The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Science
February 2018
Dasgupta honored with prestigious state, national awards for scientific contributions
Purnendu ‘Sandy’ Dasgupta
Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, the Hamish Small Chair of Ion Analysis in UTA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been named the 2018 Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science.
    Dasgupta also was recently named the recipient of the 2018 American Chemical Society’s Division of Analytical Chemistry Chemical Instrumentation Award.
    “Only elite scientists who have made significant international contributions in their fields are selected for these prestigious awards, and Dr. Dasgupta is truly among the greats,” said Morteza Khaledi, dean of the UTA College of Science. “He not only challenges but also inspires his colleagues and students in our college and his research is applied science – it is improving public health on a global scale. I congratulate Dr. Dasgupta on yet another honor in his remarkable career.”
    Dasgupta was previously named the recipient of the 2017 Talanta Medal, an international award in the field of analytical chemistry. The Talanta Medal will be presented in March. In January, one of his papers was listed in The Analytical Scientist as among 10 landmark literature papers in the discipline for 2017.
    Read the full story here.
Dong receives CAREER award from NSF to develop new antimicrobial nanomaterials

He Dong

He Dong, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and joint associate professor of bioengineering, has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to develop new synthetic antimicrobial nanomaterials to treat antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals and military facilities.
    Bacterial resistance to conventional antibiotics is a major threat to public health, and antibiotic-resistant infections are associated with close to $20 billion in direct medical costs each year, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics. Overuse of existing antibiotics has worsened the problem, resulting in an urgent need to develop new types of antimicrobial agents to combat the ever-increasing emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.
    “We are developing synthetic antimicrobial materials that only target toxic bacteria and are biocompatible with healthy mammalian cells,” Dong said. “These new molecules show great promise to treat infections not only on external surfaces or the skin like traditional antimicrobial peptides do, but also internally through oral or intravenous treatments, as they do not attack healthy human cells.”
    Read the full story here.
COS alumnus Nuñez named 2018 Health Care Hero by Fort Worth Business Press

Dr. Ignacio Nuñez, M.D. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Business Press/Glen Ellman

A UTA College of Science alumnus who regularly donates his time, talents and financial resources to the College, University and the community has been recognized with a prestigious award for his service.
    Dr. Ignacio Nuñez, M.D., an OB/GYN at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital since 1983 and a partner with Family Healthcare Associates in Arlington, was named a recipient of the 2018 Health Care Hero Award by the Fort Worth Business Press. The award recognizes excellence among health care professionals, administrators and volunteers in the D-FW Metroplex.
    Nuñez received the award during a reception and dinner at the City Club of Fort Worth on February 8.
    Nuñez, who was named a Distinguished Alumnus by UTA in 2010, is chair of the College of Science Advisory Council and regularly donates his time to talk with and mentor UTA pre-med students. During his 35-year professional career in Arlington, he has served in leadership positions on numerous boards and committees.
    “I am honored to receive this award on behalf of my wife, who makes it all possible, as well as my patients, partners, hospital, peers and especially the University,” he said. “They have given me this opportunity to serve my community and alma mater.”
He says he was inspired to seek a career in medicine by his time in the Boy Scouts, where he learned that “service to others was for me one of most valuable qualities that I could aspire to,” and also by the death of a friend when he was young.
“Medicine, being a healer, has allowed me to have a career of service to others that has provided me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” Nuñez said. “I have delivered thousands of babies and performed countless surgeries during my career and have been rewarded a thousand fold.”
Read the full story here.
Johnson-Winters encourages kids to dream, pursue STEM education at event in Arizona
Kayunta Johnson-Winters with some of the students who participated in the STEM symposium.
Kayunta Johnson-Winters, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was keynote speaker for a symposium aimed at increasing interest in STEM among middle and high school students.
    The event, Black History Month: Next Generation of STEM Professionals, was held in Sierra Vista, Arizona on February 24.
    Johnson-Winters was one of several speakers at the symposium, all of whom encouraged the students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and let them know about opportunities available in STEM-related careers. Women and minorities in particular are under-represented in STEM fields. Only around 10 percent of minority students go into STEM careers, Johnson-Winters said.
    “At this point the best thing you can do is dream,” she told students at the event. “If you want to be a college professor, see yourself there. Figure out what you enjoy in life and pick a career based on what you like. See yourselves working in a STEM field and be happy about it, because the hard work will come soon enough. When the hard work comes don’t shy away from it, but continue to dream.”
    Johnson-Winters shared stories of difficulties she faced while seeking to enter the field of biochemistry and stressed the importance of having supportive teachers and mentors who helped and guided her along the way. She encouraged the students to seek out and create their own opportunities.
    Students attending the symposium participated in contests in which they built their own robots or electrical kits, with prizes going to the winning entries
Distinguished Women in Science Series to debut March 28 with Kelsey McNeely

