Note from the Dean

Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

A student in my Intro to Physics I class once told me that when he was in high school taking trig, he told his teacher that this subject was useless and that he would never use the sine function again.  He laughed when he told me that.  Anyone who has worked in science or math knows that basic trig comes up whenever you are dealing with 3-dimensional space and whenever you are dealing with things that oscillate like sound and light and cell phone signals (actually a form of light).  By the way, our featured department in this issue is the Physics Department!

Life is full of surprises, twists, and turns.  Who really knows what any one person will find absolutely essential and what will become superfluous.  It is my hope that our graduating students will have found some area to pursue that will bring them enjoyment as well as financial well-being.  It is also my hope that they will also carry away with them an enjoyment of learning and discovering new things.  See our featured alum in this issue for a nice example of this hope fulfilled.

In this last month of the academic year, I wish all of our students the best, and I hope they can find the time to appreciate the spring weather and each other.

News of the Moment


A view looking down on the floor of Canale Arena during the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair is shown.  In addition to Canale Arena, projects were also displayed in Montesi in Buckman Hall and in the Sabbatini Lounge in the Thomas Center.

A view looking down on the floor of Canale Arena during the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair is shown. In addition to Canale Arena, projects were also displayed in Montesi in Buckman Hall and in the Sabbatini Lounge in the Thomas Center.

On March 20-21, the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair was held on the campus of Christian Brothers University.  Approximately 300 students from across Shelby County participated in the 2013 Fair; the Fair has seen increased participation for each of the last four years.

A view from the floor of Canale Arena during the judging phase of the Fair is shown.

A view from the floor of Canale Arena during the judging phase of the Fair.

The Middle School division of the Fair includes students from grades 6 through 8; and the High School Division includes students from grades 9 through 12.  The winner of the High School Division was Vijaya Dasari from White Station High School, and she will represent Memphis at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair that will be held in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2013.

TAAPT participants viewing Dr. Varriano's presentation

TAAPT participants viewing Dr. Varriano’s presentation

On March 22-23, Dr. Ted Clarke, Assistant Professor of Physics, and Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, attended the annual meeting of the Tennessee Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (TAAPT) at Middle Tennessee State University where both gave talks.   “Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans” was presented by Dr. Clarke and  “Physics Fun with 3-D Glasses” was presented by Dr. Varriano.  Dr. Clarke was elected as President of the TAAPT for the 2014-15 year.  CBU will host the conference in the spring of 2015.

On March 24-25, members of the student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America traveled to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  While there, they saw the fastest supercomputer in the world, the spallation neutron source (the only other one in the world was in Japan and is being rebuilt after the earthquake), and the graphite reactor from the Manhattan Project.

Area high school students are shown working during the Laboratory Section of the National Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad.

Area high school students are shown working during the Laboratory Section of the National Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad.

On March 30, The American Chemical Society’s 45th Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty-ninth Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad were hosted by the CBU Department of Chemistry.  These events are sponsored by the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society.   Fifty-eight students from 11 different high schools took part in the examinations; participating high schools included Arlington High School, Bartlett High School, Bolton High School, Christian Brothers High School, Collierville High School, Germantown High School, Lausanne Collegiate School, Memphis University School, St. Agnes Academy, The Bridge Home School, and White Station High School.

On April 5, Krystyna Clark,Biology 2013, and Jessica Ferrell, Biology 2013, presented at the national Alpha Chi convention.  See the featured article on the meeting and the CBU recognitions later in this newsletter.

Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting.

Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting.

On Saturday, April 6, CBU hosted the Collegiate Division of the Western Regional Meeting for the Tennessee Academy of Sciences.  There were six sessions with 35 papers and 9 posters.  CBU students won 11 “Best Paper Awards” for their presentations.  JD Wolfe took first place in the Botany Session for “Growth responses of different aged individuals of Xanthium strumarium L. in flooded conditions.” Patrick Graham received second place in the Zoology Session for “Determining the age of wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), a premiere sport and food fish in the Gulf of Mexico: An assessment of sagittal otoliths as wahoo ageing structures.”

Krystyna Clark, Jessica Dunn, and Lauren D'Surney at the TAS meeting.

Krystyna Clark, Jessica Dunn, and Lauren D’Surney at the TAS meeting.

