News of the Moment 3/14

Dr. Raena King, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, had a paper accepted for publication:  Projections on Some Vector Valued Function Spaces with Nadia Gal (University of Miami).  Accepted in Acta Scientiarum Mathematicarum.

The MHIRT class of 2014.

The MHIRT class of 2014.

The Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program with Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology, as the principle investigator,  Dr. Julia Hanebrink as the Program Coordinator, and Jayannie Webster as the Assistant, is continuing this summer.  Elton Banks , Biomedical Science 2014, is a staff member and Daryl Stevens, a CBU psychology major, is a participant. Both students are officers in the CBU Chapter of Alpha Chi, the national interdisciplinary honor society.

Students presented research at U of M.

Shesha Shah, Christine Nguyen, and Yusef Akbik are shown in front of the University of Memphis Tiger statue after their presentations.

On February 22Yusef Akbik, Biochemistry 2014, Christine Nguyen, Biochemistry 2014, and Shesha (Sheshaben) Shah, Chemistry 2014, presented the results of their undergraduate research at the 34th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference hosted by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis.  The title of Yusef Akbik’s talk was “An Examination of the Factors that Influence Iron Oxide-Gold Core-Shell Particle Growth”.  The title of Christine Nguyen’s talk was “Synthesis of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles of Various Shapes and Sizes”.  The title of Shesha Shah’s talk was “Computational Investigation of M-Ga-F Triatomics with Row 3 Metals (M=Sc…Zn)”.  Yusef Akbik and Christine Nguyen both performed their research in the laboratory of Dr. Xiaohua Huang; and Shesha Shah performed her research in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Webster in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis.

Poster Session

Rebecca Johnston, Heather Huff, and Charlene Patino with their poster at the BIOL 362 Poster Session

On February 25, BIOL 362 Junior Seminar had its poster session where students displayed their posters based on research articles they analyzed.

On February 27, the Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America celebrated Pi Day.  Since the value of pi is approximately 3.14…, this celebration usually takes place on 3/14, but that date fell during spring break this year. So the celebration was moved to 2/27, since 22/7 is a close approximation to the value of pi.

Contestants at the Science Olympiad.

Contestants at the Science Olympiad.

On Saturday, March 1, CBU hosted the regional Science Olympiad for the western part of the state of Tennessee.  We had a very successful day.  Approximately one hundred students participated in the events of that day.  We had five high schools participating and three middle schools.  White Station High school brought two teams so we had 6 teams participating in the high school events.  We were able to judge 21 events for the high school teams.   We had only three middle schools registered and one of those did not participate in most of the events so there was less competition at this level. Nevertheless, we were able to judge and rank the participants in 20 different event.   For each event that we judged, we  awarded first, second and third place individual medals to the contestants.  In addition, we awarded trophies for first and second place schools with the best overall scores.  The events vary greatly, some events are essentially pen and paper exams which test for theoretical knowledge, others require the contestants to bring in previously constructed devices that are tested either to destruction or for speed/precision, while yet other events require the contestants to construct and test devices in a certain limited period of time on  the day of the event.  All in all, it was a very fun, exciting and I hope educational day for the contestants, their coaches and parents.  We will be sending two high school teams on to the state tournament as well as two middle school teams.  This year White Station High School and Collierville High School took first and second place overall, respectively, and thus are invited to participate at the State Tournament in April.   At the middle school level the first and second place teams in the overall competition were White Station Middle School and the Memphis School of Excellence.  Congratulations go to those schools.  To all the rest of the competitors and to the many judges who gave their time and effort many thanks for making March 1 both fun and educational.

Upcoming Events 3/14

On March 18, Mackel Harris from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, will be at CBU speaking in AH 155. Please make plans to attend and spread word. CBU has had several students attend Life University.

Judging Middle School Projects at the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair.

Judging Middle School Projects at the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair.

On March 24 & 25  the Memphis Shelby County Science & Engineering Fair will be held at CBU.  Judging will be from noon until 2 PM on March 25. If you are interested in judging, please contact Dr. Dennis Merat at

On March 29 the Forty Fifth Annual Competitive Examination in High School Chemistry and the Twenty Ninth Annual Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad will be held at CBU.  For information, contact Dr. Merat at .

April:  CBU is planning several events to celebrate Math Awareness Month this April.  The national theme is Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery.  A signature event will be its first Mathematical Scavenger Hunt at the Memphis Zoo.  It is currently scheduled for the afternoon of April 1st.  Alumni are welcome to join in the fun.  We expect the weather to be warmer in April!  E-mail for information.

Students at the "Old Age & Deceit versus Youth and Vitality" Volleyball game last year.

