Featured Story: Faculty Development

Faculty development in the School of Sciences at CBU happens in many different ways. All faculty work on their courses, both keeping up with constantly expanding content and improving the course materials and delivery. Work on developing course web pages and web resources keeps many of our faculty active throughout the year. Work on new and improved laboratory experiments also keeps many of us busy and involved in the lab. Work on using the power of the computer to aid instruction also is a source of continued faculty effort. While many of our students do their senior research with researchers at local research institutions, some of the Sciences’ faculty are able to work with students on their student research. In particular, Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Dr. Stan Eisen, and Dr. James Moore, have worked with students in biology, Ms. Lynda Miller has worked with natural science students, Dr. Dennis Merat has worked with chemistry students, Professor Cathy Grilli has worked with math students, and Dr. John Varriano has worked with physics and even some engineering students on their senior research projects. In Computer Science, Dr. Arthur Yanushka oversees the Computer Science internships.

Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, has worked to develop some web based resources for some of his physics courses, and was recently asked by the Educational Technology division of the Ministry of Education in Singapore to allow them to link to some of his on-line resources. Dr. Anna Ross, Professor of Biology, has also created impressive resources for the web and has received numerous requests for permission to use those resources. Br. Walter Schreiner, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has developed statistics manuals for the calculators we use and for SPSS that are regularly used by other schools. He has also developed several Maple worksheets including a new set for Calculus III.

Some of us are able to find the time to devote to the traditional form of faculty development: publishing our research. Listed below are some areas of active interest and some of the papers that were published by the Sciences faculty recently.

Dr. Leigh C. Becker, Professor of Mathematics, does research on Volterra integral equations.  Some of his recent results include theorems that allowed him to find closed-form solutions of integral equations that were previously unknown.  They are among some of the other results that appear in the following papers:
Resolvents for weakly singular kernels and fractional differential equations, Nonlinear Analysis: Theory, Methods & Applications,75, Issue 13 (Sept. 2012), pp. 4839-4861. 
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).  Resolvents and solutions of weakly singular linear Volterra integral equations, Nonlinear Analysis: Theory, Methods & Applications,74, Issue 5 (March 2011), pp. 1892-1912.  Seven of his papers are cited in a recently published book by T. A Burton entitled Liapunov Theory for Integral Equations with Singular Kernels and Fractional Differential Equations (amazon.com 2012). Dr. Becker also reviewed papers for two journals last year.

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, writes:  “As a faculty member in science, it is important to stay current in my area of expertise, as developments progress so quickly.  One of the ways I am able to do this is to apply for summer faculty development funds.  These funds allow faculty to attend meetings, conduct research or update our classes.  I have been fortunate enough to receive summer support, which I used to attend an international meeting as well as a workshop, and it supported time to re-vamp my courses.  This past summer, I attended the International Congress of Eye Research in Berlin, Germany.  This was a small meeting by comparison to other meetings I normally attend: ARVO and Neuroscience that have 15-20 thousand people in attendance, and  ICER that has 500 attendees.  I was able to present my data and attend other sessions that were outside my field.  In this manner, I learned a lot about areas of research in the visual system that I would not normally read about.  I also had the opportunity to observe Dr. Felix Vasquez-Chon, Biology 1998, who is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Utah.  He moderated a session at the meeting and it was wonderful to see him ‘grow up’ in the scientific community.  It was not all work, Felix and I rented bikes and rode around Berlin.  It was a wonderful city. ”

Dr. James Moore

Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology

Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology, had two papers published in 2012:  Water stress interacts with early arrival to influence inter and intra-specific priority competition: A test using a greenhouse study. Journal of Vegetation Science 23(4): 647-656;  and  Long-term population demography of Trillium recurvatum (Beck) on loess bluffs in western TN. AoB-Plants doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls015.

