Note from the Dean 4/14

Spring at CW

It was a long winter (for Memphis), but it is finally starting to look and feel like spring!

Sometimes I think we don’t appreciate how much we have learned.  Once we know something well, we tend to think it should be as obvious to everyone else as it now is to us.  I tell my students that physics is easy once you understand it – the problem is that it is sometimes hard to get to that understanding.  One of the major difficulties for teachers is to recognize that parts of their subjects really are not as obvious as they seem to be to them.  The opposite extreme is to think that only really bright people can understand what we do.  We teachers have to find a balance between assuming our subjects are obvious or nearly impossible.

As the academic year sprints toward the end, I enjoy seeing how much my students have learned.  I hope in this issue of the newsletter you can get a sense of how much the students and graduates of CBU have learned and see a sample of their many accomplishments.

News of the Moment 4/14

Joanna Arnett, Biochemistry 2015, has been selected to be a Summer Research Scholar to participate in research during Summer 2014 at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

Kiara Mitchell has been accepted to Northwest Community College’s Nursing Program.

Shesha Shah, Chemistry 2014, presented a research paper, “Computational Investigation of M-Ga-F Triatomics with Row 3 Metals (M = Sc…Zn), in the Quantum Chemistry session on March 17, 2014 at the  247th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition.  Shesha Shah’s research mentor was Nathan DeYonker from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis.

Damien Stevenson, Biochemistry 2015, has been selected to participate in the 2014 Tennessee Institute for Pre-professionals summer program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

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

John (J.D.) Wolfe, Biochemistry 2015, has been selected to participate in the Summer Science Program at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. John Varriano at a bottle rocket event.

Dr. John Varriano at a bottle rocket event.

Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, has been selected as the recipient of the NACADA Region III Excellence in Advising – Faculty Role award  for the state of Tennessee!  From the notification:  ”You should be extremely proud of this accomplishment as there were numerous deserving nominees this year.”

On March 16, the CBU Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) was officially presented an Honorable Mention Award for chapter activities at the 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Dallas, Texas.  Shesha Shah, Chemistry 2014, accepted the award at the ACS Student Chapter Awards Ceremony on behalf of the CBU SMACS chapter.

Middle School Students presented posters of their Science Fair projects in Canale Arena (shown above).   Additional Middle School and High School  projects were presented in Sabbatini Lounge and the Montesi Conference Room.

Middle School Students presented posters of their Science Fair projects in Canale Arena (shown above). Additional Middle School and High School projects were presented in Sabbatini Lounge and the Montesi Conference Room.

On March 24-25, CBU hosted the Memphis-Shelby County Science & Engineering Fair  (for middle school and high school students) with Dr. Dennis Merat, Associate Professor of Chemistry, as the Director.  We had about 300 students compete.

On Saturday, March 29, Dr. Dennis Merat, Associate Professor of Chemistry, and the Student Section of the American Chemical Society hosted the local High School Chemistry Competition and the Greater Shelby County Chemistry Olympiad for high school students.  We had about 70 students competing.  Schools represented included Arlington High school, Bolton High School, Christian Brothers High School, Collierville High School, Germantown High School, Lausanne Collegiate School, Memphis University School, St. Agnes Academy, St. George’s Independent School, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, The Bridge Home School, and White Station High School.

Student Team

Student Team

On Thursday, April 3, the Student Groups hosted the annual “Youth and Vitality (Students) vs. Old Age & Deceit (Faculty, Alumni, Staff)volleyball game to raise money for the Church Health Center. 

Communication is an important skill.

Communication is an important skill.

The Faculty/Alumni/Staff team won the first game, but couldn’t hold off the Students who won the next three in close contests.  The Faculty were somewhat hobbled this year due to the fact that several younger faculty were at home with babies (Dr. King, Dr. Moore, Dr. Trimboli).  But of course the students were somewhat weighed down by the load of work that the Faculty had assigned them.  See more images at a web site that Dr. Anna Ross, Professor of Biology, has created.


On Saturday, April 5, CBU hosted the Tennessee Academy of Sciences Collegiate Division, Western Regional Meeting.  Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology, and Ms. Lynda Miller, Science Lab Coordinator, were the meeting directors.  The following CBU students were award winners:

Session 1:  Organismal Biology

Sarah Fay with her mentors Lynda Miller and Br. Tom Sullivan.

