The University of Texas at Arlington
May 2015
Welcome to the May 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.
College of Science celebrates newest class of graduates during Spring Commencement  

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

Monday, June 8
First day of classes for Summer first 5-week session
Monday, June 8
First day of classes for Summer 11-week session
Thursday, July 9
Last day of classes for Summer first 5-week session
Tuesday, July 14
First day of classes for Summer second 5-week session
Thursday, August 13
Last day of classes for Summer second 5-week session
Thursday, August 13
Last day of classes for Summer 11-week session
Thursday, August 13
Last day of classes for Summer 14-week session
Thursday, August 27
First day of classes for Fall 2015 semester
Planetarium’s summer schedule is under way
This summer, beat the heat and come to the Planetarium, where the fun and exciting shows will transport you throughout the solar system! The summer schedule runs May 26 to August 23.
2 p.m. – Texas Stargazing
3:30 p.m. – Spacepark 360: Infinity
2 p.m. – Dynamic Earth
3:30 p.m. – Spacepark 360: Infinity
2 p.m. – One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
3:30 p.m. – Spacepark 360: Infinity
2 p.m. – Stars of the Pharaohs
3:30 p.m. – Spacepark 360: Infinity
1 p.m. – One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
2:30 p.m. – Cosmic Colors
5:30 p.m. – Stars of the Pharaohs
7 p.m. – Pink Floyd
1:30 p.m. – Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
3 p.m. – Spacepark 360: Infinity

