The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
January 2016
Welcome to the January 2016 edition of Maverick ScienceE-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 welcomes newest alumni during Fall 2015 commencement ceremony
Dr. Michael Sakowski, Class of 1966 and member of the first graduating class from the College of Science, delivered the guest address.
The College of Science welcomed a new class of alumni to its ranks on December 18 during the Fall 2015 Commencement ceremony at College Park Center.
Guest speaker was College of Science alumnus Dr. Michael Sakowski, an Arlington anesthesiologist who earned a B.S. in Biology in 1966. Sakowski is a member of the first class to graduate after the creation of the College of Science, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“I sat where you now sit, only 50 years ago,” he told the new graduates. “That was only yesterday.”
Sakowski urged the graduates to “be proud of your accomplishments and be humble in this moment, and give thanks to all who have guided you, nurtured you, assisted you with encouragement when you were desperate and praise when you succeeded.”
Sakowski assured the graduates that their experiences at UTA would leave them well-prepared to handle life’s challenges. “Pursue what you enjoy and you will be successful,” he said. “Be successful and you will be on a path to happiness. And above all, give thanks for what you have and to those who made it possible.”
See photos from the ceremony on the COS Facebook page here. See a video of the ceremony here.
Armstrong, Dasgupta named to Power List of most influential analytical scientists in 2015
Armstrong Dagupta
Armstrong Dasgupta
Two prominent University of Texas at Arlington professors of chemistry and biochemistry, Daniel W. Armstrong and Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, are ranked among the Top 100 most influential people in the world of analytical science by the monthly journal The Analytical Scientist.
The Power List 2015 ranked a Top 20 among noted scientists, executives and consultants from institutions around the world and listed 80 other leading figures in the field. The United Kingdom-based publication’s editorial comprises scientists from the world’s leading institutions. An announcement accompanying the Power List said it “beautifully highlights the brilliance and diversity found within our sometimes undervalued field.”
UTA and UT Austin were the only two Texas universities with representatives on the list, and UTA was the only one with two honorees.
Read more on this story here.
Nygren among 3 faculty members named Fellows of National Academy of Inventors
Three more leading University of Texas at Arlington faculty have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, bringing the total number of UTA Fellows to 13, the highest number for a Texas university and the second-highest number in the nation.
Within Texas, the only other institutions to receive three new Fellows were Rice University and The University of Texas at Austin.
The 2015 class will include Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research; David Nygren, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics; and Kenneth Reifsnider, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The new Fellows will be inducted April 15, 2016, as part of the academy’s fifth annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction awarded to academic inventors who have created or facilitated inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
Read more on this story here.
UTA hosts international physics conference on Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment
Physicists from around the world convened at UTA for the DUNE conference January 12-15.
Some 150 leading international physicists convened at The University of Texas at Arlington from January 12-15 to collaborate on the game-changing particle physics experiment known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).
The U.S. Department of Energy project focuses on nearly massless subatomic particles and is led by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. The project aims to solve the question of how the universe came to consist of matter rather than antimatter - in other words, to explain the origins of the universe and why we exist at all.
“DUNE is the next big thing in particle physics,” said Jaehoon Yu, UTA physics professor and organizer of the meeting. “UTA’s key role in this billion-dollar, U.S.-led planned project consolidates our international reputation as a power-house in this field.”
Within DUNE, Yu convened the Exotics Group that will search for Dark Matter, while UTA associate physics professor Amir Farbin had a leading role in designing the computing systems model for the project.
Read more on this story here.
Deng analyzing space weather to improve models used to forecast satellite movements
Yue Deng
Researchers at the The University of Texas at Arlington led by Yue Deng, associate professor of physics, are analyzing the energy entering the upper atmosphere following space weather events like solar flares to help refine the models used to forecast and track satellite trajectories.
Current estimates of the energy entering the upper atmosphere during times of greatest solar output can be off by as much as 100 percent. As a result, the models used to forecast trajectories and track the satellites orbiting in that region can also yield an error of up to 30 percent, depending on the different space environment conditions.
Deng is principal investigator on a new $378,350 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to model the energy entering the polar cap regions of the upper atmosphere from the magnetosphere, or Earth’s magnetic field, following different space weather events.
Read more on this story here.
Pierce leads research to better understand autism, Alzheimer’s and Down Syndrome
Biochemists at The University of Texas at Arlington are mapping the catalytic processes of sulfur-oxidizing enzymes to improve understanding of the chemical imbalances found in patients with autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome.
“Little is known about how sulfur-oxidizing enzymes work, or how or why autistic, Alzheimer and Down syndrome patients demonstrate abnormal sulfur metabolism,” said Brad Pierce, UTA associate professor of biochemistry and principal investigator on the project.
“Our work is to retro-engineer the sulfur oxidation process and map out the chemical mechanism of a key enzyme - cysteine dioxygenase - in both mammals and bacteria, to provide the necessary framework to develop effective therapies and drugs for these different disease states.”
Insights into the differential behavior of this enzyme in bacteria could also open up opportunities to stamp out “superbugs” by providing an alternate means to disrupt bacterial metabolism without adversely affecting the patient.
Read more on this story here.
Study led by Russell and Ickes focuses on gay men and straight women relationships
Russell   Ickes
A new study led by psychology researchers with The University of Texas at Arlington sheds new light on why many heterosexual women develop close friendships with gay men.
It’s a social pattern that has been a central theme of television shows such as “Modern Family,” “The Office,” “Sex & the City,” “Will & Grace,” and other pop culture movies and television programs for years. But the researchers say there has never been an empirical study of the circumstances that drive such relationships until now.
Eric Russell, a doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant in the UTA Department of Psychology, is the paper’s lead author. William Ickes, a UTA Distinguished Professor of Psychology, is co-author of the study and Russell’s mentor. Ickes has published extensively in the areas of sex and gender roles and relationships and said psychologists study such social patterns to enhance understanding of the human condition.
The research affirmed that women place more trust in dating advice from a gay male friend than from heterosexual men because gay men have fewer ulterior mating motives. Also, women are more likely to trust and befriend gay men when they are in a highly competitive dating environment, such as a university with more female students than male students, the studies showed.
Read more on this story here.
Lopez named to national panel to assess scientific value of extended NASA missions
Ramon Lopez, professor of physics, has been appointed to serve on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on NASA Science Mission Extensions.
The 13-member committee will conduct an assessment of the scientific value of extended missions in the overall program of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The committee’s report will provide recommended guidelines for future NASA decision-making about such mission extensions.
This is the fifth National Academy of Sciences report that Lopez will co-author. National Academy of Sciences reports are used to establish science policy by U.S. agencies, such as the report released in 2013 on scientific priorities for Antarctic research for the next 20 years, which Lopez also co-authored.
Learn more about the NAS Committee on NASA Science Mission Extensions here.
Winguth discusses climate change issues affecting Earth live on BBC News program
Arne Winguth, a UTA associate professor of oceanography, earth and environmental sciences, addressed climate change issues live on BBC News with chief correspondent Matthew Price on December 4.
Days before the global summit on climate change in Paris, Price came to Texas to talk with farmers and experts about how climate change is affecting the state. On fluctuations in the air and the sea, Winguth said, “There are natural variations in the climate – and going back there are even larger fluctuations. The question is, why is the temperature not rising much faster than we would expect for these rises in CO2 concentrations?”
The oceans appear to be the answer, Winguth added, “absorbing more than we had expected of the heat that the planet is accumulating.”
Alumna Glaze heading NASA mission to send probe to Venus to explore its atmosphere
College of Science alumna Lori Glaze (B.S. in Physics ’85 and M.S. in Physics ’89) is principal investigator of NASA’s Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) project.
The online blog Women in Astronomy reported on January 6 that the DAVINCI mission will send a NASA probe on a journey through Venus’ atmosphere, winding up in the planet’s roughest and most geologically complex terrain. The probe would explore the planet’s atmosphere essentially from top to bottom, including the deep layers largely hidden from Earth-based instruments and orbiting spacecraft. DAVINCI would be the first U.S. probe to target Venus’ atmosphere in nearly four decades.
The project’s goals include understanding the origin of the Venus atmosphere, its evolution and why it is different than Earth and Mars, and understanding the history of water on Venus and chemical processes at work in its lower atmosphere.
Glaze is deputy director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Her expertise includes scientific research on physical processes in terrestrial and planetary volcanology, atmospheric transport and diffusion processes, geologic mass movements, and environmental and geologic hazards.
Read more about the DAVINCI project here.
Schug planning to use Italian sabbatical to bring 2D chromatography expertise to UTA
Kevin Schug, associate professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is on sabbatical and is spending the semester as a visiting professor at the University of Messina in Sicily, Italy. He wrote about his plans for the semester in the January 13 edition of his online blog in LCGC.
“After 10 years at UT Arlington, I have decided it is time to take one of the best opportunities afforded to researchers in an academic faculty position—to travel abroad and assimilate new techniques into my repertoire to enhance future research activities,” Schug wrote, adding that he will spend the next few months with professors Luigi Mondello, Paola Dugo and their group.
“The goal of my stay will be to learn multidimensional chromatography through spending some time in the laboratory with them,” he added. “As some of you may or may not be aware, the University of Messina includes one of the largest installations of Shimadzu instrumentation in Europe, so it matches well the resources we have here at UT Arlington. The exception is that here in Texas, we have not yet incorporated any comprehensive two-dimensional instrumentation into our facilities. With my visit to Italy, I hope to change that and to bring expertise in the subject back to Texas.”
Read the LCGC blog entry 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 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