Sarah Fay at the TAS with her mentors Lynda Miller and Br. Tom Sullivan.

3rd place:  Sarah Faye for her research:  Heavy metal uptake by lichens in an urban environment  by Sarah Fay*, Thomas Sullivan, and Lynda Miller, Collierville High School (SF), Christian Brothers University (LM, TS).  Sarah was a high school REAP grant participant at CBU over the summer.

Session 2:  Health & Medical Science

Cale Baskin presenting at TAS

Cale Baskin presenting at TAS

2nd Place:  Cale Baskin for his research:  SD-OCT scanning of the optic nerve in diagnosis of glaucoma  by Cale Baskin* and Eric Sigler, Christian Brothers University.

Hope Gilbertson accepting her certificate for 2nd place at the TAS meeting

Hope Gilbertson accepting her certificate for 2nd place at the TAS meeting








3rd Place:  Hope Gilbertson for her research:  Preclinical assessment of gemcitabine as an effective new treatment of Ependymoma,  by Hope Gilbertson*, Nidal Boulos, Jason Dapper, and Richard Gilbertson.



Session 3:  Engineering

1st Place:  Sean Dantis and Mathew Winters for their research:  Escape from the minefield.
2nd Place:  Adam Tekle and Viet Minh Tong for their research:  The Smart Cube Solver.
3rd Place:  Jerry W. Counce, Cody R. Crow, and Michael B. Powers for their:  IEEE Southeast Conference 2014 Hardware Competition.

Session 4:  Posters:

JD Wolfe with his poster at TAS

JD Wolfe with his poster at TAS

2nd Place:  J. D. Wolfe for his poster:  Visual acuity and genetic classification of subjects with either Type I or Type II Oculocutaneous Albinism, by John D. Wolfe, Ronaldo Y. Sano, einat Hauzman, Daniela M.O. Bopnci, Malinda Fitzgerald, Dora F. Ventura.
For more information, see the web page that Dr. Anna Ross, Professor of Biology, has created:

The CBU participants at the Area Collegiate Chemistry Meeting are pictured above.

The CBU participants at the Area Collegiate Chemistry Meeting are pictured above.

Saturday, April 5:  Chemistry and Biochemistry majors from Christian Brothers University presented their senior research at the Area Collegiate Chemistry Meeting held at the University of Tennessee at Martin.  Presenters from CBU included Yusef Akbik, Biochemistry 2014, Anna Birg, Biochemistry 2014, Yuan (Eva) Chen, Biochemistry 2014, Kevin Liao,  Biochemistry 2014, Shannon McDonald, Biochemistry 2014, Christine Nguyen, Biochemistry 2014, Duy (Danny) Nguyen, Chemistry 2014, Melanie Saunders, Biochemistry 2014, Shesha Shah, Chemistry 2014, Esha Thakore, Biochemistry 2014, Natalie Wright, Biochemistry 2014, and Erika Yates, Biochemistry 2014.  Shesha Shah served as a moderator for Session III-B at the meeting.  Participating universities included Christian Brothers University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee – Martin, Union University, Vanderbilt University, and Miami University of Ohio.

Elton Banks,president, Stephanie Allen-Winters, vice president, Zach Winters, and Drs. Randal Price and Malinda Fitzgerald attended.    Picture by Bill Clemente

Zach Winters; Stephanie Allen-Winters, vice president; Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Dr. Randal Price; and Elton Banks, president; attended the Alpha Chi meeting. Picture by Bill Clemente

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, has moved into her term as president of Region III of the Alpha Chi National Organization.  In addition to having CBU’s chapter advisor beginning her two year term as Region III’s president, CBU’s TN Theta chapter has been recognized as a Star chapter for the 5th time.  One of the academic events that the CBU chapter sponsors is the Alpha Chi poster session that will be today, April 15, 2014 from 12-2 PM.  Over 50 posters will be presented from several different disciplines.  Students will be at their posters from 12:30 to 1 PM for even poster numbers and from 1-1:30 PM for odd poster numbers.

April 7:  The 2014 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair Awards Ceremony was held in the CBU Theatre.  The winner of the Middle School Division was Elizabeth Austin from Hutchison School; the winner of the High School Division was Joshua Lin from Houston High School.

