Dr. Moore Presents at Ecological Meeting

MooreDuring the week of August 6th 2017, Dr. James E. Moore (Chair and Associate Professor of Biology) is attending the Annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Portland, Oregon. At this conference he is presenting data on community succession titled “Effect of Disturbance Intensity and Frequency on Old-Field Community Diversity, Composition and Functional Groups.”

In addition to presenting his research, Dr. Moore also serves on the executive council for ESA.

In the photo, Dr. Moore is visiting with the team from PLOS. PLOS stands for the “Public Library of Science” and was founded in 2001 as an alternative to the growing constraints of traditional scientific publishing.

Welcome Jerad Henson

jerad_hensonJerad Henson joins the Department of Biology this fall as a full-time visiting faculty member. Jerad is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Memphis. The photo shows Jared in the field about to take a blood sample from a waterfowl. His research explores the interactions between physiology and environment.

This fall, Jerad Henson will be teaching an upper level elective Ornithology course with lab, several A&P labs, and the Senior Seminar course for our Natural Science majors.

Congratulations Dr. Tooley

gary_tooley_webGary B. Tooley, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA is the Director of Academics for and an Associate Professor in CBU’s Physician Assistant Studies program (our graduate program in the Health Sciences). Dr. Tooley recently earned his Doctor of Health Sciences degree from Nova Southeastern University. Two areas that Dr. Tooley focused on in his doctoral program include:

  1. The growing shortage of trained health profession educators. His research provided the data needed to start a new doctoral track at NSU specifically aimed at helping meet this shortfall.
  2. Cultural competency in health care.  As part of the doctoral program he completed an internship in Cote d’Ivoire. His practicum centered on culturally sensitive care of Muslim patients. He plans to continue this work by creating modules for other groups..

New Equipment for Chemistry

SoS_Chemistry_July2017Kaila Muhammad, a senior in the CBU Department of Chemical Engineering and President of the CBU chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, and Tim Burchett II, a senior in the CBU Department of Mechanical Engineering and Founder of Absolution Hydroformance, are pictured in front of the new Refractive Index Detector recently purchased for the CBU Department of Chemistry.  Kaila and Tim are using the research facilities in the CBU Chemistry Department for the development of an energy source for the School of Engineering AIChE CHEM-E-Car Project.

For research on polymers synthesized by controlled free radical polymerization, the analysis of each synthesized polymer requires an instrument called a GPC. Prior to this summer, the CBU Chemistry Department had the GPC instrument but only one type of detector, a UV/VIS detector. Using a UV/VIS detector means the polymer must absorb visible or ultraviolet light. The problem is that the vast majority of polymers cannot be detected in the UV or visible spectrum. In order to detect the non-light-absorbing polymers a refractive index detector is needed. Thus, the addition of the refractive index detector to the GPC in summer 2017 allows much more extensive and robust research to take place. Additionally, the refractive index detector will be used in the hands on laboratory for the polymer class that Dr. William Peer (Chemistry) will teach in spring 2018.

We thank our generous donors to both the Chemistry Department and the School of Sciences funds that allow us to purchase this expensive yet very useful scientific equipment.

Welcome to Dr. Jennifer M. Hitt

hitt-jennifer-picThe School of Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Hitt as the new Director of CBU’s RN to BSN Nursing Program. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Hitt to CBU.

Dr. Jennifer Hitt is a registered nurse from Oxford, Mississippi. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Mississippi, a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Memphis, a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Dr. Hitt has worked in higher education for over a decade.  She is a certified Nurse Educator with the National League for Nursing.  In addition, she served on the faculty at the University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and University of Mississippi Medical Center-Ole Miss campus.  She previously worked as a medical/surgical RN, acute admissions RN, and hospital clinical educator.

Dr. Hitt is the Past-President of the Mississippi Nurses Association.  Dr. Hitt also served as the Vice-President of MNA, District president, ANA assembly representative for Mississippi, and served on the Board of the Mississippi Nurses Foundation.  She is currently on the ANA Nominations and elections committee and is the chairperson for the Tennessee Nurses Political Action Committee.  Dr. Hitt actively works on legislation and policy development at the state and national level regarding nursing practice.

She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Southern Nursing Research Society, and the International Society for Simulation in Healthcare.  Her research interests focus on educational delivery methods and student success.

