The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
November 2017
Schug receives ACS Giddings Award for work to improve education in analytical chemistry
Kevin Schug
A UTA chemist is the recipient of a prestigious award from the American Chemical Society for his efforts to improve the educational experience of students in the field of analytical chemistry.
The ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry presented Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, with the 2017 J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education. The award recognizes scientists who have enhanced the personal and professional development of students in analytical chemistry.
“Given the past recipients of this award, this is a tremendous honor,” said Schug, who is serving as interim associate dean for research and development and also directs UTA’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation, or CLEAR Lab. “Teaching at UTA has been a really fulfilling part of my job, and it is really humbling to be honored like this for that effort.”
Schug becomes the second member of UTA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to win the Giddings Award in three years. Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, the Hamish Small Chair in Ion Analysis and Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the honor in 2015.
Read more of this story here.
UTeach’s Matsler wins statewide award for outstanding efforts in science education

Karen Jo Matsler receives the 2017 Skoog Cup College Faculty Award from Mark Kelly, engineer, author and retired NASA astronaut and Naval aviator. Photo courtesy of STAT.

Karen Jo Matsler, Master Teacher in science for UTA’s UTeach Arlington program, receive the 2017 Skoog Cup College Faculty Award from the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) for her outstanding efforts in science education.
The award, presented by STAT and the Texas Tech University Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Program, is given to a faculty or staff member at a Texas college or university who has demonstrated significant contributions and leadership in the development of quality science education. Matsler received the award during STAT’s annual meeting, the Conference for the Advancement in Science Teaching (CAST), held November 9-11 in Houston.
“The decision to be an educator is a decision to forego extrinsic rewards for the opportunity to change lives and the world in which we live,” Matsler said. “The Skoog Award from STAT recognizes leadership and significant contributions to science education, an honor that I never dreamed I would receive. It is the result of supportive colleagues, students, family and many years of teaching. I consider myself blessed to be able to continue to contribute to education through the UTeach program at UTA and I hope I can continue to inspire teachers to also be leaders in education.”
The award is the latest confirmation of the high quality teaching that is a hallmark of the UTeach Arlington program, UTeach co-director Greg Hale said.
“Dr. Matsler is highly deserving of this award and I’m thrilled to see her work recognized in this way,” Hale said. “Our entire UTeach Arlington team goes above and beyond for our students, and that’s the main reason the program has been such a success.”
Ramon Lopez, UTeach co-director and professor of physics, nominatedMatsler for the award.
“I was honored to nominate Karen Jo Matsler for this award,” Lopez said. “She has made outstanding contributions to science education in Texas, as well as nationally through her work with the American Association of Physics Teachers. We are fortunate to have Dr. Matsler as a member of the UTeach Arlington team.”
Matsler joined UTeach Arlington in 2011 and has over three decades of experience in education. She earned a B.S.Ed. in Science Education from Texas Tech University in 1977, an M.S. in Secondary Education from Texas Tech in 1986 and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Argosy University in 2004. She taught physics and physical science at Arlington Lamar High School and two junior high schools in Lubbock between 1977 and 2002. She was K-12 science coordinator for the Lancaster and Birdville school districts from 2002-05 and worked as an adjunct professor at Argosy before coming to UTA. She has also been an adjunct at Dallas Baptist University since 2000.
She is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) board of directors and currently serves as national director of Physics Teaching Resource Agents, an organization which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of physics and physical science for all K–12 teachers and students in the United States. She also serves on the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History board of directors for educational programs.
Among the awards Matsler has received are AAPT Inaugural Fellow (2014); the Katherine Mays Award for Outstanding Contributions to Texas Physics Education from AAPT Texas Section (2014); the American Physical Society (APS) Excellence in Education Award (2011); Lamar High School Teacher of the Year (2002); RadioShack American Teacher Award (2000); and the Association of Texas Professional Educators Secondary Teacher of the Year Award (1996).