Upcoming Events 4/14

Image from the 2013 Research Poster Session

Image from the 2013 Research Poster Session

Today, April 15, we have our 18th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session from Noon–1:45 pm in Sabbatini Lounge, 2nd floor Thomas Center. 

Saturday, April 19:  The CBU Department of Chemistry and CBU chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society will join with other organizations in Memphis as we celebrate Earth Day at Shelby Farms.

Saturday, April 26:  Tri Beta will be participating in the Church Health Center’s Walking as One event on Saturday, April 26th at 2 pm.  The aim of the interactive 1.5 mile walk is to promote a happier, healthier city, and funds raised will be benefiting the CHC’s Faith Community Nursing Ministry.  Sign up by emailing Lee Curbo at or Emi Abutineh at .

Saturday, April 26:The National Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad will be hosted by the CBU Department of Chemistry and the CBU chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Holmes Peacher Ryan

Dr. Holmes Peacher Ryan

May 1:  THE LAST LECTURE: Please join the Honors Program and the CBU community for the 7th Annual CBU “Last Lecture” on May 1 at 12:45 p.m. in Spain Auditorium, during which Dr. Holmes Peacher-Ryan, Associate Professor of Mathematics, will give his hypothetical “Last Lecture.” Last Lectures usually include the professor’s reflections on their academic career, advice for better living, and even a few laughs. Known for great stories and funny quotes, Dr. Peacher-Ryan will not disappoint. Light refreshments will be served at 12:30. RSVP by 8:00 p.m. the day before, but attend even if you didn’t RSVP (just be sure to sign in). This is open to the entire University and, based on past Last Lectures, this is a not-to-be-missed event!

May 3: The CBU Department of Chemistry will host the 4th Annual Undergraduate Research  Conference.  Please come join us as our Senior Chemistry and Biochemistry majors present their senior research projects.

Br. Edward Salgado, Professor Emeritus, will be taking four students to Haiti for about 8 days in May.

Final Exams:  Wednesday, May 7 through Monday, May 12.  Dr. Pascal Bedrossian has created a final exam schedule where there are no conflicts and no student has four exams on one day – quite a feat.  This year he was asked to do all of this in 16 time periods instead of 18 as in the past, and he managed to do it!

Graduation:  Saturday, May 17!

Alumni News 4/14

Several SOS alumni attended the CBU night at the Redbirds.  Some of them are pictured here.

Several SOS alumni attended the CBU night at the Redbirds. Some of them are pictured here.

Amanda Fitzgerald, Biology 2011, just had her first paper published with co-authors Brittney Wright and Scott Heldt.  “The behavioral pharmacology of zolpidem:  evidence for the functional significance of alpha1-containing GABA A receptors.”  It is a review paper in Psychopharmacology (Berl).

Christopher Sage, Biology 2005, and his wife, Carrie, welcomed their new daughter, Alessandra, this month.

Jessica Schneider, Biomedical Science 2013, has been accepted to the Church Health Center Scholar program, and will start there on June 2nd.

Corta Thompson Nilsson, Biology 2004, and her husband welcomed Filip, their new son, on 3/30/2014. She and her husband, Bo, just moved to Dubai where they will live for 2-3 years. Bo works for Mueller, and Corta was a nurse at Methodist . She did her nursing training at William Carey University.

Laura Williamson, DMV, Biology 2001, was in town this weekend. She is working as a relief vet in the Birmingham area.  She fills in when and where she is needed.

R. Terry Newsom, RN BSN, was just inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing.

Nursing Stars is Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare’s annual recognition event to celebrate outstanding nurses throughout the system. We are delighted to honor 59 nurses who achieved excellence in professionalism, interpersonal relations, community involvement, innovation, the science of nursing and patient and family-centered care.  Congratulations to CBU Nursing Alumni Laura Nathan – Methodist University and Roni  Dillard – Methodist North!

Featured Alum 4/14: Ashley Wise Jett, Biology 2004

Ashley Wise Jett

Ashley Wise Jett

My name is Ashley Wise Jett. I earned a Bachelor’s in Science degree from Christian Brothers University in 2004, with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and psychology. I attended the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, and graduated in 2008 with a doctorate of pharmacy degree.

I knew as an incoming freshman at CBU that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. My mom suggested pharmacy, which led to my first “real job” as a pharmacy technician at Walmart in 2001.  I knew that this would be the best way for me to determine if pharmacy was a good fit for me.  I worked weekends and started at minimum wage.  I have now been with the company almost 13 years, and I am blessed to now be the pharmacist in charge at the Walmart in Oakland, TN.