Dr. Hitt is active in medical mission work, both locally and at the international level.  She frequently undertakes medical missions to Leogane, Haiti, and has developed medical study abroad programs for students.

When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her 9 year old daughter, Mary Carter.


Note from the Academic Vice President 4/16

Dr. James McGuffee will be the new Dean of the School of Sciences starting in July

Dr. James McGuffee will be the new Dean of the School of Sciences starting in July

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce that, beginning July 1, 2016, Dr. James W. McGuffee of Northern Kentucky University will become CBU’s new Dean of the School of Sciences. Dr. McGuffee is a computer scientist with degrees from Louisiana Tech University (B.S. 1989) and LSU (Ph.D. 1994). For the past three years he has served as the Computer Science Department Chair at Northern Kentucky University (greater Cincinnati tri-state region). From 2000-2013, he served as a faculty member at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. McGuffee’s teaching interests include computer ethics, operating systems, Internet programming, and comparative programming languages. The majority of his published academic work is in assessment and pedagogy in the computing sciences. Additionally, McGuffee has mentored over 45 undergraduate students in research and software development projects. He is currently working with students on creating a Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) project named AHOCHI. AHOCHI is a software system that allows a professional social worker to search the web to find relevant geographically constrained social services on behalf of a client. James, his wife Lynn, and their two young sons look forward to moving to the Memphis area. McGuffee states, “I am thrilled to have been selected as the next Dean of the School of Sciences at Christian Brothers University. I look forward to leading and working collaboratively with our faculty, staff, and students in the undergraduate programs in science and math as well as our professional health programs.”

This is a bittersweet announcement insofar as the School of Sciences has been served so superbly for nearly two decades by Dr. Johnny Holmes. Dr. Holmes’ tenure has coincided with the addition of the Cooper-Wilson School of Sciences building and enrollment growth across the school’s departments. His leadership will be missed. Fortunately, CBU students will continue to benefit from his outstanding teaching as he returns full time to the Physics faculty. Thank you, Johnny, for all that you have done for your students, for your colleagues, and for CBU. You have been a gift to this campus.

Editor’s note:  I hope you enjoy this newsletter.  With all of the events and happening in the School of Sciences, I feel like I am editing an encyclopedia!  There are several new things happening in addition to the many annual events:  the new Pascal Fellowships in computer science are really exciting and the new Chemistry in Cooking course is very innovative.  Both are the subjects of featured articles in this newsletter.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many Science Faculty, Students, and Alums who have been so kind to me and have worked so hard over my 19 years as Dean.  I look forward to returning full time to the classroom (and lab) next year.

Note from the Dean 2/16

Sunrise as viewed from CW

Sunrise viewed from CW. In February it is not too hard to get up before the sun – unless you are a college student!

Most of the time, I concentrate on getting things done.  There are lots of things to get done.  But occasionally I get the time to consider why I am doing these things.  Time to look at the bigger picture.  What are we doing in higher education?  What are students learning?  Is any learning fine, or are there more important things we need to teach?  Does that vary depending on the individual?

Lots of people have thought about this before.  In college, we have general education requirements that indicate what we collectively think all students should learn.  We also have various majors that are tailored for various careers and specific interests of students.  Within those majors we have various required courses that define the field along with an assortment of elective courses for students to choose from based on their particular interests.

Student Lounge in CW soon after sunset

Soon after sunrise, the Student Lounge in CW starts to fill up.

Even within individual courses, there are basics that every instructor needs to cover and areas that allow the instructor to add in a personal flavor.

In a relatively small institution where excellent education is the primary focus, as opposed to research institutions where new knowledge is the primary focus, the above questions about the purpose of education come up often.  I enjoy working with the Science faculty at CBU on these questions, and I hope you see in this newsletter some of the results that our students get from this work.

Note from the Dean 11/15

Cooper-Wilson is a busy place this fall!

Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences is a busy place this fall!

Thinking!  Do you like to think?  Have you heard that it is dangerous to think?  Is there still time to think, even daydream, with all of the instant communications available today?  How does college fit in with this thing called “thinking”?

