Note from the Dean 10/13

Cooper-Wilson as fall approaches

Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences as fall approaches.

Little words can make big differences.  In physics, Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion says ∑F = ma.  But are the forces, F, the forces on the object or by the object?  This is an important distinction, and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion deals with this.  (The answer is on, not by.)  In teaching, we can’t learn things for students; we learn with students.  We are there to help students learn because we can’t learn things for them.  In a similar way, we can’t give students self respect; but we can help them earn it.

In this newsletter, as with all our newsletters, we try to show how well our students do learn and some of the many ways our faculty help them in this process.  We have a featured article on the MHIRT program where students have an opportunity to do summer research in Brazil and other places where the trips are paid for and the students earn a stipend.  We have another article on our new Ecology degree along with an article on an interesting course on the Biology of Zoo Animals.  We also continue to feature an alum and a couple of tutors in our Math Center.

I hope you enjoy reading about our students and faculty and their work.  If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me at

News of the Moment 10/13

Lunch for Leah with Dr. Cooper on the left.

Lunch for Leah with Dr. Cooper on the left.

Dr. Marguerite Cooper, a.k.a. Dr. Mom, Professor Emerita, was among the guests at a luncheon for our former Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Leah Allen.


Science Trivia contest last year

Dr. Varriano, Professor of Physics, runs the Science Trivia contest last year.

On October 3, The CBU chapter of the Society of Physics Students hosted the second annual Science Trivia contest.  Teams of students battled it out for four grueling rounds of questions from biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics.  This year’s first place team and the winners of the coveted Science Genius trophy were CBU students Rene Hudlet, Tony Le, and Fred Smith.  The second place finishers were CBU students Tiffany Corkran, Rebekah Herrman, and Megan Mosier; and a team from Rhodes took third place.  Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, was master of ceremonies, and Mrs. Cathy Grilli, Professor of Mathematics, assisted.

JD Wolfe presenting at the MHIRT Symposium.

JD Wolfe presenting at the MHIRT Symposium.

On October 5, the Mid-South Coalition for Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Projects Symposium and Wrap-up for Summer 2013 projects was held.  Two CBU students were among those presenting their research.   Elton Banks, Biomedical Science 2014, presented on: Analysis of Expression Patterns of Hamartin and Tuberin in Animal Models with High Fat Diets His mentor was Luiz Britto, Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.  J.D. Wolfe, Biology 2015, presented on:  The Anatomical, Functional, and Electrophysiological Evaluation of the Visual System in Albinism Carriers: A Clinical and Laboratory Study.  His mentor was Dora Fix Ventura, Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.  In all, there were eleven presentations by 13 students.  The presenting students’ home institutions include: CBU;  University of Memphis; University of Tennessee in Knoxville; Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, TN; Jackson State University in Mississippi; University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Tuskegee University in Alabama; Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois; Fort Valley State University in Georgia; and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, had an article published about her by the University of Tennessee Alumni Association. It was a featured story in Vital Signs, the alumni e-newsletter:

Anna Birg with two CBU Professors Emeriti, Dr. Bill Busler and Dr. Lyle Wescott

Anna Birg with two CBU Professors Emeriti, Dr. Bill Busler and Dr. Lyle Wescott.

Anna Birg, Biochemistry 2014, has been accepted into the Fall 2014 entering class of the University of Tennessee School of Pharmacy in Memphis.

Erika Yates, Biochemistry 2014, has been accepted into the Fall 2014 entering class of the University of Tennessee School of Pharmacy in Memphis.

Upcoming Events 10/13

October 20 through 26 is National Chemistry Week and the CBU chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) plans to celebrate with a week of exciting activities.  Everyone is invited.

Foaming Pumpkin demo from last year's Chemistry Week events.

Foaming Pumpkin demo from last year’s Chemistry Week events.

Monday, October 21:  Elephant Toothpaste Demonstration in the lobby of Assisi Hall @ 11:55 am and 12:55 pm;

Tuesday, October 22:  Diet Coke and Mentos in front of Cooper-Wilson @ 12:30 pm

Wednesday, October 23: The Gummi Bear Experiment in AH 204 @ noon

Wednesday Evening, October 23:  Mole Day Dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse at 6:02 pm

Friday, October 25:  Foaming Pumpkins in the Cooper-Wilson lobby @ 11:55 am.

Biology Majors meeting

Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger with officers of Beta Beta Beta at the Biology Majors’ meeting on September 3, 2013.

On Thursday, October 24, Beta Beta Beta, the Biology honor society and student group, will be inviting health professionals for their annual Mock Interviews. They will provide dinner, and then the pros will meet with our students one by one. The pros will include a number of alums.

On Saturday, October 26, Beta Beta Beta plans to do a behind the scenes tour of the Memphis Zoo.

