Featured Department: Biology 10/14

Freshmen Biology students are welcomed by the faculty and upper classmen.

Freshmen Biology students are welcomed by the faculty and upper classmen.

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 144 majors (82 biology, 60 biomedical science, and 2 ecology) as well as other science and engineering majors (32 biochemistry, 35 natural science, 11 chemistry, and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area with our ecology degree we instituted last year. In addition to the health and the ecology/environmental areas, there have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students with biology degrees have chosen to pursue as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

Ecology Field Trip

Ecology Field Trip

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the department chair. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and teaches BIOL 346 Evolution and BIOL 394 Dendrology. Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

Dr. Sauser’s Biol 112 lab.  Students are identifying tiny organisms living in mini aquaria that fit on the microscope stage

Dr. Sauser’s Biol 112 lab. Students are identifying tiny organisms living in mini aquaria that fit on the microscope stage

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the BIOL 362, Biology Seminar. This course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser teaches a variety of courses, including Toxicology and Pharmacology, and is the department’s safety officer. Dr. James Moore has involved several students on projects ranging from exotic invasive tree competition to detection of Chytrid fungus on amphibians. Dr. Moore has received a grant (see News of the Moment section earlier) with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to examine the effects of pesticides on ranavirus prevalence in Chelonids (turtles).  Ms. Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to coordinate the laboratory preparations, overseeing the work-study students, and teaching courses pertinent to the Ecology degree program.  She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

Dr. Fitzgerald’s Biol 111 lab.  Students are characterizing chlorophyll pigments  (Dr. Fitzgerald’s distinctive hair is because it is “Think Pink” week at CBU for breast cancer awareness and education)

Dr. Fitzgerald’s Biol 111 lab. Students are characterizing chlorophyll pigments (Dr. Fitzgerald’s distinctive hair is because it is “Think Pink” week at CBU for breast cancer awareness and education)

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 36 biology lecture classes and 24 of them have labs attached!  In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. This semester, Br. Tom Sullivan is teaching the BIOL 303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens. This summer he assisted Lynda Miller in mentoring three high school students doing lichen research for the Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (R.E.A.P.) He is also Director of Campus Ministry and does Vocation/Formation work for the Brothers.

Dr. Moore working with Ecology lab students

Dr. Moore working with Ecology lab students

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles of Biology courses (BIOL 111 & 112). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is when students see presentations made by area researchers and helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three-semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and a number have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

Biol 217 lab

The A&P students are starting their study of human muscles by building muscles in clay to better understand muscle attachments and actions.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive.  The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.

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 (http://www.cbu.edu/academicsupport/honors/)  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.

Featured Department: Mathematics

The Mathematics Department serves essentially every CBU student and is probably the biggest service department at CBU. It provides courses for Arts majors, courses for Business majors, and many courses for Engineering and Science majors. It offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics, a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a dual degree in Math and Computer Science. There are options in the math degree in bioinformatics with a minor in biology or chemistry, and an option in forensics with a minor in biology. Most people recognize that you can teach with a math degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in Math. There are lots of other career options with a Math degree.

Math for some students is a fascinating and wonderful subject. For others it is something initially feared and dreaded. This wide range in attitudes and backgrounds in mathematics provides quite a challenge for the department. To handle this challenge, the departmental faculty have tried many different teaching techniques and use a wide array of tools.

It all starts with trying to place students at the appropriate level. The initial placement is based on ACT scores, but the department offers placement tests for those who think their ACT results do not really indicate their level of skill and knowledge.

The Mathematics Department continues to explore ways to increase student success. To meet the needs of students who require a review of algebra before attempting other mathematics courses, the department has recently created two new ALG courses, ALG ALG 115 and ALG 120 for day students, and it is working to provide three new ALG courses for the professional studies program. They are designed to prepare the student for Finite Math, MATH 105. The department hired Mrs. Sandra Davis a couple years ago to help with the new ALG courses. The Math 103 course was designed as a prerequisite for those that will take Precalculus and Calculus. Both the ALG courses and the MATH 103 course use computer tutorials to supplement instruction by the professor. These tutorials allow students to spend more time concentrating on individual weaknesses.

