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!

News of the Moment 4/15

Austyn I(left) and Daniel (right) working in Cypress Creek.

Austyn Harriman, Billy Simco, and Daniel Schenck working in Cypress Creek.

Lynda Miller, Science Lab Coordinator and Adjunct Biology Faculty Member, and CBU students Austyn Harriman, Ecology 2016, and Daniel Schenck, Ecology 2017, were among the authors in the following articleSampling and Assessment of the Habitat and Fish and Macroinvertebrate Communities at Cypress Creek, Shelby and Fayette County, Tennessee.   Submitted to: The State of Tennessee West Tennessee River Basin Authority.  Submitted by: Christian Brothers University, Prepared by:  Lynda Miller, Cheryl Goudie, Bill Simco, Austyn Harriman and Daniel Schenck.  ***

Tiffany Corkran, Chemistry 2015, has accepted an offer from Project Inspire Teacher Residency Program in Chattanooga, TN. This was her first choice in teacher preparation programs, and she’ll be starting June 1st. Here is some information about the program for other science and math students who may be interested in teaching:

Project Inspire selects residents to teach in underserved schools in Chattanooga, TN. They train their teachers based on the residency model, so for my first year I will be in the classroom with a Clinical Instructor ( a rock-star, veteran teacher) in the sciences. I will receive a $22,100 stipend during this year and will also be working toward my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with Tennessee Tech, tuition-free. After I complete this first year, I will have a TN Teaching License, and I have committed to teach in Hamilton County for 4 years. Project Inspire partners with the National Science Foundation, who will supplement my teaching salary with a $10,000 stipend for the 4 years I’m teaching in Chattanooga. 

Here are some further comments from Tiffany:
“There are some other great aspects of the program, and I’m really excited to get started! Here’s their website–they specialize in science and mathematics, so if anyone is interested for next year, they should look into it! 

“Thank you for your commitment to CBU and its students. You’ve shown true caring and understanding for the plight of a college student, and I have learned a lot about how to be an effective teacher from you. I will never forget my experiences as a science student at CBU, and I will pass on the love of learning to the next generations!”  ***

JD Wolfe, Biochemistry 2015, has been accepted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine.  JD has also formally accepted a position in the United States Air Force Health Scholars Program and will be commissioned in the coming months as a Second Lieutenant.  ***

Lynda Miller, Science Lab Coordinator and Adjunct Biology Faculty Member, and Br. Thomas Sullivan, Campus Ministry and Adjunct Biology Faculty Member, had the following article published:  Preliminary Lichen Inventory of Overton Park, Memphis, Tennessee.  Author(s): Lynda R. Miller and Thomas J. Sullivan.  Source: Evansia, 32(1):25-29.  Published By: The American Bryological and Lichenological Society, Inc.
DOI:  URL: .  ***

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald with Johnnie Huddleston at the Alpha Chi convention.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald with Johnnie Huddleston at the Alpha Chi convention.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology and Alpha Chi faculty advisor, attended the National Alpha Chi Convention in Chicago in March with Johnnie Huddleston.  Johnnie graduated with her BFA from CBU while going part time and working in the business office.  She is interested in applying to Masters programs in digital media.  Johnnie presented a talk on “My Vision of Art” and placed on the alternate list for the national scholarship to graduate school from AX.  This is a very competitive scholarship and if anyone doesn’t accept she is next on the list.  Dr. Fitzgerald is serving as the president of Regional III for Alpha Chi and it has over 78 schools and is one of the largest regions.  ***

This piece on the Science Fair is from Wendy Sumner-Winter, Sr. Director of External Affairs and Advancement for CBU.  On Saturday, Feb. 28, students from high schools throughout the Memphis area gathered at Christian Brothers University (CBU) to participate in the Science Olympiad. This year’s Olympiad brought 118 students from five high schools to CBU’s campus to compete in 23 events that ranged from launching ping pong balls across a gymnasium using constructed catapults to written exams intended to test students’ knowledge of the sciences. Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, has been organizing the event since 2007 and is quick to point out that this year saw the highest number of high school students participating in the Olympiad. “This year we had a record number of high school students, 118.”