Pumpkin carved last year at the Dress Like a Mathematician Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving Contest

Pumpkin carved last year at the Dress Like a Mathematician Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving Contest.

On Monday, October 28, the MAA (student Math group) will be sponsoring their annual Dress Like a Mathematician Halloween Party and Pumpkin Carving at 3 p.m. in CW 324.   Pumpkins will be provided for teams to create their masterpieces.

Friday, November 15, is the date of Beta Beta Beta’s annual Bowling for Uganda event to support Hope North. Alums are more than welcome and should contact Dr. Mary Ogilvie (at There will be trophies as always.

STUDY ABROAD in ROME: Chemistry Trip • May 19 – 27, 2014
Students taking the Chemistry of Cooking course will begin the adventure in Rome for three days. They will visit Trastevere, view the Pantheon, walk the Piazza Navona,
and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain. They will celebrate a Papal audience with Pope
Francis, see the wonders of the Vatican, and experience the masterpieces of the Sistine Chapel. A day trip to the charming little towns of Assisi and Foligno will provide
a respite from the bustling crowds in Rome. Students will then continue their journey to
Bologna where they will tour the historic city, experience cooking lessons, and sample fine authentic Italian cuisine.  CHEM105: Chemistry of Cooking
GER Pending • Honors and non-honors sections will be available.
This course takes an in-depth and hands-on approach to the chemical nature and transformations that occur during classic and modern cooking techniques.
A study of basic chemical principles, the scientific method, experimental design, and method optimization will be employed to understand the effects of cooking processes
on food. This course concludes with a study abroad trip (required) to Italy taking place
immediately after spring commencement. This trip of culinary adventures will include
cooking instruction and tours.  Requires permission of Honors Program director to
enroll in honors sections. Questions about the courses offered should be directed to Dr. Anthony Trimboli, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, at .  Cost for Rome Trip CHEM class is $2,215.00 plus airfare.  Partial scholarships are available to qualified students.
Application and deposit required to hold your spot.

Alumni News 10/13

Jennifer Cobb will defend her M.S. thesis this month.

Jennifer Cobb, Biology 2011,  will defend her M.S. thesis this month.

Sherita Granderson, Biology 2013, has been accepted to the Baptist Memorial Hospital Medical Technology program.

Sara Hill, Biology 2012, has been accepted to the Physicians Assistant program at CBU.

Dr. Lawerance LeBlond, Biology 2002, SGU 2011, announced his engagement to Paula Clayton.  Dr. LeBlond is currently at Family Medicine Resident at UTHSC.

Jennifer Paxson Suputra with Dr. Fitzgerald

Jennifer Paxson Suputra with Dr. Fitzgerald

Jennifer Paxson Suputra, Biology 2006, gave a lecture on taste in Dr. Fitzgerald’s Physiology class. Jennifer will soon be Dr. Suputra as she is finishing up her dissertation with Dr. John Boughten on the distinction of tastants in mice.

From Dr. Peggy Ingram Veeser, Ed.D., R.N., A.P.N., Director and Professor, Nursing Program:  ”I am proud to announce a first for our RN to BSN program.  One of the graduates from our first graduation in May 2013 has been accepted to UTHSC Nurse Anesthetist program – Garrett Russell.  We are very excited for him as this was his goal.  He was a 4.0 graduate of our program.”

Adrianne Wilkerson Vitale, Biology 2005, and Sam Vitale, as well as Josie (big sis), welcome Serafina Marie Vitale into their home.  Serafina was born September 29 at 5:20 am.

Jessica Wright, Natural Science & Liberal Studies 2010, received her M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) in May from the University of Memphis.

Featured Alum 10/13: Rob Kissell, Biology 1986

Rob Kissell

Rob Kissell is the tough guy in the middle with his jacket unzipped!

I am one of a few of the biology majors in the class of 1986 at CBC that did not go into the medical profession. Instead, I pursued my passion of working with wildlife. I chose this profession, at least in part, because of the senior project I conducted – the prevalence of Sarcocystis in white-tailed deer. Through collaboration with people at Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) during my senior project, I became acquainted with the wildlife research in Dr. Michael Kennedy’s lab. CBC introduced me, both directly through research and indirectly through networking, to a direction that has brought me to the point I am today as a wildlife ecologist.

After leaving CBC, I pursued a M.S. degree in Biology at Memphis State University. I studied the ecology of two ecologically similar furbearers – raccoons and Virginia opossums. I found myself thrilled with the discovery of how ecological systems work and conducting the science to answer ecological questions. The applications to management naturally followed.

My interests led me to the intermountain west where I acquired my Ph.D. from Montana State University working on bighorn sheep, mule deer, and feral horses. I experienced many wonderful days observing my study animals at the edge of a 1000’ precipice or on the top of a mountain. I fell in love with the intermountain west and grew in my understanding of how species relate to one another regardless of where they live.

