The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
June 2016
Welcome to the June 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.
Kribs, Griffith honored as 2016 recipients of UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards
Ashley Griffith, left, and Christopher Kribs
Three University of Texas at Arlington faculty members are among University of Texas System educators honored with 2016 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards for excellence in the classroom. Two of the three are College of Science faculty members.
The 2016 UTA honorees are: Ashley Griffith, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences; Christopher Kribs, professor of mathematics and curriculum and instruction; and James Campbell Quick, the John and Judy Goolsby-Jacqualyn A. Fouse Endowed Chair in the College of Business’ Department of Management.
UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said this year’s winners exemplify the highest level of excellence in teaching and demonstrate a commitment to the success of students and to the community. Honorees are nominated based on recommendations from department chairs, deans and committees.
“UTA’s culture of excellence generates a very high level of professional commitment,” Karbhari said. “Our faculty members are dedicated to inspiring intellectual passion among their students and guiding them to increasing levels of inquiry, achievement and community involvement. The three honorees are outstanding figures in their areas of expertise, and we are honored to call them Mavericks.”
Read more of this story here.
Gagne finds that low attention control in teen-agers is genetic risk factor for anxiety
Jeffrey Gagne
University of Texas at Arlington researchers have found that low attention control in early adolescence is related to a genetic risk factor for four different anxiety disorders. Young teens who suffer from anxiety are also more vulnerable to additional problems like depression, drug dependence, suicidal behavior and educational underachievement.
The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that 8 per cent of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, with anxiety-related problems often peaking during this time. Most adults diagnosed with anxiety or mood disorders also report the presence of symptoms earlier in their lives.
“Appropriate and earlier intervention could really assist these patients and improve their outlooks on the long-term,” said Jeffrey Gagne, UTA assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “Having a visible marker like low attention control, which usually appears and can be identified before anxiety, could improve the treatment of these disorders.”
Gagne and UTA graduate student Catherine Spann recently published their research as “The Shared Etiology of Attentional Control and Anxiety: An Adolescent Twin Study” in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Read more of this story here.
Study finds strangers reach understanding through talking rather than non-verbal cues
Meghan Babcock, left, and Vivian Ta
Psychologists at The University of Texas at Arlington have discovered that when two strangers meet and interact for the first time, the extent to which they develop mutual understanding depends on how much they talk and ask questions rather than on non-verbal cues such as gestures or exchanging glances.
The UTA researchers used a specialized linguistic program to measure the extent that two strangers “get in synch” linguistically, providing new insight into the processes that underlie how people come to understand each other when they meet for the first time.
“Beginning in the 1970s, many researchers touted the power of non-verbal communication in creating first impressions and connecting with others,” said William Ickes, co-author of the study and UTA Distinguished Professor of Psychology. “Our research indicates that the exchange of words in conversation is all that is really needed for the development of common-ground understanding in initial, unstructured interactions.”
Ickes, along with the study’s lead author, Vivian Ta, and co-author Meghan Babcock, both UTA psychology doctoral students, recently published their results in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology as “Developing Latent Semantic Similarity in Initial, Unstructured Interactions: The Words May Be All You Need.”
Read more of this story here.
Planetarium celebrates its 10th anniversary with reception for donors, alumni, faculty
Guests mingle during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Planetarium at UTA on May 21.
The Planetarium at UTA marked its 10-year anniversary in May with a reception for donors, alumni, faculty and staff.
Among those attending the event were a number of original “Galaxy Donors” whose generous donations helped make the Planetarium a reality.
College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and former dean Paul Paulus, and Planetarium Director Levent Gurdemir addressed the guests before they were treated to a collage of Planetarium shows from the past 10 years.
“The Planetarium is a tremendous facility and has done so much for science education,” Khaledi said. “It has also helped UTA to connect with the community in many ways. It’s an extremely valuable asset to the College and the University, and we are very thankful to our faculty and alumni whose generosity made it possible for us to have this wonderful facility here for everyone to enjoy.”
The Planetarium opened in March 2006 as part of the Chemistry & Physics Building. It boasts a 60-foot-tall dome and the latest in state-of-the-art digital technology. The $40 million, 123,678-square-foot CPB includes laboratories and classroom space for chemistry and physics and offices for faculty. The Planetarium draws thousands of visitors each year to its wide variety of educational and entertaining shows, including large groups of elementary and middle school students from around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Learn more about the Planetarium here.
CPRIT grant helps UTA recruit cell biology researcher, expand focus on health science
Mark Pellegrino
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded The University of Texas at Arlington an $823,067 grant to recruit star cell biology researcher Mark Pellegrino from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Pellegrino will join the UTA College of Science as an assistant biology professor in August. He is an internationally recognized biologist whose discovery that mitochondria are an important activator of innate immunity was published in Nature in 2014. The grant will provide startup research funding for Pellegrino’s lab.
“Mark Pellegrino is positioned to become a leader among cell biologists,” said Morteza Khaledi, dean of the College of Science. “Studies of how cells respond to mitochondrial stress are of growing interest because of the implications for multiple conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease and bacterial infections.”
Pellegrino said that he has many important new research projects planned at UTA.
“My long term goal is to use my knowledge of mitochondrial stress response to develop reagents with therapeutic potential,” Pellegrino said. “I am especially excited to join UTA as the University gears up to become a leader in the area of bio-medical sciences.”
Read more of this story here.
College of Science announces scholarship, award recipients and Dean’s List members
The College of Science in May honored outstanding student achievement with annual departmental awards for the 2015-16 academic year and scholarships for 2016-17.