In the Health & Medical Sciences I Session, Lauren D’Surney took first place for “Neuroprotective treatment for blast-induced vision loss,” Jessica Dunn won second place for “Effects of alcohol and caffeine on middle cerebral artery diameter,” and Krystyna Clark took third place for “Molecular cloning and expression of cDNAs encoding type 2 ryanodine receptors.” CBU also took all three prizes in the Health & Medical Sciences II Session, with Lydia Hyatt winning first place for “Conditioned olfactory aversion increases olfactory sensitivity in mice,” Lauryn Murphy winning second place for “Determination of axonal loss and optic nerve head degeneration in glaucomatous eyes,” and Jessica Ferrell taking third place for “Corticospinal tract damage accompanies motor dysfunction in a mouse model of closed-head mild traumatic brain injury.” In the Engineering Session, Nicholaus Smith took first place honors with “Wind Energy,” and Hunter Coulson won second place with “Solar Panel Analysis.” Brent Holmes won first place in the Mathematics Session for “Rainbow colorings of some geometrically defined uniform hypergraphs in the plane.”  For full meeting details, see the meeting web site.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, gave two seminars recently.  On March 25, she gave a talk to the CBU informal R and D forum entitled: “The many facets of research in biology at CBU” where she talked about how research can be characterized many different ways:  it can be a simple project that tests a hypothesis in a class, or years of work on a very esoteric project.  She also reviewed some of the projects and types of research conducted in the department of biology.   On April 12, she gave a presentation to the UTHSC graduate students as part of their graduate student research day entitled: “What path should I take from here?  How do I chose?”  This talk was designed to assist students in making decisions about their next step in their career.  It covered six life lessons that she thought helped her. Several students asked for a copy.  There were three CBU alumni in attendance:  Jen Paxson Saputra, Kyle Summers and Michael Herr.

Volleyball Game

Things were looking up for the faculty team,
but the students prevailed this year.

On April 11, we held our annual  Youth & Vitality (SOS Students)  vs.  Old Age & Deceit  (SOS Faculty & Staff) Volleyball Game with the proceeds ($350 so far) going to the Church Health Center.  This year the students prevailed over a faculty team that was down a couple players due to a physics talk off campus but was supplemented by the addition of the CBU President!  See images from the game courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

On April 13, 2013, the top students from the Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad returned to the campus of Christian Brothers University to take the American Chemical Society’s National Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad.  The purpose of this examination, sponsored by the American Chemical Society and given across the United States,  is to select the top students who will represent the United States at the International Chemistry Olympiad to be held in Moscow, Russia in July 2013.   Dr. Dennis Merat is the local coordinator for the Chemistry Olympiad and can be contacted at for more information.

Stephanie Allen at the Beta Beta Beta induction this spring

Stephanie Allen at the Beta Beta Beta induction this spring

Stephanie Allen, Biology 2014, and Kevin Pham, Biology 2014, were both awarded Neuroscience Undergraduate Merit Fellowships for their senior internship research projects.   Stephanie will conduct  research with Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand and Kevin will work with Dr. Kristen O’Connell.    (Kevin is pictured in the Math Center Tutor section.)

Anna Birg, Biochemistry 2014, has been selected to receive a 2013 Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars Fellowship from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis. 

Jessica Dunn, Biology 2013, announces her engagement to Wesley Garrett.  (Jessica is pictured above in the TAS image.)

Trey McGinnis and Rebekah Hermann during Pi Day festivities

Trey McGinnis and Rebekah Hermann during Pi Day festivities

Rebekah Herrman, Mathematics & Physics 2014, was awarded a Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the summer.  Rebekah will be working on quantum computing.

Brent Holmes, Mathematics & Physics 2013, has been awarded a teaching assistantship in the Ph.D. Mathematics Department at the University of Kansas.  He also has a paper accepted for publication:  ”Two Kinds of Frobenius Problems”  by L. Beneish, B. Holmes, P. Johnson and T. Lai  in the International Journal of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Sheshaben (Shesha) Shah, Chemistry 2014, has been selected to receive a 2013 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship from the University of Memphis.

Colleen Valdez, Biology 2013, worked with Dr. L Reiter of the UTHSC Neuroscience Institute who just published a high impact journal article on his research on autism.

Cameron Volpe at the TAS meeting

Cameron Volpe at the TAS meeting

Cameron Volpe, Biology 2013, has been accepted to the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) School of Veterinary Medicine.  (Last month we reported that she was accepted at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University.)

