The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
February 2017
UTA, Botanical Research Institute of Texas partner to spur advances in plant science
Taking part in the signing were, left to right: Clay Clark, UTA biology department chair; College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi; UTA President Vistasp Karbhari; BRIT President and Executive Director Ed Schneider; Ed Bass, vice chair BRIT Board of Directors; Greg Bird, chair BRIT Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of Gary Logan.
Two of Tarrant County’s leading research institutions have formed a distinctive partnership with an eye on future job creation and greater sustainability through discoveries in plant and environmental sciences.
The University of Texas at Arlington and The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) announced they are collaborating to offer expanded research opportunities for graduate level studies. The research jointly conducted by UTA students, faculty and BRIT scientists could lead to higher crop yields, disease-resistant crop varieties, cheaper food, new biofuels and an improved understanding of the earth’s plant biodiversity.
Advancements achieved by this enhanced research capacity will lead to job growth in the fields of environmental and plant science and sustainability.
“This is a significant step in furthering of collaboration between UTA and leading institutions in the Metroplex,” said Morteza Khaledi, dean of UTA’s College of Science. “This affiliation will enable our faculty and students to access one of the United States’ largest collections of plant specimens which is housed at BRIT while creating new opportunities for our renowned faculty to work with BRIT scientists to contribute to advances in emerging scientific fields.”
Read more of this story here.
Ambartsoumian leading project to develop new theory to aid in imaging technology
Seated from left: Srivani Gandikota, Gaik Ambartsoumian and Javier Salazar. Standing, from left: John Montalbo, Brendon Hotchkiss, Mohammad Javad Latifi Jebelli and Sl-Ghi Choi.
UTA mathematicians led by Gaik Ambartsoumian, associate professor of mathematics, are working on a project which addresses a variety of mathematical problems that are significant for various fields of imaging. They believe the results of their study could have a sizable impact on imaging technology used in things such as modern healthcare equipment, national security, space exploration, and industrial applications.
Ambartsoumian is principal investigator of the project, which is titled “Conical Radon transforms and their applications in tomography” and is funded by a three-year, $197,628 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences.
Ambartsoumian is joined in the work by co-PI Venkateswaran Krishnan, a faculty member in the Center for Applicable Mathematics at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bangalore, India, and by three doctoral students working in Ambartsoumian’s group: Sl-Ghi Choi, Mohammad Javad Latifi Jebelli, and John Montalbo.
The project also provides research experience to 3-4 undergraduate students, who are exposed to sophisticated mathematics with applications to real-world problems. This year, undergraduate students Srivani Gandikota, Brendon Hotchkiss, and Javier Salazar will participate in the project.
Read more of this story here.
UTA launches new programs to promote undergraduate involvement in research
UTA students have numerous opportunities to become involved in cutting-edge research.
The University of Texas at Arlington has developed a new program that allows students to use their federal work-study hours to work as undergraduate research assistants, developing valuable skills that will enhance their education and workforce readiness.
“Students who have typically used their federal work-study for administrative roles now have the option to be hired by faculty mentors for research positions that give them hands-on experience in the field that interests them,” said Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research.
“This new Undergraduate Research Assistant Program will provide students with an invaluable research experience that will set them up for future success in academia or the workforce, while paying them to do so,” he added.
UTA’s Office of Research also is launching a second program that will fund students during a semester while they assume apprenticeship with a faculty mentor’s research group and take on an intensive research role.
“This second program, called the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, will permit students to engage in each phase of research activity, enhancing students’ competitiveness for national prestigious scholarships and helping them refine their academic and career goals,” said Mimi Philobos, assistant vice president for research.
Read more of this story here.
Area students put their talents on display during annual regional science fair at UTA
Judges listen as a student explains her research project during the FWRSEF at UTA on February 20.
More than 400 middle and high school students from around North Texas displayed their research projects during the 66th annual Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair at UTA on February 20.
