COSAM in the Olympics
COSAM freshman and Auburn University swimmer Megan Fonteno, pre-pharmacy, is one of 24 athletes Auburn sent to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Fonteno was the lone female swimming representative for American Samoa. She swam the 100m freestyle, finishing sixth in her heat with a time of 57.45, a personal best for Fonteno. To learn more about Fonteno, see the story that ran in The Plainsman by clicking here. To listen to an interview with Fonteno that was conducted by ABC Radio Australia, click here.
COSAM graduate and track and field standout Josanne Lucas, ’07 biomedical sciences, was also scheduled to participate in the 2012 Olympics. Lucas qualified to race in the 100m hurdles for her home country, Trinidad and Tobago. Unfortunately, an injury prevented her from competing. While she was at Auburn, she was a six-time All-American and a member of Auburn's 2006 NCAA National Championship team, and in 2008, she competed in the Olympics in Beijing.
Dean’s Leadership Council member Art Merkle, pre-dentistry ’79, has a son, Drew Merkle, who contributed to the 2012 Olympics. Drew, a 2008 graduate of Auburn’s College of Architecture Design and Construction, works for Zaha Hadid Architects in London. The firm designed the London Aquatics Centre, an 8,000-seat venue that housed the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming competitions. The swim portion of the modern pentathlon competition will also be held in the Aquatics Center, which takes place on Saturday, Aug. 11.
For more information on the 24 athletes, four coaches and torchbearer Auburn sent to the 2012 Olympics, click here.
Ortiz and Roberts to receive NOBCChE President’s Award
Vincent Ortiz, Ruth W. Molette Professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Christopher Roberts, Uthlaut Professor of Chemical Engineering and dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will receive 2012 President’s Awards from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, or NOBCChE. Victor McCrary, President of NOBCChE, will present the awards to Ortiz and Roberts at the organization’s annual conference in Washington D.C. on Sept. 28. Ortiz and Roberts will be recognized for initiating and supporting the Technology Education Partnership between Auburn University and NOBCChE, and for providing increased opportunities and a more receptive environment for under-represented students to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Department names two new assistant professors
Steven Mansoorabadi will join the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as an assistant professor beginning this month. Mansoorabadi received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he worked with Professor George H. Reed at the Institute for Enzyme Research. He then moved to the University of Texas at Austin where he was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Hung-wen Liu in the Medicinal Chemistry Division of the College of Pharmacy. Mansoorabadi's current research interests lie at the interface of structural and functional genomics, cofactor and natural product biosynthesis, and mechanistic enzymology.
John Gorden will become the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s General Chemistry Coordinator with the title of assistant professor in the 2012-2013 academic year. Gorden served previously at Auburn as research assistant professor and instructor and lecturer, and has won several awards for teaching and advising. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Texas where he worked with Professor Alan Cowley on main-group organometallic compounds. He subsequently was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in the group of Professor Kenneth Raymond. Gorden’s interests include chemical education, inorganic chemistry and x-ray crystallography.
Biological Sciences News:
Recent graduate receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
COSAM congratulates Matthew Ramirez, a 2011 Biological Sciences and Honors College graduate who was awarded a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. Ramirez is the fourth student from the Department of Biological Sciences to win this prestigious award in 2012. The fellowship provides three years of support at $30,000 annually and an additional $10,500 cost of education allowance. The purpose of the fellowship program is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States.
While at Auburn, Ramirez worked under the direction of Assistant Professor Wendy Hood. He completed his honors thesis on the functional changes in the gastrointestinal tract of lactating Columbian ground squirrels.
Ramirez will pursue his graduate research in sea turtle biology at Oregon State University. For more information, see the story here.
Hill receives NSF grant
Professor Geoff Hill received an NSF grant in the amount of $85,020 for his research titled "EAGER: Identifying the beta-carotene ketolase as a key to understanding mate choice." This project marks Hill’s 10th NSF grant and proposes to uncover the genetic basis for redness in birds.
