The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
December 2016
Cordero receives pair of national awards for her contributions to STEM education
Minerva Cordero received the HENAAC Education Award from Keith Moo-Young, GMIS board member and chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities, on October 8. Photo courtesy of GMIS HENAAC.
Minerva Cordero, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Mathematics, has been honored for her contributions to science education with a pair of national awards.
Cordero was named recipient of the Education Distinction Award as part of the 2016 HENAAC Awards given by Great Minds in STEM, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the United States technologically strong by promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, especially in underserved communities.
Cordero received the HENAAC award during the 28th Annual HENAAC Conference on October 8 in Anaheim, California. The conference is Great Minds in STEM’s flagship event, where all elements of outreach and programming come together to celebrate Hispanic excellence in STEM. The awards recognize the achievements of America’s top engineers and scientists within the Hispanic community.
She also has been named one of the Ford Motor Co.’s Mujeres Legendarias (Legendary Women) for 2016, for excellence in teaching and a decades-long commitment to increasing diversity in STEM programs.
Read more of this story here.
Dasgupta receives highest honor from EAS for work in fields of analytical chemistry
Sandy Dasgupta receives the 2016 EAS Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Fields of Analytical Chemistry from EAS President Daryl Cobranchi. Courtesy photo.
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta has been honored with a prestigious award for his ground-breaking contributions to the fields of analytical chemistry.
Dasgupta, the Hamish Small Chair of Ion Analysis in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UTA, was named recipient of the 2016 Eastern Analytical Symposium’s highest award, the Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Fields of Analytical Chemistry. Dasgupta was presented with the award during the organization’s annual meeting in Somerset, N.J. on November 14.
“This is a tremendous honor and I’m very grateful for this recognition by my peers,” Dasgupta said. “This award means so much to me because it is a rare one that does not recognize expertise in a specific area but recognizes broad contributions across the fields of analytical chemistry.”
The Eastern Analytical Symposium and Exposition (EAS) is held each year to provide professional scientists and students continuing education in the analytical and allied sciences through the presentation of symposia of papers, workshops, and short courses.
Read more of this story here.
Microbiology alumna Zee among honorees at annual UTA Distinguished Alumni Gala
Recipients of awards at the 2016 UTA Distinguished Alumni Gala included, from left, Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, the Honorable B. Glen Whitley, Liz Johnson, Jocelyn Zee and C. Keith Cargill
Jocelyn Zee, who enrolled at UTA at age 13 and graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Microbiology in 2004, received the inaugural Distinguished Recent Graduate Award at the 2016 UTA Distinguished Alumni Gala on November 10 at the E.H. Hereford University Center.
The Distinguished Recent Graduate Award goes to an alumnus who has displayed exemplary leadership and personal integrity.
“I'm extremely grateful to everyone at UTA for this truly humbling award,” Zee said. “There are so many people who helped me along the way and made a huge impact on who I am today. In the College of Science there are many who played roles in my training, but I'd like to give special recognition to Ed Morton, Lori Norris, Dr. Gregory Hale, Dr. Tim Henry, and Dr. Thomas Chrzanowski, as well as Cathy Pritchett from Student Governance (now in the Honors College).”
Zee also thanked Dr. Dan Casey and Dr. Manuel Lois of JPS Hospital for their guidance, and she thanked her parents for their dedication and sacrifice.
After leaving UTA, Zee went to medical school and earned a D.O. from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth. In 2011 she completed a residency program in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and was subsequently hired as a hospitalist. She now works as a full-time critical care physician at JPS. In October she was named a Fellow by the Society of Hospital Medicine.
Read more about the Distinguished Alumni Gala and see more photos here.
Heo team reveals how thiopurine drugs suppress immune response in new study
Jongyun Heo
Biochemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have demonstrated the mechanism behind how thiopurine drugs suppress immune response.
