The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
August 2015
Welcome to the August 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 pederson@uta.edu. If possible, please include a high-resolution headshot photo of those mentioned in your items.
Khaledi planning to help College of Science attain new heights of excellence as dean
Morteza Khaledi
A new era in leadership for the UT Arlington College of Science is under way with the arrival of Morteza Khaledi as dean.
Khaledi began his tenure at UT Arlington in early August. He was appointed dean following his selection from a highly competitive field of candidates after a national search. He now leads a college that includes more than 100 faculty members with a strong record of external support and collaborative research.
“I am honored to be here at UT Arlington. The College of Science has achieved great things and I believe together we are going to do even greater things,” Khaledi said. “The College of Science will play a critical role in realizing the vision of the University’s 2020 Strategic Plan and affirming UT Arlington as the model for an urban, public research institution.”
James Grover served as interim dean for the past year following the departure of Pamela Jansma, who served as dean from 2009-14. Grover, a professor of biology who previously served as associate dean for research and graduate studies, returns to that role with Khaledi’s arrival. Carl Lovely, distinguished teaching professor of chemistry and biochemistry, had served as interim associate dean in Grover’s place during the past year.
Read more of this story here.
Clark joins UT Arlington, takes on leadership role as new chair of Department of Biology
Clay Clark
The Department of Biology welcomed a new leader in July when Clay Clark joined UT Arlington as department chair.
Clark was selected to lead the department from a strong pool of candidates following a national search. He came to UT Arlington from North Carolina State University, where he was a member of the biochemistry faculty since 1999 and served as head of the department from July 2012 until he joined UT Arlington.
“I’m excited to be here at UT Arlington and I look forward to the opportunity to help lead the Department of Biology to even greater heights,” he said. “We have outstanding faculty and some state-of-the-art facilities, and I believe the teaching and research being done in our department are world-class.”
Clark replaces longtime department chair Jonathan Campbell, who stepped down in August 2014 to focus on his research work as one of the world’s preeminent herpetologists. Associate professor of biology Laura Gough served as interim chair for the past year while the search for a new chair was conducted.
Read more of this story here.
College of Science to mark 50th anniversary with variety of special events in 2015-16
The College of Science will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2015-16 academic year, and the College is planning to observe the special milestone with a host of special events for alumni, students, faculty and friends.
In 1965, the administration of what was then named Arlington State College sought to divide the School of Arts and Sciences into three separate units: the School of Science, the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Business. The move was approved by the state’s higher education governing board in July and the change was made official on September 1, 1965.
The move was made due to growth in enrollment and to improve each school’s ability to recruit students and faculty. ASC became UT Arlington in 1967, and the School of Science became the College of Science in 1973.
“I am arriving here in the College of Science at a very exciting time, as the College prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary,” new College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “We will be looking back, seeing how far we have come, and celebrating the many great achievements our alumni and faculty have made. At the same time, we will be looking ahead to the future with much anticipation and with determination to build on this solid foundation.”
Watch the College’s website, www.uta.edu/cos, in the coming weeks for a schedule of events and special content related to the College’s 50th anniversary.
Musielak honored for 3rd time by Humboldt Foundation for his research in astrophysics
Zdzislaw Musielak, third from left, with the mayor of Kalisz, fellow honoree Josef Wilkomirski, and the chair of the city counsel, from left, during a ceremony in Kalisz, Poland on June 12.
Zdzislaw Musielak, professor of physics, has won the international Humboldt Research Award for his exploration of extra-solar planetary systems, the origin of dark matter and dark energy, black holes and formulation of fundamental theories of physics.
This is the third time that Zdzislaw Musielak, a professor in the College of Science, has been honored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He previously received the Humboldt Prize in 1997 and 2010. The award honors internationally renowned scientists and scholars.
“I was very nicely surprised as the third-time awards are extremely hard to get,” Musielak said. “Very strong endorsements from German institutions are required in order to be even considered, and I'm very pleased that I received such strong support.
“The Humboldt Research Award is typically bestowed in recognition of a researcher’s entire achievements to date, and to one who is expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future. This award gives a tremendous boost to my research work here as well.”
Musielak also was honored on June 12 by his hometown of Kalisz, Poland, with its highest honor, the Honorary Citizen award. Musielak received the award at a ceremony in Kalisz, considered by many to be the oldest city in Poland.
Read more about this story here.
Biology Ph.D. student Fuess leads study of immune response in West Coast sea stars
Lauren Fuess
A study led by a UT Arlington graduate student examining sea stars dying along the West Coast provides new clues about the starfish’s immune response and its ability to protect a diverse coastal ecosystem.