Learn more about STAT here.
Mathematics Professor Han honored for 35 years at UTA during retirement reception
Chien-Pai Han, left, accepts a plaque from Jianzhong Su, math department chair, honoring Han’s 35-year UTA career.
Chien-Pai Han, professor of mathematics, has seen tremendous growth in the Department of Mathematics since he arrived at UTA in 1982.
Han has helped build the department into what it is today, an awardwinning unit which provides excellent education for its students and conducts groundbreaking, collaborative research that has significant impact in a variety of fields.
Han is retiring from teaching at the end of the fall semester, and the department hosted a reception to celebrate his 35-year UTA career on November 10 in Pickard Hall. Han and his wife, Maria, cut a cake and received well-wishes from a host of Han’s faculty colleagues and students.
“Dr. Han has done so much for the department and for his students,” said Jianzhong Su, math department chair. “He always made the time to help others.”
At the reception Han recounted his life, from the many hardships he and hisfamily endured while he was growing up in China during World War II, to the family’s narrow escape from China just prior to the Communist takeover. He attended National Taiwan University and earned a B.A. in Economics in 1958, then came to the United States for graduate school, receiving an M.A. in Statistics from the University of Minnesota in 1962. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Statistics from Harvard in 1967, and then began a 15-year tenure as a member of the faculty at Iowa State University in the Department of Statistics.
Seeking a change from the brutal Midwest winters, Han, his wife and their two children moved to Arlington in 1982 when a position at UTA became open. He spent the next 35 years teaching courses in Sampling Theory, Statistical Inference and Statistical Methods, among many others, as well as conducting research and mentoring students (he supervised 36 master’s students and 20 Ph.D. dissertations in his 50 years in academia). His fields of specialization in mathematical statistics include Statistical Inference, Multivariate Analysis, and Sample Survey.
He authored or co-authored over 140 publications, served as editor or coeditor of various journals and served on numerous boards and committees relating to statistics. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, was elected a member of the International Statistical Institute and is a member of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and various other professional societies.
“The thing that I have enjoyed the most is the people,” he said. “I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such good people and to have been able to teach so many wonderful students.”
Mandal co-authors paper on possible use of long non-coding RNA as cancer biomarkers
Subhrangsu Mandal
UTA researchers have published a review article in the prestigious journal Cancer Research on the potential use of long non-coding RNA or lncRNA as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for cancer.
The human genome encodes more than 28,000 distinct lncRNA, which are ribonucleic acid molecules that are not translated or coded into proteins. Next-generation gene sequencing techniques have revealed that thousands of lncRNA are associated with various types of cancers.
“UTA is creating expertise in this specific niche cancer research area, where we are competing with other nationally and internationally recognized cancer research institutions,” said Subhrangsu Mandal, UTA associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and lead author of the study. “Our highlycited study from two years ago linking the lncRNA molecule HOTAIR with breast, hepatocellular, colorectal, pancreatic, lung and ovarian cancers established us as a forerunner in this burgeoning research field.”
Genome-wide association studies of tumor samples have identified a large number of lncRNA associated with various types of cancer. Alterations in lncRNA expression and their mutations promote tumorigenesis and metastasis.
Read more of this story here.
Mandal also edited a book, Gene Regulation, Epigenetics and Hormone Signaling, which was published by Wiley in October. The first-of-its-kind book provides a comprehensive but concise introduction to epigenetics before covering the many interactions between hormone regulation and epigenetics at all levels. Each chapter features supplementary material for use in presentations. Major emphasis is placed on pathological conditions, aiming at physiologists and developmental biologists who are familiar with the importance and mechanisms of hormone regulation but have a limited background in epigenetics.
The book can be purchased at Wiley’s website here.
UTA team publishes 3 studies focusing on pathogenic bacteria in Texas groundwater

From left, Misty Martin, Inês Santos and Doug Carlton Jr. were among the UTA co-authors of the articles.