For tickets, reservations, group rates or further information, please contact The Planetarium at UT Arlington.
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E-Newsletter Archives
Joel Montgomery addresses the audience May 15.
The College of Science welcomes its newest alumni with the graduation of the Class of 2015 on May 15.
The Spring 2015 commencement ceremony, held in College Park Center, provided the opportunity for graduates to walk across the stage and receive their hard-earned diplomas as families and friends looked on.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Ronald Elsenbaumer, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and the introduction of the marshals and stage party by James Grover, interim dean of the College of Science. Grover then introduced the guest speaker, College of Science alumnus Joel Montgomery, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Biology from UT Arlington.
Montgomery is director of the Division of Global Health Protection and principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Kenya, where he has served for the past four years. He spent much of the past year helping to lead the ongoing fight against the deadly Ebola epidemic in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. In his address, he urged the graduates to consider three rules by which he lives his life: Look out for yourself; enjoy life and appreciate the things you have; and invest your time in others.
“Take control of your own future and always strive for more,” he said. “No one else can do that for you.
Watch a video of the ceremony here. See photos from the ceremony on the College of Science Facebook page here.
Castoe team examines role of altered genes in python’s dramatic changes in physiology
A new study led by UT Arlington biologists has found that dramatic changes in the anatomy and physiology of the Burmese python after it eats a large meal are controlled by a series of alterations in gene expression.
The research is detailed in a paper published in the May edition of the journal Physiological Genomics. It analyzes the changes that occur in the reptile’s small intestine in the days after it ingests a meal following a long period of fasting. The authors believe that their work could shed new light on how vertebrates control organ growth and function.
Todd Castoe, a UT Arlington assistant professor of biology and corresponding author of the paper, says the study is a breakthrough because it delves explicitly into how genes are utilized in creating the stunning changes that take place in the Burmese python’s organs. A previous paper published in 2013 which was led by Castoe showed that massive changes in gene expression underlie organ regenerative growth upon feeding in pythons.
“I was completely surprised and more than a bit overwhelmed,” Nygren said of his reaction when he learned he was named a recipient. “When one is selected by your peers for recognition, it is particularly meaningful.”
“This new paper is the first one to dive into the details,” Castoe said. “Our paper is the first to really show the link between the extreme changes in the python’s organs, specifically the small intestine, with gene expression. It’s also the first one to show that these changes occur very quickly upon feeding – much more quickly than anyone had previously imagined.”
Read more about this story here.
Nguyen receives ACS award as top senior undergraduate organic chemistry student
Hiep Nguyen
UT Arlington chemistry student Hiep Nguyen, who graduated with a B.S. in Bio-chemistry in May, has received the Outstanding Senior Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Student from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Organic Chemistry.
The award recognizes senior students who have displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry as evidenced by their formal course work as well as their research accomplishments during the course of their undergraduate studies, according to the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry. It also recognizes the recipient’s desire to pursue a career in chemistry.
Nguyen is one of only a handful of recipients of the award from selected universities nationwide. He was nominated by his faculty mentor, Junha Jeon, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and selected by UT Arlington chemistry faculty. Nguyen will begin working toward a Ph.D. in chemistry at UT Arlington in August.
Read more on this story here.
Armstrong chairs international symposia on latest in multidimensional chromatography
Fort Worth played host to 400 of the world’s preeminent scientists during the 39th International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography and 12th GC×GC Symposium from May 16-21. The conference showcased the latest developments in multidimensional chromatography.
Daniel Armstrong, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry at UT Arlington and chair of the symposia, said it was the first time the premier research meetings were held in this part of the country. The annual symposia alternate between the United States and Europe..
The symposia featured plenary lectures, keynote lectures by emerging scientists, a broad array of poster presentations, vendor and instrument exhibitions, along with social events. Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, UT Arlington Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry, gave a plenary lecture on the subject of a recently published paper, “An Ion Chromatograph for Extraterrestrial Explorations — A Mission to Mars”. Kevin Schug, UT Arlington Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, was among the invited speakers to present during the concurrent symposia.
Armstrong promoted the symposia in the April edition of The Analytical Scientist, in a special section devoted to multidimensional chromatography. Schug, who served as a member of the local organizing committee for the symposia, also contributed to the edition with a piece about vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) technology as an alternative to mass spectrometry.
Learn more about the symposia here.
College of Science faculty, staff honored for outstanding work at annual awards banquet
The University honored College of Science faculty and staff members for their outstanding work in various categories during the spring Faculty Awards banquet, held May 5 in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
College of Science recipients and their prizes included: Jaehoon Yu, professor of physics — Outstanding Research Achievement or Creative Accomplishment Award; Kaushik De, professor of physics — Distinguished Record of Research or Creative Activity; Chaoqun Liu, professor of mathematics — Academy of Distinguished Scholars; David Jorgensen, professor of mathematics — Doctoral Student Mentoring; Thomas Chrzanowski, professor of biology — Academy of Distinguished Teachers; Angeleah Chavis-McCray, Department of Mathematics — Outstanding Academic Professional Advisor.
Serving in the Faculty Mentoring Program were Tuncay Aktosun and Benito Chen Carpenter, professors of mathematics. Serving as McNair Scholar Program Faculty Mentors were Jeffery Demuth, associate professor of biology; Julian Hurdle, assistant professor of biology; Jared Kenworthy, associate professor of psychology; Christopher Kribs, professor of mathematics; Zdzislaw Musielak, professor of physics; and Yuan Bo Peng, professor of psychology. Receiving Research Enhancement Program Grants for 2015-16 were Joseph Ngai, assistant professor of physics and Heekyeong Park, assistant professor of psychology.
UT Arlington community mourns death of Aminah Ahmed, a new graduate in biology
Aminah Ahmed
The UT Arlington community is in mourning following the death of Aminah Jennifa Ahmed, a student who had just shared in the joy of her graduation day with family and friends.
Ms. Ahmed participated in the College of Science commencement ceremony at College Park Center on May 15, receiving her B.S. degree in Biology with a Business minor. Later the same day, she felt ill and was taken to a hospital, where she died on May 20. She was 22 years old.
The cause of death is suspected to be a brain aneurysm, WFAA TV reported. Just after walking the stage, she began having a headache, which worsened in the ensuing hours, WFAA reported. She told her father that she believed it was just stress. She took a nap after returning home but had to be rushed to the hospital when she began having trouble breathing. She was taken to ICU but never regained consciousness.
Ms. Ahmed, who had plans to become a physician’s assistant, was involved in various student activities at UT Arlington, and she did volunteer work with numerous charities. She had recently started a project which would pay for eye surgeries for children in South Asia, especially in her home country of Bangladesh. Since her death, her family renamed the project “Aminah Sees” and is raising money to pay for the project. A GoFundMe page created by her family has raised over $38,000 in her honor thus far.
Donations to Aminah Sees can be made via the GoFundMe page here.
Winguth discusses report on climate change and transportation in KERA radio interview
Arne Winguth, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, was a guest on KERA 90.1 radio on May 20 to discuss findings from a recent study he led about the effects of extreme weather on area transportation infrastructure.
Winguth and colleagues conducted the study for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). The findings led researchers to conclude that there is a high likelihood that extreme storms and higher precipitation will lead to service disruption and damage to roads, railways and airport runways, particularly in the spring season. They also found a higher likelihood of heat-related risks for infrastructure, particularly during the summer season.
Among the topics Winguth talked about on KERA were the effects extreme temperatures could have on transportation infrastructure, how seasonal storm damage will increase, the length and severity of droughts, and how rapid shifts between floods and drought can affect transportation infrastructure.
“There have been studies from Hurricane Katrina that the lifetime of a road will be significantly shortened if it is submerged,” Winguth said in the interview. “So these shifts from a drought, for example, to flooding is that the soil moisture will not keep up as fast. So there will be soil transport during flooding. That can also lead [to the] decline of the infrastructure.”
Read more about the KERA interview and listen to it here.
Image highlighting Park’s research featured in AAS high energy astrophysics newsletter
This image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory shows the 1a supernova G299. Courtesy of NASA/Chandra.
An image of a supernova remnant featured in the research of Sangwook Park, assistant professor of physics, and Seth Post, one of Park’s Ph.D. students, is featured on the cover of the May edition of the American Astronomical Society High Energy Astrophysics Division newsletter.
The photo, taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory, illustrates research which studied the shape of a Type 1a supernova remnant using data collected by Chandra. The paper by Post and Park, along with six co-authors from around the world, appeared in the Sept. 1, 2014, issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
The scientists’ findings suggest that a very lopsided explosion may have produced the supernova remnant, which is named G299.2-2.9 (G299 for short) and is located within the Milky Way galaxy.
Read the AAS/HEAD newsletter here.