For those students who need preparation for calculus, the department is adding a third track.  It is keeping the three hour MATH 117 Precalclulus course for the better prepared students.  It is also keeping the six hour MATH 129 Functions and Engineering Calculus for engineering students how need help in preparing for calculus but who need calculus in their first semester to stay on track in the engineering paradigm.   For those students who need more help in preparing for calculus, it is adding as a third track a pair of two credit courses, MATH 107 Functions and MATH 110 Trigonometry, that can be taken simultaneously.

 

Math Center in operation

Math Center in operation.

Br. Joel Baumeyer continues to serve as Director of the Math Center which offers free assistance in mathematics, physics and computer science to CBU students. Tutors are typically CBU students majoring in mathematics, engineering or the sciences. These tutors take pride in offering their services to their fellow students. Since moving into the new Math Center room in Cooper-Wilson, student visits have increased from about 1,000 per semester to above 3,700 per semester.

Last spring, Dr. Leigh Becker retired, and this spring he was named Professor Emeritus!  Dr. Becker continues to publish papers in his field of differential equations.  Congratulations to Dr. Becker!  (See the Featured Person article earlier in this newsletter.)

Dr. Raena King joined the CBU Mathematics faculty this fall.  She had previously taught as an adjunct while working on her Ph.D.  This fall she completed her degree!  Congratulations to Dr. King!

The Math Department also provides service to the university and community through the Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America which is part of our featured article on Student Groups earlier in this newsletter. In addition, Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is the CBU site director for the West Tennessee section of the Science Olympiad (see News of the Moment section earlier in this newsletter). The Math Department also provides support so that CBU can be a test site for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association high school tests in the spring.

Featured Department: Chemistry

The CBU Chemistry Department offers four-year programs leading to Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry.  The Chemistry Degree has four paradigm options, including ones designed for graduate school, Forensic Chemistry, and preparation for Medical and Pharmacy schools.  The Biochemistry degree is designed to provide a strong preparation for both the workplace and professional schools, including pharmacy school, medical school, or dental school.  Both the Chemistry and Biochemistry degree programs place emphasis on the development of a wide range of laboratory skills that will prove useful, whether students will be going directly into the workforce after graduation or going on to post-graduate studies.

 

Chemistry Lab image

Jimmy Nguyen, Biochemistry 2015, and Kim Ngo, Biochemistry 2015, Laboratory Assistants in the Chemistry Department, are shown unpacking new laboratory glassware.

The Chemistry Department has adopted a philosophy that the best way to learn chemistry is to do it in real world settings.  In addition to the research requirement in the department, we offer a number of opportunities through either work-study or direct employment in the department for students to begin working in the laboratories throughout their entire course of study with us.  Students begin as Laboratory Assistants; juniors and seniors have the opportunity to be selected as Laboratory Specialists.  One or two students who have been in our work-study program for at least two years have the opportunity  to be selected as Associate Lab Coordinators.  The Laboratory Specialist and Associate Lab Coordinator positions include supervisory responsibilities, giving students the opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience.  Yusef Akbik, Biochemistry 2014, is currently the Associate Lab Coordinator; and Duy Nguyen, Chemistry 2014, is the Laboratory Specialist.

 

Tiffany Corkran

Tiffany Corkran, a Chemistry Center tutor, is shown in the Chemistry Help Center.

The Chemistry Department wants to help students succeed in our courses and now offers over 19 hours per week of free tutoring in the Chemistry Help Center located in CW207; current hours and tutor schedules are posted by the door of CW207.  Tutors this semester include: Dr. Harmon Dunathan, Tiffany Corkran , Chemistry 2014, Takeva Hicks, Biochemistry 2015, and Shesha Shah, Chemistry 2014.

Featured Department: Biology 10/13

Students working in a Biol 217 Human A&P lab

Students working in a Biol 217 Human A&P lab

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 122 majors (77 biology and 45 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (38 biochemistry, 37 natural science, 10 chemistry, and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area – see the article on the new Ecology major earlier in this newsletter. In addition to the health and the ecology/environmental areas, there have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students with biology degrees have chosen to pursue as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

Students working on a biology field trip.

