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April 2013 - A Newsletter for Alumni and Friends of COSAM

Welcome to the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) electronic newsletter, e-Journey.
COSAM has lots of news to share with you. Enjoy!

Featured News:

The Donald E. Davis Arboretum will accept submissions for the 2013 photo contest from April 8 to 12 - Click HERE for more
COSAM will host the inaugural Duncan Lecture, “In Search of our Universe’s Missing Mass and Energy,” presented by Dan Hooper on Friday, April 19, at 3 p.m. in 151 Chemistry Building - Click HERE for more
Department of Geology and Geography to host Switch Energy Awareness and Efficiency Program - Click HERE for more
Nemo's nightlife: Clownfish relationship with anemone deeper than first thought - Click HERE for more
Leadership Council member spotlight: Roger Cox '70 - Click HERE for more
Patrick Donnan, a junior pursuing a double degree in physics and music with a minor in mathematics, was named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar. - Click HERE for more
Other News:


Register for the Marie Wooten 5K
wooten 5kThe 3rd Annual Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K run and one-mile walk will take place tomorrow, April 6. Join the fun and support COSAM scholarships. For more information, click here.

Dean Search Update
Dean SearchThree finalists have been selected for the position of dean of COSAM, and each candidate will visit campus in April. The candidates are: James Garey, professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology at the University of South Florida; Brian Kay, professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Nick Giordano, professor and head of the Department of Physics at Purdue University. Complete schedules and information on the three COSAM dean candidate finalists can be found here.

COSAM to host the inaugural Duncan Lecture
Duncan LectureCOSAM will host the inaugural Duncan Lecture, “In Search of our Universe’s Missing Mass and Energy,” presented by Dan Hooper on Friday, April 19, at 3 p.m. in 151 Chemistry Building. Hooper is an associate scientist in the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He will discuss ways in which the 20th century shook the foundations of human life and thought as it relates to physics, beginning with the publication of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The lecture will elaborate on the fact that physicists now believe 95 percent of our universe is unseen; that we live in a dark cosmos made up primarily of dark matter and dark energy. The lecture is open to the public and there is no cost to attend.

COSAM represented in new publication about Charles Darwin
DarwinSeveral members of the COSAM faculty and staff were published in a new book titled, “Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy,” a publication that deals with society's continuing struggle with biological evolution. The book, edited by Jim Bradley and Jay Lamar, commemorates the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his famous book, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” COSAM contributors include:  “Darwin as a Geologist” by geology professor David King; “Darwin and Collections” by biological sciences professor Jonathan Armbruster; “Sexual Selection” by biological sciences assistant professor Debbie Folkerts; “Human Evolution” by biological sciences lab coordinator Shawn Jacobsen; “Evolution and Embryology” by biological sciences professor Ken Halanych; and “Darwin and the Origin of Life” by biological sciences associate professor Anthony Moss. The book was published by New South Books. For more information, click here.

Biological Sciences News:

Society for Conservation Biology takes annual eastern indigo snake field trip
SCB TripThe Society for Conservation Biology, a student organization in the Department of Biological Sciences, hosted a field trip to Conecuh National Forest where participants worked to repair damage at an indigo snake research site dedicated to reintroducing the snakes to the wild. For more information on the indigo snake reintroduction project, click here.
Participants also visited a pitcher plant bog and learned about the plant species that thrive there. For more information on the Society for Conservation Biology, visit the website.

Nemo's nightlife: Clownfish relationship with anemone deeper than first thought
Nanette ChadwickThe partnership between the clownfish and sea anemone is the most-often-used illustration of a symbiotic relationship. Science has long shown us how the two count on each other for survival: the anemone's stinging tentacles protect the fish from would-be predators, while the clownfish chases away butterfly fish and even sea turtles that would like to eat the anemone.
For more than 20 years Auburn University marine biologist Nanette Chadwick has studied the relationship between these sea creatures, spending countless hours in the waters of the Red Sea, Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. In the February 2013 Journal of Experimental Biology, her team published its latest findings on how the clownfish's nocturnal movement increases the anemone's oxygen supply.
For more on this story, including photos and a video, click here.