The success of this year’s program is due in large part to the continued participation of teams from Arlington, White Station, and Collierville high schools, along with new participants from KIPP Collegiate and Southwind High School. Each event awarded three places to the top finishers; but in the end, White Station accumulated the greatest number of first place honors and won the overall competition. Arlington High School finished up in second. Both teams will advance to the statewide Olympiad competition, held in Knoxville later this spring.

For over 11 years CBU has hosted, organized, and supervised the Memphis Science Olympiad in an effort to “foster a sense of fun and enjoyment in the scientific field,” remarked Dr. Diener. “It’s an indication that science is not just dry and boring and hard work alone.” The Olympiad was held at University of Memphis until 2004, when it transferred ownership to CBU. Brother Dr. John Monzyk took over the program for the initial three years, until he relocated to Louisville in 2007. Since then, Dr. Diener has overseen the program every year.

The day’s events also represented a collaborative effort between CBU and neighboring colleges in an effort to encourage the continued participation in the sciences among high school students. While over 25 faculty, staff, and students from CBU helped plan and implement the Olympiad, faculty from LeMoyne-Owen College and the University of Memphis also joined their efforts to judge the events.  ***

Tri-Beta has sponsored two tours this semester: One was at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Monday, March 16,  2015. The second tour is at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center on Wednesday, April 15.  ***

On March 19 the Mu Tao chapter of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society gave a warm welcome to all the new full and associate members who were inducted. Several parents and other family members were also present to witness the induction, which was followed by refreshments and congratulatory banter and shenanigans.

Associate member inductees into Beta Beta Beta

Associate member inductees into Beta Beta Beta.
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

The names of the new associate members are: Andrea Campos, Shamika Sharae Johnson, Eduardo Urbina, Devam Zalawadia, Maddie Belou, Marisa Wong, Kelsey Bell, Cailie Mokry, Hailey V. McKinney, Samiha Riyadh Elkhayyat, Christian Lyons, Jessica Fleming, Olivia Evans, Katelyn Wilson, Shantay Moemeke, Parth Thakore, Clare Sauser, Caroline Montague, Jacob Beaty, Elizabeth Virginia Parr, Courtney Alyssa Banks, Hozyer Saeed, Benjamin Kueter, Amber Burse, Joshulun M. C. Taylor, Asia Hubbard, Paula Zeballos, Saehymn Oh, Alexandria Blakemore, Sydney Kermeen, Krystal Lugo and Kiran Ashok

Inductees into full membership in Beta Beta Beta

Inductees into full membership in Beta Beta Beta.
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

The Names of the newly inducted full members are: Leslie Hogan, Nuti Desai, Thuy-anh Phan, Heer Patel, Patrick Gurley, Austyn Harriman, Faiza Iman Qadir, Nirali Patel, John Butross Jr., Lauren Jeu, Juan Mejia, Saeram Oh, Megan Huynh, Damini Patrel, Toni Arnise Patrick, Jonah Rendon, Solomon Amiri, Teja Williams, Miranda Jai Anderson, Keyara Baltimore, Dustin Higgins, Thu Hien Vo, Kyle Fioranelli, Alma Lidia Godoy, Mariana Tonelli Ricci, Sagar Keriwala, John Richard Gillenwater III and Kyera Suggs.  ***

Human Anatomy & Physiology II students learning CPR.

Human Anatomy & Physiology II students learning CPR.
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

The Biol 218 (Human A&P) students spent Monday evening, March 23, earning Basic Life Support for Health Care Provider CPR, AED, and First Aid (American Heart Association) certification under the expert instruction provided by CBU’s Physician Assistant Program.   ***

Steven and Megan, two of the winning team at the Science Trivia contest.

Steven and Megan, two of the winning team at the Science Trivia contest with the trophy.

