MAVERICK SCIENCE E-News
The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
July 2017
 
Walsh receives NSF CAREER grant to study how plasticity affects evolutionary processe
Matthew Walsh
Matthew Walsh, an assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at Arlington who studies ecology and evolutionary biology, is the recipient of a prestigious career development grant from the National Science Foundation.
Walsh, an assis- tant professor of bi- ology, has been awarded a five-year, $600,000 grant from the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. His project is titled “CAREER: Does behavioral plasticity promote or constrain adaptation? A test using resurrection,” and will address a long-standing question in evolutionary biology.
“We have known for at least 100 years that organisms are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions and that they will often alter the expres- sion of their traits when conditions change,” he said. “Scientists have long speculated that this ‘plasticity’ plays a key role in ultimate evolutionary re- sponses, but how it does so is not clear. The challenge in answering this ques- tion is that you need to observe evolutionary changes as they occur.”
Read more of this story here.
Fujita receives $714K NSF grant to study the evolution of visual systems in frogs

Matthew Fujita

Matthew Fujita, a UTA assistant pro- fessor of biology, has received national funding for a project which uses frogs as a model to investigate the evolution of vi- sion, by integrating information on their morphology, genet- ics, and physiology.
Fujita is principal investigator (PI) of a four-year, $714,992 grant from the National Science Foun- dation's Division of Environmental Biology for the project, titled “The evolution of visual systems during major life history transitions in frogs”.
Rayna Bell, a research zoologist in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Jeffrey Streicher, a cura- tor of amphibians in the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Mu- seum in London, are co-PIs of the study. Streicher received his Ph.D. from UTA in 2012 and was a postdoctoral researcher in Fujita's lab in 2012-13.
“As the interface between the environment and the organism, the eye plays an important role in modulating an individual's responses to visual cues,” Fujita said. “Because environments can vary immensely across the world, including terrestrial, aquatic, above ground, and below ground habitats, eyes have evolved a multitude of ways to adapt to these distinct conditions.”
Read more of this story here.
Physics Ph.D. grad Feremenga’s journey to success took him from Zimbabwe to UTA
Ramon Lopez
The educational journey taken by Last Feremenga has been exciting, fasci- nating and has in- volved plenty of air travel. It began in his native Zimbabwe, continued first in Chicago and then in Arlington, and in- cluded frequent trips between Arlington, Chicago and Europe.
Feremenga, who received a Ph.D. in Physics and Applied Physics from The University of Texas at Arlington in December 2016, says he found a nurturing and supportive environment at UTA while conducting doctoral research in high energy physics. His experience in data analysis helped him land a job as a data scientist at a top technology company.
Born in a small town in Zimbabwe, Feremenga grew up in a large family — he was one of nine siblings — and became interested in physics while attending high school in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. There he specialized in mathe- matics, physics and chemistry, and decided that he wanted to go to college to study physics.
With options limited in his home country, Feremenga applied at universities far from home. With help from the U.S. Education Assistance Center at the American Embassy in Harare, he was accepted to the University of Chicago in 2007. After receiving a B.A. in Physics in 2011, Feremenga came to UTA to begin work on a Ph.D., with Jaehoon Yu, professor of physics, as his faculty advisor.
Read more of this story here.
UTA physicists’ key role in development of DUNE project featured in Star-Telegram
Jaehoon Yu
Physics faculty members and stu- dents from UTA will play an important role in the develop- ment of a 10-year, $1.4 billion interna- tional project named Deep Under- ground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), a July 21 article in the Star-Telegram reported.
The DUNE pro- ject broke ground in South Dakota on July 14. The project will focus on subatomic particles called neutrinos, which pass through our bodies constantly but are harmless and are called “ghost particles” by scientists because they are hard to study.
According to the article, “DUNE’s approach will be to orchestrate collisions of neutrinos and anti-neutrinos fired at the speed of light through 800 miles of the earth’s crust from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago to the future Stanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota.”
A four-story high, 70,000-ton detector will be built underground to catch the neutrinos and UTA scientists’ contributions will factor heavily in the detector. Physics faculty members Jaehoon Yu, Jonathan Asaadi and over a dozen UTA undergraduate and graduate physics students will be developing the technolo- gies and the giant instruments that will comprise the capturing and studying end of the project, the article said.
In addition to designing the argon chambers, the UTA group will also focus on developing and building a metal cage around the chambers to produce an electric field that will help scientists see the neutrino interactions.
The facility will be built over the next 10 years, although it will allow for scientific experimenting at various stages starting in the next few years, the article reported.
Read the Star-Telegram article here.
Lopez to host live Facebook Q&A session on August 14 about total solar eclipse
Ramon Lopez, UTA pro- fessor of phys- ics, will host a live Q&A session on Monday, Au- gust 14 about the upcoming total solar eclipse.
To participate in the live Q&A, go to the UTA Facebook page beginning at 11:30 a.m. on August 14.
During a to- tal solar eclipse, the sun briefly disappears behind the moon, causing daylight to turn to twilight and temperatures to drop. Total solar eclipses, like the one which will happen on Monday, August 21, are rare with no more than five occurring worldwide each year. The thing making the August 21 event special in the United States is that the eclipse’s path of totality will be exclusively over the U.S. The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total solar eclipse was in 1979.
The path of totality for the August 21 total solar eclipse will include a 70- mile wide swath beginning in Oregon and finishing in South Carolina. Observers in North America who are outside the path of totality will still see a partial so- lar eclipse, where the moon covers part of the sun's disk.
Lopez, who also serves as co-director of UTA’s UTeach Arlington math and science teacher preparatory program, studies space physics and is highly re- garded for his efforts to strengthen K-12 science education and for his advocacy of increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. He has won numerous awards for his research, teaching and mentoring.
Learn more about the upcoming eclipse at the NASA website here.