I landed a job as a wildlife biologist for Mississippi and realized after a few years I missed the academic life. I moved back to the intermountain west to work as a research associate for the University of Idaho directing a mule deer project in Hells Canyon. Yes, it is called that for a good reason, but the raw beauty of that canyon is found nowhere else. That allowed me to make the transition back to academia and back to the southeast for the last time.

Today I am at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.  I was promoted to Full Professor in July. As I made the transition from student to professor I have recalled many of the professors I had along the way and how much I learned from them. Two professors from CBC had a greater influence on me than they will ever know or that I can put into words; they were Br. Dominic Dunn and Dr. Stan Eisen. Br. Dominic always encouraged me and showed me what dedication meant. I took a field ecology course one summer with Dr. Eisen and he showed me and the other students how fun ecology could be. These are but a couple of facets of the profession I try to pass along to students in my classes. No one gets where they are in life without support from those around them. I am thankful for all those at CBC who supported me.

Featured Story: Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Grant 10/13

by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and Julia Hanebrink, MHIRT Program Directors

Group photo of MHIRT students and faculty for at the 2013 MHIRT Symposium.

Group photo of MHIRT students and faculty for at the 2013 MHIRT Symposium.

CBU prides itself on effective and enjoyable teaching. An integral part of such teaching is having the students perform research internships. There are different ways for students to perform their research: with a CBU professor, with a researcher at another local institution such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), or with a researcher participating in grant funded research anywhere in the U.S.

CBU student Elton Banks (Biomedical Science, ’14) learns how to how to mount tissues on a slide in Dr. Luiz Britto’s lab in the  Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the Universidade de São Paulo.

CBU student Elton Banks, Biomedical Science 2014, learns how to how to mount tissues on a slide in Dr. Luiz Britto’s lab in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the Universidade de São Paulo.

In addition to the above opportunities, CBU is pleased to provide an excellent opportunity to do this research via internships, while assisting underserved individuals, at sites in Brazil and Uganda, with all expenses paid and a stipend through a Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a major collaborative project involving CBU, and other regional academic institutions that started in 2000. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, and Mrs. Julia Hanebrink, an alum and Adjunct Lecturer of Anthropology at CBU, co-direct the MHIRT Program. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis and LeMoyne Owen College. These faculty assist in the recruitment of students locally at their institutions. Students and faculty travel to these countries to conduct research on biomedical and behavioral health disparities in collaboration with leading scientists and researchers from foreign universities and community organizations. Approximately 15 students participate in this MHIRT program each year in the summer after having participated in preparation workshops the prior spring.

This year, two new research sites were offered to students. Dr. Cilene Lino de Oliviera mentored Erica Johnson (Jackson State, Healthcare Administration) on a project titled A Translational Rodent Assay of Affective Biases in Depression and Antidepressant Therapy: A Protocol Replication in the Behavioral Neurobiology lab at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Margaret Ajok, Executive Director of the Centre for Reparations and Rehabilitation in northern Uganda, collaborated with graduate students Amanda Reinke (UT Knoxville, Anthropology) and Justin Hendrix (U of M, Public Health) on a project assessing sexual- and gender-based violence.

The most wonderful things happen as a result of these summer research experiences. Students go on to graduate programs in dentistry, medicine, anthropology, epidemiology, public health, and biological sciences. Some dedicate their lives to helping others by setting up non-profit organizations, or working with the foreign sites. All continue to be globally involved. You can read about the students’ wonderful, life-changing experiences at the new MHIRT Blog. Deadline for applications this year is December 31, 2013. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.

Featured Article: BIOL 430 Biology of Zoo Animals 10/13

Juste Augustinaite at the zoo during lab holding an Apalachicola kingsnake.

Juste Augustinaite at the zoo during lab holding an Apalachicola kingsnake.

Biology of Zoo Animals (Biol 430) is being offered this semester in the biology department and is taught by Lynda Miller.  It is the third time that it has been taught since its inception five years ago.  The students learn about the biology of exotic animals and their special needs when they are in captivity.  The class integrates many areas of biology including physiology, vertebrate zoology, ecology, evolutionary theory, nutrition, and behavior.  For the lab experience, the students spend time at the Memphis Zoo where they go behind the scenes with the keepers and learn firsthand about animal care.   The students get the opportunity to hold snakes, feed tortoises, prepare treats for the black bears, observe elephant operant conditioning, participate in sea lion training, and visit the animal hospital to observe animals that are being treated. The zoo has been a great host to our students and this partnership will hopefully continue for a long time in the future.

New Ecology Degree 10/13

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Beginning this fall we have a new degree program in Ecology at CBU. From the greek word Oikos meaning ‘house’ (habitat), Ecology is the scientific study of organisms and their interaction with both biotic and abiotic factors in their environment. The formal term was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 and has been a major scientific field long before the official term was adopted. Historically, Ecology was dominated by natural history (observation of nature) and has transitioned to elaborate empirical studies. Ecology as a science is broad and ranges from small systems such as microbial communities surrounding plant roots to global nitrogen cycles.