The fair, the longest-running science and engineering fair in the state, featured students in sixth through 12th grades representing public, private, parochial or home schools from 10 North Texas counties, who demonstrated their experiments and displayed their exhibits for a chance to win awards and advance to state and national competitions.
Judges viewed the projects and awarded winners in a variety of categories. In all, 30 students received awards which will enable them to compete in the state Texas Science and Engineering Fair, scheduled for March 31-April 1 in San Antonio. Six students earned awards entitling them to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is scheduled May 14-19 in Los Angeles.
Yuan Bo Peng, associate professor of psychology, served as fair director this year, and was joined on the fair’s scientific review committee by Jianzhong Su, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics; and Michael Roner, associate professor of biology.
Learn more about the FWRSEF here.
Hu named co-editor of leading international journal Marine and Petroleum Geology
Qinhong “Max” Hu, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, is a new co-editor-in-chief for Marine and Petroleum Geology (JMPG), a leading international journal. Published by Elsevier, JMPG has an impact factor of 2.788, the highest in petroleum geology.
JMPG is “the preeminent international forum for the exchange of multidisciplinary concepts, interpretations and techniques for all concerned with marine and petroleum geology in industry, government and academia,” according to the Elsevier website.
In his new role, Hu will oversee about 500 manuscripts in the subject areas of organic and inorganic geochemistry, organic petrography, source rocks, petrophysics, rock mechanics, and pressure and fluid flow.
“This is a wonderful honor for Dr. Hu,” said Asish Basu, professor and chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. “He has established himself as a leading expert in fluid flow and chemical transport in porous and fractured media, among other fields, and this appointment brings further recognition to himself, our department and UTA.”
Hu, a fellow of The Geological Society of America, has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as more than 100 technical reports. His research group currently includes two Ph.D. students in Earth and Environmental Science, 14 master’s students in Petroleum Geoscience professional option, two undergraduate research assistants, and four visiting scholars. Hu is also an associate editor for other SCI journals such as AAPG Bulletin, Vadose Zone Journal, and Journal of Earth Science.
Learn more about the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology here.
Mathematics Department hosts more than 130 for first Gulf States Math Alliance Conference
The conference attracted more than 130 participants, including 36 from UTA. Photo courtesy of Donald Cole.
More than 130 faculty and doctorate bound students from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi attended the first Gulf States Math Alliance Conference held February 24-26 at UTA.
The event was held as part of UTA’s National Science Foundation grant for a bridge to doctorate program for the Gulf States region. The conference included a graduate school fair, with representatives from eight universities participating.
Jianzhong Su, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics, and Tuncay Aktosun, professor of mathematics, served as co-chairs of the conference organizing committee. Hristo Kojouharov, professor of mathematics, also served on the organizing committee.
Keynote speaker for the conference was Phil Kutzko, director of the National Math Alliance and professor of mathematics and collegiate fellow at the University of Iowa. The conference included panel discussions, a poster session, a forum on UTA’s Bridge program, and a closing banquet with awards ceremony.
Topics addressed during the conference included mentoring and encouraging students to pursue advanced studies in mathematical sciences leading to a doctoral degree; increasing broad participation and diversity of doctoral students; and fostering networking between faculty and students.
Learn more about the Gulf States Math Alliance here.
Schug, Santos to lead March 16 workshop on analytical methods in microbiology
Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry at UTA, and Ines Santos, a post-doctoral fellow and affiliate of UTA’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation (CLEAR Lab), will present a workshop on “Analytical Methods in Microbiology” from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16 in Campus Center Room 108 and the Shimadzu Center for Bio-Molecular Imaging in Life Sciences Building Room B05A.
Students who participate in the workshop are expected to gain a fundamental and practical understanding in the use of analytical instrumentation in microbiological research and applications.
The workshop combines lectures and lab experiments with hands-on training in the use of analytical instrumentation and experimental design in microbiological research and applications. It will serve as an introduction to basic principles of mass spectrometry and reviews different choices of methods and instruments. Focus will be given to matrix assisted laser desorption ionization — time of flight — mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and its application in the identification of bacteria and fungi.
To register, please contact the Shimadzu Institute at or 817-272-0924.
