The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
August 2016
Welcome to the August 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.
Lopez wins AGU Richard Carrington Award for work in science education and outreach
Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez, a professor of physics at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been named the winner of the 2016 Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award by the Space and Aeronomy section of the American Geophysical Union.
The AGU’s Carrington Award is presented annually to one honoree “in recognition of significant and outstanding impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of our science through their education and/or outreach activities – exhibiting an effort that goes well beyond their particular job title,” according to the AGU website.
Lopez, whose research includes heliophysics (the science of the Sun-Earth connection through the space environment), space weather and magnetospheric physics, is a longtime advocate of science education and has been involved in K-12 science education at the national level for many years.
“The 2015 Carrington Award winner was a NASA astronaut and scientist [Rick Chappell] well-known for his communication of space science to the public, so I am in very good company with this award,” Lopez said. “It is a real honor to be recognized by the space science community for the education work that I do in the context of my research in heliophysics.”
Read more of this story here.
De receives $1 million DOE grant to improve supercomputer software for big data jobs
Kaushik De
Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are collaborating on two projects to improve the accuracy of the delivery Physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been awarded a new $1.06 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to upgrade the software that runs on the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee to support extremely data-heavy scientific applications such as advanced biology and materials science simulations.of cancer radiation therapies and minimize the exposure of healthy tissues.
“While our first priority is to upgrade Titan to handle the huge amounts of data generated by the particle and nuclear physics experiments in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, we are increasingly focusing on providing support for other scientific disciplines like advanced biology and materials science that increasingly need supercomputing for big data applications,” said Kaushik De, UTA physics professor and director of the High-Energy Physics Group.
“Our unifying workload management system will also help integrate the grid, supercomputers and cloud computing to move toward a high-capacity global cyber-infrastructure that could transform scientific research around the world.”
De, who joined UTA in 1993, designed the workload management system known as PanDA, for Production and Distributed Analysis, to handle data analysis jobs for the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS particle physics experiment. During the LHC’s first run of experiments from 2010 to 2013, PanDA made ATLAS data available for analysis by 3,000 scientists around the world using the LHC’s global grid of networked computing resources.
Read more of this story here.
Dasgupta, Schug, Mydlarz receive Tech Titans Awards for leadership in technology fields
Tech Titans Award winners from the COS include, from left, Sandy Dasgupta, Kevin Schug and Laura Mydlarz.
Three College of Science faculty members and a graduate of UTA won Tech Titans Awards for excellence and leadership in technology fields in 2016, announced at a celebratory gala on August 20.
This year’s UTA awardees are: Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis and James Garrett Professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, received the Tech Titans Technology Inventors Award for his numerous innovations in chemical and environmental analysis; Kevin Schug, professor and Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, along with Laura Mydlarz, associate professor of biology, received the Tech Titans of the Future University Level Award for their leadership of the Achieving Success in Science through Undergraduate Research and Engagement (ASSURE) program; UTA alumnus Chris MacFarland, chairman and CEO of Masergy, received the 2016 Tech Titans Corporate Company CEO Award.
The prestigious Tech Titans awards, presented by the Technology Association of North Texas, recognize the elite in North Texas technology and seeks to salute those individuals and companies transforming the high-tech industry, developing a competitive edge, and leading the way in innovation, adaptation and execution of technology.
Read more of this story here.
Jin leading project to develop new device to deliver photo-induced cancer therapy
From left: Wei Chen, physics professor; Mingwu Jin, assistant professor of physics and leader of the project: and Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering.
Physicists from The University of Texas at Arlington are leading a multidisciplinary project with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to develop a new multi-functional platform that can integrate imaging and photo-induced cancer therapy in a single, portable device.
The process of destroying cancer cells by utilizing chemicals or heat generated by nanoparticles induced by near-infrared light — through processes including photodynamic therapy and photothermal therapy — has shown great promise as a treatment option, along with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Photo-induced therapies are minimally invasive and cell destruction occurs only locally at tumor sites.
Scientists believe that a real-time, tumor-guided therapy device, which can perform imaging and therapy simultaneously, will further improve the outcome of photo-induced therapies for patients. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to incorporate some imaging reporters to the nanoparticles used in photo-induced therapies.
“Presently, the simultaneous cancer imaging and treatment of these nanoparticles is not possible due to the lack of a multifunctional device,” said Mingwu Jin, UTA assistant professor of physics. “Our idea is to take an image of the tumor and then use that image to guide the physician where to focus the laser to deliver the therapy, while minimizing the damage to surrounding tissue.”
Read more of this story here.
UTA study indicates air contamination near fracking sites from mechanical inefficiencies
Kevin Schug
Chemists at the University of Texas at Arlington have published a new study that indicates that highly variable contamination events registered in and around unconventional oil and gas developments are the result of operational inefficiencies and not inherent to the extraction process itself.
The study, published today as “Point source attribution of ambient contamination events near unconventional oil and gas development” in Science of the Total Environment, found highly variable levels of ambient BTEX, or benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds, in and around fracking gas drilling sites in the Eagle Ford shale region in South Texas. BTEX compounds in high concentrations can be carcinogenic and have harmful effects on the nervous system.
“These variable contamination events, attributable in many cases to specific natural gas flaring units, condensation tanks, compressor units and hydrogen sulfide scavengers, indicate that mechanical inefficiencies, and not the inherent nature of the extraction process as a whole, result in the release of these compounds into the environment,” said Kevin Schug, UTA Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and director of the University’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation, or CLEAR lab.
Read more of this story here.
Perrotti studying how hormone levels affect women’s vulnerability to cocaine addiction
Linda Perrotti
Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington are studying how fluctuating estrogen levels make females increasingly sensitive to the rewarding effects of cocaine and ultimately, vulnerable to cocaine addiction.
Repeated administrations of cocaine cause molecular neuroadaptations in the brain that trigger changes in behavior aimed towards obtaining more of the drug, primarily affecting the dopamine reward system. Long-term exposure to the drug can create permanent changes in brain circuitry and intracellular responses, causing the individual to maintain a neurobiological disposition to seeking drugs.
“Compared to men, women experience higher levels of craving and relapse during periods of abstinence and take larger amounts of cocaine during bouts of relapse,” said Linda Perrotti, UTA associate professor of psychology and principal investigator on this study.
Perrotti received a three-year $413,970 National Institutes of Health grant to fund biomolecular research on the effects of changing hormone levels on the principal molecules implicated in behavioral adaptations resulting from drug use.
Read more of this story here.
Armstrong devises better method to quantify water content in solid pharmaceutical drugs
Daniel Armstrong
Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have invented a method to quantify water content in solid pharmaceutical drugs that is faster, cheaper, more accurate and more precise than Karl Fischer titration, the method currently recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and widely used worldwide.
Quantifying water content is one of the most common chemical tests, with more than 130 million processes carried out each year globally. Testing pharmaceutical drugs is required by the FDA and represents an important and costly investment on the part of drug manufacturers.
“Every therapeutic drug has a narrow range of optimal water content, which needs to be controlled to avoid potential adverse effects on patients,” said Daniel Armstrong, UTA’s Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and leader of the project. “In addition to other advantages like speed and lower costs, our new system can also be automated, reducing labor costs for manufacturers with potential economic benefits for consumers.”
Read more of this story here.
Paulus discusses ineffectiveness of group brainstorming, alternatives in online article
Paul Paulus, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, was quoted in a Fast Code Design article on July 28 about more effective brain-storming. Paulus and his research team studied effective ways to brainstorm in a work environment.
“Brainstorming is a complex process where people are trying to listen, think, add, collaborate, build,” Paulus said in the article. “It’s cumbersome, it’s difficult psychologically, and people don’t do it very well.”
The article explains tests done by Paulus and members of his lab, in which the team worked with a tech company’s employees to find whether brainwriting is effective. Brainwriting is similar to brainstorming, except that group members write their ideas down instead of sharing them out loud. Paulus and his team found that if the choice is between working in a brainwriting group or working alone, those in the brainwriting group did much better at coming up with ideas.
“Just because you throw people together doesn’t mean wonderful things happen. It has to happen in the right way,” Paulus said.
Read the Fast Code Design article here.
Ickes presents research on personality traits of aggressive people at ISRA world meeting
William Ickes, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, told an Australian audience that aggressive and confrontational people who become perpetrators of violence can be identified by a “red triad” of personality traits, Australian newspaper The Age reported.
Ickes was one of the featured speakers at the 22nd world meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression, held July 19-23 at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He said there are three traits that reliably predict extremely rude and confrontational people.
“They are amoral and don’t adhere to conventional morality, they’re thin-skinned so they don’t take criticism well, and they’re hot-headed so they quickly get angry and aggressive,” Ickes says in the story.
Ickes also said that aggressive people are prepared to escalate confrontational situations by standing their ground, which can easily lead to violence.
The story notes that Ickes has been studying aggression since 2011 and the research he presented in Australia is the result of tests involving more than 900 people whom he tested on a rudeness scale.
Read the story on The Age’s online site 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 honors late physics professor