Dr. Anna Ross, Professor of Biology, attended the Annual Human Anatomy and Physiology Society http://www.hapsweb.org/ Conference in May 2012.  Annual HAPS meetings are attended by A&P professors from across North America and feature two days of update seminars followed by two days of hands-on workshops.  Dr. Ross reports, “Having students use clay to help learn human muscles is an idea I’ve had my eye on for several years… but the name brand versions of the skeleton model cost several hundred dollars each and sculpting muscles in clay seemed far too time consuming.  Then I attended a workshop at the May 2012 HAPS meeting and saw that a couple of A&P professors had developed a cheaper method… using the Tiny Tim model skeletons (about $20 each) and strings of clay (instead of having to sculpt more realistic looking muscles).  They even have a web site that shows  about 60 muscles constructed this way.  After trying it during the workshop I decided I could make this work for CBU’s A&P course.”  So, early last summer Dr. Ross purchased 14 of the skeletons (one per student), 4 clay extruders, and a few pounds of good quality plasticene clay.  She then modified the A&P Supplement and syllabus to include this hands-on lab activity in the Biol 217 lab course.  This fall, each A&P student constructed a few assigned muscles on a small model skeleton.  Then the students examined each other’s models and identified the names and actions of the muscles other students constructed.  Dr. Ross reports that students really enjoyed the hands-on lab activity and befitted from practice learning the names and actions of human muscles.  Here are some photos of the students in action http://facstaff.cbu.edu/aross/APIhome.htm#L8_9

new models in use

New models being used in Human Anatomy & Physiology

Dr. Johnny B. Holmes, Professor of Physics, and Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics, worked this year to update the physics computer assisted homework problem sets that they created. These 48 programs worked fine on the Windows XP and older windows operating systems, but the recent versions of Vista and Windows 7 required the use of a third-party DOSBOX routine. The updated programs now run directly on all of the windows operating systems.

Featured Story: Technology in Teaching

A screen from one of the computer homework programs developed at CBU on the theory of relativity.

A screen from one of the computer homework programs developed at CBU on the theory of relativity.

Many faculty members at CBU have made very good use of technology in the classroom and in their course support materials. PowerPoint provides a useful classroom tool. As with any tool, it has the potential to be abused, but it also has the power to be a way of providing clear and concise notes including images and graphs. Some of the professors post the PowerPoint presentations on their web sites as a way of providing good class notes that can be annotated by the students in lecture, freeing up time for the students to listen and participate in class. Another powerful tool is spreadsheets that can show numerical techniques and provide simulations. These also are sometimes posted on professors’ websites and can be used and experimented with by students. Some of our professors use Moodle as a tool to provide graded homework and class information.But computers provide more than just PowerPoint and spreadsheets. In the Physics Department here at CBU, Dr. Johnny Holmes, Professor of Physics, and Dr. John Varriano, Professor of Physics have created computer homework program sets that have been downloaded by hundreds of other educators around the world. This work began about 1980, so there are now plenty of CBU science and engineering graduates that are familiar with these. The programs have recently been updated so that they run on the newer windows operating systems. Based on student comments on course evaluations and student performance on tests, these program sets are a useful learning tool. Dr. Ted Clarke, Assistant Professor of Physics, is using Wiley Plus as a computer aid for his students.

Hands On learning at CBU labs

Along with all of the automation and computers, labs at CBU still have a hands-on component.

Biology is very image intensive, and our biology faculty have used the ability of the computer to store and retrieve images quickly. Particularly outstanding in this area is Dr. Anna Ross, Professor of Biology. She has shared with me many notes of thanks from around the world for her resources she makes available on the web. And the biology resources on our intranet are even more extensive! Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald is using clickers in her lecture classes to improve student engagement.

In chemistry, molecules exist in three dimensional space, so the computer is now an important tool to see these molecules in 3-D. Dr. William Busler, Professor Emeritus, wrote a program on the old Commodore computers to help students practice nomenclature, and that program has recently been updated to run on the newer windows operating systems. Many of our alums should remember that program! Dr. William Peer, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has many chemistry resources available on Moodle for his students including the above mentioned nomenclature program, PowerPoint slides, study guides and practice exams. He also uses the OWL computer system because of the instant feedback in doing homework problems and because of the good explanations when students do not get the right answer. Dr. Anthony Trimoli, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, uses the Sapling computer system along with clickers in his lecture classes. Dr. David Dawson, Associate Professor of Chemistry, uses software to display organic chemicals in his Organic Chemistry lectures.

In the lower level mathematics courses, the Math Department uses several different tools. In the ALGebra sequence, the department uses a computer program to supplement the lectures. This program gives students guided practice on the skills and concepts being taught. In the Finite Math course for Arts and Business majors, Dr. Bedrossian has developed computer tools for a hybrid course offered in the evening to Professional Studies students but it is also useful to day students as a great study guide. In the Precalculus course, the department is using an on-line system that not only gives guided help to the student but also decreases the cost of a printed textbook.