Students working on a biology field trip.

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the department chair. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and teaches BIOL 346 Evolution and BIOL 111 Principles of Biology. Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

Students working in Biol 211 Embryology lab.

Students working in the Biol 211 Embryology lab.

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the BIOL 362, Biology Seminar. This course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser teaches a variety of courses, including Toxicology and Pharmacology, and is the department’s safety officer. Dr. James Moore has involved several students on projects ranging from exotic invasive tree competition to detection of Chytrid fungus on amphibians. Dr. Moore currently has a grant in review with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to examine the effects of pesticides on ranavirus prevalence in Chelonids (turtles).  Ms Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to coordinate the laboratory preparations, overseeing the work-study students, and teaching courses pertinent to the Ecology degree program.  She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

Students working in the Principles of Biology I lab

Students working in the Principles of Biology I lab

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 30 biology lecture classes and 21 of them have labs attached! In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. This semester Dr. Joy Layton is offering her Entomology course (BIOL 420), and in the spring of 2014 will teach a course entitled Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology.  Br. Tom Sullivan is looking forward to teaching a BIOL 112  Principles of Biology Lab this Spring Semester and hopefully the BIOL 303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens in the Fall. This summer he assisted Lynda Miller in mentoring three high school students doing lichen research for the Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (R.E.A.P.) He is also Director of Campus Ministry and does Vocation/Formation work for the Brothers.

Students working in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab

Students working in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab.   Student teams drew brain anatomy and function on the swim caps.

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles of Biology courses (BIOL 111 & 112). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is when students see presentations made by area researchers and helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three-semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and a number have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive.  The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.

Featured Department: Physics

Equipotential plot of two rotating masses

Equipotential plot for two rotating masses.
Can you find the five Lagrange points?

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, and University of Memphis.

Science Trivia with Dr. John Varriano as the game master.

Science Trivia Night with Dr. John Varriano as the game master.

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 sponsoring various talks and helping out with the Science Olympiad where they served as supervisors for 3 events and assisted with 5 other events.  They also assisted with the Science Fair.  The group held a Science Trivia Night with CBU and Rhodes SPS in fall, and attended the talk at Rhodes given by Dr. Lisa Randall on April 11.  Dr. Randall is a world-leading theoretical physicist at Harvard University who does work in cosmology and particle physics. 

Dr. Clarke's apparatus: Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans

Dr. Clarke’s apparatus: Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans

Faculty members in the department are committed to teaching physics and continually “hone their craft”.  Drs. Ted Clarke and John Varriano recently attended the annual conference of the Tennessee Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (TAAPT) in March at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.  They came away from the conference with many good ideas.  They each gave presentations on topics that they have developed for their own courses.  “Eddy Currents and Aluminum Cans” was presented by Dr. Clarke in which he discussed a simple apparatus that he built that demonstrates how changing magnetic fields from a pair of coils induce currents in an aluminum soda can and cause the can to spin.  (The photo above shows the apparatus.)  Dr. Varriano presented “Physics Fun with 3-D Glasses” in which the physics of polarized 3-D glasses was demonstrated and discussed.  (The photo in the News of the Moment section shows some of the conference attendees with their 3-D glasses on as they listen to Dr. Varriano.)  Dr. Clarke was elected TAAPT president for the 2014-15 year.  CBU will host the conference in the spring of 2015.

Electric Field Simulation

Electric Field Simulation in PHYS 251 and 202 lab. One positive and one negative charge.

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.  The image above shows an example of an electric field simulation which allows students to choose their charges and map out the corresponding electric field.

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.

