held June 3 in Wimberley and a graveside service was held June 4 at Point Enterprise Cemetery near Mexia.
Memorial donations can be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation or to the Starlight Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 171, Wimberley, TX 78676.
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.