Thursday, March 26, the CBU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students held its annual Science Trivia Night.  There were a total of 14 participants (2 alumni, 8 CBU, 2 Rhodes, and 2 UM), making up 4 teams.  1st Place: CBU alums and student: Rebekah Herrman, Math & Physics 2014, Steven Menezes, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering 2012, and Megan Mosier. Biology 2016.
2nd Place: The combined team of Rhodes and UM students.  ***

On Saturday, March 28, the CBU Chemistry Department and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society hosted the High School Chemistry competition.  Ten area high schools sent students to compete.  ***

Science Fair 2015

Science Fair 2015
Image courtesy of Dr. Dennis Merat.

On Tuesday, April 7, CBU hosted the high school section of the Memphis-Shelby County Science Fair.  Dr. Dennis Merat, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is the Director.  This year there were 24 projects.

On Thursday, April 9, CBU hosted the middle school section of the Memphis-Shelby County Science Fair.  There were about 250 projects involving about 300 students!  More information about the Science Fair will be presented in the fall in our next newsletter.  ***

Student volleyball team

Student volleyball team
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross

On Thursday, April 9, we held our annual Student versus Faculty Volleyball game for charity.  In three close games, the Youth & Vitality (Students) beat the Old Age & Deceit (Faculty).  As of game time, over $300 was raised to benefit the Church Health Center.  For more info and photos, see the web page: .  ***

On Saturday, April 11, the 2015 Tennessee Academy of Sciences Collegiate Division, Western Regional Meeting was hosted by the University of Memphis.  Here are the CBU Best Paper Award Recipients:

Winners at the TAS meeting: On the left are: Andrew, Shannon, and Daniel.

Winners at the TAS meeting:
On the left are: Andrew, Shannon, and Daniel.
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

Section 1: Shannon Brooke Joyce, CBU  2nd place award.  An examination of tight junction protein expression in human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC) in the presence of conditioned media from medulloblastoma subtypes.  Brooke Joyce*, Megan Jacus, Stacy Throm, and Clinton Stewart, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee (BJ), and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee (MJ, ST, CS).

Andrew Aristorenas, CBU  3rd place award [photo].  Diabetes attenuates metabolic oscillations regulated by circadian clock rhythms. Andrew Aristorenas* and Martin E. Young, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee, and University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

Daniel Schenck presenting at the TAS

Daniel Schenck presenting at the TAS.
Image courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

Section 2:   Daniel Schenck, CBU  1st place award  [photo]  Testing of Stream Health of the Loosahatchie River Using Macroinvertebrates. Daniel Schenck*, Cheryl Goudie, Lynda Miller. Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee (DS, LM) University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee (CG).

Photos and more at: .  ***

Winners of the Organic Haiku contest, set up by Dr. Stan Eisen, Professor of Biology

From Austyn Harriman, Ecology 2016:
Those electrophiles
In SN2 reactions…
Dirty sneak attack!

From Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology:
Organic dreaming
carbon floating everywhere.
Such a nightmare

From Nuti Desai, Biochemistry 2016:
Is organic hard?
Let us just put it this way:
Help, I am diene!   ***

Upcoming Events 4/15

Student Research Poster Session last year (2014).

Student Research Poster Session last year (2014).
Photo courtesy of Dr. Anna Ross.

The National Chemistry Olympiad competition will be held on Saturday, April 18, at CBU.

The 19th annual Student Research Poster Presentations will be Tuesday, April 21, in Sabbatini Lounge.

Due to the ice and snow this winter and the resulting closings, the normal Study Day, Tuesday, May 5, will be a class day following the Monday class schedule.

Final Exams will start on Wednesday, May 6.

Graduation will be on Saturday, May 16.

Alumni News 4/15

Dr. Paula Cerrito Adams, Biology 2006 and UTHSC Pham. D., and her husband, John Paul, had a baby girl, Abigail Katherine Adams, on March 5th. Paula is currently a pharmacist at target.  Everyone doing fine.