This knowledge could lead could lead to an improvement of those drugs, which are commonly used to treat auto-immune disorders and cancers, but are also associated with side effects like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
“Up to now, no one has known exactly how the thiopurine immunosuppressive process works,” said Jongyun Heo, associate professor of chemistry and leader of the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. “We are hoping that this discovery also creates an opportunity to improve thiopurine drugs and to design new chemotherapeutic agents for autoimmune disorders.” The researchers showed that thiopurine drugs bond with Rac1 proteins within the immune system’s T cells with a disulfide bond. This bond deactivates the protein and suppresses the cell’s immune response.
The researchers showed that thiopurine drugs bond with Rac1 proteins within the immune system’s T cells with a disulfide bond. This bond deactivates the protein and suppresses the cell’s immune response.
Heo’s project was also the subject of a November 23 story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Read more of this story here. Read the Star-Telegram story here.
Physics student Davachi wins award for best student speaker at MAA MathFest
Niyousha Divachi, a junior majoring in physics, received the Best Student Speaker Award at MAA MathFest 2016, the annual meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, held August 3-6 in Columbus, Ohio.
Divachi’s talk was “Standard and Non-Standard Lagrangians,” a mixture of modern physics and mathematical concepts. She is a student of physics professor Zdzislaw Musielak. A Lagrangian is a mathematical function that assigns a real number to a configuration of particles or fields.
“I was so happy when we won the award at the MAA MathFest,” she said. “Giving an oral presentation at such a large national conference can be challenging and the fact that they found the work and presentation interesting enough to recognize it was so rewarding to me.”
Davachi also recently made presentations on Standard and Non-Standard Lagrangians at the 12th Annual Texas Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Lamar University in Beaumont on October 8 and at the 6th Annual Texas Astronomy Undergraduate Research Symposium at Baylor University in Waco on September 9. She was the only student representing UTA at both events.
Davachi plans to enroll in graduate school after completing her B.S. in Physics.
Microbiology student Koo earns award at ASM Texas Branch Fall 2016 conference
Christina Koo, a senior majoring in microbiology, received the Joan Abramowitz Award for Molecular Microbiology Poster Presentation (2nd place) at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Texas Branch fall conference, held November 10-12 at UT Dallas.
It was the second straight year that Koo, a student in the lab of biology associate professor Woo-Suk Chang, received the Abramowitz Award (2nd place) at the ASM Texas Branch’s fall conference. The title of Koo’s poster was “Identification and verification of housekeeping genes in nitrogen-fixing bacteria Bradyrhizobiumjaponicum.” Co-authors were Dylan Parks, Sanober Lateef, Amanda Plein, and Chang.
“I was very shocked and in disbelief that I actually won, but that just shows that a lot of times, you are your own worst critic,” Koo said. “But I was really happy that I won, especially since 15 members of Mu Sigma Microbiology Society were also there. I didn't want to disappoint them, my lab mates, or Dr. Chang. After I heard we won, I felt so relieved that all the effort we put into the poster paid off.”
Koo was recently accepted for admission to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, where she will begin medical school after completing her B.S. in Microbiology.
SEIR building’s impact on bringing people together highlighted in Morning News story
The Science and Engineering Innovation and Research building, shown in an artist’s rendering, will open in 2018.
UTA’s Science and Engineering Innovation and Research building and the impact it will have on collaborative research on campus, was featured in a November 18 article in the Dallas Morning News.
“This is going to be one way of focusing what we do in bringing together people in the sciences -- biology, bioengineering, computer science, the college of nursing and kinesiology,” Duane Dimos, UTA's vice president for research, said in the article. “It's really a way to bring all of that research under one roof.”
The story notes that research departments in the facility will be organized into 12 “neighborhoods” to promote collaboration under one roof, rather than in separate buildings.
“The current work being done by students and faculty on this campus is excellent, but I have seen firsthand that distances among buildings on campus can inadvertently impede collaboration because we tend to stick to ourselves in our own areas of interest,” Leine Newby-Estrella, a Ph.D. student in quantitative biology, said in the story.
