The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science January 2015  
Welcome to the January 2015 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.
Alumna Gopalakrishnan urges Fall 2014 COS graduates to meet challenges head-on  

For Alumni

Alumni Relations
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

March 9-13
Spring Break vacation
ACES Symposium
Wednesday, March 25
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.
Monday, April 6
Registration begins for Summer and Fall 2015 semesters
Friday, May 8
Last day of classes for the Spring 2015 semester
May 9, 11-15
Finals exams for the Spring 2015 semester
Friday, May 15
3 p.m. COS Spring 2015 Commencement
College Park Center

The College of Science will celebrate its newest group of graduates with the Spring 2015 graduation ceremony. Complete details coming soon.
Planetarium’s Spring schedule is under way
Looking for a fun, indoor activity during the cold winter months? Come see a show at the Planetarium at UT Arlington! 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 schedule runs through May 24. See the schedulehere.
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Keep up with the COS with Maverick Science
Read the 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science for the latest College of Science 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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E-Newsletter Archives
Lekha Gopalakrishnan (M.S. in Chemistry ’90) delivered the College of Science Fall 2014 commencement address.
The College of Science welcomed a new class of alumni to its ranks on December 12 during the Fall 2014 Commencement ceremony at College Park Center.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was College of Science alumna Lekha Gopalakrishnan, who earned an M.S. in Chemistry from UT Arlington in 1990 and went on to receive a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University Medical School in 1995 and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2000. She is chair of the Intellectual Property Practice Group with Winstead PC, a national corporate law firm with headquarters in Dallas.
“While today might seem like a culmination of a process, it is in fact just a beginning of what will hopefully be a long and rewarding journey for all of you,” Gopalakrishnan said. “This journey that you’re beginning here today will not be without its challenges; that’s a given. But you must meet them head-on.”
She recalled coming to UT Arlington from India 27 years ago and being excited and optimistic about beginning graduate school in a new country. She encountered obstacles but worked hard to overcome them, she said.
Gopalakrishnan listed five basic principles the graduates should keep in mind as they move forward with their lives: (1) pick something you enjoy doing; (2) do your work and be prepared for any eventuality; (3) don’t follow your life like it’s a script; be open to surprise and discovery; (4) we’re all capable of doing and being more, but we will never know until we try; (5) listen; it’s one of the hardest things to do but it will be your best guide in life.
View photos from the ceremony at the College of Science Facebook page here. Watch a video of the ceremony here.
UT Arlington research team develops new method to detect estrogen in small samples
Scientists at the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UT Arlington have collaborated to develop a new method for detecting trace amounts of estrogen in small samples that holds the potential to improve research into cancer and other diseases.
The hormone estrogen plays an important role in the human body and has been linked to everything from tumor growth to neuron loss during Alzheimer’s disease. But detecting very small amounts of it in blood and other biological fluids can be difficult for health researchers, especially in the limited amounts available in laboratory experiments.
In response, a UT Arlington research team applied advanced mass spectrometry and chromatography instrumentation available at the Shimadzu Institute to develop a sensitive and efficient method for detecting trace amounts at less than 10 parts per trillion in a 100 microliter sample, said Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry at UT Arlington. One part per trillion is the equivalent of a drop of water in 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.
“This new method pushes the detection limit for estrogens to a level that is applicable to research, human health, medicine, and environmental analysis. It is being instituted as a routine service for research means that all researchers now have the capability to more closely relate research model findings to human health and physiology,” said Jose Barrera, director of the Shimadzu Institute and a co-author on the new paper published by the journal Analytica Chimica Acta. “This project represents the collaborative capability that the Shimadzu Institute possesses in helping augment groundbreaking research here at UT Arlington.”
Read more on this story here.
Jeon receives $110K grant for young scientists from American Chemical Society
Junha Jeon
A UT Arlington researcher exploring the chemical catalysis that leads to synthetic chemistry discoveries useful in drug development and energy has won a new grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.
Junha Jeon, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UT Arlington College of Science, has been awarded a two-year, $110,000 award from the Petroleum Research Fund’s Doctoral New Investigator grant program. That program provides start-up funding for U.S. researchers during the first three years of their career. About 90 awards are made each year.