The College also released the Dean’s List for the 2015-16 academic year, which includes students who achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher with a minimum of 30 hours completed for the term.
See the full list of award and scholarship recipients here. See the Dean’s List here.
University community mourns passing of psychology student James Anamosa, age 21
James Daniel Anamosa, a junior in the Department of Psychology, died June 13 in Katy, Texas. He was 21 years old.
Mr. Anamosa was born on February 5, 1995 in Saudi Arabia and spent his early years there before he and his family moved to New Zealand for two years and finally, to Katy. He graduated from Cinco Ranch High School in 2013. While in high school he played football, mentored children through the PALs program, and studied martial arts. He was a black belt in taekwondo.
At UTA, Mr. Anamosa was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He had recently switched his major from business to psychology. Family and friends described him as outgoing and optimistic, with a great natural charm and wonderful sense of humor.
“James was always happy; I never once saw him without a giant smile on his face,” said Kent Long, College of Science health professions advisor and a fellow ATO member. “He was a constant source of joy for his peers at UT Arlington and never passed up the opportunity to brighten up the day of those around him. He will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by anyone who knew him.”
He is survived by his parents, Bill and Sian (Jones) Anamosa of Katy; brothers, David Anamosa of Austin and Kyle Goodman of Virginia Beach, Virginia; grandmothers, Mary Ann Anamosa of Napa Valley, California, and Dorothy Jones of Hamilton, New Zealand; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins in the United States and New Zealand.
A funeral service was held June 18 at Schmidt Funeral Home in Katy. The family requests that memorials be made to Special Pals Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 841605, Houston, Texas 77284.
Biology alumnus Smith named chief business officer of California drug discovery company
Tim Smith, who earned a B.S. in Biology from UTA in 1997, has been named chief business officer of Cleave Biosciences, a drug discovery company based in Burlingame, California.
The move was announced in a June 1 company press release. Smith will be responsible for business development, corporate development and investor relations.
“Cleave Biosciences has all of the attributes of a successful drug discovery company: an experienced management team, exceptional venture and corporate investors, and highly differentiated drug candidates,” Smith said in the press release. “I am eager to join the company as we initiate additional clinical trials for CB-5083 and translate our novel science into a powerful strategy for treating patients with difficult to treat solid tumor and hematologic malignancies.”
Prior to joining Cleave, Smith was executive director of business development at Celgene Corp. Prior to that he was director of investor relations at MGI Pharma. He received an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University in 2001 and an M.A. in Biotechnology from Columbia University in 2004.
Schug highlights value of chemometrics and experimental design in online blog article
Kevin Schug, UTA Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, published an article in the June 14 edition of LC/GC Chromatography Online in which he discussed how the world of chemometrics and experimental design statistics can benefit analytical chemists.
“Once you see the power of different chemometric tools in discerning minor differences between highly complex sample sets, it will be hard not to find an application in your own work,” Schug wrote.
Schug said he believes that most analytical chemists don’t appreciate what the world of chemometrics and experimental design statistics can add to their work.
“Analytical chemists often work in highly complex systems where the interplay of variables (for example, for optimization of instrument performance) or the differences among two or more classes of extremely complex samples (for example, healthy vs. diseased, wild-type vs. mutant, and so forth) may not be immediately apparent from a cursory evaluation,” Schug wrote. “In these cases, there are a variety of mathematical and statistical tools that can be used to tease out important information, but instruction in these techniques is not commonplace.”
Read the blog article here.
Ph.D. student Ta weighs Clinton campaign’s inclusiveness of Asian-Americans in article
Psychology doctoral student Vivian Ta linguistically analyzed a sample of major speeches from the 2016 presidential campaign to determine how inclusive Hillary Clinton is of Asian-Americans in a June 20 Huffington Post article.
Ta found that Clinton’s references to Asian-Americans were not related to reaching out to Asian-Americans voters at all, but were unanimously about China.
“Sure, Clinton may have Asian-American voters’ best interests at heart, but what kind of message is she sending if her speeches never mention Asian-American voters?” Ta wrote. “And, when she does mention anything remotely related to Asian American voters, it’s a negatively-toned comment about China?”
Ta suggests that a simple fix could go a long way toward improving the Clinton campaign’s inclusivity of the Asian-American community — by including the word ‘Asian’ whenever the words ‘Black’ and ‘Hispanic’ are used in a political context.
“[T]he Democratic Party has treated the Asian-American vote as invisible for so long that they may not realize what a little acknowledgement could mean for winning a blue Senate and, potentially, a blue House,” Ta wrote.
Read the Huffington Post article here.

For Alumni

Alumni Relations
You can help the next generation of Mavericks


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. To learn more, please contact College of Science Director of Development Christie Mosley-Eckler at 817-272-1497 or

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

Thursday, July 7
Last day of classes for first Summer 5-week session

Tuesday, July 12
First day of classes for second Summer 5-week session

Thursday, August 11
Last day of classes for Summer 14-week session, 11-week session and second 5-week session

Thursday, August 25
First day of classes for Fall 2016 semester

Friday, September 2
College of Science’s Welcome Back Ice Cream Social 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. LSB lobby

Planetarium offering cool summer lineup

Check out The Planetarium at UT Arlington’s lineup of fun and exciting shows for the summer! The summer 2016 schedule runs May 31 through August 28.
2:00 pm - Texas Stargazing
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
2:00 pm - Dynamic Earth
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
2:00 pm - One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
2:00 pm - We Are Astronomers
3:30 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity
1:00 pm - One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
2:30 pm - Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
5:30 pm - We Are Astronomers
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
1:30 pm - Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
3:00 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity

For tickets, reservations or further information, please contact The Planetarium at UT Arlington.
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