Can we in college teach students to think?  If they are willing to think, we can help them think more clearly.  Mathematics is logical thinking and our scientific theories are based on that quantitative and relational logic.  But logical thinking is based on assumptions, and if your assumptions are faulty, then so will be your results.  It is very hard sometimes to be aware of the assumptions you make. And there is more than logic that goes into thinking.  In science, thinking is called hypothesizing.  But before we can do this, we need to observe – do both real and thought experiments.  Only then can we make the abstractions that are the bases of theories.  There is another step, though.  After we make our hypotheses, we need to test them – that is, observe even more.  Without this, we leave ourselves more open to unintended consequences!  Observation is the step that really tests not only our logic but also our assumptions.

Student working in the Organic Chemistry Lab

Student working in the Organic Chemistry Lab

Most science courses have labs attached so that students can observe and hopefully relate what they observe to what is discussed in class.  It is very hard to challenge students about their long held beliefs so these labs are a critical component of science education.

Life is full of very interesting things to observe and think about.  College should expand those opportunities to observe and hence increase the quality of the hypotheses we make.  A complement to direct observations is interactions with others.  See the article later on in this newsletter about that.

I hope that in this newsletter you can see evidence of how our students are developing their thinking skills with logic, with observations of new and interesting things, and with their many and varied interactions.

Note from the Dean 9/15

Early in the morning at the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

Early on a summer morning at the Cooper-Wilson Center for the Life Sciences

It seems to me that people always put a “spin” on facts and events.  It seems like it is part of human nature to rationalize our actions and defend our beliefs.  What is really hard to do is to accurately predict the future.

Many people have made both hopeful & Utopian predictions (energy too cheap to monitor) as well as doom & disaster predictions (we will all starve or run out of certain materials).  The reality has been that in some cases things are harder than originally thought (in the energy case fusion is harder to harness than we thought), and in others we forget how ingenious people can be (we go wireless instead of running out of copper and we work to make agriculture more productive).

Looking out from the Student Lounge in CW

Looking out from the Student Lounge in CW early on a summer morning.

What is amazing to me is that with the scientific method based on repeatable experiments, we can accurately predict many things.  We can also make good, but seldom perfect, predictions when those physical systems change.  Scientists do learn from their mistakes, and the field of science progresses because of it.  Look at the results – we are making progress on many fronts, including curing cancer and sending probes to Pluto.   This progress is based on our making, and testing, better and better theories – which constitute a fundamental understanding of nature.

Pluto from the recent fly by.  False color image supplied by NASA New Horizons Gallery

Pluto from the recent fly by. False color image supplied by NASA New Horizons Gallery

To really make progress, we need to have that fundamental understanding.  When we don’t have it yet, trial and error is better than nothing and that trial and error does give us data on which to base further theoretical understanding.

As useful as science is, most of us pursue it because we find it fascinating and fun to work in.  It is hard work, but if you enjoy the work, it no longer feels like work – but you still get tired at the end of the day!  I hope you enjoy this newsletter and can see the progress we and our students are making and hope to continue to make in this endeavor.

Note from the Dean 4/15

Early March at CBU

Early March at CBU – yes, that is SNOW.
Image courtesy of Vance Gamble via Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald

As the images show, it was a hard winter in Memphis with lots of cold, ice, and snow.  Spring was slow to come, but it is now coming quickly!  Even though our winter was hard (for Memphis), still we were lucky in comparison to the Northeast!

How do you fix something that is broke?  Throw it away and buy a new one?  That works for some (cheap) things, but not for other (expensive) things.  If you want to fix something and can’t afford to buy a new one, you either have to know how it works or figure out how it works.  How do you fix a process?  Invent a new one?  But will that new process have other unforeseen problems?  If your logic is flawless, will your conclusions necessarily be true?  Not if your beginning assumptions are flawed.  Life is complicated!  But that is what makes life interesting!

Plough Courtyard in late March

Late March in Plough Courtyard shows the first signs of spring along with the new planters.

Ideally, college addresses this complexity and excites the passion of people to work on interesting problems.  Some students come into college with that passion, but not all do.  Professors have the challenge of nurturing that passion for those who already have it, and trying to instill that passion into those who don’t – which is often the harder challenge.

April 7 and spring has sprung!

April 7 and spring has sprung!

When successful, the results are impressive; and spring is the time to see some of those results.  I hope you enjoy the stories in this newsletter!