Three new research studies from UTA have found harmful pathogenic bacteria in Texas groundwater near unconventional natural gas extraction sites.
“Our latest published research has revealed that harmful bacteria can be quite prevalent in Texas groundwater, especially waters that contain various chemical contaminants,” said Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and director of UTA’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation, or CLEAR Lab. Schug co-authored the three articles.
“The next phase is to evaluate novel treatments against these dangerouspathogens and to develop safe strategies for the remediation of biologicallyimpaired sources of fresh water.”
The horse has already proved to be popular, with many passers-by and schoolchildren on campus to see shows at the Planetarium posing for photos in front of the statue.
Two of the studies, published in Science of the Total Environment, focused on characterizing microbial communities in the groundwater overlying the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale formations. A third study, published in the journal Microorganisms, identified two unique species of bacteria that could be exploited for the bioremediation of groundwaters that are contaminated with chemical solvents.
UTA co-authors of the papers include Ph.D. student Inês Santos; undergraduate students Misty Martin and Michelle Reyes; Doug Carlton, Jr., CLEAR Lab project manager; and Zacariah Hildenbrand, CLEAR Lab consultant affiliate.
Read more of this story here.
Armstrong works with Shimadzu to develop new trace moisture analysis GC system
Daniel Armstrong
Daniel Armstrong, the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry, recently worked with the Shimadzu Corporation to develop a trace moisture analysis system utilizing a gas chromatography method.
Shimadzu, a leading manufacturer of analytical and medical instruments, has been partners with UTA since the creation of the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies at UTA in 2013. Shimadzu worked with Armstrong and MilliporeSigma, the life science business of Merck KGaA, to create the new system, which consists of Shimadzu’s Nexis GC-2030 equipped with its proprietary Barrier Ionization Discharge detector and MilliporeSigma’s unique Watercol*2 capillary column, which was originally developed by Armstrong. With this system, users can precisely analyze parts per million (PPM) levels of water in gas and some liquid samples.
The use of GC-based high-precision trace moisture analysis is expected to increase in markets such as chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and energy, a Shimadzu news release said.
Armstrong also was interviewed in the October edition of Lab Manager magazine on trends in chiral separations.
Asked about some recent trends in chiral separations, Armstrong said, “Traditionally, chiral separations have been all about selectivity. Selectivity was all-important and it had to be, because if you didn’t have selectivity, nothing was going to work. Now we’ve evolved past selectivity into ultra-high efficiency, particularly as it relates to doing ultra-fast separations.
“Our focus is going to be doing chromatography at sensor speeds. Sensors have the advantage of being relatively fast — a few seconds or sometimes less than a second — but they have many shortcomings. They’re usually only good for measuring one thing; if you change the matrix or there are any interferences, it doesn’t work, whereas chromatography has the advantage that it separates the matrix and you can do multiple things, but it takes longer to do. So, what we’re focusing on is bringing chromatography to sensor speeds.”
Armstrong also gave his views on the most exciting new applications for chiral separations and key challenges he encounters in his work with chiral separations, among other topics.
Read the Lab Manager interview here.
New biology recitation leadership program benefits student leaders, class students

Members of the recitation leadership group with faculty mentors.

A group of biology students is gaining valuable experience in teaching as part of the department’s new recitation leadership program.
The program, in its first semester, draws from the department’s top performing undergraduates to serve as peer teachers and role models to students enrolled in Biology 1441, the department’s introductory course.
“In addition to gaining experience teaching and public speaking, the student teachers also reinforce their own knowledge of biological concepts,” said Melissa Walsh, lecturer in biology and one of the program’s faculty mentors. “For the students in the class, the recitations are a chance to practice challenging concepts in a small group setting where they can ask questions and receive a level of individualized attention that they cannot get from lecture.”
Student instructors are paired up in the classroom, and each teaches two sections of recitation, which are 50 minutes long and have 24 students each.
“All student instructors attend a teaching workshop and are observed during the semester so that they can get feedback,” Walsh said. “They also attend a weekly meeting with the faculty teaching the course to practice the exercises together with guidance from faculty. This has allowed the leaders to work closely with faculty during the semester.”
Students participating in the program include: Sarah Blakeney, Hillary Bui, Gabi Castillo, Diana Do, Sydney Haas, Ashif Karedath, Bryan Le, Christine Le, Laura Le, Michael Madueke, Amanda Ng, Thi Nguyen, Godswill Nwaosu, Christina Onabajo, Kirsten Orobitg, Sufera Shaikh, Romeeka Siddiqui, David Smith, and Quynh Tran.
A mix of returning and new leaders is planned for the spring semester. The leaders will be paired up to teach so that the experienced leaders can mentor the new ones. Feedback from leaders about their experience has been overwhelmingly positive, Walsh said.
Paulus’ research on improving results of brainstorming sessions cited in article