Chemistry News:

Merner to join faculty
Bradley MernerBradley Merner, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montreal, will join the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as an assistant professor in fall 2013. Merner, who received his doctorate from Memorial University in Saint John's, Newfoundland, specializes in synthetic organic chemistry, compounds of medicinal importance, and carbon nanostructures.

Mansoorabadi published in Nature
MansoorabadiAssistant professor Steven Mansoorabadi is a co-author of an article titled, "Mechanistic studies of an unprecedented enzyme-catalysed 1,2 phosphono-migration reaction," which was published in the April 4 issue of the journal Nature. Mansoorabadi joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in August 2012. To read the article, click here.

Geology and Geography News:

Saunders receives NSF grant
James SaundersJames Saunders, geology '75, professor in the Department of Geology and Geography, received a three-year National Science Foundation grant for his research project titled, "Transport and Deposition of Metallic Nanoparticles as a Hydrothermal Ore-forming Process." The grant is supported by the Petrology and Geochemistry program and will allow Saunders to expand his research in the realm of metallic nanoparticle transport, particularly those involved in the formation of shallow deposits of gold and silver, which were the type of precious-metal ores commonly mined in the western U.S. in the 1800s.
"These ores not only exhibit spectacular mineral textures formed as a result of aggregation of metallic nanoparticles, but preliminary isotopic (copper, lead and sulfur) investigations have suggested that the nanoparticles that formed the ore mineral textures appear to have come from much deeper down in the crust than the shallow setting where they were deposited," said Saunders.
Saunders will test the hypothesis that basaltic magmas, formed from partial melting in the underlying mantle, may release metals in a sulfur-rich, low density phase akin to a 'vapor,' which forms nanoparticles of metals, metalloids and sulfur upon some degree of cooling.

"The nanoparticles appear to lock in high temperature and primitive isotopic compositions, similar to the source magma chambers, and therefore must be transported upward a considerable distance to form the shallow ores," Saunders said. "If this can be substantiated by the planned new isotopic investigations of ores from Nevada and Idaho, this will be a new aspect of hydrothermal ore-forming processes that can guide how and where such valuable ores occur, both at a regional and district scale."
Saunders' research has implications for a better understanding of metal release and transport from magmas, and will perhaps shed light on the sources of magma composition that lead to formation of such ores.

Department to host Switch Energy Awareness and Efficiency Program
Switch EnergyThe Department of Geology and Geography will bring the Geological Society of America’s Switch Energy Awareness and Efficiency Program to Auburn. A screening of the movie “Switch” will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 22, in the Sciences Center Auditorium. Following the movie, energy expert and COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council member Herb Martin, geology ’79, who is the vice president of Devon Energy, will answer questions from the audience. For more information, contact Ashraf Uddin at 334.844.4885 or by email at uddinas@auburn.edu.

Mathematics News:

Mathematics graduate students win awards and fellowships

  • Doctoral candidate Feng Bao won the award for Best Student Paper at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Southeast Atlantic Section Annual Meeting held in March at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The paper is titled, "An accurate and stable numerical algorithm for nonlinear filtering problems," and is co-authored by Auburn mathematics professor Yanzhao Cao and associate professor Xiaoying Han.  
  • Graduate students Melody Denhere, Kristin Courtney, Liang Kong, Jebessa Mijena, Mary Clair Thompson and Thomas Whitt were awarded $500 - $750 each from the American Mathematical Society to attend and present at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, the largest mathematics meeting in the world. For more information on the annual meeting, click here.   
  • Graduate student Mary Clair Thompson was selected to give a poster presentation at the Association for Women in Mathematics Research Symposium 2013 at Santa Clara University. The symposium took place on March 16 and 17, and only approximately 20 female mathematicians or doctoral students who have made substantial progress on their dissertation were selected to give a poster presentation. The association provided $600 to Thompson for partial travel support. For more information on the Association for Women in Mathematics, click here.
  • Graduate students John Asplund, James Hammer and Joe Chaffee were awarded $550 each by the Graduate Student Combinatorics Conference organizer to attend and give a presentation. The conference will take place at the University of Minnesota from April 19 to 21. For more information, click here.
  • Topology graduate students Steve Clontz and Frank Sturm are recipients of the 2013 Fitzpatrick Fellowship. Clontz is Professor Gary Gruenhage's doctoral student and Frank Sturm is a doctoral student who is jointly advised by professors Michel Smith and Piotr Minc. Recipients were selected by the Graduate Studies Committee and topology faculty members. The award endowment was created through a variety of gifts made in memory of Professor Ben Fitzpatrick Jr. Recipients of the fellowship must be graduate students with an interest in topology and have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Doctoral student Guy-vanie Miakonkana accepted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota. In addition to researchers at IMA, Miakonkana will collaborate with the Modeling and Simulation group at Corning Inc. in New York. Prior to joining IMA in fall 2013, Miakonkana will spend the summer as an intern at Traveler's Insurance with the Personal Insurance Research and Development program in Hartford, Conn. Professor Ash Abebe is Miakonkana's advisor.

Math Club hosts guest lecture
math clubOn March 7, the Auburn University Math Club hosted a lecture featuring Krishnaswami Alladi, a mathematics professor at the University of Florida. The title of his lecture was, "The Legendary Mathematician Paul Erdos at 100," and it detailed some of Erdos' most fundamental contributions and ideas, including prime number theory, probabilistic number theory and combinatorics. Alladi, who once collaborated with Erdos, also described his experience working with one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. For more information on the Auburn University Math Club, contact Professor Narendra Govil at govilnk@auburn.edu.

Physics News:

Auburn physicists represented throughout the Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 2012 Highlights
Physics HighlightsTwo independent works from Auburn physicists were featured in the Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 2012 Highlights: a paper authored by physics professor Francis Robicheaux, "Calculated and measured angular correlation between photoelectrons and Auger electrons from K-shell ionization"; and an article by Josh Williams who completed his doctorate at Auburn, "Probing the dynamics of dissociation of methane following core ionization using three-dimensional molecular-frame photoelectron angular distributions." Additionally, the cover art of the journal was taken from research conducted at Auburn as part of an international collaboration at the Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. To read the journal, click here.

Development News:

COSAM postpones Celebrating Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson
E.O. WilsonDue to an unforeseen emergency, it is with deepest regrets that COSAM must postpone the Celebrating Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson event that was scheduled for the evening of April 10th at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The event was to commemorate the opening of the new Biodiversity Learning Center. The college hopes to reschedule the dinner at a later date. For questions or concerns, please contact Kim McCurdy at (334) 844-7780 or by email at kcm0021@auburn.edu.

Alumni Highlights:

Ashford to share birding knowledge at wildlife refuge and late-summer festival
AshfordDick Ashford, mathematics '66, will co-lead a trip to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from May 30 to June 2 for the Klamath Bird Observatory. Malheur NWR is a world-renowned birding destination where participants will see bobolinks, sage sparrows and eastern kingbirds, and the area provides a breeding ground for the sandhill crane, Swainson's and Ferruginous Hawk and the prairie falcon, among others.
Ashford is the board president for the Klamath Bird Observatory, and he describes himself as a continuing student of birds and birding. A raptor enthusiast, he teaches a "Hawks" class at a local university and gives raptor presentations to community groups in both Oregon and California. Ashford is also the originator of the popular "Hawk Heaven" outings at the San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival. For more information on the trip to Malheur NWR, click here
Ashford was also invited to be the kick-off speaker at the 27th Annual Oregon Shorebird Festival taking place Aug. 23 to 25. The festival is headquartered at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, Ore. For more information, click here.

