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.

News of the Moment 2/16

Katie Robinson, Biology 2016, Joe Krebs, Biology 2016, and James (Ben) Tansey, Biology 2016, have been accepted to University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine MD program.

Tiffany Rice, Chemistry 2016, has been accepted into the fall 2016 Doctor of Pharmacy program at Union University.

Solomon Shokouh-Amiri, Biology 2016, had his senior research accepted for publication:  Hosn KN, Jefferson MM, Leding C, Shokouh-Amiri S., Thomas El, “Inhibitors of bacterial protease enzymes for periodontal therapy” in Clinical Experimental Dental Research 1:18-25, 2015

Katie Robinson, Biology 2016, and Cole Freeman announced their engagement.

Alpha Chi induction

Alpha Chi induction

The induction for our TN Theta chapter of Alpha Chi  was held on December 13th.  There was also a reception for those interested in Alpha Chi.  The chapter also made star chapter again!  Only 50 out of 300 chapters received this award.  In order to receive this award a chapter must:  have an induction, have someone apply for a national scholarship, attend the national meeting and have one scholarly event during the academic year.  This year for the 5th consecutive year and the 7th time CBU has received this award.  So for you new inductees lets have another great year. 

Who better to be resprsentative of the school of sciences on the homecoming court than the three of Xi most involved women at CBU

Who better to be resprsentative of the School of Sciences on the Homecoming Court than the three of Xi most involved women at CBU

Rachael Depperschmidt, Ellen Garner, and Sushma Kalava were honored at homecoming last weekend.

Coffee and Conversations:  When you were in college, did you wish you had a guidebook for taking the next step in education? Ever wish you could share your vast amounts of knowledge with those younger than you? Tri-Beta’s Coffee and Conversations Program can help! C&C’s are designed for students to ask graduate students in the sciences all of their burning questions. What kind of classes did you take in undergrad? Do internships and research make you a stronger candidate? How did you study for the MCAT? How is graduate school different from college? If you are interested in helping students by hosting your own C&C, e-mail Lauren Jeu, Natural Science 2017, at Thank you for your investment in our students’ futures!  We are scheduling 2nd year Pharmacy student, Anna Birg,  Biochemistry 2014, for either the last week of January or the second week of February. Kelly Jeu, Biology 2012 & third year Med school student, is scheduled for mid-February. Thanks to Anna and Kelly!

On Thursday, February 11, Tri-beta had a guest speaker, Major Jennifer Gurski.  She is a graduate of West Point and Tulane University School of Medicine and is currently the Commander of the 759th Forward Surgical team.  She spoke about her life as a surgeon in the Army.

SPS Chapter award

SPS Chapter award

The national office of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) recognized the CBU chapter as a “Notable SPS Chapter” for 2014-15 for its efforts to build the SPS community.  Congratulations to all of the CBU SPS members and to Dr. Ted Clarke, the faculty advisor!  Anyone with an interest in physics and fun is invited to join the chapter.  Contact Dr. Ted Clarke if you are interested at .

The Chemistry Help Center provides tutoring in chemistry by fellow students.  It is located in CW207 which is right next to the Student Lounge in CW.  Click here to see the schedule.


There is biology tutoring as well!  AH 114 is located near the East end of the biology floor.



Of course, our Math Center provides tutoring in math as well as physics.  The Math Center is located on the top floor of CW near the math classrooms and math faculty offices.


There is further tutoring in the LLC in the evenings – this is open to all students, not just dorm students.


Upcoming Events 2/16

February 16, Tuesday:  The Spring 2016 Career & Internship Expo will be held from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM in the Canale Arena. Over 70 organizations are scheduled to attend. The Expo is open to ALL students and alumni in that these companies will be recruiting for both interns and full-time employees.

February 17, Wednesday:  This  AIChE, Theta Tau, NSBE, SPS, and the MAA will be joint hosting a STEM game night. The event will begin at 6 PM and will be held in Cooper WIlson 320.  A link for the signup sheet for both games and general attendance is linked here, so if you intend to come, or are even thinking about it, please fill that form out!  Bring food if you like, but snacks will be provided.  Note: You do not have to be a STEM major to partake in this event!

February 27, Saturday:  The Regional Science Olympiad will be held at CBU.  Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is the Regional Director and he is always looking for Judges.  You can contact Dr. Diener at .

March 7-11:  Spring Break!

March 19:  The Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad and the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society Chemistry Examination  will be held Saturday March 19, 2016 on the campus of Christian Brothers University.  For more information, please contact The Chemistry Olympiad Coordinator, Dr. Dennis Merat @

March 24-28:  Easter Break!

March ???  - Memphis & Shelby County Science Fair.  Dates will be announced soon.  Dr. Dennis Merat, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is the Director.  Contact Dr. Merat at if you are interested in being a judge or otherwise helping out.

April 1 and 2:   Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers at CBU.  There will be a dinner on Friday evening followed by a physics demonstration show given by John Daffron whose demonstrations have been featured many times in The Physics Teacher.  Saturday morning will be devoted to talks and a poster session for students.  Contact  Dr. Ted Clarke, Assistant Professor of Physics at CBU, for further information at .