Jeon’s lab is focused on generating new catalytic reactions to make useful molecules from readily available petrochemicals, such as ethane and propane. In the grant-funded research, he will work to understand the reaction mechanism at work in ruthenium benzylidene catalysts useful in the energy and pharmaceutical industries.
Read more on this story here.
Cuntz offers new method for finding regions favorable for life in stellar binary systems
Research by Manfred Cuntz, a UT Arlington professor of physics, sheds greater light on Stype and P-type binary stars and forms the basis for BinHab, a new online tool that can be used to calculate the regions of binary systems favorable for life, commonly known as habitable zones.
In P-type systems the planet orbits both binary stars. In S-type systems, the planet orbits only one of the stellar components with the second component left to agitate the setting of the planet.
Astrophysicists have been tackling the problem of identifying habitable zones for many years. However, the method developed by Cuntz provides a comprehensive mathematical approach for both types of habitability.
“The challenge is to properly consider two separate criteria consisting in the amounts of stellar radiation, which provides a favorable planetary climate for life, and the gravitational influence of both stars on an existing planet,” Cuntz said.
Read more on this story here.
Castoe, Fujita part of international team unveiling research on bird, reptile genomes
Castoe Fujita
Todd Castoe and Matthew Fujita, UT Arlington assistant professors of biology, are part of a worldwide group of genomic researchers responsible for a blockbuster series of scientific papers published in December in the journal Science and several other publications.
On December 11, an international collaboration known as the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium announced the simultaneous release of 28 papers focusing on the genomes of almost 50 birds and 3 crocodilian species. According to the announcement, the work traces the genomes of modern birds and attempts to “tell a story of how they emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago.”
The Avian Phylogenomics Consortium has so far involved more than 200 scientists hailing from 80 institutions in 20 countries. The full announcement is available here.
Castoe and Fujita are co-authors on multiple papers in the set, including one paper appearing in the journal Science focusing on the genomes of crocodilians, the ancestor of modern crocodiles. They are also co-authors on a paper in the journal Gigascience exploring the genomes of two Antarctic penguins.
Read more on this story here.
Alumnus Arroyo tabbed by AT&T to lead its newly acquired wireless company in Mexico
College of Science Distinguished Alumnus Thaddeus Arroyo has been named by AT&T to lead Iusacell, a Mexican wireless company which it acquired in November 2014 for $2.5 billion.
Arroyo, a 19-year AT&T veteran and previously the president of AT&T Technology Development, received a B.A. in Mathematics from UT Arlington in 1986. He will be Iusacell’s chief executive officer and will lead a Mexico City-based team dedicated to a successful transition for Iusacell customers and employees.
“We’ll begin work immediately to bring more wireless competition and improved mobile Internet service to Mexico,” Arroyo said in a company news release. “We’re also excited to begin working on our plans to create the first-ever North American Mobile Service area covering more than 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States.”
Under Arroyo’s leadership, AT&T has won numerous awards for the innovative application of technology to transform business models and improve the customer experience, the release stated. Individually, he has also been recognized for his contributions to the technology industry through thought leadership, innovation, and creativity in planning and technology deployment.
Student abstract submissions for 2015 ACES symposium sought; deadline is February 6
Visitors browse student posters showcasing their research at the 2014 ACES symposium
Abstracts are now being accepted for the Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES), a University-wide symposium highlighting the best in student research and creativity.
Submissions deadline is Friday, Feb. 6. ACES 2015 is Wednesday, March 25, in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
Undergraduate and graduate students work with faculty mentors to write and submit abstracts for the competition. The approved abstracts are then turned into poster or oral presentations to be presented at the symposium. Monetary awards are given in graduate and undergraduate categories. The College of Science has a history of success in the symposium, capturing numerous awards each year.
Learn more about the 2015 ACES symposium here.