Leadership Council member spotlight: Roger Cox ’70
Roger CoxRoger Cox, mathematics ’70, has been a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council for more than 10 years. A co-founder of Cinco Networks, Inc., with his partners he built the company from the ground up to develop and market network management software. Cox served as the senior vice president of worldwide sales and set up distribution in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia. In 1997, he and his partners sold Cinco Networks to Network General Corp., a Nasdaq company, and it was one of the largest software acquisitions of the year. After the acquisition, Cox served as vice president at Network General until he left the company in 1998.
Cox, who spent most of his life in Atlanta, is now retired and living in Destin, Fla., with his wife, Sherry. He enjoys tennis, saltwater fishing, bridge, spectator sports and college football. He also tutors high school students in algebra, geometry, pre-calculus and calculus.
He and his wife have two children, a son, Darryl Cox, international business ’98, who works in the technology industry in the Atlanta area, and a daughter, Maureen Cox-Myers, who is the sole proprietor of a horse farm in the Atlanta area. They also have four grandchildren.
A lifetime member of the Auburn Alumni Association, Cox is active in the Emerald Coast Auburn Club, which serves the Ft. Walton and Destin areas in Florida. He is currently in his second year as the club’s secretary, and he was chair of the Nominating Committee for the past two years. He also served for three years on the club’s Board of Directors. When he lived in Atlanta, he was a member of the Atlanta Auburn Club for approximately 20 years.
In addition to participating in his local Auburn Club, Cox and his wife support COSAM. They established the Roger and Sherry Cox Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to mathematics or applied mathematics students. They have also given generously to other areas in COSAM, such as the math building project.
To read the full story, click here.

Student Highlights:

Donnan named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar
Patrick DonnanPatrick Donnan, an Auburn University Honors College student double-majoring in physics and music, has been chosen as a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, an honor bestowed only to approximately 300 students nationwide each year. The scholarship is widely considered the most prestigious award in the United States for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
Auburn Honors College student Tyler Sutherland received honorable mention during the 2013 Goldwater Scholarship selection process, one of only 50 students nationwide to enjoy this distinction. He is majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics and works under the guidance of Stuart Loch, associate professor of physics. Sutherland is also a tutor in the Loachapoka Afterschool Program, a member of the Undergraduate Research Board and a teaching assistant in the Department of Physics. To read the full story, click here.

Arboretum News:

Azalea Society of America to host Garden Society Picnic at the arboretum
Azalea SocietyThe Azalea Society of America will host the Garden Society Picnic at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Sunday, April 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. The event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend. Experts from groups such as the Opelika Auburn Camellia Society, the Alabama Wildflower Society, the East Alabama Orchid Society, the Atlanta Cactus and Succulent Society, The Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance, Lee County Master Gardeners and the Alabamense Chapter of the Azalea Society of America will be present. Participants are encouraged to bring items for a picnic and take a tour of the azalea and wildflower collections. Tours are at 2 and 4 p.m. For more information, contact the arboretum at 334.844. 5770, or send an email to Patrick Thompson at thomppg@auburn.edu.

Arboretum hosted Rainwater Harvesting Workshop
rainwater harvesting workshopThe Donald E. Davis Arboretum hosted a workshop on harvesting rainwater on April 4. The event instructed participants on the benefits of harvesting rainwater and various methods for capturing and storing rainwater. The workshop was taught by experts including Dee Smith, curator of the arboretum, Eve Brantley, state water quality specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Kyung Yoo, biosystems engineering professor and water engineer at Auburn University, Eric Reutebuch, project coordinator for the Saugahatchee Watershed Management Plan, and Patrick Thompson, landscape specialist at the arboretum. Participants also toured installed rainwater collection systems in the arboretum. For more information on harvesting rainwater, click here

Arboretum to accept submissions for the 2013 Photo Contest
photo contestThe Donald E. Davis Arboretum will accept submissions for the 2013 photo contest from April 8 to 12. All entries must be submitted by April 12 at 5 p.m., and judging for the contest will take place during the week of April 15. All contestants must be amateur photographers and submissions are accepted in five categories: Davis Arboretum, Birds and Mammals, Other Wildlife, Flora and Landscape. The photos will be on display in Biggin Hall and the Student Center, and winners will receive prizes. A cash award will be given to the winner of the Arboretum category. For submission guidelines and further details, click here

Outreach News:

Registration for Spring Youth Experiences in Science (Y.E.S.) is now open
YESRegistration for the Spring Youth Experiences in Science (Y.E.S.) is now open. Spring Y.E.S. is a half-day, Saturday science program offered free to students in third through fifth grade. Kids will have the opportunity to enjoy two hands-on science courses and engage in several make-n-take activities. Spring Y.E.S. will take place on Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to noon on the Auburn University main campus. For more information about Spring Y.E.S. or to register, click here or contact TJ Nguyen at 334.844.5769 or by email at tcn0002@auburn.edu.