Joe Alfonso, Biology 2012, is graduating with his M.S. in Entomology in May from North Dakota State University.

Catherine Gluzak Gooch presenting her poster.

Catherine Gluzak Gooch presenting her poster.

Catherine Gluzak Gooch, Biochemistry 2013, presented a poster at the annual TN Medical Association meeting in Nashville entitled  The Confounding Conundrum: Caroli or Cannabis?

Dr. Adam Luka, MHIRT 2008, Biology 2009, and LSU Medical School 2013, and Hope Shackelford, MHIRT 2008, Biology 2010, and U of Memphis 2012, just had their baby girl, Lula Hazel, born March 26, 2015; all are doing well.  They are currently living in Augusta, GA, where Adam is doing his internal medicine residency.

Dr. Jessica Morgan with her fiancee.

Dr. Jessica Morgan with her fiancee.

Dr. Jessica Morgan, biology 2001, announced her engagement to Bill Turner. Wedding is TBA. Jessica is currently a staff member at St. Jude and Bill works at SWCC.

Dr. Nick Newsom, Biology 2004, UTHSC 2008, and his wife, Allison, welcomed a new baby, Gwendolyn, on April 6th.  This is their third little girl!  They currently live in Indianapolis where Nick is a hospitalist at Indiana University Health Physicians.

Hannah Shackelford, Biology 2007 and M.S. from U. of Memphis 2012, announced her engagement to Nicholas Baer.  Hannah participated in the MHIRT program in 2006 and is currently in Veterinary School at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS ,class of 2016.

Alecia Stewart, Biochemistry 2013, has been accepted into the Masters of Biomedical Sciences program at Liberty University for the Fall of 2015, and will start Osteopathic Medical School there the following fall of 2016.

Nikki Story, Natural Science 2014, has been accepted to the Master’s Program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  She will be starting in January, 2016.

Adrianne Wilkerson Vitale, Biology 2005, and her husband, Sam, Engineering 2005, welcomed their third daughter, Guiliana Rose Vitale, on March 14, 2015!  Everyone is doing fine.  Adrianne is a nurse at St John’s hospital in St Louis.   She also did MHIRT in 2004 with Dr. Claudio Toledo.

Kim Williams Guy, Biology 2008, and her husband, Andre, had their second child, a girl, Kadence Malia Guy, born 2-15-15.  Kim is currently working at St Jude. All are doing well.


Featured Alum: Meghan Foard, Natural Science 2009

Meghan Ford at work

Meghan at work in the field

I am a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Science program at The University of Idaho, Moscow, and I have an M.S. in Environmental Science from Arkansas State University, Jonesboro.  I graduated from Christian Brother’s University (CBU) in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Natural Science and a minor in Biology.  Christian Brother’s University was a crucial element in preparing me for graduate school; the coursework was challenging but there were many resources at my disposal, the teachers were enthusiastic and engaging, and they were more than just teachers, they were mentors and friends.

When I started at CBU I was accustomed to high school and community college courses – where the material was relatively simple and much of the substance was out of date.  The first classes I took were Dr. Ross’s Comparative Vertebrate Analysis and Brother Edward’s Botany.  I was surprised at how comprehensive and challenging the coursework was, however, the courses were well organized and the labs were hands-on, allowing me to fully experience these subjects and to wholly understand them.  The professors augmented the courses, provided thorough explanations, and mentored students to ensue a solid foundation for any career in biological sciences.  This high quality instruction continued throughout the rest of my CBU education, and much of the knowledge I learned from the CBU courses is applied regularly in my graduate career.