Bond receives NSF grant
Jason Bond, professor and director of the Biodiversity Learning Center, received an NSF grant in the amount of $40,849 titled "Developing a New U.S.-Spain Collaboration in Mygalomorph Spider Systematics and Conservation." The project will facilitate international collaborations between Auburn and the University of Barcelona on spider biology and conservation. For more information on Bond, click here.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill research update
Ken Halanych, alumni professor and coordinator of the Marine Biology Program, has completed a preliminary investigation on the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on small organisms living in the sediment and between sand grains. Testing five sites along the Alabama coast with researchers from Auburn's Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, the University of California, Davis Genome Center, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Texas at San Antonio, results indicate a potentially devastating effect on these microscopic communities. For more on this story, including video and information on other oil spill research being conducted by Ming-Kuo Lee, Robert B. Cook professor of geology, click here.
Geology and Geography News:
Department welcomes new faculty member
The Department of Geology and Geography is pleased to welcome Yingru Li, a new tenure-track assistant professor. She recently completed her Ph.D. in geography at the University of Utah while also teaching in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Li’s primary area of research expertise is in economic geography with an emphasis on economic development and regional inequalities in health care outcomes in China. Additionally, she has a strong research record in using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model retail marketing locations in the U.S. Her upcoming course offerings will appeal to a broad spectrum of university students and COSAM students in particular. In the upcoming year, she will lead students in courses such as Economic Geography, Quantitative Methods of Spatial Analysis, and, as a special topic, GIS Applications in Medical Geography.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill research update
Researchers in the Department of Geology and Geography, including Robert B. Cook Professor Ming-Kuo Lee, and graduate students Michael Natter and Jeff Keevan, have completed their investigation on the fate and transformation of oil found in Gulf salt marshes contaminated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The team found that lighter compounds of oil are quickly degraded by natural microbes, while the heavier fractions of oil still remain. Lee’s research, funded by the NSF RAPID Program, was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology, the top-ranked journal covering all aspects of environmental sciences. New research efforts, led by Lee and geology graduate student Kirsten Querra, are currently under way to model the oil intrusion dynamics and accompanying biogeochemical processes in coastal wetlands.
For more on this story, including video and information on other oil spill research being conducted by Biological Sciences Alumni Professor Ken Halanych, click here.
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Pauli receives Young Alumni Achievement Award
Emily Pauli, a 1996 graduate of COSAM, was recently named a recipient of one of the university’s 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Awards.
The award, sponsored by the Office of Alumni Affairs, was created in 2011 to recognize extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn family, age 40 and under. Sixteen recipients were recognized for significant achievement in their professional lives and for distinguished community service.
“Auburn graduates are making significant contributions in a variety of occupations all across the globe, and some of the more interesting stories are happening with our young alumni,” said Debbie Shaw, vice president for alumni affairs at Auburn University. “It’s a great honor to recognize them in this way. Auburn’s future is shining a bit brighter due to the impact made by these impressive individuals.”
Pauli graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biomedical sciences and spent seven years in the biotech industry, including work with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. She returned to Auburn and earned her doctor of pharmacy in 2006. She is currently the director of research for oncology specialists at the Clearview Cancer Institute, where she is responsible for operation of the institute’s research efforts to make advances in cancer treatment through clinical trials, pharmacogenomics trials and diagnostic development. Pauli is a licensed pharmacist and served as a medical relief team member for the Malawi Project.
“As George Petrie states in the opening lines of The Auburn Creed, ‘I believe in work, hard work.’ I am both honored and humbled that Auburn University has selected me as one of the recipients of the 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award, recognizing my work and accomplishments at an early point in my career,” Pauli said.
Awardees were selected for distinguished community service locally, regionally, nationally or globally and for prominence in their business, profession or vocational endeavors.
Thorton named dean of Semester at Sea
Kathryn C. Thorton, applied physics ’74, has been named the dean of the Semester at Sea program, beginning fall 2013. Established in 1963, Semester at Sea is sponsored by the University of Virginia and is a one-of-a-kind global education program. Using a ship as a traveling campus, undergraduates, lifelong learners, faculty and lecturers live and learn together while circumnavigating the globe each fall and spring semester. To learn more about Semester at Sea, click here.
Thornton, an Auburn University Lifetime Achievement Award winner and member of NASA’s Astronaut Hall of Fame, has had a distinguished career that includes four space flights: STS-33 in 1989, STS-49 in 1992, STS-61 in 1993, and STS-73 in 1995. She has logged over 975 hours in space, including more than 21 hours of extravehicular activity.