Erika Yates, Biochemistry 2014, has been selected to receive a 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the SURF program in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center at Memphis.

Upcoming Events

Adrienne Renfro at last year's  Poster Session

Adrienne Renfro at last year’s Poster Session

On Tuesday, April 16, the Seventeenth Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session will be held in the Sabbatini Lounge of the Thomas Center. Here are pictures and information from last year’s session.

On Tuesday, April 16, the CBU Math Department will be hosting part of the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association (TMTA) High School Math Tests.  We expect about 160 students this year.

On April 27, the senior Chemistry and Biochemistry majors will present the results of their undergraduate research at the 36th Annual Area Collegiate Chemistry Meeting to be held at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

Monday, April 29, is the last day of classes for the day program.

Final exams go from Wednesday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 7.

On Saturday, May 11, we will hold graduation!

Alumni News

Jenny Bernard doing research with MHIRT in 2005.

Jenny Bernard doing research with MHIRT in 2005.

Jennifer Bernard, Biology 2006, won the C.L. Davis Student Scholarship Award in Veterinary Pathology, a pathology resident award voted on by the faculty at U.T.  She will finish her veterinary residency in July and take her boards in September.

Courtney Colotta, Pharm.D. UTHSC 2013, Biology 2009, is engaged to Paul Thompson, Accounting 2008, and they will be married October 19, 2013.

Eric Davis, Biology 2008, announced his engagement to Christie Chumney, Business Administration 2007.

Meagan Lamica, Biology 2011, is engaged to Matt Cross, U of M Business management.  Meagan is currently studying nursing at Baptist College of Health Sciences.  Matt is the lead technician for Proscan that runs low voltage cable.

Adam Luka, M.D. LSU 2013, Biology 2009, matched at Medical College of Georgia with internal med year in Roanoke Virginia.

Dr.  Sana Mujahid, Biology 2007, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis  “Regulation of lung development by miRNAs and Hox genes” at Tuffs University.  She will graduate in May from Tuffs and is currently applying to post-doctoral positions.

Michelle Paul Tubinis, M.D. UAMS 2013, Biology 2009, matched at UAB in anesthesiology.  Also, Michelle and her husband, Zach, announce the birth of their daughter, Riley Kate Tubinis, born 3/30/13 at 3:49 pm with weight 8lbs 10oz and length  19.5 in long.

In Biology, how do we prepare students to conduct research?

by  Malinda E.C. Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Research, according to the Webster’s Dictionary is: a “Noun, The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.”  Or it can be a Verb, “To investigate systematically.”  Each of the majors in science requires a capstone experience that consists of some type of research; generally it involves an internship of 10-12 weeks. These experiences can also consist of courses that are managed and taught by different faculty, according to the discipline, within the school of science. The purpose remains the same, to instill knowledge of the research process. This does not happen over night and in each of the science classes faculty build on experiences that reinforce research methodology.

In the biology department, we place students on the path to the capstone course, Mentored Research, as early as possible, sometimes as early as their freshmen year.  Many of the learning objectives of science laboratories have tasks that are hypothesis driven and also have components that introduce the development and implementation of a novel experimental procedure.

The following are but a few examples from the biology department.  The students in Dr. Fitzgerald’s BIOL 112 class tested the effectiveness of an Iphone app to determine the species of plants around the School of Science (AH and CW).  They used the app, instead of the traditional dichotomous key. to develop a landscape map.  The students in Dr. Ogilvie’s biology honors class, investigated “What types of microbes are found on fruit from the grocery store?”  They will present their results next week.  Another class project was in Dr. Eisen’s Parasitology class.  Students investigated parasite infections from fecal specimens collected in dog parks within Memphis.  The hypothesis was that  samples from the more affluent areas would have fewer parasites.  Lee Curbo presented their results in a poster at the TAS meeting.  Dr. Thompson-Jaeger has her Genetics students utilize siRNA techniques in C. elegans cultures to observe how phenotypic and behavioral modifications can be expressed.  In her Microbiology lab, the students spend a great deal of time running tests on an unknown bacterial culture to identify the sample.  Dr. Moore has had students conduct their capstone project, with him as a mentor, as well as independent research projects and class projects.  Several of these experiments have investigated the relationships of plants grown together as well as the growth of different aged plants during flood conditions (see previous newsletters and TAS abstracts).   Students in Ecology and Wetlands Ecology have learned about experimental design and testing hypotheses.  In animal behavior, Dr. Ross has her students analyze journal articles and then present the data to the class.  This method, reading and reporting on primary literature, is used in several upper division classes.  In the biology Junior Seminar, students not only listen to seminars by local researchers on a variety of topics, but they also present a journal article in a poster session.