Lauren Fuess, a Ph.D. candidate in quantitative biology, and her team looked at the wasting disease responsible for the largest die-off of sea stars ever recorded. Scientists believe that a virus related to rabies causes wasting disease. When infected, the stars’ arms contort, and they develop white lesions. The normally rigid stars begin to melt and become squishy in the final stages of the disease.
Wasting disease affects nearly 20 different species and it has caused up to almost 90 percent mortality in some areas off the West Coast over the last two years.
Read more about this story here.
UTA plans to add new building focusing on innovative research in science, engineering
Proposed location of the Science, Engineering Innovation and Research building.
The UT System Board of Regents has approved $20 million from the Permanent University Fund for the new UT Arlington Science, Engineering Innovation and Research building and included the project in the UT System Capital Improvements Program – ushering in a new era in cutting-edge health science teaching and research.
Construction of the 200,000-square-foot contemporary facility is expected to begin in 2016 with substantial completion by mid-2018. Page and ZGF Architects, the architecture and engineering firms that designed UTA’s Engineering Research Building, have been selected as the SEIR architecture and engineering team. The new building will become a highly visible and iconic gateway to the UTA campus as visitors approach from the south.
The new space will be focused on interdisciplinary research and teaching and will contribute significantly to the University’s growing excellence in health science initiatives, UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said.
“Demand for degrees in engineering, science, nursing and allied health careers continues to grow, and given our substantial academic and research strength in these areas, UT Arlington is well positioned to become a national leader in health science with the addition of this collaborative research and teaching facility and state-of-the-art innovative laboratory space,” Karbhari said.
Read more about this story here.
Collaboration will provide pre-med students with unique, first-hand hospital experience
UT Arlington and Texas Health Resources, one of the largest faith-based, non-profit health systems in the United States, are collaborating to offer undergraduates pursuing medical careers a unique opportunity to experience a physician’s work first-hand.
The Pre-Medical Student Preceptorship Program began as a pilot project in spring 2015 and formally launches this fall, pairing high-achieving students selected through a highly competitive process with physician-mentors in a hospital setting. Selected students participate in a six-week, for-credit course during the semester, shadowing physicians at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital in the operating room and in patient settings.
Participants will analyze medical literature and present case studies to their physician-mentors for critique. And they will meet with UT Arlington faculty members to evaluate, discuss and enhance their clinical experience, including analyzing relevant published topics such as clinical trials, molecular research, ethical issues, patient experiences and more.
“The University of Texas at Arlington is thrilled to continue to build a powerful partnership with Texas Health Resources, one of the drivers of the North Texas economy and a leading national provider of patient care,” UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said.
Read more of this story here.
UT Arlington hosts STEM Academy students to celebrate collaborative program’s start
Greg Hale, UTeach Arlington co-director and assistant dean, helps STEM Academy students with a gear wheel experiment on August 14.
The new STEM Academy partnership between UT Arlington and the Arlington Independent School District, offering high school students classroom and enrichment experiences that put them on a path to success in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, kicks off with the start of classes this week.
The new academy is now open at Martin High School, with students from across the district selected last 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.
On August 14, the students visited UT Arlington for a full day of STEM-related activities and tours to see some of UT Arlington’s cutting-edge laboratories and scientific equipment, including the Shimadzu Center for Advanced Analytical Chemistry and the Nanotechnology Research Center. They also were treated to a show at the Planetarium.
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 STEM Academy curriculum. Juniors and seniors in the program also will 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.
Learn more about the STEM Academy here.
Dasgupta collaborating to build prototype for in-line shunt flow monitoring system
Scientists from UT Arlington and the University of North Texas Health Science Center are building a prototype for an implantable in-line shunt flow monitoring system that would deliver both on-demand and continuous readings of hydrocephalus.
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, the UT Arlington Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Aditya Das, senior research scientist at the UT Arlington Research Institute, received about $100,000 for the project from the Texas Medical Research Collaborative. The UT Arlington researchers are working closely with Dr. Anthony Lee, a UNT Health Science Center surgeon.
Hydrocephalus is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in cavities of the brain. This can cause pressure inside the skull which can lead to convulsions, tunnel vision, blindness, balance and coordination issues, mental disability and even death if untreated. Current treatments for the condition utilize a cerebral shunt, or catheter to drain excess fluid. These catheters often can become blocked, infected or outgrown.
