The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science August 2014  
Welcome to the August 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.
Jansma ends 5-year tenure as science dean Aug. 29; Grover steps in as interim dean  

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

Friday, October 3
College of Science Picnic
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Library Mall
Come by for hamburgers, hot dogs and other goodies and support the College of Science!
Wednesday, Oct. 29
Last day to drop classes for Fall 2014 semester; submit requests to advisor prior to 4 p.m.
November 3-7
2014 Science Week

The College of Science spotlights the achievements of its alumni, students and faculty with a week of special events. Details coming soon.
Monday, Nov. 3
Registration begins for Spring 2015 semester
Wednesday, Dec. 3
Last day of classes for Fall 2014 semester
December 6, 8-12
Final exams for Fall 2014 semester
Friday, December 12
3 p.m. COS Fall 2014 Commencement
College Park Center

The College of Science will celebrate its newest group of graduates with the Fall 2014 graduation ceremony. Complete information coming soon.
Planetarium’s Fall schedule starts Sept. 4
The Planetarium at UT Arlington is kicking off the new semester with a new show schedule. 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 2014 schedule begins Sept. 4 and runs through Nov. 30. See the 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.
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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
James Grover and Pamela Jansma
College of Science Dean Pamela Jansma will close her five-year tenure at UT Arlington on August 29. Jansma has accepted an appointment as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, effective September 9.
James Grover, who has served as associate dean since April 2012, has been appointed interim dean by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ronald Elsenbaumer, with the approval of UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari. Grover will serve as interim dean until a new dean is named, Elsenbaumer said. Grover brings over 20 years of experience at UT Arlington as both a professor of biology and administrator, including close involvement in strategic planning for research and student success.
Faculty, staff and administrators filled the University Club on August 25 for a farewell reception in Jansma’s honor. Elsenbaumer thanked Jansma for her leadership and hailed the many advances the College of Science has made under her guidance. Among the highlights of her tenure: formation of a joint program with Tarrant County College to promote diversity among geoscience professionals and recruit students to pursue degrees in earth science; creation of the Math Emporium, an academic and tutoring resource for all UT Arlington undergraduate students; formation of a major partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, which is equipping UT Arlington to do groundbreaking research utilizing the latest technology; and creation of the College of Science Advising Center, a centralized resource for students.
Jansma thanked her staff, College of Science faculty and staff, and University administration for helping and supporting her during her tenure at UT Arlington.
Elsenbaumer also expressed confidence that the College of Science is in excellent hands under Grover’s direction while a national search is conducted for the next permanent dean. Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, is leading the UT Arlington committee charged with the effort of hiring Jansma’s successor.
Schug receives prestigious UT System Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award
Kevin Schug
Kevin Schug, associate professor in chemistry and biochemistry and the Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, is one of four UT Arlington faculty members to receive a prestigious award for teaching excellence from the UT System Board of Regents.
In all, 96 educators from across the UT System were recognized with Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards for 2014. The honors come with a $25,000 cash award and recognize faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The professors were recognized August 20 during a ceremony in Austin.
“This is truly an amazing honor and I am privileged to have had the support of my students and colleagues to be recognized,” Schug said.
“I am thrilled to see that the UT System regents chose Dr. Schug for the Outstanding Teaching Award. Dr. Schug is a natural-born teacher and an exemplar of what good teachers are all about,” said Rasika Dias, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Read more on this story here.
UT Arlington partnering with Arlington ISD to create STEM Academy for high-schoolers
A new partnership between UT Arlington and the Arlington Independent School District will offer high school students classroom and enrichment experiences that put them on a path to success in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
The new STEM Academy will open in August 2015 at Martin High School, with students from across the district selected the previous spring. When the program is fully implemented, 100 students each from grades 9 through 12 will have the opportunity to choose one of four pathways: engineering, biology/biomedical science, computer science and math/science.