Kelsey McNeely

The College of Science is launching a new program, the Distinguished Women in Science Speaker Series, which is designed to highlight the achievements of leading women scientists who are making a difference in society through their research and mentoring.
    The program aims to inspire the next generation of leaders, especially female leaders, by putting a spotlight on the important contributions of women to research, industry, and academia.
    The series’ inaugural speaker will be Kelsey McNeely, Emerging Energy Sciences section head with ExxonMobil. Her talk, “ExxonMobil Biofuels Research: Genetic Engineering as a Key Enabler”, will describe her work with engineering more productive strains of algae, in the hope of developing strains that demonstrate significantly improved photosynthetic efficiency and oil production. Algae has the potential for use as a renewable, lower-emission alternative to traditional transportation fuels, McNeely says.
    With global demand for transportation fuels projected to rise by nearly 30 percent by 2040, accelerating the reduction in emissions from the transportation sector will play a critical role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, McNeely said. Advanced biofuels have the potential to increase energy supplies and reduce emissions, she said.
    McNeely’s talk will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 in Nedderman Hall Room 100. A reception will precede the talk at 3:30 p.m. in the atrium outside Nedderman Room 100. The event is free and is open to all.
Cuntz discusses astrobiology on podcast and dwarf K stars during panel discussion
Manfred Cuntz
Manfred Cuntz, professor of physics, gave a podcast interview focusing on his work in astrobiology as part of the Podcasts on Natural Dallas (The P.O.N.D.) series, presented by the Dallas Public Library.
    In the January 18 podcast, Cuntz discussed his work on stellar habitable zones, in consideration of recent observational and theoretical studies. Another focal point of the interview involved opportunities for the general public to get involved in astrophysics and astrobiology by visiting facilities available in North Texas, including the UTA Planetarium.
    Cuntz also participated in a panel discussion about dwarf K stars on the Google hangout “Deep Astronomy” YouTube channel on January 17. The discussion centered on a research paper published by Cuntz and Edward Guinan in The Astrophysical Journal in 2016, titled “The Case for Dwarf K Stars”. Dwarf K stars, also called “orange dwarfs”, are cooler than the Sun and have lower luminosity, but have a significantly longer lifetime than the Sun, Cuntz said.
    “Dwarf K stars are more frequent than solar-type stars, and are able to offer a more stable circumstellar habitable zone (environment), potentially allowing the existence of planets with life, possibly also advanced forms of life,” Cuntz said.
    The panel was hosted by Tony Darnell and also included Guinan, from Villanova University; Jeffrey Kuhn, University of Hawaii; and Svetlana Berdyugina, Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics in Freiburg, Germany.
    Listen to The P.O.N.D. podcast here and watch the “Deep Astronomy” panel discussion here.
    Cuntz will give an encore presentation of his talk, “UTA on SOFIA and Triton’s Eclipse”, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 in the UTA Planetarium. The talk focuses on SOFIA, NASA’s airborne infrared observatory, and Cuntz’s flight aboard the aircraft in September 2017. A reception will precede the talk at 5:30 p.m. in the CPB atrium. The talk is free and open to all.
Brandt explains physics of figure skating’s triple axel jump on KXAS NBC 5 newscast
Figure skater Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics. Photo courtesy of NBC.
Andrew Brandt, professor of physics, discussed the physical requirements of figure skaters performing the triple axel jump in a television interview on KXAS NBC 5 on February 13.
    The segment aired during the 2018 Winter Olympics, which were held in Pyeong- Chang, South Korea February 9-25. During the women’s figure skating competition, Mirai Nagasu became the first American female skater to attempt and land a triple axel at the Olympics.
    Brandt said one of the forces needed to complete the triple axel is “conservation of angular momentum,” which means the lighter the body and the more centered the weight, the faster a skater can spin.
    The segment also speculated on the human body’s limits. While a quadruple jump could possibly show up as early as the 2022 Winter Olympics, a quintuple jump is another story.
    “Well, some people say the quintuple is impossible,” Brandt said in the interview. “Because of the force involved, you wouldn't have the bone structure or whatever to be able to do that.”
    Watch the KXAS NBC 5 segment here.
Winguth discusses the possible effects of climate change on infrastructure in article