The collaborative product could lead to better treatment, especially in infants and children who account for a large proportion of shunt operations every year. About 75,000 shunt operations per year are in infants and children. There is a relatively high rate of complications as late as 17 years after initial placement of the device, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Read more of this story here.
Schug team’s study shows elevated levels of metals in Barnett Shale groundwater
A team led by Kevin Schug, UT Arlington’s Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, has published a comprehensive study of potential groundwater contamination in areas of unconventional oil and gas drilling.
The peer-reviewed study, “A Comprehensive Analysis of Groundwater Quality in the Barnett Shale Region,” was published in the June 16 online edition of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The Barnett Shale lies below the Trinity and Woodbine aquifers and is home to more than 20,000 unconventional drilling wells, where a method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been used to extract trapped oil or gas. Since the natural gas boom in the Dallas-Fort Worth area began almost a decade ago, some have questioned whether potentially harmful chemicals used during various phases of gas extraction and related activities would make their way into the area’s aquifers.
The UT Arlington team tested 550 water samples collected from public and private water wells in North Texas’ Barnett Shale region over the past three years. It found elevated levels of 10 different metals as well as the presence of 19 different chemicals compounds including so-called BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes) compounds associated with hydraulic fracturing. The study also found elevated levels of methanol and ethanol.
Read more of this story here.
Welch Summer Scholar Program immerses high school students in chemistry research
First row, from left: Melinda Wang, Smriti Verma, Irene Chu, Minha Kim. Second row, from left: Fcounselor rances Dijeh, Vishnu Nair, Laren Spear. Third row, from left: Tarun Srinivasan, counselor Lynda Dijeh, Neil Shah, site director Seiichero Tanizaki. Fourth row, from left: Robin Macaluso, Alejandro Bugarin, Junha Jeon, Fred MacDonnell. Fifth row from left: Kevin Schug, Peter Kroll, Frank Foss.
High school students from around Texas came to UT Arlington for the 23rd consecutive year to participate in chemistry research as part of the Welch Summer Scholar Program. The students conducted experiments and received one-on-one mentoring from faculty members.
The program, funded by the Welch Foundation of Texas, brings four male and four female high school students to campus to spend five weeks as Welch scholars. The students, who receive full scholarships to cover all program costs, are selected based on academic standing, personal statements and letters of recommendation. Since its inception, the Welch program has served more than 1,500 high school students from across Texas.
“The unique aspect of the Welch program is that students join chemistry research projects from the beginning of the program, following two days of orientation, and engage in formal chemistry research from morning to evening every day except for weekends,” said Seiichero Tanizaki, site director and assistant professor of practice in chemistry. “They learn how to use modern instrumentation. They participate in research group meetings. This type of exposure to an academic research environment is difficult to find in a regular high school curriculum.”
Students participating in the program, their high school, faculty member in whose lab group they worked, and project title include:
Irene Chu (Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Helotes); Kevin Schug; “A Study of Matrix Effect from Biological Fluids during Intact Protein Quantification using Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry.”
Minha Kim (A&M Consolidated High School, College Station); Peter Kroll; “Synthesis and Fabrication of Gold and Silicon Carbide (Au-SiC) Hybrid Nanostructures.”
Smriti Verma (Lubbock High School, Lubbock); Frank Foss; “Synthesis of the Tripeptide L-Lysine D-Alanine L-Alanine.”
Melinda Wang (Obra D. Tompkins, Katy); Rasika Dias; “A zinc(II)-catalyzed Büchner reaction.”
Vishnu Nair (Cypress Ranch High School, Cypress); Junha Jeon; “Synthesis of C2-Silyl Estrone Derivatives.”
Neil Shah (Westwood High School, Austin); Alejandro Bugarin; “Synthesis of a Fe(III) Salen Derivative.”
Laren Spear (Saint Mary’s Hall, San Antonio); Robin Macaluso; “Synthesis and analysis of CuLnO2 (Ln=La, Ce, Pr, Nd).”
Tarun Srinivasan (The Kinkaid School, Houston); Fred MacDonnell; “Kinetic Study of Passive Proton Transport Across Vesicles.”
Learn more about the Welch Summer Scholar Program here
Griffith takes part in scientific expedition aboard drilling vessel in Arabian Sea
Elizabeth Griffith aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific drilling ship. Photo courtesy of Bill Crawford, IODP JRSO.
Elizabeth Griffith, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, spent April and May at sea doing research as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program’s Expedition 355 (Arabian Sea Monsoon Expedition).
Griffith served as a physical properties and downhole measurements specialist, one of six U.S. scientists who were part of an international 30-member team aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution.