Star-Telegram story examines UTA’s rising profile as major cancer research institution
Jon Weidanz, UTA associate vice president for research and professor of biology.
UTA’s increasing importance as a cancer research institution in the past seven years was the subject of a story in the February 26 edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The article noted that the University was awarded $6 million in new grants for developing cancer-fighting technologies in 2016, its most ever for that purpose.
UTA has more than 25 cancer researchers in its biology, bioengineering and computer science colleges and has 13 cancer-related patents issued in the past five years, the story states. Also noted is the fact that in 2016, UTA joined the ranks of top research universities listed by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, joining an elite group of 115 R1 doctoral universities including MIT, Harvard and Johns Hopkins.
The story also explains how UTA has begun partnering with entrepreneurs to fast track development of faculty and researcher innovations for commercial markets. One example of this is AbeXXa Biologics, which opened last year in the school’s Nano Technology Research Center, and was founded by Jon Weidanz, UTA’s associate vice president for research and a biology professor.
“It drives the success of the local economies in those areas,” Weidanz says in the story. “By having successful startups on campus or around the Arlington and Fort Worth area, we begin to create a new sense of awareness that UTA is not only doing great things — which it has been doing for years — but it’s able to have an impact on our community in terms of providing medical solutions, creating economic opportunity, recruiting new money into the area.”
Read the Star-Telegram story here.
Lopez highlights UTA’s successful role in American Physical Society’s Bridge Program
Lopez Rosario-Franco
Ramon Lopez, professor of physics, wrote an update on UTA’s American Physical Society’s Bridge Program for the program’s Fall 2016 newsletter, Connections.
Lopez is UTA’s site leader for the APS Bridge Program, which has the goal of enhancing diversity in graduate education through an effort to increase the number of physics Ph.D.s awarded to underrepresented minority students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students. In the article, Lopez notes that UTA is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and in 2016 was also named a Carnegie Research One university.
“We want to foster research excellence while also providing opportunities to underserved communities, which is why participation in the APS-BP was such a no-brainer for us,” Lopez writes in the article.
He also introduces Marialis Rosario-Franco, UTA’s Bridge Fellow, who received a B.S. in Applied Physics from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao in 2014, and is making excellent progress in her research on exoplanets and exomoons while working as a graduate research assistant. She also serves as vice president of UTA’s recently formed chapter of the Physics Graduate Student Organization (PGSA).
Lopez adds that the Physics Department looks forward to recruiting more APS-BP students in the future.
Learn more about the APS Bridge Program here.
Joe Gilbreath, a longtime educator who retired after 28 years at UTA, dies at age 93
Joe Gilbreath, a longtime professor of mathematics and administrator at UTA, died at his home near Windom, Texas, on February 3 at age 93.
Mr. Gilbreath came to UTA in the early 1960s, when it was still known as Arlington State College. He spent 28 years at UTA as a math professor and as an administrator in the Student Administration office.
He was born November 11, 1923 in Lannius, Texas, the third-born son of the late Ruth (Wolfe) and Alfred Gilbreath. He graduated from Windom High School in 1941, then attended Texas A&M University before entering the U.S. Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1943.
He was commissioned as a Naval officer and pilot in January 1945 and became a flight instructor, teaching flying until his active duty commitment was completed in 1946. He remained in the Naval Reserves for the next 20 years where he continued to enjoy being a Navy pilot.
After leaving active duty in 1946, Mr. Gilbreath completed his B.S. at Texas A&M and in 1950 began a long teaching career, first in Windom, where he became superintendent in 1953. He earned master’s degrees in education and mathematics and later taught at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches before coming to UTA, where he remained until his retirement in 1988.
He married Mary Thomas (Tommie) Thornton on February 3, 1945; they had three children and were married for 53 years until her passing in 1998. He later married a classmate from his Windom school days, Martha Jean Avery Kliarsky. She preceded him in death in 2007.
Funeral services for Mr. Gilbreath were held February 7 at the First Baptist Church in Windom, followed by interment at Smyrna Cemetery.
Mr. Gilbreath is survived by daughter Mary Gail Vincent and husband Gary of Allen's Chapel; son Brent Gilbreath and wife Donna of Arlington; daughter Lee Ann Watson and husband Tim of Coppell; brothers, Ray Gilbreath and Ben Gilbreath; seven grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Memorial donations may be made to Smyrna Cemetery Association 1473 CR 2980 Windom, TX 75492.