Jonathan Fili with his theremin

Jonathan Fili with his theremin

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.  Ecklin Crenshaw, Physics 2013, has been working as an intern for Dr. Chris Calabrese in the Small Animal Imaging Center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The group studies imaging technologies such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  Ecklin is delving into the physics of these different imaging techniques.  Jonathan Fili’s, Engineering Physics 2013, interest in physics and music led to his project of building a theremin, a unique electronic instrument.  Instead of touching the instrument, a person brings their hand close to an antenna that is part of an oscillating circuit.  The distance between the hand and antenna affects the capacitance of the circuit which affects the frequency of the oscillation and of the sound wave that is generated. (The photo shows Jonathan playing the theremin.)  Jonathan has been accepted into the Master’s program in physics at Mississippi State University.

Brent Holmes presenting his physics REU research results at the SPS Zone meeting

Brent Holmes presenting his physics REU research results at the SPS Zone meeting.

Brent Holmes (Physics & Mathematics 2013) did research at Montana State University in solar physics in the summer of 2011 through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  This formed the basis for his research project in physics.  Last summer, Brent was awarded another NSF REU to work in a mathematics group at Auburn University.  This work served not only as his senior project in mathematics but also resulted in a paper that he presented at the recent Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting at CBU.  Brent was awarded first prize in the mathematics session for his paper “Rainbow colorings of some geometrically defined uniform hypergraphs in the plane”.  Brent has been accepted into graduate programs in mathematics at Auburn, Kansas, and Memphis, and has accepted a Teaching Assistantship in the Ph.D. program in Mathematics at the University of Kansas.  Rebekah Herrman, Physics & Mathematics 2014, will be performing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory this summer in quantum computing.  Rebekah was awarded an undergraduate research grant funded by the Department of Energy.  Rebekah is pictured in the News of the Moment section.

Featured Department: Mathematics

The Mathematics Department serves essentially every CBU student and is probably the biggest service department at CBU. It provides courses for Arts majors, courses for Business majors and many courses for Engineering and Science majors. It offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics, a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a dual degree in Math and Computer Science. There are options in the math degree in bioinformatics with a minor in biology or chemistry, and an option in forensics with a minor in biology. Most people recognize that you can teach with a math degree, and we do have a program for teacher licensure in Math. There are lots of other career options with a Math degree.

Math for some students is a fascinating and wonderful subject. For others it is something initially feared and dreaded. This wide range in attitudes and backgrounds in mathematics provides quite a challenge for the department. To handle this challenge, the departmental faculty have tried many different teaching techniques and use a wide array of tools.

Math Center in use

Math Center in use.

It all starts with trying to place students at the appropriate level. The initial placement is based on ACT scores, but the department offers placement tests for those who think their ACT results do not really indicate their level of skill and knowledge.

The Mathematics Department continues to explore ways to increase student success. To meet the needs of students who require a review of algebra before attempting other mathematics courses, the department has recently created three new ALG courses, ALG 110, ALG 115 and ALG 120. The department offers these in the fall in the day program and in the professional program in the evening. They are designed to prepare the student for Finite Math, MATH 105. The department hired Mrs. Sandra Davis a couple years ago to help with the new ALG courses. The Math 103 course was designed as a prerequisite for those that will take Precalculus and Calculus. Both the ALG courses and the MATH 103 course use computer tutorials to supplement instruction by the professor. These tutorials allow students to spend more time concentrating on individual weaknesses.

In the fall semester, the department incorporated the use of online interactive homework in its precalculus course, Math 117. The students in the course completed assessments in precalculus to help them learn and to prepare them for calculus. These assessments were developed at Pierce College in the state of Washington, are free and available at www.myopenmath.com. Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Arthur Yanushka, Professor of Mathematics, modified them for use in CBU’s course.

During the summer of 2012 Dr. Arthur Yanushka developed similar online assessments for Math 132 Calculus II, Math 232 Calculus III and Math 309 Probability. His students used these assessments during the fall and spring semesters.

This is the eighth year of a special course, Math 129, that was designed to improve success for engineering students. The math department calls it MIFE (Mathematics Immersion for Freshman Engineers). Dr. Pascal Bedrossian and Professor Cathy Grilli have been team-teaching Math 129 in the fall semester. In it, students meet for nine contact hours each week and cover the topics of Pre-calculus and Calculus I. The students who succeed in the course are pleasantly surprised in Calculus II when the lectures are less than an hour!