April 2, Saturday:  The annual Tennessee Academy of Sciences Collegiate Division, Western Regional Meeting (TAS) will be held at Rhodes College from 8:30 AM until approximately 1 PM.  Research students should submit abstracts to give a 15-minute oral presentation or a poster. Abstracts are due by 5 PM on Friday, March 18.  For more information, please click here.

Biology group at the 2015 Student Research Poster Session.

Biology group at the 2015 Student Research Poster Session.

April 19, Tuesday:  The 20th Annual CBU Student Research Poster Session will be held in Sabbatini Lounge.

May 4-9:  Final Exams

May 14, Saturday:  Graduation!

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter at CBU has the following events planned for this spring:
* March 4-5:  Participation at the SPS 2016 Regional Meeting at the University of Conway in Conway, AR.
* April 9:  Kite Flying at Shelby Farms
* April 21:  Paper Airplane Contest in the Quad at CBU

Student team from last year's Student/Faculty Volleyball game

Student team from last year’s Student/Faculty Volleyball game

Here are the upcoming events for Tribeta, the biology student group:
* February 17:  Coffee and Conversations with Anna Birg  at 7 PM at Muddy’s Grindhouse
* February 18:  Tribeta Inductions at 6 PM in Spain Auditorium
* April 12-15:  Week of fundraising for Church Health Center
* April 14:  Annual Students vs Faculty Volleyball match
* April 23:  Church Health Center Walkathon
* Tri beta will also participate in helping out with the Science Olympiad and Science Fair this year.
* Tri beta will also be having St. Jude and University of TN Health Science Center tours but the dates have not been decided yet.

Throughout the semester, the student section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) will be getting together to discuss a multitude of topics relating to math. Earlier this semester, the first talk was Thursday, February 10thDr. Jing Wang, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, discussed different proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem.  Alumni and friends are always welcome at our talks.  The MAA will be getting together to have some fun with pi(e) to celebrate Pi Day, March 14th.  This year the MAA contacted Aramark and arranged for them to serve pie on that day.  Head on over to the cafeteria to enjoy some yummy pie with your lunch. Then come out to the Quad between 12 and 2 to learn some interesting pi(e) facts and to get a chance to cream someone with a pie in the face!  This March the MAA Southeastern Section will meet in Birmingham, AL.  Some members plan to go in order to network with hundreds of people from around the region. Becky Wauford plans to present her senior research.  The meeting gives students a chance to engage in opportunities that will encourage the pursuit of a career in the mathematical sciences. The trip will take place March 25 – 26.

Alumni News 2/16

Elizabeth Beebe Longo, Natural Science 2011, graduated from University of Memphis Nursing School with her BSN in December.

Samantha Sol Bownes, Biology 2012, and Javier Gutierrez announced their engagement.  Samantha works at the Church Health Center as the Wellness Education Coordinator.

Porsha and Edgar's wedding!

Porsha and Edgar’s wedding!

Porsha Chillis, Biology 2012, and Edgar Kisoka, Natural Science 2013, were married on Nov. 14th at Holy Trinity.  They went on their honeymoon to Zanzibar, Tanzania. Porsha is currently working in Atlanta as a scribe for Physioscibe Inc.

Dr. Rebecca Scott Crow, Biology 2008, and her husband, Vincent, welcomed their son, Hudson Lochlan Crow, in 2015.  Dr. Crow is finishing up a geriatric fellowship in OK.

Rachel Escue, Biology 2010, and Ben Helmes were married in November 2015.  Rachel is currently finishing up her Ph.D. at UTHSC and hopes to finish in the next year.

Sherita Granderson, Biology 2013, graduated from Baptist College of Health Sciences with a Bachelors of Health Science in Medical Laboratory Sciences.

Rebekkah Griffith Robbins, Biology 2005, and her husband, Paul, Computer Science 2003, welcomed Genevieve Aurora Robbins on November 30, 2015.  Just in time for their 10th wedding anniversary!  Rebekkah and her husband live in NYC. Rebekkah studied epidemiology at Columbia University School of Health.  

Patrick Graham, Biology 2013, obtained his M.S. from Texas A & M Corpus Christi in December.  His degree was in in Fisheries and Mariculture. He looked at using different materials for oyster reef restoration.  He has moved back to Ocean Springs, MS, and is currently working at the Gulf Coast Research Lab (University of Southern Mississippi) in the laboratory where he did his undergraduate research.

Jeremy Hunt, Biology 2006, was accepted to American University of Antigua College of Medicine Spring 2016 entering class.

Jessica Jameson, Biology 2013, and Blake Ward, Civil Engineering 2013, announced their engagement.

Kevin Liao, Biochemistry 2014, has been accepted into the fall 2016 entering class of the University of Tennessee School of Pharmacy in Memphis, Tennessee.