Spaces filling quickly for the Science Matters Summer Enrichment Academy
Science MattersCOSAM is accepting registration for Science Matters, a summer enrichment academy for elementary students in rising first through sixth grades, offering youngsters a cross-curricular, age-appropriate science experience. The program allows participants to explore the world of science through real experiments, technology and art projects, electronic journaling, and hands-on, make-n-take activities. During this action-packed program, children can participate in courses such as "DNA Detectives," "Kitchen Chemistry," "LEGO Mania," and many more. The program begins the week of June 3, and parents can choose between the Regular Day option from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, or the Extended Day option from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Prices range from $170 to $235 per week, per child. Multiple-week discounts are available. Information and registration forms can be found on the Science Matters Website. Seating is limited and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration deadline is May 10. For more information contact Kristen Bond at 334.844.5769 or kdb0022@auburn.edu.

COSAM Outreach hosts high school math competition
AMP'dCOSAM Outreach hosted the first high school AMP'd, Auburn Mathematical Puzzle Challenge, on March 2. Sponsored by Army ROTC and COSAM Outreach, the team-based event challenged ninth through 12th grade students to compete against one another to solve complex problems requiring teamwork and critical thinking skills. Eric Harshbarger, who received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Auburn, assisted in the competition by creating nine challenges. The winning team from Saint James School in Montgomery received a $500 award. AMP'd is the only program of its kind in the country for a K-12 audience. COSAM Outreach will host a middle school AMP'd and a high school AMP'd program each year.

Students from southeast Alabama participate in science fair
gearsefCOSAM Outreach, in partnership with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, hosted the Greater East Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Auburn Student Center on March 5. GEARSEF is an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair affiliated regional fair for students residing in 19 counties in southeast Alabama. Over 100 students in sixth through 12th grades from 17 schools participated in the fair. A panel of 33 judges from COSAM, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Education and the Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics determined winners in each of the nine categories. The Best of Fair awards went to Megan Lange, a ninth-grader from Auburn Junior High School, for her project, "Testing Disinfectants for Killing Bacteria on Computer Keyboards," and Mason Corbett, a 10th grader from Lakeview Christian School, for his project, "Anti-Bacterial Lemonade." Lange and Corbett won an all-expense paid trip to the Intel International Fair in Phoenix, Ariz., in May.

COSAM Outreach provides an early start on science
kid sized scienceCOSAM Outreach is piloting a new pre-school science program this semester called "Kidz-sized SCIENCE," a monthly enrichment program designed specifically for 4-to-6-year-old children from the Auburn and Opelika communities. The goal of Kidz-sized SCIENCE is to provide a stimulating environment for guiding children in the development of science, math and literacy skills by providing discovery-based science labs, activities and materials appropriate for young children. The 90-minute, theme-based sessions take place at the Community Room in the Village Mall in Auburn. For more information, visit the COSAM Outreach website.

Upcoming Events:


wooten 5k

April 6, 2013

Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K


April 6, 2013

E.A.O. Earthfest

Azalea Society

April 7, 2013

Azalea Society of America
Garden Society Picnic

photo contest

April 8, 2013

Arboretum Photo Contest


kid sized science

April 12, 2013

Kid Sized Science


April 13, 2013

Spring Y.E.S.

Duncan Lecture

April 19, 2013

"In Search of our Universe's Missing Mass and Energy," presented by Dan Hooper

Switch Energy

April 22, 2013

Switch Energy Awareness and Efficiency Program



au explore

April 26, 2013

AU Explore


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