Br. Joel Baumeyer continues to serve as Director of the Math Center which offers free assistance in mathematics, physics and computer science to CBU students. Tutors are typically CBU students majoring in mathematics, engineering or the sciences. These tutors take pride in offering their services to their fellow students. Since moving into the new Math Center room in Cooper-Wilson, student visits have increased from about 1,000 per semester to above 3,700 per semester.

In the upper level courses, the department uses the MAPLE programs to help make the material as visual as possible. Br. Walter Schreiner, Associate Professor of Mathematics, spent many hours of the past couple summers revising and updating MAPLE worksheets and aligning them with our new calculus text. Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor of Mathematics, continues to use MAPLE in his manuscript Ordinary Differential Equations: Concepts, Methods, and Models. CBU uses this manuscript as the text for MATH 231 Differential Equations. Dr. Holmes Peacher-Ryan, Associate Professor of Mathematics, is doing research on the robustness of maximum likelihood factor analysis using five-valued Likert data. As an example of five-valued Likert data, consider the sort of questionnaire we have all seen in which we answer “1″ for “strongly agree”, “2″ for “agree”, “3″ “neutral” or “don’t know”, “4″ for “disagree”, and “5″ for “strongly disagree”. Maximum likelihood factor analysis is a statistical technique which finds underlying factors or “causes” of the pattern of responses to a group of questions.

MAA Halloween Party

Student Chapter of Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Halloween Party

This year four seniors will graduate this year with B.A. or B.S. degrees in mathematics. Besides the usual array of mathematics courses, math majors must also take two semesters of seminar (Math 481-482) in their senior year. A fifth student is also taking seminar but will graduate in 2014.   Raymond Bedrossian’s project is a study of the equations required to track an object, specifically its orientation, using a gyroscope and accelerometer. The main focus is on how to quickly compute the current orientation of the object on a cheap, low powered computer by using linear algebra concepts to create an accurate approximation algorithm as opposed to using exact equations, which can take too long to compute.   Brent Holmes’s project is on chromatic numbers of infinite hypergraphs on the real plane. Brent uses hexagon tilings to prove restrictions on the chromatic numbers.

Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis’s project is on the finite element method which includes a myriad of analysis techniques, e.g., direct stiffness method, which help solve for internal forces, stresses, and strains in structural members and systems. This is done by considering elemental adjacencies, external and internal loads, and boundary conditions. Michelle McEachron’s project analyzes non-periodic tilings of the plane.  In particular she looks at how Penrose tiles force a non-periodic tiling when certain guidelines are followed.  Megan Wilson’s project is on using neural networks to estimate breast cancer risks. By using neural networks, a model that uses probability distributions, resampling techniques such as bootstrap can be made to approximate the probability of malignancy directly. Raymond Bedrossian is a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Mathematics. Brent Holmes is a double major in Mathematics and Physics.  Aaron Lewis is a double major in Civil Engineering and Mathematics.

Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Leigh C. Becker, Professor of Mathematics, submitted a paper for review and publication during spring break entitled Resolvents and Solutions of Singular Volterra Integral Equations with Separable Kernels.  This paper continues his recent efforts to develop techniques for finding closed-form solutions of certain types of integral equations.  The following papers dealing with similar topics were published last year:  Resolvents for weakly singular kernels and fractional differential equations, Nonlinear Analysis: Theory, Methods & Applications, 75, Issue 13 (Sept. 2012), pp. 4839-4861, and  Singular integral equations, Liapunov functionals, and resolvents, Nonlinear Analysis: Theory, Methods & Applications, 75, Issue 7 (May 2012), pp. 3277-3291 (coauthored with T. A. Burton and I. K. Purnaras).

The Math Department also provides service to the university and community through the Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America which is part of our featured article on Student Groups earlier in this newsletter. In addition, Dr. Andrew Diener, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is the CBU site director for the West Tennessee section of the Science Olympiad (see News of the Moment section earlier in this newsletter). The Math Department also provides support so that CBU can be a test site for the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association high school tests in the spring.