COS Alumni

Alumni Spotlight
Sally Olson

Sally Olson knew in second grade that she wanted to be a teacher. Learning was easy for her, but she wanted to help those students who were struggling, she said. Her husband, an engineer, inspired and encouraged her in her decision to focus on math. She has been a full-time professor of mathematics at Blinn College (Bryan campus) since 2007. Before that she taught math at Arlington Lamar High School (1998-2005) and then at Bryan High School (2006-07), while also working part-time at Blinn College. “My reward from teaching math comes when students who struggle yet stick with a math course find success,” she says. “I am encouraged when a student tells me that he or she has never done well in or liked math, but after taking my course has found success and maybe even enjoys math.”
She came to UTA in the spring of 1995 as a non-traditional transfer student and received a B.A. in Mathematics (Cum Laude) in May 1998. She remained at UTA for graduate school, earning an M.Ed. in Teaching in August 2001. She also completed nine hours of post-graduate work through a grant from the Department of Mathematics as part of the Triesman Style Mathematics Education program with UTA professor of mathematics James Epperson. In 2003-04, she worked with Epperson on the writing team for Ensuring Teacher Quality: Algebra II Curriculum. In 2016 she received a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award in recognition of her dedication to student success. She is a member of the Mathematical Association of America and the Texas Community College Teachers Association.
Birthplace: Lamar, Colorado
Years at UTA: 1995-2001
Favorite professor/class: Eddie Warren, a popular associate professor of mathematics who taught at UTA from 1963-2004.
Advice for students: “The best advice I received was to start a retirement account as soon as I started working. That advice came from Robin Melton with the Students Obtain Academic Readiness (SOAR)/Cost-Share program.”

COS Students

Student Spotlight
Elizabeth Stephenson

Elizabeth Stephenson says she never really liked math before college. When she was deciding on a major, her father encouraged her to try engineering, which she did — until taking a calculus class and finding, to her surprise, that she loved it. Last summer she began doing research in mathematical biology under the supervision of Hristo Kojouharov, professor of mathematics. Her research focuses on modeling muscle regeneration with differential equations. She was named to the Fall 2016 College of Science Dean’s List with a perfect 4.0 GPA, and serves as president of the UTA Student Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics, which promotes equal opportunity for girls and women in the mathematical sciences. She also finds time to help other students as a tutor in the UTA Math Clinic. This summer she will travel to Europe to conduct research as part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Academy Abroad program, which allows students to combine their passion for science with exploration of a new culture.
Birthplace: New Mexico
Current Status: Junior
Started at UTA: Fall 2015
Major: Mathematics
Favorite professor:“That’s a really hard question. All of them? Let’s go with a tie between Dr. [Barbara] Shipman and Dr. [Hristo] Kojouharov.”
Where she hopes to be in 5 years: “I hope to have completed my Ph.D. in mathematics and be a tenure-track faculty at a high-activity research university, hopefully in England.”

Calendar of events

Friday, March 3
17th Annual Calculus Bowl 12-5 p.m., Pickard Hall

The annual fast-paced game features teams from area high schools matching wits while vying to come out on top and claim the Calculus Bowl trophy.

Monday-Friday, March 13-17
Spring Break
Wednesday, March 22
Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) symposium — All day, E.H. Hereford University Center UTA’s annual showcase of student research will include poster and oral presentations in a variety of categories, with judges awarding winners in each category. Deadline to submit abstracts is February 13. Complete information here.
Friday, March 31
Final day to drop classes; students must submit requests to their academic advisor prior to 4 p.m.
Monday, April 3
Registration for Summer and Fall 2017 terms begins

Friday, April 7
COS Annual Spring Picnic
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Central Library Mall
All students, faculty and staff are invited to join us for food, games and fun!

Wednesday, May 3
COS Spring Faculty & Staff Meeting and Awards
3:30-5 p.m., University Center Bluebonnet South Room
All COS faculty and staff are invited to attend this meeting, where year-end awards will be presented.
Friday, May 5
Last day of classes for Spring 2017 semester
May 6, 8-12
Final exams for Spring 2017 semester
Friday, May 12
College of Science Spring 2017 Commencement ceremony 7 p.m., College Park Center. Complete details coming soon.

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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