Albert Eistein

Albert Eistein

Two of my favorite quotes are by Albert Einstein, the individual that many of us closely link to successful scientific research.He said “If we knew what we were doing it would not be called research, would it?”He also said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”In research we try to get the same results, but frequently they turn out differently!

I have frequently required students in both my Physiology and Neuroscience classes to conduct research, using equipment that we have at CBU.  The students are required to develop a testable hypothesis, write a short research proposal, collect data, and present the results of their study to the class. This semester in Neuroscience students involved me as a research subject; generally I don’t get involved, although other faculty have participated in the past (Newsletter, March, 2012 and Feb, 2010).  The results of their research will be presented on May 1, at 3:30 pm in CW 118.

The Hypothesis tested Neuroscience, Spring 2013:

Cold Hands

Cold hands!

Project 1:  Hypothesis:  Cold hand temperature will limit the speed of texting and warm hands will be faster than the control (at room temp).Methods:  Participants used their own phone and were their own control.  The first phase was to text a statement (at room temp) that was timed and then the subject placed their hands in an ice bath for 30 sec (I couldn’t keep mine in there that long!) then re-text the statement.  The last phase was to place their hands in warm water for 30 sec and then re-text the statement. Times were compared within and across individuals.

EKG loud noise experiment

EKG loud noise experiment

Project 2:  Hypothesis:  A random loud noise will increase heart rate, the closer the noise the greater the increase.Method:  Subjects were placed in a quiet room, with a blindfold on and an EKG protocol was started within Biopac.  Random loud noises occurred and the subject’s heart rate was compared to their own control (prior to the noise).  Additional data on the time for the subjects’ heart rate to return to control levels was calculated, and heart rate responses were also compared with proximity of the noise.

Dr. Fitzgerald doing the timed task experiment

Dr. Fitzgerald doing the timed task experiment.

Project 3:  Hypothesis:  Caffeine will improve short term concentration and awareness during a timed intense situation.Method:  Subjects completed a one minute timed spatial task before, and 20 min after, drinking one cup of Columbian dark roast coffee.  The time and responses were recorded. Responses will be compared both for individuals and all participants.

While all of these short-term experimental studies are all completed in one semester, and are simple compared with the capstone research, they assist in setting the stage for the capstone research. In the biology capstone course, students spend three semesters collecting data (summer internship), writing a journal style article (fall) and finally in the spring they prepare a power point and poster presentation (see TAS article). The poster session is sponsored by the CBU TN Theta chapter of Alpha Chi, which this year is the 17th in a row and will be held on April 16 in the Sabbatini Lounge of the Thomas Center.  The function of this biology three semester process is to take inherent curiosity and rekindle it to its full potential within the interests of the student using the guidelines of the research process unique to a family of sciences. In addition, the students will have seen the three ways scientific research is presented.  These two tools, inherent curiosity and the methodology of the research process, are not about students becoming research scientists, but rather going into life prepared with the tools to solve problems.

While some faculty at CBU do conduct research (see Feb, 2013 and other Feb issues of newsletters), many faculty depend on sabbaticals or summer faculty development funds to conduct research projects, write manuscripts or books.  It is very difficult to be active in research and be effective and committed to teaching.  It is also difficult to get back into research after a hiatus.  I have been very lucky to continue any involvement in research through my collaborators, particularly Dr. Anton Reiner.  Recently, Dr. Siripong Malasri established an informal group called the CBU unofficial R and D Forum.  The purpose of this group is to create synergy among CBU faculty members or staff as well as providing a forum for them to interact with others interested in research.   Since January the group has met three times and there has been a featured speaker at each meeting.  The meetings will begin again in the fall semester, 2013.    Contact Dr. Malasri or visit his website if you are interested in topics and attending (