Field Trip!

Field Trip!

Students at CBU have a tremendous advantage of taking a plethora of classes that fulfill Ecology degree requirements, many of which are not offered at much larger universities on a regular basis. For instance, we now offer the following courses on a regular basis: Dendrology, Herpetology, Limnology, Animal Behavior, Ecological Census Techniques, Wetland Ecology, Algae Fungi and Lichens, and other ecologically relevant courses. Students who obtain an Ecology degree from CBU will be prepared to compete well in the environmentally conscious job market.

This new degree offers an exciting new perspective within the biology department and exposes students to other career opportunities beyond the traditional health-oriented professions.

Here are some student research projects:

JD Wolfe examining seedling height prior to experimental planting.

JD Wolfe examining seedling height prior to experimental planting.

J.D. Wolfe conducted research on the campus of CBU in the summer of 2012. JD’s project resulted in a submission to The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society entitled:  “Moore, J.E., J.D. Wolfe, S.B. Franklin. IN REVIEW. Growth responses of different aged individuals of Xanthium strumarium L. in flooded conditions”.

Two exotic invasive trees growing in competition experiment.

Two exotic invasive trees growing in competition experiment.

Daniel Stewart conducted research on the campus of CBU in the summer of 2012. Daniel’s project is currently in co-author peer review and will be submitted soon. The title of Daniel’s project is “Facilitative interactions of two co-occurring invasive trees in the Southeastern U.S.” This work was presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis Minnesota in August 2013. See the image above.

Desire’ Smith getting up close and personal with her study organisms.

Desire’ Smith getting up close and personal with her study organisms.

Desire’ Smith, the first projected recipient of a CBU Ecology degree, conducted two projects during the May-mester course Ecological Census Techniques. Both projects have been submitted to Herpetological Review. The papers are entitled:  “Hanlon SM, Smith D, Kerby J, Parris MJ, and Moore JE. IN REVIEW. Confirmation of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection via qPCR at the Edward J. Meeman Biological Field Station, Tennessee, USA;  and  Hanlon SM, Smith, D, Peterson B, Kerby J, Parris MJ, and Moore JE. IN REVIEW. Occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas, USA.”

Cathy Thorn’s project illustrates great experimental design.

Cathy Thorn’s project illustrates great experimental design.

Cathy Thorn is the newest member of the lab. She is conducting a project that is examining the effects of allelopathic compounds on nodulation. Cathy’s project is currently underway and will result in one publication.

Math Center Tutors 10/13

Ryan Smith, Math Center Tutor

Ryan Smith, Math Center Tutor

Junior Ryan Smith, a graduate of First Assembly of Christ School (FACS) and a transfer student his sophomore year, became a Math Center tutor this year.  He is a Civil Engineering major having changed his major from Business Administration.  He is a member of the CBU baseball team and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  He says that he wanted to be a tutor in the MC because “I’ve gotten a lot help from the Math Center in my time here and am tutoring, in a sense, [to] pay that forward a little bit.”

Michael Stuart, Math Center Tutor

Michael Stuart, Math Center Tutor

Stephen Michael Stuart (everyone calls him Michael) is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and is a junior Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Major with a Minor in Math.  Surrounded by engineers all his life, he naturally took a liking to math and engineering.  He has been a very effective tutor in the Math Center for three years with a pleasing personality and laid back manner.  He enjoys video games, sports, and hanging out with friends, especially at the weekly Pizza Fridays.  Besides his tutoring duties in the Math Center, he is a Resident Assistant (RA) in the Living & Learning Community (LLC), the IEEE Web Designer, a SEARCH Co-Director, an Honors Program member, is on the Honors Board of Directors, a leader in the September of Service (SOS), and many other things.  It goes without saying that he is a very active person at CBU and as he says: “I enjoy it!”

Thank You Note to Professor Grilli

Hey Ms. Grilli,

How is it going? It’s been a while since I spoke to you.

Well, the reason I thought of you was because I am bored in class; and the reason I’m bored is because we are learning some graph theory today in my computer networks class. Surprisingly I am the only student who has studied graph theory and providing some valuable input.

I really thank you and the CBU math department. I feel that a majority of my graduate school work seems so easy to grasp and research because of my strong math background. Encourage all engineers to take a lot of Math. It’s extremely important. And especially encourage electrical engineers to take Discrete and Probability and Linear Algebra. They are extremely important in grad school.

Thanks for all your help last quarter with the probability tips and hints and hope you are doing well.

Take care and regards to all


Sincerely,  Osborn de Lima,  Grad EE Student, Rochester Institute of Technology