I know for certain that pharmacy is the profession that I am meant to be practicing.  As a senior at CBU, I was given the opportunity to complete my research project with a professor from UT College of Pharmacy.  I feel that this extra work experience helped to separate me from other pharmacy school applicants. Looking back on my educational career, some of my favorite professors were at CBU. Some of whom I still remain in touch with today.  Their genuine concern and encouragement helped guide me to where I am today.

In pharmacy school, I met my husband. Even though we are both pharmacists, our areas of practice are completely different. While I am a community pharmacist filling prescriptions and counseling patients on their medications, he is a clinical pharmacist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He works in an outpatient clinic, managing diseases and prescribing medications for various disease states. I can honestly say I love my job. Pharmacists are on the front lines of providing medications to patients. We are also the last line of intervention between a potentially harmful medication and a patient. I have an amazing staff, and being in a small town has allowed me to form genuine relationships with my patients. I am so grateful and blessed to have the educational background from CBU and UT College of Pharmacy, which has led me to such a gratifying career. My husband, Bryan Paul, and I have a 2 year old little girl, Bryley.  I can only hope that one day she will choose CBU to further her education and build lasting friendships like the ones so dear to me.

Thank You Notes to Br. Edward Salgado

We have two thank you notes to Br. Edward Salgado, Biology Professor Emeritus, this month.  One is directly from a student, and the other is from our Academic Services Staff:


Brother Edward,

Thank you for the support as well as the letters of recommendation during my time at Christian Brothers.  I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the UTHSC College of Dentistry as well as being approved for the Army HPSP Scholarship.  Thank you so much for everything.

Austin Johnson


Dear Brother Edward,

We wanted to pass along some feedback that one of your advisees sent us about you:

I would like to nominate Brother Edward for the Outstanding Academic Advisor award. He has been a great source of encouragement and love throughout my time at CBU. He had helped me in countless ways and I am deeply grateful for all the time and effort he has given to me in order for me to reach my goals. He is a great teacher and friend.

Thank you for the great service and guidance you provide to your advisees and for everything you do to support the mission of CBU!

Best Wishes,

CBU Academic Services Staff

Math Center Tutors 4/14

We continue our practice of showcasing our Math Center Tutors in this issue.

Sean Dantis, Math Center Tutor

Sean Dantis, Math Center Tutor

Sean Dantis is a senior majoring in Computer Engineering. To show his love for math he has Mathematics for a minor. To the Math Center he brings a smiling face and tutors everything from Basic Algebra to Discrete Mathematics as well as Physics and Computer Science. Sean is an international student from Oman and loves to travel. At CBU, he is the Vice President of IEEE and a member of the Judicial Board. He is on track to graduate in May 2014.

Featured Article: What makes a CBU Science degree so special?

Dr. Holmes

Dr. Holmes

by Johnny B. Holmes, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Sciences

What makes a CBU Science degree so special?  Is it the high acceptance rates to graduate and professional schools that are graduates obtain?  Or is that just a demonstration of how special our degree is?  Is it the nice classrooms and labs that provide the tools to help our students learn and explore?  Is it the seriousness of the students we attract – ones who value an institution for its teaching?  Is it the faculty who dedicate so much time and effort into the educational process in all of its myriad aspects?

I think the fundamental answer lies in the fact that CBU attracts and hires faculty who want to teach.  Faculty who are obviously talented in their fields accept positions at CBU because they and we value the teaching.  It starts with faculty who take pride in the work they do in the classroom.  Our faculty put hours into preparing their lectures and demonstrations and in designing experiments for the lab sections.  But effective teaching goes beyond the classroom.  It involves designing courses and preparing course materials.  It involves coordinating courses and designing whole curriculums (majors) that provide the knowledge and skill base for future careers and interests.  Effective teaching involves helping students through academic advising in one-on-one conversations.  Effective teaching involves interacting with students in the student groups that each department has.  Effective teaching involves interacting with students in their research, with help in finding interesting research for them, and helping them learn what it takes to perform that research.  Certainly no person can be outstanding in all of those areas of teaching, but I could easily give several examples of particular faculty members who excel in each of the above areas.