UT Arlington College of Science and College of Engineering faculty and staff will work with instructors at the high school level to align and enhance curriculum in the STEM academy. Junior and seniors in the program will also have opportunities to take dual credit classes that help them meet STEM college requirements before high school graduation and take advantage of off-campus opportunities for innovative learning.
“The STEM Academy is one more step toward an increasingly strong partnership between UT Arlington and one of the state’s largest school districts to create opportunity and to ensure that students are well prepared to succeed in college,” UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said. “Together, we will ignite students’ interest in the world of inquiry, expand their horizons and show them how they can achieve their dreams in the fields of science, engineering and math.”
Read more on this story here.
Gough takes over as interim biology chair as Campbell returns to teaching, research
Laura Gough Jonathan Campbell
Jonathan Campbell, one of the world’s pre-eminent herpetologists and chair of the Department of Biology since 2001, is stepping down from his administrative position as the 2014-15 academic year begins. Laura Gough, a professor of biology who has been at UT Arlington since 2002, is taking over as chair on an interim basis while a committee conducts a national search for Campbell’s replacement. Jeffrey Demuth will serve as associate chair.
“It’s been a long time,” Campbell says of his tenure as chair. “When I agreed to do it in 2001, I thought it would be a one-year thing, but then they asked me to stay on and now here we are 14 years later. I’m looking forward to going back to focusing on research and getting it back to the level it was before I became chair.”
Gough said she hopes to be a good steward of the department while helping faculty and students.
“I am honored to accept the position of interim biology chair for the next year while we finish our search for a new permanent chair,” Gough said. “My goals are to help our faculty maintain their high-quality research and teaching, ensure our graduate and undergraduate students continue to receive an excellent education, and oversee the rebuilding of our department with several new hires to replace faculty members who recently retired or left the university.
“I have learned a great deal from Dr. Jon Campbell, who has capably led the biology department for almost the entire time I've been at UTA. I am grateful for Jon's help through this transition and appreciative that he did not retire when he stepped down as chair, because I would hate to interrupt his retirement as I continue to seek his advice!”
Read more on Campbell’s tenure as chair here.
Biology research team finds that older coral species have better resistance to disease
Pollution, overfishing and climate change threaten the health of coral reefs. A new study suggests older species are better equipped to.
New research indicates older species of coral have more of what it takes to survive a warming and increasingly polluted climate, according to biologists from UT Arlington and the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez.
The researchers examined 140 samples of 14 species of Caribbean corals for a study published by the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 18.
Jorge H. Pinzón C., a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology is lead author on the study. Co-authors are Laura Mydlarz, associate professor of biology, Joshuah Beach-Letendre, a former masters student in the Mydlarz lab and Ernesto Weil, professor in marine sciences at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. The team looked at the number of diseases affecting each species over the years and tested the species’ base-level immunity in the lab to determine whether a “phylogenic signal” existed. A phylogenetic signal is when organisms in closely related species have characteristics that are more similar to each other than they are to more distant species.
Read more on this story here.
Musielak and students using radio waves to search for moons outside our solar system
Schematic of a plasma torus around an exoplanet, which is created by the ions injected from an exo-moon’s ionosphere into the planet’s magneto-sphere.
Scientists hunting for life beyond Earth have discovered more than 1,800 planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, in recent years, but so far, no one has been able to confirm an exo-moon. Now, physicists from UT Arlington believe following a trail of radio wave emissions may lead them to that discovery.
Their recent findings, published in the Aug. 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal , describe radio wave emissions that result from the interaction between Jupiter’s magnetic field and its moon Io. They suggest using detailed calculations about the Jupiter/Io dynamic to look for radio emissions that could indicate moons orbiting an exoplanet.
“This is a new way of looking at these things,” said Zdzislaw Musielak, professor of physics and co-author of the new paper. “We said, ‘What if this mechanism happens outside of our solar system?’ Then, we did the calculations and they show that actually there are some star systems that if they have moons, it could be discovered in this way.”