Students at the “Old Age & Deceit versus Youth and Vitality” Volleyball game last year.

Upcoming events to look forward to are Tri Beta’s tours of St. Jude, UTHSC and the Church Health Center in March and April, as well as the annual Faculty/Student Volleyball game (Youth and Vitality vs. Old Age and Deceit). Last year Tri Beta raised ~$700  for the Church Health Center.  Due to superior skills, the young and vital students reigned victorious over the deceitful faculty who had won for three years in a row under questionable circumstances (or so say the students). This year on April 3rd there will be a re-match to see if the faculty will regain their title or if the students really have surpassed their mentors.

Saturday, April 5:  CBU will host the annual Western Collegiate Division of the Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting. The abstract submission deadline is Friday, March 21st.  If you have any questions concerning the meeting, contact Ms. Lynda Miller ( or Dr. James Moore (  This year we have yet another wonderful keynote speaker scheduled. Dr. Diana Outlaw (Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University) will be discussing her work on the evolution of malaria parasites. The title of Dr. Outlaw’s presentation will be “Evolution and Diversification in Malaria Parasites”. To see more of Dr. Outlaw’s work visit her website

May 1:  THE LAST LECTURE: Please join the Honors Program and the CBU community for the 7th Annual CBU “Last Lecture” on May 1 at 12:45 p.m. in Spain Auditorium, during which Dr. Holmes Peacher-Ryan, Associate Professor of Mathematics, will give his hypothetical “Last Lecture.” Last Lectures usually include the professor’s reflections on their academic career, advice for better living, and even a few laughs. Known for great stories and funny quotes, Dr. Peacher-Ryan will not disappoint. Light refreshments will be served at 12:30. RSVP by 8:00 p.m. the day before, but attend even if you didn’t RSVP (just be sure to sign in). This is open to the entire University and, based on past Last Lectures, this is a not-to-be-missed event!

Alumni News 3/14

Jenny Bernard

Jenny Bernard

Congratulations to Jenny Bernard, Biology 2006 – see the image!

Elizabeth Beebe Longo, Biology 2011, has been accepted to the Lowenberg School of Nursing accelerated program for Fall of 2014.   She and Daniel Longo have been married since Dec 2012.

Elizabeth’s brother, Dr. Michael Beebe, Chemistry 2005 & UTHSC 2010, is finishing an orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Utah and has accepted an orthopedic trauma fellowship in Tampa, Fl.

Cameron Kasmai, Biology 2010, is a first year medical student at Maharry in Nashville.

Dr. Minoli Perera,  Biology 1997, Pharm.D. 2001, Ph.D 2003, is now an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Department of Medicine.  See her info here.


Featured Person: Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor Emeritus

Instead of our usual featured alum, this month we feature our newest professor emeritus, Dr. Leigh Becker.

Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Dr. Leigh Becker, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Dr. Leigh Becker obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Southern Illinois University and came to CBU in 1979 as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics.  He rose through the academic ranks becoming a Professor in 1992.  He retired from CBU last year (2013), and was awarded the rank of Professor of Emeritus this spring.

Dr. Becker was a dedicated teacher, demanding and yet caring.  He spent a lot of time and effort in preparing his classes.  He wrote a book on Differential Equations that the Math Department at CBU still uses.  He learned to use the web for his courses and posted not only his syllabus on the web but used the web to post solutions to his homework.  He was always willing to help students individually in his office.  Several of his students have gone on to graduate school, and those students comment on how well prepared they were for graduate work based on the courses they took from Dr. Becker.

Dr. Becker was a very important and contributing member of the Mathematics
Department here at CBU.  He was involved in the development of courses and the overall mathematics curriculum.  He was a well liked and respected member of the department.  He also served on several faculty committees including the Policy Committee and the Rank & Tenure Committee.

Even with the high teaching loads and service demands, Dr. Becker found time to do mathematical research, and he regularly published articles on Integral Differential Equations.  He has been invited to give talks in this field at international conferences.  He is still publishing in the field today.

Above all, though, Dr. Leigh Becker is a wonderful human being.  He is a dedicated father and husband, and just a wonderful person to associate with.  I am honored to have known and worked with Leigh for well over 30 years!

Student Groups 3/14

We have four student groups in the School of Sciences:
Beta Beta Beta (Tri Beta) for Biology,
Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) for Chemistry,
Student section of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA) for Math, and
Society of Physics Students (SPS) for Physics.

Here is a list of what each group did in 2013:

Beta Beta Beta Induction last year (2013).

Beta Beta Beta Induction last year (2013).