Paul Paulus

Paul Paulus, UTA Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology, was featured in an October 2 Harvard Business Review article which examined Paulus’ research on how to improve brainstorming results.
The article, titled “Research: For Better Brainstorming, Tell an Embarrassing Story”, explains a 2011 study led by Paulus which examined the effects of quality and quantity instructions on brainstorming sessions. That study found that brainstorming groups given quantity goals generated both more ideas and significantly higher quality ideas than those given a quality goal alone, the Harvard Business Review article said.
Paulus went on to lead a study which found that there are also other ways for companies and teams to improve brainstorming results — staying focused on the task at hand; not just saying an idea but explaining it; restating the problem and encouraging more thinking when ideas run dry; and prompting those not talking to contribute. The results were dramatic: groups that followed both sets of rules generated nearly 50 significantly more unique ideas.
Building on Paulus’ research, the article’s author, Leigh Thompson of Northwestern University, led a study which explored whether people could also be primed for better brainstorming before idea generation even starts. Her team found that candor — in the form of having participants share embarrassing stories about themselves — led to greater creativity. As a result, Thompson and her team proposed adding a new rule for brainstorming sessions: Tell a self -deprecating story before starting.
Read the Harvard Business Review article here.

COS Alumni

Alumni Spotlight
Hannah Pelzel

Hannah Pelzel realized early in life that adequate health care is often sorely lacking in many parts of the world, and she has dedicated herself to making a difference. Pelzel was born in Russia and as a child, “I witnessed many children suffering from various illnesses that could have easily been prevented or treated had they had access to proper medical care,” she says. “This sparked my interest in the medical field.” At age 7, she was adopted and moved to the U.S. She grew up in Pilot Point, a small town northeast of Denton. By the time she enrolled in college at UTA in 2012, she had decided to major in biology. “I chose biology because I had always been drawn to science classes throughout school and it was a degree that covered all of the basic courses needed for medical school. It set the foundation for my medical education.” At UTA she regularly volunteered at the Mission Arlington health clinic and was a member of the Mavs for UNICEF student organization.
“Shadowing physicians and volunteering over the years reinforced my desire to become a doctor,” she said. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in May 2015, Pelzel got married in July and in August moved with her husband, Derek, to the small Caribbean island of Dominica so she could attend Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth. Less than a month later, Hurricane Maria slammed Dominica with 160-mile-per-hour winds, killing at least 57 people and devastating the island’s infrastructure before moving on to batter Puerto Rico. Pelzel and her husband rode out the Category 5 hurricane in their small cottage, the wind so loud that they had to yell just to hear each other. Following the storm they stayed at the badly damaged university for a week and then got a ride aboard a cruise ship to St. Lucia, where they were able to catch a flight to D/FW Airport. They spent a few weeks with their families while the medical school made arrangements to continue classes. On October 23, classes resumed aboard an Italian ferry cruise ship outside Port Zante on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. “The entire ninth level of the ship is accommodated for our lectures and the garage deck has been recently renovated into a large study space and offices for faculty,” Pelzel says. “Much of the equipment has been shipped from our campus in Dominica. Overall, using a ship as a school has come with some hiccups, but the accommodations on the ship have greatly improved since our arrival.” Classes will continue aboard the ship until final exams in January, after which classes will be held at Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tennessee, while repairs are made at the Dominica campus. “Moving to another new country and then onto a boat was a huge adjustment, but the Ross family is nothing short of resilient,” says Pelzel, who is interested in pediatrics but is keeping her options open about specialties. “The perseverance of this group is like no other and we’ve all adjusted to this new normal.” Resilience is something about which Pelzel already knows plenty.
Birthplace: Shuya, Russia
Years at UTA: 2012-15
Favorite professors: Jimmy Rogers, associate professor of practice in chemistry. “He was always so student-centered and I truly enjoyed going to his lectures.”
Advice for students: “The best advice I received in undergrad was from my parents, who told me (and constantly remind me) to work hard and never give up on my dreams.”

UT Arlington Alumni Relations

We invite you to become involved with the College

Nu ñez
Hello, I'm Dr. Ignacio Nu ñez, 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.

Calendar of events

Wednesday, December 6
Last day of classes for the Fall 2017 semester
Thursday, December 7
7 p.m., UTA Planetarium
Manfred Cuntz, professor of physics, will give a talk about his experience aboard SOFIA, a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that is the largest airborne observatory in the world and is used to study objects using infrared light. Cuntz was invited to fly aboard SOFIA on September 26 as a public outreach team member during a night flight over the Pacific Ocean while guest observers studied Triton, a moon of Neptune. Cuntz will recount his experience during the flight.
Saturday, December 9
Departmental final exams
December 11-15
Final exams for the Fall 2017 semester
Friday, December 15
COS Fall 2017 Commencement 7-9 p.m., College Park Center
The COS and COE will hold a joint ceremony. Full details available here.

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 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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