Joaquin Noyola, a Ph.D. graduate student in Musielak’s research group, is lead author on the new paper and Suman Satyal, a Ph.D. graduate student in the same group, is another co-author.
Read more on this story here.
TexPREP program provides middle schoolers with intense introduction to STEM education
Students take part in an activity during UT Arlington’s summer TexPREP program.
Six dozen area middle school students spent over five weeks of their summer vacations getting a leg up on their peers academically at UT Arlington’s annual Texas Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (TexPREP). For the students, rigorous work in the classroom was balanced with fun but educational activities such as building and launching their own bottle rockets, and designing and constructing bridges out of tooth-picks
UT Arlington has hosted Tex-PREP each summer since 1997, with class sizes ranging from 12-20 students. The 2014 summer session marked the program’s expansion to three cohorts of students, now known as UT Arlington PREP. With financial and academic support from Arlington ISD, the 2014 summer session, held June 10-July 18, produced a graduating class of 72 students from the PREP I program.
“The TexPREP program is about exposing middle school students to mathematics and engineering and to open their minds to the possibilities that a career in a STEM field will bring,” said MInerva Cordero, College of Science associate dean for academic affairs and site director. “UT Arlington PREP was a great success and we are looking forward to continuing to grow the program in years to come. AISD is very pleased with the results of this year’s program and together we will plan for expanding PREP so many more AISD students can take advantage of this exciting program.”
Read more on this story here.
Eight COS students among McNair Scholars presenting summer research projects
Sixteen students from a variety of disciplines, including eight from the College of Science, presented their summer research projects for the McNair Scholars Program on August 7 in College Hall.
The McNair Scholars Program prepares qualified UT Arlington undergraduates for graduate study culminating in the Ph.D. The program helps students become more competitive in the graduate school application process, leading to their admission to top-ranked programs and facilitating a smooth integration into graduate-level work.
College of Science presenters, their mentors and project titles included: Stephanie Gutierrez, biology, Ann Cavallo, “Examining Descriptive Patterns and Differences in College Students’ Beliefs about the Nature of Science, Scientific Reasoning Ability, Religiosity, Understanding of Evolution and Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution”; Valene Garr, biochemistry, Liping Tang, “Differentiation of Insulin Producing Cells from Mesenchymal Stem Cells Isolated from Peritoneal Dialysis”; Carlos Lara, physics, Zdzislaw Musielak, “Applications of Higher-Derivative Klein-Gordon Equations in Flat and Curved Spacetime”; Samantha White, psychology, Jared Kenworthy, “Prejudice Reduction through Contact Theory and Cognitive Dissonance: Deploying Dissonance with an Expectation of Contact towards Muslims”; Omomayowa Olawoyin, mathematics, Christopher Kribs-Zaleta, “Analysis of the Cognitive Level of Student Discourse Elicited by Teacher Response to Pivotal Teaching Moments”; Breeanne Soteros, psychology, Yuan Bo Peng, “The Effects of Midazolam on the Nucleus Accumbens in the Context of Pain”; Mason Bartels, biology, Jeffery Demuth, “Identification of the Broad-horned Flour Beetle X-chromosome by Whole Genome Sequencing”; Emmanuel Fordjour, biology, Julian Hurdle, “Mutation Frequencies for Resistance to Rifaximin and Fusidic Acid in Clostridium difficile”.
For more on the McNair Scholars program, click here.
Dasgupta’s arsenic analyzer is focus of DMN story on finding ways to market research
Purnendu ‘Sandy’ Dasgupta and Aditya Das. Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News.
An August 12 story in the Dallas Morning News on commercialization of research at universities in North Texas focused on UT Arlington and National Science Foundation funding for the development of an arsenic analyzer by Purnendu ‘Sandy’ Dasgupta, Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry, and Aditya Das, senior research scientist at the UT Arlington Research Institute.