Beta Beta Beta, the biology honor society, is a very active student group.
February:  Induction of 31 associate and 11 full members.  Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology, was the invited speaker and talked about the ecology of the Mississippi River.
March:  The Volunteer Director from the Church Health Center (CHC) spoke to the group about CHC services and encouraged students to apply for internships.
April:  Beta Beta Beta joined SMACS in hosting the “Youth and Vitality vs. Old Age and Deceit” Volleyball game.
October:  Mock Interviews for students with professionals in the health care sector including alums.
November:  Bowling for Uganda event to raise money for Hope North.
December:  Beta Beta Beta joined SMACS in holding their Holiday party.

Foaming Pumpkins

Foaming pumpkins presented by the CBU SMACS club during the 2013 National Chemistry Week Celebration.

The CBU Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) has been very active during the past year.  The club received notification during fall 2013 that it will receive an Honorable Mention Award from the national office of the American Chemical Society for its 2012-2013 chapter activities.  Formal presentation of the award comes at the March 2014 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.  Anyone with an interest in chemistry or biochemistry is encouraged to join the club; membership includes students from the School of Engineering and most majors in the School of Science.
February:  Members of SMACS assisted in the Science Olympiad competition.
March:  Members of SMACS assisted with the  Competitive Examination in Chemistry and the Local Examination for the Chemistry Olympiad sponsored by the Memphis Section of the American Chemical Society.  These examinations are taken by high students from across Shelby County and are offered without fees to either the students or their schools.  The high scoring students win cash prizes provided by the Memphis
Section of the American Chemical Society.
October:  SMACS celebrated National Chemistry Week with a demonstration every day, and Mole Day Dinner on 10/23.
December:  SMACS and BBB co-hosted their annual Holiday Party.

The MAA students begin a tour at Oak Ridge last March (2013)

The MAA students begin a tour at Oak Ridge last March (2013)

The Student Section of the Mathematical Association of America was also active:
March:  MAA held its annual Pi Day celebration on March 14.  It also went on a tour of Oak Ridge.
April:  MAA assisted in helping CBU host a section of the Tennessee High School Competition.
October:  MAA held its annual Dress Like a Mathematician and Pumpking Carving Contest.
November:  MAA held is annual Chess Tournament.

The CBU chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS):
February:  Helped with the Science Olympiad
October:  Held is annual Science Jeapardy Contest.

Math Center Tutors 3/14

We continue our practice of showcasing our Math Center Tutors in this issue.

Daniel Davis, Math Center Tutor

Daniel Davis, Math Center Tutor

Daniel Davis is a freshman Electrical Engineering major.  A graduate of Arlington High School and a native of Bartlett, TN, Daniel brings an energetic, helpful presence to the math tutoring program in the Math Center.  He tutors all math subjects up to and including Calculus II.  He says that he enjoys tutoring because “to me the best way to learn is to teach.”  (His mother is a professor in the Math Department!)  He also says that: “When not tutoring or studying I spend my hours reading or trying to hunt down a partner to play chess with.”

Wenting Zhu, Math Center Tutor

Wenting Zhu, Math Center Tutor

Sophomore  Wenting Zhu comes from Wuzi FuRen High School in China and entered CBU in 2013.  She is a double major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and has been tutoring everything from basic Algebra to Calculus II along with basic Physics since her sophomore year.  She says that she has a passion for tutoring, and when she has time, she enjoys music and anime.

Thank You Note to Dr. Mary Ogilvie

This month we have a thank you note to Dr. Mary Ogilvie, Professor of Biology, from Kelly Jeu, Biomedical Science 2013, who is now in medical school.

Hi Dr. O,

I hope you had a good Christmas. We just started back this week. We’re learning immunology, and let me tell you, I am so glad I took that class with you at CBU. We’ve been hitting this stuff hard this week (it’s even more fast-paced than first semester if you can believe it). Only 27% of our class reported taking immuno before so I feel sorry for those who are seeing this for the first time. We’ve managed to cover topics in the first 4 days that we didn’t cover until mid-semester with you. It’s all been coming back to me really easily. Although we did talk about complement today in way more detail than you required b/c apparently it’s overrepresented on the Step 1 exam.

So just wanted to say hi and thanks for being an awesome instructor.

I hope your spring semester goes well.

Kelly Jeu

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.