Arne Winguth

Arne Winguth, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, was quoted in a story on climate change in North Texas in the February 15 edition of the Dallas Morning News.
    The story discussed how Texas is particularly vulnerable to changing climate, with more costly weather-related disasters than any other state.
    The story also cited a 2015 UTA study, co-authored by Winguth, that predicted an increase in wildfires along paved highways, heat-induced stress on bridges and railroads, air-conditioning problems in public transport vehicles and heat-related accidents by failure of individual vehicles and heat-related stress.
    “While the state highway system was built above flooding levels, the connector roads may be easily flooded,” Winguth said in the article.
    The 2015 UTA study says that between 2041 and 2050, Dallas-Fort Worth may see August temperatures rise from a mean of 86 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the 20th century to 94 degrees, with extremes rising above 120 degrees.
    The article explains that Texas’ geography plays a large part in why the state sees so many natural disasters, with dry air from the north and west often colliding with warmer, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
    Read the Dallas Morning News story here.
Colleagues mourn passing of Nolen Massey, longtime professor of physics, at age 90

Nolen Massey

Nolen Gale Massey, a longtime associate professor in the Department of Physics, died on February 19 at the age of 90.
    Mr. Massey came to UTA in 1956, when it was named Arlington State College and was still a two-year junior college, and he saw many changes in the department and the University in his 35-year career. ASC became a four-year college in 1959 and was renamed UTA when it joined the UT System in 1967.
    “Nolen was a genuinely good person and was fully appreciated by our students as well as our faculty,” said John Fry, professor emeritus in physics. “He had an easy-going personality. He was a deeply religious man, but never talked about it at work. He always carried a heavy teaching load and never complained about it to me during the 10 years I was chair of physics.”
    Mr. Massey was born June 7, 1927, in Woodson, Texas to Paige Murrel and Lillie Mae Mitchell Massey. After graduating from Throckmorton High School in 1945, he served in the Army at Fort Sam Houston from 1945-46. He attended North Texas State College (now UNT) on the GI bill and became the first member of his family to graduate from college, receiving a B.A. in 1950. He earned an M.Ed. from North Texas State in 1953.
    After ASC became UTA in 1967, Mr. Massey served for a year as interim department chair (1967-68). He joined other teaching faculty in successfully pushing for the introduction of graduate programs in physics. He was a good athlete who enjoyed playing on intramural teams in softball, volleyball and basketball.
    “Nolen had a laconic way of explaining complex ideas in physics which relieved some of the tension in problem solving,” Fry said. “He was the same way in faculty meetings when people got a little too excited.”
    Mr. Massey retired in 1992 to spend more time with his family and to have more time to work on his farm. He was a longtime resident of Mansfield, moving to Grandview in 2013, but his heart was always with “the farm” in Woodson where he loved family gatherings and fishing expeditions with his children, grandchildren, and brother Bill’s family.
    Mr. Massey’s obituary states that he was a “lifetime avid reader and his grandchildren were the favorite subjects of his love of photography. He loved talking about physics to anyone that would listen. The Massey children were the only kids on the block who knew how to apply Newton’s third law of motion to get ketchup out of a bottle.”
    He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Edwena; daughters Sharon Massey, Julie Bowers and husband Randy, Marian Hull and husband Jack, Sara Massey and fiance Pat Zajac; son Jon Massey and wife Sonya; grandchildren Rebecca and Ivan Lippens, Lauren and Seth Bowers, Haley and James Hull, Jordy Massey and wife Abbie, Jake, Kira and Travis Massey, Trevor, Shelby, Jade, Trinity, Luke and Levi Bontke; and great-granddaughter Cora Lippens. He was preceded in death by his brother Bill Massey and sisters-in-law Norma Massey and Nanette Osborne.
    A graveside service was held February 24 at Bush Knob Cemetery in Throckmorton County.
COS Alumni

We invite you to become involved with the College


Hello, I'm Dr. Ignacio Nunez, 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 Eckler, LMSW, CFRE, at 817-272-1497 or cmeckler@uta.edu.