National Alpha Chi Convention

by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology

The National Alpha Chi Convention was held in Nashville on April 4-6, 2013.  Two students,  Krystyna Clark (sec/tres) and Jessica Ferrell (VP) and two sponsors, Drs. Randel Price and Malinda Fitzgerald attended the meeting.  There were over 500 attendees and over 200 presentations.  Dr. Randel Price served as a judge in two sessions and attended several others.  Two presentations were made by CBU students:  In the molecular and cell biology session, Krystyna Clark*, Maria T. Asuncion Chin, Aditya K. Singh, and Alex M. Dopico.  “Cloning and Expression of cDNA Encoding the Ryanodine Receptor Isoform 2 (RyR2) from Rat Cerebral Artery Smooth Muscle” and in health and disease  Jessica Ferrell and Anton Reiner “Motor dysfunction accompanies corticospinal tract damage in a mouse model of closed-head traumatic brain injury.” 

Alpha Chi meeting

The opening speaker was TN Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch and the CBU students were able to visit with him after the program.

The opening speaker was TN Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch and the CBU students were able to visit with him after the program.  He spoke on the individuals that contributed to his development and mentored him.  Probably one of the most interesting points in his talk was you don’t always know who your mentors are, they may assist you without you knowing it

The TN Theta Alpha Chi Chapter was presented with a star chapter award. Picture by Corey Dugan

The TN Theta Alpha Chi Chapter was presented with a star chapter award. Picture by Corey Dugan

In addition to these two presentations, the TN Theta Alpha Chi Chapter was presented with a star chapter award.  This is the 4th time in a row and the overall 5th time since 1995 when Dr. Fitzgerald became the primary sponsor.


Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald is currently serving as the vice president of region III.  The National Alpha Chi organization is divided into seven regions.  Region III is one of the largest regions, in part because it has several institutions of higher education in the SE and secondarily many of the chapters at these institutions are old established chapters.  Dr. Fitzgerald  will become the president of the region in 2014, after the national convention in Saint Louis and serve for two more years. In order to win a star award the chapter has to accomplish the following:  Complete a service project, have an induction, apply for one of the national scholarship, have at least one scholarly event, and attend the annual meeting and have at least one student presentation.    The primary scholarly event for our chapter is the Student Research Poster Session that is always scheduled for the third Tuesday in April.  This year it will be the on April 16th and it is the 17th annual event.  Students from across the campus have presented at this event and it seems to enlarge each year.

Krystyna at the moment of hearing of her scholarship award.

Krystyna at the moment of hearing of her scholarship award.

The big news that we received at the meeting was that Krystyna Clark won one of the 10 nationally awarded graduate scholarships to continue her education.  This is the first CBU student to win one of these competitive awards.  The award is called the Benedict Scholarship and is $ 2,500.  She will be attending Pharmacy school at UTHSC this fall.  While we were unable to be in Nashville because we had returned to Memphis for the TAS meeting at CBU, Krystyna still was surprised when we made the announcement at the TAS award luncheon!


Dr. Fitzgerald and her Alpha Chi award.  Picture by Cory Dugan.

Dr. Fitzgerald and her Alpha Chi award. Picture by Cory Dugan.

Dr. Price was able to attend the awards ceremony on Saturday, after the others had returned to Memphis.  A surprise award that he brought back with him was that Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald won the Distinguished Service Sponsor Award for Region III.  He presented it to her at CBU.

The service that the chapter has conducted this past year has been primarily supporting the national reading is fundamental program.  The chapter collected hundreds of new and used books and distributed them to the Head Start, Snowden Clue Program and Caritas Village.  In addition to this the chapter has collected quarters for Heifer International and has enough for a goat ($120) and is well on its way to the second goat.  Alpha Chi in conjunction with Sigma Tau Delta at CBU spearheaded the collection of Toys for Tots on campus, participated in Bowling for Uganda (sponsored by BBB and initiated by students in the MHIRT program), and helped in the collection over 400 pounds of food for the Mid South Food Bank.