Carrie McIvor, Biology 2005, graduated with her doctorate in nursing December 2015.  She is currently working at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Dr. Sana Mujahid, Biology 2007, and her husband, Dr. Asif Khan, welcomed their bundle of joy, Haseeb Muhahid Khan, in 2015.  All are doing fine and Dr. Mujahid is currently doing a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Charlene Patino,  Biology 2015, will start at the University of Memphis Nursing School in 2016.   She is currently a research assistant at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kevin Pham, Biology 2014, has had his senior research published:

Chawan Rasheed, Biology 2014, has been accepted to the OD program at the Southern College of Optometry.

Gabby Salinas, Biochemistry 2011, was selected as one of the Memphis Flyer’s “20<30″ for 2016, 20 young Memphians who are shaping the city’s future who were featured in the cover story of the January 21 edition. Gabby is currently a graduate student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and works as a research technologist seeking a treatment for malaria at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — where she was successfully treated for the bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma and for whom she is also an active fundraiser and advocate.

Dr. Sania Sayani, Biology 2010, finishes her M.D. from St James this month, and is currently finishing up rotations and studying for boards.

Colt Terhune, Biology 2015, has been accepted to medical school at the University of Central Lancashire in Cambridge, England. He will begin this fall, 2016.

Featured Alum 2/16: Anna Birg, Biochemistry 2014

Anna Birg with fiance, Ryan, at her white coat ceremony.

Anna Birg with fiance, Ryan, at her white coat ceremony.

As a second year pharmacy student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center here in Memphis, I am in the midst of my academic career and working toward my Doctorate of Pharmacy diploma in May, 2018. While the coursework can get a bit overwhelming at times, I have been utilizing the skills that I developed at Christian Brothers University ever since I graduated as a Biochemistry major in 2014, and I have been very active in several organizations on campus.

Of particular interest, I am one of the Chairs of a campus organization committee called Operation Immunization, in which pharmacy students go out into the community and immunize patients. Around this time of year, giving the flu shot has been our primary goal, and we have participated in many events around town, including retail pharmacies and hospitals as well as churches and health fairs. This committee has already been able to immunize over 4,000 people, and we’re working on many more! Being able to organize events like these remind me so much of CBU’s September of Service (SOS) initiative, in which CBU students, faculty, staff, and even alumni participate in a service activity every day during September. I was able to be an SOS leader during my junior and senior years of my undergraduate career, and I love being able to continue carrying out that CBU tradition in this unique pharmacy-related way. The involvement at I have obtained at CBU has significantly impacted how I viewed such opportunities at UT College of Pharmacy (UTCOP). Instead of being intimidated by the organizations, professors, and other coursework, I have been taking advantage of all that the college has to offer by being involved in the things that interest me most.

Although I still have over 2 years before I become a Doctor of Pharmacy, I have been thinking about what types of things I would want to do once I graduate. Last summer, I did my introductory rotations, an aspect of the UTCOP curriculum in which students are assigned to a site to work alongside a pharmacist who guides and explains aspects of their career. I particularly enjoyed my rotation at Methodist Hospital in Germantown, where I spent time with two inpatient pharmacists, who played an integral role in the management of anticoagulation therapy for their patients. I could also see that their duties to both their healthcare team and patients encompassed a wide array of responsibilities and knowledge, which served as yet another motivator for my future career.

Anna Birg wins the 2014 Dominic Dunn award!

Anna Birg wins the 2014 Dominic Dunn award!

As I reflect on my educational experiences and what will be next, I often find myself being thankful that I had the opportunity to attend CBU. Not only did I obtain a high quality education that prepared me for the great volume of work that is expected in graduate school, but I was shaped into a better person by my peers, teachers, and even the CBU atmosphere. I am now a more outgoing, passionate, and motivated person. These qualities have allowed me to succeed throughout pharmacy school thus far, and I hope they will continue to do so as I embark on my career in just a few short years.

Math Center Tutor: Garrett Dickey

Each newsletter we feature one or two of the student tutors in the Math Center.

Garrett Dickey, Math Center Tutor

Garrett Dickey, Math Center Tutor

Garrett Dickey is a Christian Brothers High School, Memphis, graduate majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He tutors calculus, basic algebra and physics to which he brings a very pleasant smile and an outgoing personality.  He is an active member of campus life and also the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at CBU.

Thank You Note to Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics 2/16

To: John Varriano
Subject: Thank You

Dr. Varriano,

I know it’s been some time since I attended CBU, but I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. I want to thank you for all that you did to get me through school. The extra hours, the impromptu strategy sessions, and the occasional kick in the pants. You were very understanding and supportive the entire way through and I truly appreciate that. My path since college has been interesting to say the least. I started out as a Quality Engineer for a company that relied heavily on military contracts, and helped them implement statistical controls for the first time, my next stop was in contract manufacturing for the medical device industry, where along with statistics, I designed experiments and worked heavily on the chemistries of their cleaning and acid passivation lines. Currently, I’m essentially an upstream Manufacturing Engineer in global ops at Medtronic. At each stop along the way, I’ve been commended for my use of the scientific method to solve problems, my understanding of logic and experiment design, and my grasp on statistics. These are things that I attribute in no small part to the work that you and your department did, and the extra effort you were willing to put in to see me through. Thanks for everything.

Daniel Benson
Concurrent Engineer, Medtronic, Inc.