COS Alumni

UT Arlington Alumni Relations

We invite you to become involved with the College


Nuñez
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 first-generation 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 at817-272-1497 or cmeckler@uta.edu.

COS Students

Student Spotlight
Bryan Le




As a kid, watching a TV show that featured dramatized reenactments of actual hospital emergency room situations sparked Bryan Le’s interest in the medical field. “In the show [Untold Stories of the ER], physicians narrate their patient encounters and lay out their thought processes. In essence, the viewer was there with the physician as they examined the patient and made a diagnosis. I enjoy the critical thinking aspect of the field and making connections with various topics.” Whether he ends up on TV or not, Le is working toward a career in medicine. The junior pre-med biology major got an early start in the field by earning certification as an Emergency Medical Technician – Basic (EMT-B) soon after he graduated from high school in May 2015. “That allowed me to be out in the field as well as to become familiar with the inner workings of the emergency room depart- ments of various hospitals,” he said. Le has also worked at a family medicine clinic where he “saw the calmer side of the field.” He’s a member of UTA’s Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), a statewide initiative which supports and encourages highly qualified, socioeconomically disadvantaged Texas resident students who are pursuing a medical education. Students who meet requirements are guaranteed admission to one of the state’s nine medical schools. JAMP provides resources including MCAT preparation classes and summer internships. Le recently completed his first summer internship, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “My internship was truly a memorable experience,” he said. “My peers and I studied anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terminology; began our MCAT prep; and shadowed amazing physicians at the Houston hospitals. The program has already created so many opportunities that would have never been possible otherwise for me.
I encourage everyone to research JAMP and see if it could help you or someone you know move closer toward their dreams. JAMP is a unique and life-changing program.” Le is also a member of Global Medical Training, an organization which provides free medical and dental services to medically deprived communities in Central American countries. Le hopes to take a medical mission trip through Global Medical Training during his senior year. Le receives the UTA Freshman Honors Scholarship and works part-time at the College of Science’s Science Education and Career Center. He enjoys playing co-ed intramural volleyball as well as tennis.
Birthplace: Port Arthur (has lived in Arlington since age 8)
Major: Biology (pre-med)
Current status: Junior
Favorite professors:Lee Ann Frederick, lecturer in biology. “She’s an awesome professor and person in general,” Le said. “Dr. Frederick has a great pas- sion for what she does and con- veys the lecture material in a relatable way. I’ve taken her for BIOL 1441 and BIOL 3315, and plan to take more classes taught by her in the future. This fall, I will be a recitation leader for BIOL 1441 students; therefore the knowledge I’ve gained from being in Dr. Frederick’s class will be helpful in teaching these students.”
Where she hopes to be in 5 years: "I hope to be wrapping up medical school and preparing to start my next journey in resi- dency. Hopefully by that time, I will have an idea of which spe- cialty in medicine to pursue. At the moment, I am highly inter- ested in family medicine and anesthesiology."

UTA student organizations

COS Spring 2017 Dean’s List

Calendar of events

Thursday, August 10
Last day of classes for Summer 11-week session and second 5-week session
Thursday, August 24
First day of classes for Fall 2017 semester
Friday, September 8
COS Welcome Back Ice Cream Social
11:30-1 p.m., Life Sciences Building lobby
Start the Fall 2017 semester off with a make-it-yourself ice cream sundae!

Planetarium at UTA

Planetarium
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 Spring schedule runs through May 28. 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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