Tuesday, January 19
First day of classes for Spring 2016 semester
March 14-18
Spring Break for Spring 2016 semester

Wednesday, March 23
Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) symposium, E.H. Hereford University Center. More information here.

Thursday, March 31
Maverick Speaker Series: Jane Goodall, primatologist and conservationist, “Gombe and Beyond: An Evening with Dr. Jane Goodall” 7:30 p.m., College Park Center. Audience Q&A to follow lecture. Tickets available starting at 10 a.m. March 1 at
Monday, April 4
Registration begins for Summer and Fall 2016 terms.

Friday, April 15
COS/SCC Spring Picnic, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Library Mall. Food and drinks along with snow-cones, interactive games and activities on the lawn.

Friday, May 6
Last day of classes for Spring 2016 semester

May 7, 9-13
Final exams for Spring 2016 semester

Friday, May 13
College of Science Spring 2016 Commencement ceremony, 3 p.m., College Park Center. Details coming soon.

Planetarium’s spring schedule announced
The new year is here and the Planetarium has a lineup of fun and exciting shows for the new semester, including our newest show, Dark. The Spring 2016 schedule runs now through May 29.
6:00 pm - From Earth to the Universe
6:00 pm - Dark
1:00 pm - Cosmic Colors
2:30 pm - From earth to the Universe
5:30 pm - Dark
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
1:30 pm - Astronaut
3:00 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity

For the Dec. 22-Jan. 3 schedule, tickets, reservations or further information, please contact The Planetarium at UT Arlington.
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New Maverick Science magazine is here!
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