Meghan at work in the lab

Meghan at work in the lab

In addition to the ample resources and excellent teaching, the instructors were always available to help me outside of class.  Furthermore, they helped me find my passion for plant ecology and teaching.  I did not know exactly what I wanted to do for my career when I started as CBU, I only knew that it would have something to do with biology.  Therefore, I took an array of plant and animal biology courses and through those I realized my goal – to research forest ecology and eventually become a professor.  I was unsure how to move forward, luckily Lynda Miller, Science Lab Coordinator, explained to me the processes and benefits of graduate school.  Furthermore, she sent me the advertisement for the graduate position at Arkansas State University, for which I was ultimately selected.  She and other professors frequently went above and beyond what is typical of undergraduate instruction, and I now know precisely the kind of teacher I want to be – just like them.

Meghan in the field

Meghan in the field

After receiving my bachelor’s degree from CBU I was accepted into the graduate program in Environmental Science at Arkansas State University advised by Dr. Travis Marsico.  In my master’s thesis research I investigated the mechanisms and consequences of the invasion of the woody shrub Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense Lour.) in bottomland hardwood forests – an ecosystem I became familiar with in Ecology at CBU.  My overarching research question was, What drives invasive species success? As a result of my research I am the first to supply empirical evidence that, 1) Chinese privet seeds are dispersed by water (hydrochory) in riverine wetlands. 2) Long term inundation of Chinese privet fruits greatly reduces their viability and germination rates, and 3) Chinese privet accelerates tree mortality in hydrologically altered riparian forests.  I concluded that Chinese privet initially invaded habitats adjacent to channelized portions of the Wolf River, resulting in drier conditions – a “novel niche.”  The long distance dispersal mechanism of hydrochory allowed Chinese privet to quickly colonize these “novel niches.”  Once established, Chinese privet competed with native oak species and reduced tree growth, ultimately leading to an early death of the native oaks.  You can read my full thesis at

I completed my Master’s in 2014 and immediately began pursuing my Ph.D.  I was accepted to the University of Idaho’s Environmental Sciences Program, and am advised by Dr. Phil Higuera in the Paleoecology and Fire Ecology Laboratory. My dissertation work is funded in part by the PalEON project, an NSF funded network that focuses on “assimilating long term data into ecosystem models.”  My research emphasis is on understanding growth-climate relationships of black and white spruce in floodplain boreal forests of central Alaska. If not for my education and relationships with professors at CBU I would have struggled to progress academically.  To this day, I continue to value the connections that were forged with my mentors and professors at CBU.

Math Center Tutor: Breeana Nikaido 4/15

Breeana Nikaido,  Math Center Tutor

Breeana Nikaido, Math Center Tutor
Image courtesy of Br. Joel Baumeyer

Breeana Nikaido has been attending CBU since she was a dual-enrollment student in high school.  She graduated as a homeschool student and came to CBU to study Computer Science and Graphic Design.   Starting in her junior year she has tutored an array of mathematics and computer science subjects. During her sophomore year she joined the honors program and started a student organization for video game tournaments called Buccaneers ESport Team. Breeana now is a member of the Honors Board of Directors and still president of Buccaneers ESport Team.  Last summer, she interned in ITS for ALSAC, the founding arm of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  Upon graduating Breeana hopes to work in video game development or animation.

Thank You Notes to Faculty 4/15

The note below is to Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, holder of the John J. Shea Chair in Science and Mathematics, and Chair of the Physics and Natural Science Department.

Andrea Curry

Andrea Curry

From: Andrea Curry
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 4:18 PM
To: John Varriano
Subject: Class of 2005

Hello Dr. Varriano,

You might not remember me, but I wanted to thank you.  I graduated in 2005 from CBU.  I worked very hard to graduate.  I wanted to let you know that I appreciate all of the help that you gave me when I was a student in your class.  I graduated in January from Walden University with a Master of Healthcare Administration degree.  I know that the challenge of my CBU education helped to prepare me for graduate school.  I was blessed to graduate with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude.  I am now working toward my Doctorate in Health Services.  I read the article about Dr. Cooper in the Bell Tower magazine last night, so I wanted to reach out to you and a couple of other professors to share my gratitude.  Thank you and take care!

Andrea N. Curry, ​Ph.D. of Health Services Program