I know this sounds like a commercial for the CBU School of Sciences.  But what I am really trying to do is to say THANK YOU to the Sciences faculty who it has been, and continues to be, my pleasure to work with over these years.  I also wish to express my thanks to our graduates who have taken advantage of the opportunities that the Sciences faculty have provided and to our current students who continue to make those efforts to achieve a great and rewarding education.

Alpha Chi National Meeting in St. Louis

By Elton Banks, Stephanie Allen Winters, and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald

Dr. Fitzgerrald, Elton Banks, and Stephanie Allen-Winters

Dr. Fitzgerald, Elton Banks, and Stephanie Allen-Winters

This past March,  Stephanie Allen-Winters and I (Elton Banks)  had the opportunity to travel to St. Louis so that we could be a part of the Alpha Chi national conference.  Alpha Chi is an interdisciplinary honor society and I serve as the president, Stephanie is the VP of our local chapter, and Daryl Stephens is the secretary/treasurer.  The opening speaker was Dr. Dennis Richardson who is a helminthologist.  He cofounded a non-profit called Bawa Health Initiative in Camaroon, Africa.  Their main goal is a clean and safe water supply.  The Alpha Chi students raised $5,000 to build latrines in Bawa, Camaroon.    Students also participated in a “walk for water”, the theme of this year’s convention.  There were a lot of similarities between the Bawa health initiative and the projects that MHIRT students have conducted in Uganda on access to health care and prevention of malaria.  The other plenary speaker was four star General Tommy Franks, an Alpha Chi Alumnus.  He spoke about his career in the military and how Alpha Chi prepares you to be a leader in the future.  He also had copies of his recent autobiography available.

Stephanie Allen-Winters presented the results from her senior research with Dr. Anand Kanwaljeet in the Health Sciences division of the Alpha Chi presentations.  Stephanie won first place for her presentation entitled How demographic factors influence the cortisol levels of infants and young children” and will receive a cash prize.  She also competed and won one of two regional scholarships (Region III SE USA) of $500.00 to be used towards her graduate education.   From attending various presentations and participating in the poster session and talks, we had a really good time. We also attended various workshops, one of which gave us a fresh perspective on some fundraising ideas that could benefit both Christian Brothers University and the surrounding Memphis community. For instance, we came up with the idea to help shelters in the Memphis area dodge the cold during the winter by gathering used coats in exchange for participation in a tournament-style game of dodgeball. During the evenings and between events, we had a chance check out a few of the monuments, restaurants, and other interesting attractions within St. Louis. Overall, we had a wonderful experience. We would certainly recommend that any student joining this organization attend the Alpha Chi National Honor Society conference next year.

Featured Department: Physics

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, University of Kansas, and University of Memphis.

Dr. Varriano is running the Science Trivia contest last fall

Dr. Varriano is running the Science Trivia contest last fall

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 holding a Science Trivia Night with CBU and Rhodes SPS in fall, helping out with the Science Olympiad where they served as supervisors for 3 events and assisted with 5 other events, and assisting with the Science Fair.

Faculty members in the department are committed to teaching physics and continually “hone their craft”.  Dr. Clarke was elected TAAPT president for the 2014-15 year.  CBU will host the conference in the coming spring (2015).

The department will offer honors sections of Physics I and Physics II beginning in the fall 2014 semester.  These sections are open to students that participate in the Honors Program (  at CBU.  These two courses, PHYS 150 and 251, are calculus-based introductory physics courses designed for physics, chemistry, mathematic, computer science, and engineering majors.  In addition to the coursework that all students are assigned, the students must complete extra assignments that are at a more advanced level to receive the honors credit.  The addition of these two physics courses will facilitate the completion of the honors requirements for science and engineering majors.  Dr. Ted Clarke readily supported this initiative saying that, “It will be a pleasure to help these students earn their honors certificate while showing them how physics can be used to describe more complicated problems.”

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.

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.

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.  Rebekah Herrman, Physics & Mathematics 2014, was inducted into the CBU chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, this month.  Sigma Pi Sigma honors outstanding scholarship in physics, encourages interest in physics among students at all levels, promotes an attitude of service of its members, and provides a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics.  Rebekah will be returning to Oak Ridge National Laboratory this summer to continue her work on quantum computing.  She then begins her graduate studies in physics at Louisiana State University this coming fall.