Service comes naturally to Dr. Fitzgerald who also participated in other community service projects through her church, for example she directed collection of materials to send to Afghanistan to soldiers for Christmas.  Her church, Prescott Baptist, has long been know for social justice and community involvement, funds were also collected to assist Sherwood Elementary School, and a MA refugee assistance program, started by Meredith Walsh a MHIRT graduate.  Meredith will also be honored on May 2, 2013 by the MA legislature for her involvement “to the civic life, economic development, and social progress of the Commonwealth.”  Many MHIRT graduates continue to be involved in service with the country that they conducted research in.  A prime example was Samantha Bowers who won the Gerald Vanderhaar Student Peace Award in 2012.  Some of the programs that have been started by student graduates from the MHIRT:  Visible Campus, Gulu Walk, Arudo Yat, Easy Access to Bed Nets, Bowling for Uganda supporting Hope North, helping selling children’s art work through Let Art Talk, and Kopo Kopo to allow medium and small African businesses to accept mobile payments.

Like all faculty and students at CBU we enter to learn and leave to serve.

Math Center Tutors

The Math Center is a very popular place and continues to set new records for usage. It is a place for free one-on-one tutoring in math. It is also a place to do your math homework by yourself or in a study group with others in the center. Here are profiles of two of the tutors. Profiles of some of the other math tutors can be found in previous issues of this newsletter.

Kevin Pham

Kevin Pham

Kevin Pham, a graduate of Arlington High School, is a junior Biology major with a math minor.  He has been a tutor in the Math Center over the past two years.  Very friendly and helpful with the students using the Math Center, he is one of our very gifted tutors.  Besides using his talents in the center, Kevin is also treasurer of Beta, Beta, Beta, the Biology Honor Society, a member of the CBU student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America and an active member of the School of Science.  In addition to these accomplishments he has also served as a President’s Ambassador and last summer as a mentor for incoming freshmen in the CBU CARL program.

Phyo Aung

Phyo Aung

Phyo Aung, the first international student from Myanmar (Burma) at CBU, graduated from BEHS 2 in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.  She is currently a junior at CBU majoring in Civil Engineering with a minor in Packaging.  She has been tutoring very successfully for over two year in the Math Center and is very enthusiastic when working with students.  Besides her hours in the center she is active in many organizations at CBU; among them are: Secretary in TAPPI Student Chapter, member in ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and the Intercultural Club CBU.

Featured Alum: Robert Appling, D.P.M., Biology 2003

My name is Robert W. Appling.  I graduated from Christian Brothers University in 2003 with a Bachelor’s in Biology with Minors in Chemistry and Psychology.  Like many, I chose CBU for the excellent science department and overall reputation of the university.  During my grandfather’s final days, largely due to diabetes and many years of smoking, I began talking to the physicians I’d encounter.  Quite a few were CBU graduates.  Later in high school I came to CBU for a campus tour and met with Dr. Eisen to discuss what CBU had to offer.  I knew it was the right choice for me.

Dr. Robert Appling

Dr. Robert Appling

During my junior year at CBU, I began searching for the right career path.  A representative from a podiatric medical school came to CBU to discuss podiatric medicine and surgery.  I became interested in the field of podiatry due to the extent of diabetic care and limb salvage that modern podiatrists provide.  I began shadowing my current employer, Dr. Brian Shwer, at his office in Southaven.  I then applied for admission to several podiatric medical schools after visiting one in Chicago and one in Miami.  In 2008, I finished my Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine and began three years of surgical training in Atlanta.  After completing residency training, I moved back to the Memphis area to join Dr. Shwer’s practice.

Now that I am back in the Memphis area, I have devoted much of my practice to limb salvage.  I work in close conjunction with many cardiovascular surgeons that perform lower extremity revascularization as well as infectious disease physicians for the management of bone infection as surgery (amputation) is not the primary solution when there is a chance to heal.  Besides my passion of limb salvage surgeries, I also perform elective surgeries of the foot.   I am presently on staff with Baptist-DeSoto, Baptist-Memphis, Saint Francis-Memphis, Saint Francis-Bartlett, and multiple ambulatory surgery centers.    Without my educational foundations from CBU, I do not believe I would be where I am today.

Thank You Note to Science Faculty

The following note was sent to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology and Director of the Minority Health International Training (MHIRT) program.

Behind the success and all my accolades stands Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and the MHIRT Program. It has been said that those who truly know us, are the people who impact our lives the most. In my case, this is not true. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald did not know me, but has incredibly shaped, accelerated, and perpetuated my life through the help of MHIRT Program.