The story also noted that UT Arlington has partnered with startup incubator Tech Fort Worth to enhance its efforts.
On college campuses across Texas and around the country, professors like Dasgupta are working to take their research from the lab and classroom to the market-place, the story says. They’re creating new products that can solve problems like arsenic contamination or help government agencies detect fraudulent documents.
The story also states that the process of bringing research to market is important for research institutions such as UT Arlington. When university researchers bring their products to market, they make a name for themselves and the school and contribute to economic growth in the region, the story said.
Read the Dallas Morning News story here.
Gough to speak on effects of Arctic climate change at Sierra Club meeting September 9
Laura Gough, professor and interim chair of biology, will be guest speaker of the general meeting of Sierra Club of Dallas at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9 at the REI store, 4515 LBJ Freeway in Dallas (west-bound service road between Welch Road and Midway Road).
Research on the effects of climate change in Alaska has revealed how warming is changing the tundra vegetation and soils with feedbacks to associated fauna. Warmer soils support greater rates of decomposition, causing more carbon dioxide and methane to enter Earth’s atmosphere. Gough will review how soils, plants, and consumers are responding to such changes in northern Alaska. She will also connect these results to implications for North Texas eco-systems. Her research expertise is in plant ecology, exploring how plants of tundra, wetlands, and prairies interact with other organisms (particularly herbivores) in the context of a rapidly changing environment. Her students conduct research in northern Alaska and remnant prairies in north Texas.
The meeting is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served starting at 6:30 p.m.
Campbell talks about species conservation in story on discovery of new snake species
Jonathan Campbell, professor of biology, was mentioned in a July 30 story by The Daily of the University of Washington about a UW research team that discovered two new species of rattle-snakes in the group Crotalus triseriatus (C. triseriatus species).
The new species, C. tlaloci and C. campbelli, have distinct habitats and a unique combination of genetic and physical traits that separated them from other species, the story says. Alarmingly, their narrow range of habitat suggests that these two species may already be endangered.
Campbell, whom the species C. campbelli is named after, pointed out the importance of species conservation. “You have a very complicated network of animal interactions,” he said. “If you disturb the ecology, it sometimes begins to unravel in ways that we don’t know or can’t fathom ahead of time.”
Campbell also said that the snakes must first be registered before they can be licensed as an endangered species. Once that step is done, it doesn’t take very long to get it protected by law, the article says..
Even so, scientists are hard-pressed to find these species before they become extinct. The multi-locus DNA analysis performed on this group of rattlesnakes was difficult due to the terrain, distribution, and scattered locations.
Read the story here.
Mohanty delivers lecture on optogenetics at biophotonics and imaging conference
Samarendra Mohanty, assistant professor of physics, gave a talk titled “Optogenetics” at the Bigss 2014: Biophotonics and Imaging Graduate Summer School conference on June 20 in Galway, Ireland.
The conference included lectures, discussion groups, and practical workshops in biophotonics and related fields. There were also poster sessions where students displayed their research, with prizes awarded to the winners.
Photonics is the study and technology of the use of light for the transmission of information.
Read more about the conference here.
Term coined by Paulus cited in story about why brainstorming by itself is not effective
Paul Paulus, professor of psychology, was mentioned in an article about why brainstorming isn’t effective, which appeared in the July 29 online edition of the business magazine Fast Company.
According to Kellogg School of Management professors Leigh Thompson and Loran Nordgren, brainstorming in its current form and by many metrics, doesn’t work as well as the frequency of “team brainstorming meetings” would suggest. Instead, Thompson and Nordgren suggest a quieter process: brainwriting. The phrase was coined by Paulus.
The article says that the general principle is that idea generation should exist separate from discussion. Although the two professors have slightly different systems, they both offer the same general solution: write first, talk second. Brainstorming works best if before or at the beginning of the meeting, people write down their ideas, the article states. Then everyone comes together to share those ideas out loud in a systematic way.
Read the Fast Company article 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.