Ulrich Herrmann, who spearheaded creation of University astronomy program, dies at 89
Ulrich O. Herrmann, a professor of physics at UT Arlington from 1961-98 who was instrumental in creating the University’s astronomy program, died January 14 at age 89.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 21 at First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1959 Sandy Lane in Fort Worth.
Dr. Herrmann was born March 27, 1925, in Schneidemuehl, Germany. Following World War II, he completed college, met and married his wife, Marianne, in 1953, and earned a Ph.D. in Physics. He and Marianne immigrated to the United States in 1956. They moved to Arlington in 1958, and in 1961 Dr. Herrmann began teaching physics at UT Arlington, which was then named Arlington State College.
In addition to helping to create UT Arlington’s astronomy program, Dr. Herrmann helped secure funding to convert the Roundhouse structure adjoining Preston Hall into the University’s first planetarium. He first proposed the idea in 1975, and in 1981 the planetarium opened. He was an extremely popular professor for thousands of UT Arlington students, and he also volunteered as a teacher in the senior program at Tarrant County College. He enjoyed travel, photography, skiing and camping, and was a member of the Sierra Club, among other organizations.
Survivors include his wife, Marianne; daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Paul Hagerty of Rock Island, Ill.; son and daughter-in-law, Roland and Lisa Herrmann of Longmont, Colo.; and four grandchildren.
Memorials in Dr. Herrmann’s name may be made to the Nature Conservancy or the Sierra Club.
Harriett Amster, psychology professor who studied memory and cognition, dies at 86
Harriett Amster, a professor of psychology at UT Arlington from 1973 until her retirement in 2007, passed away on October 21, 2014. She was 86.
As a teacher Dr. Amster was most noted for her very popular Psychology of Women course. In 1993 she was selected by the UT Arlington Psi Chi chapter for its Outstanding Teacher Award. She served on the UT Arlington Faculty Senate from 1997 to 2005.
Dr. Amster graduated from Germantown High School in Philadelphia in 1946. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 1950, an M.A. from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 1954 and a Ph.D. from Clark University in 1957. She pursued a career involving human learning and memory, which evolved into research focusing on verbal meaning. Later in her career her research moved into processing of words with multiple meanings and cognitive aspects of aging.
Prior to joining UT Arlington, she worked as a researcher and lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley from 1958-73. From 1976-78 she was a visiting associate professor at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
In addition to her interest in language processing, she also served as editor of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly from 1973-76, and as a consulting editor from 1977-83.
Dr. Amster was a longtime member of the Psychonomic Society, an organization devoted to research primarily in cognitive areas of psychology. She and her colleagues regularly presented research at annual Psychonomic Society meetings from 1964 to 2009. She was also a member of the Academic Research and Professional Association (ARAPA); American Psychological Association (APA) and APA’s Divisions of Experimental Psychology, Psychology of Women, Association for Memory and Cognition, and Psychology of Aging; American Psychological Society; Cognitive Neuroscience Society; Psi Chi; and Sigma Xi.
Johnson included in publication spotlighting progress made by women in oceanography
Ashanti Johnson, assistant vice provost for faculty recruitment and associate professor of environmental science, is among 209 women featured in Oceanography magazine’s Women in Oceanography: A Decade Later.
The special supplement publication examines the progress that women in oceanography have made and on barriers that remain since Oceanography first looked at the issue in 2005. Oceanography is the official magazine of The Oceanography Society.
Progress is evident from the demographics of oceanography graduate students: in the last decade, the number of women students has equaled that for men, according to a society news release. While encouraging, this volume also shows that men continue to outnumber women at other levels and in other aspects of the field, a difference that cannot be solely ascribed to the pipeline issue.
“This supplement provides an analytical perspective of the gains made by women oceanographers over the past 10 years and identifies areas where improvements are still needed,” said Susan Lozier, a professor of ocean sciences at Duke University and president of The Oceanography Society. “Also included in this supplement is a multitude of personal stories that reveals the challenges, opportunities and rewards of a career in oceanography for women. I find these stories particularly inspiring.”
Read Johnson’s autobiographical sketch from the publication here. The full volume is available here.
Maverick Science magazine is available in print, online
The 2013-14 edition of Maverick Science 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.