The project’s goal was to understand the interaction between the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau uplift and the development and evolution of the Indian summer monsoon. The research was done in the eastern Arabian Sea. Drilling to obtain sediment cores was done at an ocean depth of about 2 miles, around 200 miles off the coast of Mumbai.
In mid-August, Griffith and a Ph.D. student in her lab, Samantha Carter, traveled to the IODP Gulf Coast Core Repository at Texas A&M University in College Station to sample the core which was obtained during the expedition. The core was sampled at high resolution so that all of the scientists who participated in the expedition can study it in the coming months.
Learn more about the project here.
Gatchel joining in two collaborative projects aimed at treating, reducing lower-back pain
Robert Gatchel, director of UT Arlington’s Center of Excellence for the Study of Health and Chronic Illnesses and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology, is a collaborator in a project called Precision Texas designed to treat lower-back pain, which affects many people worldwide, causes activity limitation and work absence.
The long-term goals are to focus on developing a large bio-bank of patient genomic profiles, as well as data on diet, life-style, and occupational variables. One important outcome will be to advance pharmacogenetics in order to evaluate the “right drug for the right patient at the right dose,” Gatchel said.
The initial focus of the project will be to develop a registry for low-back pain, along with developing laboratories with track records of biobanking and testing of genetic specimens, as well as computing and bioinformatics capabilities to analyze complex genomics data.
Gatchel is also part of a collaborative research project which has won inaugural Interdisciplinary Research Program awards through a UT Arlington initiative aimed at advancing true interdisciplinary research and enhancing the University’s competitive position nationally.
Gatchel is joining faculty from the Colleges of Engineering and Nursing and Health Innovation for a study titled “The Effectiveness of Objective Monitoring and Exercise Intervention for Chronic Low-Back Pain Management”. The project’s goal is to study a new multi-dimensional exercise therapy that combines an advanced body-monitoring tele-remote technology and optical brain imaging in hopes of reducing low-back pain.
Learn more about the Precision Texas project here and read more about the Interdisciplinary Research Program projects here.
Yu delivers keynote address at Texas STEM Librarian’s Conference, writes APS article
Jaehoon Yu, professor of physics, delivered the keynote address at the Texas STEM Librarians’ Conference held at UT Arlington July 23-24.
Yu’s talk, “Discovery of the God Particle and Makings of Dark Matter Beams”, was about the discovery of the Higgs particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Laboratory for Nuclear and Particle Physics Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland. He also covered the complex computing grid technology that has contributed significantly to the timely analysis of the data through communication, and the collaboration among scientists that arose from the data network.
Yu also recently wrote an article for the American Physical Society’s International News website about fostering collaborations in physics between the United States and Korea through the Association of Korean Physicists in America (AKPA). AKPA has worked to encourage collaboration and academic exchange as well as networking among members since it was created in 1979. Yu is the immediate past president of AKPA; his term ended in May. Read the article here.

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 science@uta.edu 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, September 4
Welcome Back
Ice Cream Social
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Life Sciences lobby
Come by for free ice cream and meet fellow COS students and faculty!
Monday, September 7
Labor Day holiday
M-F, November 2-6
Science Week 2015

A week full of guest lectures, Q&A panels and special events designed to bring College of Science alumni, students and faculty together and to showcase the innovative work being done in the College. Details coming soon!
November 26-27
Thanksgiving holidays
Wednesday, Dec. 9
Last day of classes for Fall 2015 semester
December 12, 14-18
Final exams for Fall 2015 semester
Friday, December 18
College of Science
Fall 2015 Commencement

3 p.m. in College Park Center. Details coming soon.
Planetarium’s fall schedule is under way
The Fall semester is here and the Planetarium has a new lineup of fun and exciting shows which will transport you throughout the solar system! The Fall schedule runs August 27 through November 29.
6:00 pm - Cosmic Origins Spectrograph
6:00 pm - From the Earth to the Universe
1:00 pm - Astronaut
2:30 pm - Cosmic Origins Spectrograph
5:30 pm - From the Earth to the Universe
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
1:30 pm - Astronaut
3:00 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity

For tickets, reservations, group rates or further information, please contact The Planetarium at UT Arlington.
Maverick Science
New Maverick Science magazine coming soon
Find out what’s happening in the College of Science by reading our official magazine, Maverick Science. It has the latest news about our amazing faculty, students and alumni! The 2015 edition of Maverick Science will be here soon! Read the 2014 online edition here.
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