Read the Dallas Morning News story here.
UT Board of Regents OKs $5.6 million for more renovations of Life Sciences Building
Among the renovations of the Life Sciences Building completed over the summer were upgrades to four large classrooms located on the first floor.
The Life Sciences Building, which has seen numerous improvements during a major renovation project which began last summer, will receive more upgrades with the approval of $5.6 million in funds by the University of Texas System Board of Regents in November.
UTA administrators requested the funds through the UT System’s Permanent University Fund. The funding will be used for the renovation of classroom and lab space, and updates to electrical, mechanical and plumbing infrastructure, as well as continuation of installation of a fire suppression (sprinkler) system.
Work began on the 46-year-old building last summer, including renovation of first-floor large classrooms, second-floor instructional labs and some faculty offices, as well as various infrastructure repairs. That work, totaling $3 million, was paid for through the University’s Library, Equipment, Repair and Rehabilitation (LERR) fund.
Renovations on the 210,612-square-foot building, which opened in 1970 as the Business Administration and Life Sciences Building, will likely continue through the Spring 2018 semester.
Deng, Lopez talk about space weather and its effects on Earth in KERA News story
Deng Lopez
UTA’s space weather research program, led by professor of physics Ramon Lopez and associate professor of physics Yue Deng, was the focus of a November 11 story on KERA News.
The story says that UTA researchers are learning to predict the weather in space and measure its impact on Earth. But, the story notes, it’s a tricky science because space weather is tied to the sun’s chaotic behavior.
“Space weather is when the environment in space changes and what drives those changes is the varying output from the sun,” Lopez told KERA. He noted that solar winds can wreak havoc with GPS signals, among other things.
Deng stressed the importance of the sun in the creation of disturbances in the atmosphere. Predicting space weather remains challenging, particularly when it comes to measuring the energy output of massive solar flares.
“That’s a big, big question for space weather forecast,” Deng told KERA. “We want to figure out which one is coming, which one is not going to hit us and if it hits us, how bad is it?”
The story also quotes physics graduate assistant Richard Bonde, who equates shockwaves created by the solar wind to an airplane moving at supersonic speed.
Read the KERA News story here.
Nygren discusses utilizing fluorescence technique in NEXT project in online article
David Nygren, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics, was quoted in a story about whether biochemistry techniques like single-molecule fluorescence imaging could make neutrino-less double-beta decay stand out from the crowd in an October 27 story in Symmetry, an online magazine about particle physics.
Nygren was interviewed about his role in the Neutrino Experiment with Xenon TPC (NEXT), which looks at whether neutrinos are their own antiparticles. If xenon is put through the process of neutrinoless double beta decay, its nucleus would transform into barium. The story discusses how Nygren and his fellow researchers could use single-molecule fluorescence imaging to search for the barium nucleus formed by this process.
The story also quotes Ben Jones, UTA assistant professor of physics, and Austin McDonald, a UTA research assistant in Jones’ lab. Nygren is working with them to test his idea about single-molecule fluorescence. They released a calcium-tagging dye in an aqueous environment and found it was able to grab barium ions and glow, the story said. The next step will be to test the technique in a dry environment, and eventually in a xenon gas chamber.
Read the Symmetry story here.
Biology students, mentors, friends Spahr and Au profiled in pair of Shorthorn stories
Au Spahr
Lauren Spahr and My-Lien Au, sophomores majoring in biology as well as friends and Freshman Leaders on Campus advisors, were featured in stories in the Shorthorn in November.
The students also share something else: struggles with cancer. Spahr was diagnosed with a cervicomedullary tumor in her brain stem during her senior year of high school. She underwent high-risk surgery and grueling rehabilitation that included relearning how to walk. Au was diagnosed with lymphoma during her freshman year at UTA and underwent surgery and excruciating chemotherapy. She is still receiving treatment and hopes to find out if she is cancer-free later this month.
Spahr, who is also a Maverick Mentor and a UTA Ambassador, has always loved animals and wants to become a veterinarian. Au wants to become a dentist and open a practice for underprivileged people who have no access to dental care.