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 2
COS Welcome Back Ice Cream Social, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., LSB lobby Come by and meet the dean and COS administration and have a free ice cream with all the fixings to make a yummy sundae!

Saturday, September 17
Wheels for Wellness Car Show, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundance Square, downtown Fort Worth Come by the COS booth and see the COE’s awardwinning Formula SAE race car. For more information, go to http://

Friday, September 30
COS Fall Faculty & Staff meeting, 3:30-5 p.m., Central Library, 6th Floor Atrium Linda Johnsrud, UTA provost, will be guest speaker.

Tue.-Sat, Nov. 1-5 Science Week 2016
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. Schedule of events coming soon.

Thursday, Dec. 8
COS Holiday Luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Red River/Concho Rooms, 2nd Floor of the E.H. Hereford University Center Faculty and staff are invited to this holiday party hosted by the dean.

Friday, December16
COS Fall 2016 Commencement, 7-9 p.m., College Park Center The COS and COE will hold a joint ceremony. Full details coming soon.

Planetarium’s Fall lineup starts Sept. 9

Check out The Planetarium at UT Arlington’s lineup of fun and exciting shows for the fall! The Fall 2016 schedule runs September 9 through November 27.
6:00 pm - The Hot and Energetic Universe
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
1:00 pm - Cosmic Colors
2:30 pm - Secret of the Cardboard Rocket
5:30 pm - The Hot and Energetic Universe
7:00 pm - Pink Floyd
1:30 pm - Astronaut
3:00 pm - Spacepark 360: Infinity

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