Featured Department: Biology

Students in the BIOL 311L Genetics lab are preparing agarose gels.

The Biology Department is one of the most popular departments at CBU. The department serves 127 majors (92 biology and 35 biomedical science) as well as other science and engineering majors (29 biochemistry, 38 natural science, 23 chemistry, and a few chemical engineering students also taking biology classes). The department has an excellent record of preparing students for medical school and other health related professional schools. A second area of growing strength is in the ecology area. There have been several other disciplines and graduate programs that students have chosen as careers (Ph.D., M.S., governmental positions).

One of the strengths of the Biology Department, like all departments at CBU, is the caring nature of its faculty. That care for the students shows up in many forms, both formally in lecture, lab and field trips, and informally in their interactions with students in the hall, in the office, and in the Beta Beta Beta student honor society, with Dr. Mary Ogilvie as the faculty sponsor. Dr. Sandra Thompson-Jaeger is the department chair. She is promoting the Public Health concentration, as well as teaching Genetics and Microbiology. While Br. Edward has retired, he is still on campus and will be teaching BIOL 346 Evolution in the spring.Dr. Stan Eisen is the Director of the Pre-Health Program and works very hard to give CBU students the best opportunity to succeed in a very competitive field. He arranges for visitors to campus to talk to students concerning careers, and several other pre-health events. He also assists via individual counseling and via his web pages as well as the Caduceus newsletters. Dr. Eisen also takes students as an option in some of his classes to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, with other biology faculty, to give CBU students a coastal field experience.

The image above shows the BIOL 412 Ecology Lab class
on a field trip.

Dr. Anna Ross is the departmental webmaster and is famous for her web pages that support the students in their learning, and keeping everyone up to date through the biology list. Dr. Mary Ogilvie teaches the honors Principles of Biology sections and directs the Junior Seminar. This seminar course prepares students for their senior research. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald supports the students through placement in lab positions in their senior research projects locally as well as international research opportunities through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter). Dr. Katie Sauser, has offered a variety of courses, most recently one in Toxicology and is the department’s safety officer. Dr. James Moore is the newest member of the department and he is anxious to get students involved in his research projects on the Mississippi river. Ms Lynda Miller is an integral part of the department, serving to co-ordinate the laboratory preparation and overseeing the work-study students. She has also served as a mentor for some on campus projects and the Natural Science Thesis class.

The image above shows the BIOL 217L Human Anatomy & Physiology I lab in action.

Another major strength of the department is its commitment to making the science real to its students. Science, and biology in particular, is image oriented. To make the subject real and visual, the department has developed labs to accompany most of its courses, and it has developed web resources that are image intensive. There are 30 biology lecture classes and 21 of them have labs attached! In addition to the regular courses taught in biology, adjunct professors frequently teach special topics classes. In the spring of 2012, Dr. Joy Layton taught a course entitled an Introduction to Medical/Forensic Entomology.Bro. Tom Sullivan is teaching part time in the biology department while also being the Director of Campus Ministry. This semester he is teaching BIOL303 Algae, Fungi and Lichens.

The image above shows a student laying down on the job for science in the BIOL 312 Human Physiology Lab.

An important component of any science education is research. Research gives motivation and context to the work done in lecture and lab. In the CBU Biology Department, research is interwoven into the curriculum. It starts with a discussion section in the freshmen Principles courses (BIOL 111 & 112). Several courses have small research components in them or research papers to prepare students for writing up their original research. Biology Seminar in the junior year is where students see presentations made by area researchers and which helps them in choosing a senior internship project. The culmination is the capstone three semester series of Senior Research. Students conduct research with either local researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the Memphis Zoo, through the MHIRT program (featured earlier in this newsletter), clinical facilities or with CBU faculty. Students present their research at local, regional or national scientific meetings. Many of our students have won awards for their research, and 28 have had their research published in peer-reviewed articles over the last ten years.

The results of a CBU biology degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, are quite impressive. The statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical and other health professional schools remain well above national averages.