Read the Shorthorn story on Spahr here and the Shorthorn story on Au here.
Schug discusses dangers of contaminated soil at Dallas school in KDFW FOX 4 story
Kevin Schug, UTA’s Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and director of the University’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation (CLEAR), was interviewed by KDFW FOX 4 on October 23 about the discovery that Joe May Elementary School in Dallas was built on contaminated soil, left by a gas station and a dry cleaner.
Schug said that children, in general, are at a greater risk of exposure to chemicals than adults, and added that chemicals found at the site could get into the air inside the school and cause health problems in children or adults who are exposed to them over a period of time.
“Gasoline contains many things that makes the car go, but it also contains aromatic compounds that would be harmful to get into your body to breathe in on a continuous basis,” Schug told KDFW. “Dry cleaners make heavy use of chlorinated solvents, or at least they used to, dry cleaners nowadays do not, but those chlorinated solvents are things that can be dangerous to your liver.”
He said that now that the school has been built on contaminated land, officials will have to carefully monitor the site.
Watch the KDFW FOX 4 story here.
Gatchel study cited in story detailing how company reduced its workers’ comp claims
A study by Robert Gatchel, Distinguished Professor and director of UTA’s Center of Excellence for the Study of Health and Chronic Illnesses, was cited in a November 18 story in Tulsa Business & Legal News on how a Tulsa medical company successfully lowered its number of workers’ compensation claims.
The company utilized a tool called CMAP Pro, which is a comprehensive muscular activity profiler. It provides objective data of soft-tissue injuries by using standardized protocols for testing of the severity of a patient’s injury, the story said.
In a 2009 controlled study by Gatchel and Brian Theodore of the University of Washington, 114 patients with musculoskeletal pain claims were evaluated by medical examination and CMAP administration. Results indicated a 6.8 percent increase in the odds of case closure when there was a concordance between CMAP results and the physician’s independent diagnoses. There was also a significant reduction of overall medical costs after the CMAP was conducted.
Read the Tulsa Business & Legal News story here.
UTA mourns passing of longtime organic chemistry professor, Thomas J. Cogdell
Thomas James Cogdell, a retired chemistry & biochemistry professor whose career at UTA spanned 33 years, died on October 27 at age 82.
Dr. Cogdell was born in Quanah, Texas, in 1934 and attended public schools in Electra, Texas. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Midwestern University (now Midwestern State University) in Wichita Falls and received a B.A. in Chemistry there in 1955. From 1955-58 he worked at Dow Chemical Co. in Freeport, in processes for the production of organic fluorine compounds. During that period he also served in the U.S. Army Reserve with six months of active duty at Fort Bliss in El Paso and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
He then enrolled in graduate school at UT Austin, where he earned an M.A. in Chemistry in 1962. He went on to do doctoral work at Harvard University, receiving a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1965. The following year, Dr. Cogdell joined the faculty at UTA, where he played an important role in developing the department’s master’s and doctoral programs, and served as the department’s graduate student advisor for many years. He was also instrumental in helping to initiate graduate level research in the department, and in 1969 he secured one of the department’s first research grants from the Robert A. Welch Foundation.
He retired from UTA in 1999 but remained a regular presence on campus, attending department seminars and retiree luncheons, and becoming involved with the Friends of the UTA Library program. Among his interests outside of chemistry were history, genealogy, maps and soccer. In 2011 he published a book, A Century of Chemistry Instruction at the College in Arlington, which chronicled the history of UTA’s chemistry department from 1895-1995.
Dr. Cogdell was a longtime member of the American Chemical Society and served as chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth Section in 1989. He was active in numerous organizations including the Arlington Historical Society, the Texas State Historical Association, the Texas Map Society, the Arlington Genealogical Society, and others.
Survivors include his wife, Elena; daughter, Virginia Powell and her husband, Brad; son, Kennon and his wife, Nikky; son, Paul and his wife, Amanda; son, David and his wife, Cecile; brother, John Cogdell and his wife, Ann; three grandchildren; and various cousins.