UTA Alumni Relations

COS Students

Student Spotlight
Murtaza Mucklai

While growing up in Zambia in southern Africa, Murtaza Mucklai noticed that adequate healthcare was lacking for most Zambians. He made up his mind early on that he was going to do something about it. Mucklai, a pre-med senior with a double major in Biology and Chemistry, is off to a great start in his journey to becoming a physician. He’ll graduate with honors in May and then plans to take a year off from school to focus on research before entering medical school. He was born in Pakistan but he and his family moved to Zambia before he was a year old. “I wanted to become a physician ever since I could remember, to try and aid the people of Zambia,” he says. “Healthcare there isn’t great, so I want to do as much as I can to help once I complete my education.” He selected UTA because he has family in the area, plus he received an Outstanding Freshman Scholarship. A member of the Honors College, he has been involved with the UTA chapters of MDPA and SNMA, as well as the International Student Organization and the Muslim Student Association, where this year he’s serving as the group’s vice president. Two years ago he joined the lab group of Matthew Fujita, assistant professor of biology. He started out working with another undergraduate student to test PCR (polymerase chain reaction) primers to amplify ribosomal genes from lizards. He’s now doing independent research, analyzing DNA sequences which he collected for a project investigating the presence or absence of gene conversion in sexual and parthenogenetic geckos. Fujita says he is impressed with the way Mucklai handles all of the aspects of research, from experimental design to troubleshooting to data collection to analysis. He says he’s excited to see Mucklai’s results and to see them ultimately be published in a scientific journal. “Murtaza is very respectful and patient, and at the same time inquisitive and curious,” Fujita says. “He really cares about doing his research well and being thorough, which speaks volumes to how he will be as a doctor.” It is these traits which will greatly benefit people needing quality medical care in Zambia when Mucklai begins practicing medicime.
Birthplace: Karachi, Pakistan (moved to Ndola, Zambia when he was 8 months old and lived there until he was 18)
Majors: Biology and Chemistry
Current status: Senior
Favorite professors: Matthew Fujita, assistant professor of biology. “His Genetics class was extremely interesting to me, which is why I contracted it for honors credit,” Mucklai said. “He’s also the reason I got into research.”
Where she hopes to be in 5 years: “I hope to be out of medical school and doing my residency.”

UTA student organizations

Calendar of events

Monday-Friday, March 12-16
Spring Break vacation
Thursday, March 22
“UTA on SOFIA and Triton’s Eclipse”
6 p.m. UTA Planetarium
Manfred Cuntz, professor of physics, will discuss his flight aboard NASA’s SOFIA observatory and its use in the study of a stellar eclipse of Triton, a moon of Neptune. A reception precedes the talk at 5:30 p.m. in the CPB lobby. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, March 28
Distinguished Women in Science Speaker Series
4 p.m. Nedderman Hall Rm 100
Kelsey McNeely, Emerging Energy Sciences section head with ExxonMobil, is the inaugural speaker for this new COS series. Reception at 3:30 p.m. outside Nedderman Hall Room 100.
Friday, March 30
Last day to drop classes; submit requests to academic advisors prior to 4 p.m.
Monday, April 2
Registration begins for Summer and Fall 2018 terms
Tuesday, April 3
Texas Swing Health Professions Fair
12-2 p.m. E.H. Hereford University Center, Rio Grande Ballroom.
Representatives from medical, dental, pharmacy and other health professions schools will provide information on admissions and answer students’ questions.
Friday, April 13
COS ACES Student Research Symposium
8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Chemistry & Physics Building (CPB) Atrium and Planetarium
COS students will present their research projects, with awards going to winning entries selected by a panel of judges. All COS students are eligible to participate; for more information, go to https://www.uta.edu/science/events/aces/index.php. Abstract entries are due March 9. The event is free and open to the public.
Friday, May 4
Last day of classes for Spring 2018 semester
Saturday, May 5
Departmental final exams
Monday-Friday, May 7-11
Final exams for the Spring 2018 semester
Friday, May 11
COS Spring 2018 Commencement
7-9 p.m., College Park Center
The COS and College of Education will hold a joint ceremony. Full 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. 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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