Like most minorities, I didn’t come from a long line of wealth and success. I came from a disadvantaged background, both environmentally and economically. These disadvantages contain factors, which inhibited growth and therefore the abilities to succeed academically and professionally. Just to give insight, I came from a low-income family, low exposure to various cultures, never been on a plane, never seen the ocean, and struggled in high school. However, despite the hurdles, I was determined to succeed and quickly gravitated to the field of biology and life sciences.

During my early years in college, my interest grew to include neurobiology and molecular pharmacology. In my sophomore year, I had an opportunity to work in the anatomy and neurobiology research department at UT Health Science Center under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Hamre. This research provided information in neurobiological problems relative to premature ethanol exposure. In my final year of college, I wasn’t really satisfied with my academic career. I felt like any other undergraduate student seeking a bachelor’s degree with nothing really distinguished me. It was like I was moving in the right direction, but my wheels where spinning in the same place. The feeling didn’t really go away until I was introduced to the MHIRT program at Christian Brothers University though a friend.

With that being said, I applied to the MHIRT Program, interviewed, and was given an opportunity to participate in one the nation’s most astounding international research internships. I gladly accepted this opportunity and was assigned to Dr. Antonio Padua Carobrez at Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina located in Florianopolis, SC Brazil. This research, pharmacology, primarily focused on the affects of beta-blockers, on Long Evans Hooded rats in two anxiety models, cat odor and elevated plus maze. The goal of this research was to provide information on the actions and differences between anxiolytic drugs, propranolol and nadolol, and their involvement in behavioral responses.

This experience impacted me tremendously. I learned about micro-analytical procedures, advanced instrumentation, ethics, experimental design, scientific writing, data interpretation, and oral scientific presentation. Overall, this training has helped me solidify and refined pervious lab techniques plus gain invaluable skills and principles. It also help clear some doubts and insecurities about research and techniques, while expanding my experience.

Post-graduation, MHIRT has open many doors of opportunity for me. This experience has definitely made me a more viable candidate in the job market. Since graduation, I have conducted invertebrate genes research in Lille, France with Dr. Jacapo Vizioli. Later, I was recruited by a fortune 500 company and took many leadership roles in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs. Subsequently, I worked as a Facility Microbiologist and then started my own Pathogenic testing laboratory. I have worked with leaders within the biotech industry such as BioMeriueux, the creators of VIDAS and VITEK. Furthermore, I worked on validation studies with the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal, Quebec Canada. Currently I have accepted a position with United States Food and Drug Administration as a Regulatory Microbiologist and Expert Witness. MHIRT has made outstanding contributions to my career and success.

I am truly thankful and honored to have participated in such an amazing program. I have gain so much academically, scientifically, and culturally. Dr. Fitzgerald and MHIRT have taken me from a disadvantage to an extreme advantage. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Annette Diggs

Featured Department: Physics

Equipotential plot of two rotating masses

Equipotential plot for two rotating masses.
Can you find the five Lagrange points?

The Physics Department serves essentially every Science and Engineering student at CBU. In addition to its service courses, the department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and in Engineering Physics. Most people recognize that you can teach with a physics degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in physics. There are lots of other career options with a physics degree. Our recent majors have entered graduate programs in physics and other related disciplines at institutions including Harvard, Tufts, Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee, University of Arizona, and University of Memphis.

Science Trivia with Dr. John Varriano as the game master.

Science Trivia Night with Dr. John Varriano as the game master.

As with other Sciences’ departments, the Physics Department has a student organization on campus. The CBU chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) is open to all students with an interest in physics. Dr. Ted Clarke serves as the faculty moderator. The chapter has been active this year sponsoring various talks and helping out with the Science Olympiad where they served as supervisors for 3 events and assisted with 5 other events.  They also assisted with the Science Fair.  The group held a Science Trivia Night with CBU and Rhodes SPS in fall, and attended the talk at Rhodes given by Dr. Lisa Randall on April 11.  Dr. Randall is a world-leading theoretical physicist at Harvard University who does work in cosmology and particle physics. 