COS Alumni

Alumni Spotlight
Hank Jacobs

Dr. Jacobs has lived in Arlington since 1969. After graduating from Lamar High School in 1978, he enrolled at UTA, where he was active in Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Student Congress and was elected Mr. UTA in 1980-81.” He earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry in 1982 and went on to earn his D.D.S. from Baylor (now Texas A&M) College of Dentistry in 1986. He remains actively involved with UTA, having served twice as a member of the alumni board and in various other capacities. He has had a dental practice in Arlington since 1986 and is involved in numerous community endeavors, including Leadership Arlington, where he served as president in 2004. Since 1986 he has volunteered as dentist for the athletic teams at Lamar High School. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association, and has served as president of the Fort Worth District Dental Society (2003) and twice as president of the Arlington Dental Study Club (1992 and 2002). From 1986 to 2006 he taught classes in diagnostic sciences one day a week at Baylor College of Dentistry. He and his wife, Maryann, have three children: Ryan attends the Air Force Academy, where he’s a member of the football team; Ashley attends UT Austin; and Erin attends Martin High School.
Birthplace: Dallas
Years at UTA: 1978-82
Favorite professors: Former biology professors Robert Boley, William Meacham and Bernie Frye, all of whom are or were his patients as well.
Advice for students: “I wish I’d thought to do this when I was a student, but going back after each class and reading over any notes taken that day, and filling in any blanks while it’s still fresh in your mind, will really help with comprehension and retention. Also, though it seems obvious, always go to class.”
We invite you to become involved with the College


Hello, I’m Dr. Ignacio Nuñez, chair of the College of Science Advisory Council and a proud UTA alumnus (B.S. in Biology, 1975). I would love to help get you involved on campus again. I was a firstgeneration college student, and UTA made it possible for me to attend medical school and create a life vastly different than that of my parents. Did UTA change your life too? Let’s work together to help the next generation of Mavericks. To learn more, please contact College of Science Director of Development Christie Mosley-Eckler at 817-272-1497 or

UT Arlington Alumni Association

COS Students

Student Spotlight
Halie Rion

For Halie, a sophomore, going to class only scratches the surface of her college experience at UTA. She works in the lab of College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi, researching chemical separations in biological systems. She also serves as a College of Science senator in the UTA Student Congress, where she’s a member of the Academic Committee. In addition, she is volunteer coordinator for UTA’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association. She also finds time to be active in sorority life as a member of Zeta Tau Alpha.
Birthplace: Vallejo, California
Year started at UTA: Fall 2015
Major: Biological Chemistry, with a minor in Environmental Sustainability Favorite class/professor: Saiful Chowdhury’s Quantitative Chemistry class
Where she hopes to be in 5 years: “I hope to be attending medical school to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. My ultimate goal is to be able to practice medicine as well as to be involved in medical research.”

Calendar of events

Tue.-Sat., January 3-7
American Astronomical Society’s 229th Meeting Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine UTA is sponsoring the conference. Find complete information here.
Tuesday, January 17
First day of classes for Spring 2017 semester
Maverick Science
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Planetarium at UTA

The Planetarium at UTA, one of the finest facilities in the nation, is equipped with a state of the art Digistar 5 DLP Projection system. The facility hosts shows, school field trips, special events and private functions. The Fall 2016 show schedule runs now through November 27. For show schedule, tickets, reservations and more, visit The Planetarium at UT Arlington and plan your trip to the stars today!

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