Note from the Dean 2/14

BIOL 321 L lab

Dr. Thompson-Jaeger’s BIOL 321L Microbiology lab

Information is everywhere and available almost instantaneously.  So what is the point of a formal education?  I suggest that the point of true education is to get students to ask good questions.  Last fall I gave a presentation to an AP Physics class at a local high school, and last month one of the students came to an Admissions event at CBU and said he recognized me – as the person who made the class feel dumb!  How could anyone make a very bright high school teenager “feel dumb”?  I suspect it was because in my presentation I did not present a lot of information (so the students could go blah, blah, blah, so what).  Instead I asked a lot of questions.  Basic questions, such as, what is time, what is distance?  The questions were so basic, that they were hard, if not impossible, to answer simply because they were so elementary.  But to ask good questions, we must know something – really know it and not just have things memorized. Labs help students get their hands on the subject (see the image above) so that they can  know the subject better. That cyclic process of knowing and asking takes work, guidance, and encouragement.

In the School of Sciences, we want our students to know how something works but also why that something works.  With an understanding of why, we can hopefully keep asking the good questions that keep our society and us as individuals moving forward.  I hope you enjoy this newsletter where we showcase our students moving forward.

News of the Moment 2/14

Juste Augustinaite, Natural Science 2014, has been accepted into the Accelerated BSN program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) for this fall.

Shesha (Sheshaben) Shah, Chemistry 2014, has been accepted into the fall 2014 class of the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis.

J.D. Wolfe, Biochemistry 2015, had a paper accepted for publication:  Moore, J.E., J.D. Wolfe, and S.B. Franklin. Growth responses of different aged individuals of Xanthium strumarium L. in flooded conditions. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. (Forthcoming).  This work was part of an on-going effort to understand plant community dynamics on Mississippi River islands. J.D. performed this work as an independent project in the summer of 2012. J.D. designed the experiment and collected data. He was also involved in co-author review of the manuscript.  Dr. James Moore, Assistant Professor of Biology, was also one of the authors.

BBB's Bowling for Uganda

BBB’s Bowling for Uganda

On Friday, November 15th, CBU’s biology honors society, Tri Beta, hosted their annual Bowling for Uganda event at Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes. Twenty-four teams came out to support two worthy charities in Uganda: Hope North and Ishaka Health Plan. The night was full of fun, friends, and raising money for a great cause — teams included alumni, faculty, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Xi Delta, Kappa Sigma, Zeta Tau Alpha, SGA, ACS, School of Business, School of Arts, two Honors Program teams, and Tri Beta. Between bowling, door prizes, and bake sales, Tri Beta raised $1,460 for Uganda.  Trophies were awarded to:

 Top Female: Melody Caldwell (Avg. 172)

 Top Male: Thomas Summers (Avg. 191.5)

 3rd Place Team: School of Arts (Avg. 115)  Team Members: Brendan Prawdzik, Reid Prawdzik, Amy Sattler, Tracie Burke, and Maureen O’Brien

 2nd Place Team: Tri Beta Team 2 (Avg. 134.2)  Team Members: Vu Cao, Stephen Russell, Sonny Nguyen, Bao Duong, and Kelly Giang

 1st Place Team: Bowl Movements (Avg. 135.9)  Team Members: Taylor Tartera, Indiana Soliman, David Vaughn, Melody Caldwell, Velita Thorton, and Ebony Talbert

MAA Chess Tournament

Two of the chess games during the MAA Chess Tournament in November.

On Friday, November 15th, the Student section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) held its annual Chess Tournament.  Graham Lemly won the tournament.  Josh Swillum placed second.

Before Christmas,  members of MAA decked the halls of the Cooper-Wilson Center for Life Sciences and sang traditional Calculus Carols at its Christmas party.

Tri Beta hosted their annual Tri Beta/ ACS Holiday Party in December. There was lots of food, drink of the nonalcoholic sort and carols thanks to Dr. Ogilvie and her incredible guitar playing (she asked me to say that).  Students from across the campus came to celebrate the coming of Christmas, Hanuka or winter break.

January 13-18 two members of MAA, Rebekah Herrman and Eddie Gallarno, and advisor Cathy Grilli attended the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, Maryland.  This conference is billed as the largest mathematics meeting in the world with about 6500 mathematicians registering. The CBU delegation presented 2 papers and a poster:  “Lions, Tigers, and Mathematicians”, “Walk the Line”, and “Continuous Time Quantum Walks.”

On February 11, Dr. Mark Scott, Director of CBU’s Physician Assistant Studies Program, talked to students about the Physician Assistant profession and about CBU’s program.

On February 12, Dr. Raena King, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, presented a talk about the game, SET.

Beta Beta Beta Induction members

Beta Beta Beta Induction members

On February 13, Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) held its Induction Ceremonies.  The chapter inducted 41 associate members and 27 full members. Induction began with guest speaker JD Wolfe, Biochem 2015, who talked about his Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) experiences in Brazil. The induction ceremony followed and the evening ended with a reception. We are happy to report that Spain auditorium was packed to the gills with inductees, proud relative and friends.