Dr. Clarke's apparatus: Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans

Dr. Clarke’s apparatus: Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans

Faculty members in the department are committed to teaching physics and continually “hone their craft”.  Drs. Ted Clarke and John Varriano recently attended the annual conference of the Tennessee Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (TAAPT) in March at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.  They came away from the conference with many good ideas.  They each gave presentations on topics that they have developed for their own courses.  “Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans” was presented by Dr. Clarke in which he discussed a simple apparatus that he built that demonstrates how changing magnetic fields from a pair of coils induce currents in an aluminum soda can and cause the can to spin.  (The photo above shows the apparatus.)  Dr. Varriano presented “Physics Fun with 3-D Glasses” in which the physics of polarized 3-D glasses was demonstrated and discussed.  (The photo in the News of the Moment section shows some of the conference attendees with their 3-D glasses on as they listen to Dr. Varriano.)  Dr. Clarke was elected TAAPT president for the 2014-15 year.  CBU will host the conference in the spring of 2015.

Electric Field Simulation

Electric Field Simulation in PHYS 251 and 202 lab. One positive and one negative charge.

The department members are continuing their efforts of incorporating computer-aided instruction into physics education. Dr Johnny Holmes and Dr. John Varriano have worked on a project called Computer-Assisted Homework for Physics (CAHP) that consists of 48 individual programs that provide physics homework problems for students in which the computer immediately grades and provides feedback to the students. Drs. Holmes and Varriano updated these programs to run more easily in the Windows environment, and these programs are available to the public for free. So far over 750 people world-wide have downloaded these programs. CBU students have consistently indicated on student evaluations of courses that these programs are a valuable learning tool. Dr. Varriano recently prepared video presentations of solutions to over 90 practice problems for his Physics I and II classes. The videos show the solutions being worked out by hand with audio commentary. They are posted on-line and can be played from any browser. Dr. Varriano reports that many of his students found the videos to be very helpful. Dr. Ted Clarke uses an on-line textbook with electronic resources including web-based assigned problems.  The department members also have worked out various simulations for labs and for upper level courses.  The image above shows an example of an electric field simulation which allows students to choose their charges and map out the corresponding electric field.

Moment of Inertia Lab in Physics

Students working on a moment of inertia lab for Physics I. (Students normally work in groups of 2, but we had some camera hounds!)

PHYSICS LABS: We have many lab courses to accompany our lecture courses (PHYS 150L, 251L, 252L, 201L, 202L, 415L, 452) so students get to investigate in a hands-on way the theories that are discussed in class. The department has designed the lab experiments to directly support the lectures, and the faculty have written their own lab manuals (10 of them!). The manuals are very efficient since they are custom made for our experiments and our equipment. The manuals are posted on-line for students to download free of charge.

Jonathan Fili with his theremin

Jonathan Fili with his theremin

While physics majors “enjoy” their many hours of coursework, they seem maybe more excited when they get to perform their senior research projects.  A senior project is required for graduation because of the enriching experience that students gain.  Students can do their research either at CBU or at some other institution.  Ecklin Crenshaw, Physics 2013, has been working as an intern for Dr. Chris Calabrese in the Small Animal Imaging Center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The group studies imaging technologies such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  Ecklin is delving into the physics of these different imaging techniques.  Jonathan Fili’s, Engineering Physics 2013, interest in physics and music led to his project of building a theremin, a unique electronic instrument.  Instead of touching the instrument, a person brings their hand close to an antenna that is part of an oscillating circuit.  The distance between the hand and antenna affects the capacitance of the circuit which affects the frequency of the oscillation and of the sound wave that is generated. (The photo shows Jonathan playing the theremin.)  Jonathan has been accepted into the Master’s program in physics at Mississippi State University.

Brent Holmes presenting his physics REU research results at the SPS Zone meeting

Brent Holmes presenting his physics REU research results at the SPS Zone meeting.

Brent Holmes (Physics & Mathematics 2013) did research at Montana State University in solar physics in the summer of 2011 through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  This formed the basis for his research project in physics.  Last summer, Brent was awarded another NSF REU to work in a mathematics group at Auburn University.  This work served not only as his senior project in mathematics but also resulted in a paper that he presented at the recent Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting at CBU.  Brent was awarded first prize in the mathematics session for his paper “Rainbow colorings of some geometrically defined uniform hypergraphs in the plane”.  Brent has been accepted into graduate programs in mathematics at Auburn, Kansas, and Memphis, and has accepted a Teaching Assistantship in the Ph.D. program in Mathematics at the University of Kansas.  Rebekah Herrman, Physics & Mathematics 2014, will be performing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory this summer in quantum computing.  Rebekah was awarded an undergraduate research grant funded by the Department of Energy.  Rebekah is pictured in the News of the Moment section.