While serving as an astronaut, Thornton was also the head of the NASA Johnson Space Center Education working group which coordinated the educational outreach activities of astronauts and professional educators working under the “Teaching from Space” contract with Oklahoma State University. Videos, printed materials and live events with school children and astronauts in orbit were some of the products the group created. Prior to becoming an astronaut, Thornton was employed as a physicist at the U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center in Charlottesville, Va. Since leaving NASA, Thornton has served on several review committees and task groups, including the Return to Flight Task Group which evaluated NASA’s work in meeting goals set by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board prior to resumption of Space Shuttle flights. She also served as associate dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia.
Arboretum hosts open house for International Bog Day
The staff at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum hosted an open house on July 30 in recognition of International Bog Day. The public was invited to stop by and see the new Outdoor Classroom, the carnivorous plant bog, and a meadow that is in progress. These venues are available for Auburn University class instruction, so interested instructors and professors took the opportunity to explore these resources at the open house. For more information call 334.844.5770 or visit the Arboretum website.
Arboretum Days to feature diversity, creativity and clay
The fall 2012 Arboretum Days events will be held on Sept. 8, Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum at 9 a.m. Arboretum Days is an approximately one-hour educational program designed for children ages 6 to 12 that features a nature-themed learning activity. The fall programs represent a series where each event builds on the next, however, programs can be attended separately. The final product of the series will be a permanent mosaic urn in the Arboretum featuring diverse insect and leaf creations done by Arboretum Days participants.
The Sept. 8 program will start with a brief look at the exciting diversity of the insect and plant world. Students will then create their own interpretations in clay.
During the second program on Sept. 29, participants will look at the clay beneath their feet and how it is turned into beautiful art and functional pieces. Students will then paint their pieces to go on the urn.
The third program will feature the last creative process of putting the ceramic pieces onto a large urn that will sit near the entrance of the Arboretum.
Pre-registration is required and space is limited. The fee is a $2 per child, per program, or all three programs for $5. To register, email your child’s name and age to email@example.com. Payment can be made on the day of the event at sign in. For more information call 334.844.5770 or check the website at: www.auburn.edu/arboretum.
Physics welcomes new department chair
Physics Professor Jim Hanson will assume the duties of Physics Department chair beginning August 15, 2012. Hanson received his bachelor of science from Kalamazoo College, his master of science from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from University of Maryland. Prior to beginning his tenure at Auburn, he was a research associate at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Hanson joined the Auburn University faculty in the Department of Physics in 1984. He has been published prolifically and has received more than $2.5 million in grant funding. He has served on numerous committees outside of Auburn University including as chair of the Sherwood Theory Conference Executive Committee, session chair for the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society and as a consultant to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Within the Department of Physics, he has served on the Plasma Physics Faculty Search Committee, the Graduate Doctoral Exam Committee, and the Graduate Admissions Committee, among others. The IT Building Task Force, the Search Committee for a Chief Information Officer, and the Academic Computing Advisory Committee are some of the university committees Hanson has served.
Hanson joins other newly appointed members of the COSAM administrative team who will begin their tenure during the 2012-13 academic year: T.Y. Tam, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; and Vince Cammarata, associate dean for Academic Affairs.
AubieSat-1 mission is a success
The Auburn University student-built satellite, AubieSat-1, was the first student-built CubeSat in the state to be accepted by NASA for launch. A “CubeSat” is a 4-inch, cube-shaped satellite that is used primarily for research. The satellite launched into space at 2:48 a.m. PDT on Oct. 28, 2011, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a NASA-sponsored Delta II rocket. For approximately eight months, AubieSat-1 orbited the globe, and numerous universities and individual ham radio operators signed up to help track the satellite. To read more about the success of the mission and listen to an audio recording of the satellite communication, click here.
Auburn represented at the European Physical Society Plasma Physics meeting
Associate Professor David Maurer, Professor Edward Thomas, Jr., and physics graduate student Ami DuBois recently gave presentations at the European Physical Society Plasma Physics meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. The European Physical Society is a not-for-profit association whose members include 41 National Physical Societies in Europe, individuals from all fields of physics and European research institutions. Thomas gave an invited talk on the design, experimental capabilities and initial testing of the new Magnetized Dusty Plasma research facility currently under construction at Auburn. Maurer gave a presentation on recent results of the control and avoidance of large-scale plasma disruptions using Auburn’s Compact Toroidal Hybrid fusion energy experiment. DuBois gave a presentation on the theoretical and experimental design of an investigation of lower hybrid plasma waves in a magnetized plasma column. The meeting was held from July 2-6.