The Mathematics Department has utilized the Moodle Program since 2003 by setting up a series of tests in Pre-Calculus, Pre-Calculus/Calculus 1, Calculus 1 & 2, and Differential Equations courses to help students with their computational abilities in these areas.

In the upper level mathematics courses, the department uses the Maple programs to help visualize functions in several dimensions (parameters). Not only do the math faculty use this tool, they also create tools that they share with others in the world. For instance, Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor of Mathematics, has worked students to develop Maple worksheets and some of these have been published by Maplesoft at its Maple Application Center web site.

The use of computers in the lab is everywhere. They provide excellent tools in the gathering of data and in the analysis of that data. Almost every instrument now has a computer interface. We try, however, in the labs to really let the students see, touch, and understand what is really going on and not just learn to push buttons. And we do use technology in lab teaching, too. One advantage is allowing students to “replay” lab activities as they study the material outside of lab time. In biology, they have tutorials using digital images (of anatomical models, dissection specimens, and photomicrographs) and video that we can link through Moodle, course web pages and made available via a shared directory.

Here is a link to a video clip from a recent embryology lab. Ebony Talbert, Biology 2014, captured this video (as well as some still images) with her iPhone through the dissecting microscope objective. It shows a stained, living chicken embryo. You can clearly see the heart beating.

Featured Story: Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Grant

CBU prides itself on effective and enjoyable teaching. An integral part of such teaching is having the students perform research internships. In recognition of this, all science majors at CBU are required to do either a senior research project or an internship. There are different ways for students to perform their research: with a CBU professor, with a researcher at another local institution such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), or with a researcher participating in grant funded research anywhere in the U.S.

In addition to the above opportunities, CBU is pleased to provide an excellent opportunity to do this research via internships at sites in Brazil, Uganda, or Kenya with all expenses paid and a stipend through a Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a major collaborative project involving CBU, and other regional academic institutions that started in 2000. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, is the program director, Mrs. Julia Hanebrink, CBU Adjunct Lecturer of Behavioral Sciences, is the program coordinator aided by Mr. Dustin James as assistant coordinator. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis and LeMoyne Owen College. These faculty assist in the recruitment of students locally at their institutions. The summer research projects allow students to assist underserved individuals in Brazil, Uganda, and Kenya. Students and faculty travel to these countries to conduct research on health related projects that benefit the native populations. US students also work closely with faculty in foreign university sites. Approximately 15 students participate in this MHIRT program each year in the summer after having participated in preparation workshops the prior spring.

The most wonderful things happen as a result of these summer research experiences. Students go on to graduate programs in dentistry, medicine, public health, and biological sciences. Some dedicate their lives to helping others by setting up non-profit organizations, or working with the foreign sites. All continue to be globally involved. It is wonderful for our students to have this life altering experience. Deadline for applications this year is December 31, 2012. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.

Featured Story: The Math Center Tutors

Math Center in action.

The Math Center is a very popular place and continues to set new records for usage. It is a place for free one-on-one tutoring in math. It is also a place to do your math homework by yourself or in a study group with others in the center.

The Math Center tutors will help any CBU student with a math question or problem. They provide assistance in a warm and congenial atmosphere. They can get you through the toughest homework problem. They’re here to help you learn math.

Location: Cooper-Wilson 321
Phone: 901-321-3245.

Below are profiles of two of the tutors. Profiles of some of the other math tutors can be found in previous issues of this newsletter.

Takeva Hicks, Math Tutor

Sophomore Takeva Hicks is a graduate of Byhalia High School. She has been tutoring for a year in the CBU Math Center. Her expertise brings her tutoring capabilities up to and including Calculus II. Takeva is a member of ACS (American Chemical Society) and serves as a peer counselor for incoming freshmen. Takeva is majoring in Chemistry.



Trey McGinnis, Math Tutor

Freshman Trey McGinnis graduated from St. Benedict at Auburndale. Although he has just started tutoring in the CBU Math Center he has been tutoring with the Memphis Dyslexia Foundation since 2010. He tutors all math courses up to and including Calculus I. Trey is a member of the Honors Program and also of IEEE, an electrical engineering organization. Trey is a double major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.