COSAM welcomes new dean, Nicholas Giordano
On Aug. 5, Nicholas Giordano began his tenure as dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Previously, Giordano was at Purdue University serving as head of the Department of Physics.
“It is my great privilege to serve as the new dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. One of my first jobs is to get to know the college, and that means getting to know the people of COSAM,” Giordano said. “While I have only been at Auburn a short time, I have been very impressed by all of the great work being done in the college, and I look forward to working with our exceptional faculty, staff, students and alumni.
“I want to thank everyone at COSAM for the warm welcome I have received. I also hope that you will join me in expressing our deepest appreciation for Charles Savrda who has served COSAM admirably as interim dean for nearly three years. The college is poised for great things, and Dr. Savrda is a big reason why.”
Giordano received a bachelor of science in 1973 from Purdue and a doctorate from Yale University in 1977. He has taught at both universities, and in 1977, he was a visiting scientist at Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin. He was named Indiana Professor of the Year in 2004 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, he is a fellow of the American Physical Society, he serves on the Technical Committee on Musical Acoustics for the Acoustical Society of America, and he is a member of the Biophysical Society. Among his research interests are the physics of nanostructures and mesoscopic systems; musical acoustics and the physics of the piano; and computational neuroscience and physics. Click here for more information about Giordano.
University kicks off “This is Auburn” campaign
The university is kicking off the fall semester with a new marketing campaign with the theme, "This is Auburn." The campaign provides a flexible way to describe the many positive qualities contributing to the university as a whole. Messages are centered on Auburn's academic power, research expertise, outreach to the community and world, the value of an Auburn degree, and the unique bond of the Auburn Family. To read more about the This is Auburn campaign, click here.
Hill and Johnson published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Biological Sciences professor Geoffrey Hill and James Johnson, a biochemist in Hill’s lab, co-authored a paper that was published in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The paper is titled, “The mitonuclear compatibility hypothesis of sexual selection,” and in the text, Hill and Johnson explore the question of why females assess ornaments when choosing mates, and they hypothesize that the imperative for a choosing female to find a mate with nuclear oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) genes that are compatible with her mitochondrial OXPHOS genes drives the evolution of ornaments. The implications of the hypothesis are that sexual selection may serve as a driver for the evolution of more efficient cellular respiration.
The Royal Society is a fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Proceedings of the Royal Society B is the Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication and broad dissemination of high-quality research papers, reviews, and comment and reply papers.
To read Hill and Johnson’s paper, click here.
Guyer receives Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology
Biological sciences professor Craig Guyer was awarded the Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. The award is given annually to recognize superior teaching effectiveness and mentoring of students in the area of herpetology. Guyer is a renowned herpetologist and serves as the curator of amphibians and reptiles for Auburn's Museum of Natural History. He teaches undergraduate courses in vertebrate biodiversity and herpetology, and graduate courses in herpetology.
Geology and Geography News:
Wright recieves NASA grant for Mars research
Shawn Wright, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geology and Geography, received a three-year, $33,000 grant from the NASA Mars Data Analyses Program through the Planetary Science Institute. Wright will research the ash sources in Arabia Terra, a densely cratered region on northern Mars that contains a number of layered, fine-grained, friable deposits that are widespread, discontinuous and often found either as mesas or crater-fill across a wide range of longitudes. According to Wright, the Arabia Terra region was interpreted with Viking Orbiter data in the 1970s to be impact craters, but his research team proposes that some of the “holes” are actually volcanic calderas and not impact craters. Wright received his doctorate at Arizona State University, his master’s at University of Pittsburgh and his bachelor of science at Sul Ross State University. He currently teaches Physical Geology and Principles of Earth Science.
Mathematics and Statistics News:
Meir appointed temporary program director at the National Science Foundation
Professor A.J. Meir has been appointed as a temporary program director, also known as a “rotator,” at the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences. He will spend the 2013-14 academic year at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Va. As a temporary program director, Meir will make recommendations about which proposals to fund; influence new directions in the fields of science, engineering and education; support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research; and mentor junior research members. Meir received a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University. He has a strong research interest in numerical and computational mathematics. Specifically, he conducts research in numerical partial differential equations, or the numerical analysis of methods for approximating solutions of partial differential equations, and the modeling and simulation of complex coupled problems. For more information about NSF temporary program directors, click here.
Kirk named recipient of Spirit of Excellence Award
Gwen Kirk, office supervisor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been named an Auburn University Spirit of Excellence Award winner. Spirit of Excellence Award winners are chosen from the university's administrative/professional, secretarial/clerical, service/maintenance and technical employment groups. Winners are selected based on work performance and must exemplify excellence, professionalism, dedication and a willingness to go beyond the call of duty. Recipients also are noted for contributions toward improving service at the departmental and unit levels.
Kuperberg to continue research with the Oberwolfach Mathematical Research Institute
In April, mathematics professor Wlodzimierz Kuperberg conducted research at the Oberwolfach Mathematical Research Institute in Germany. The work was supported by the institute under the "Research in Pairs" program, and he worked with a collaborator, Gábor Fejes Tóth, a professor at the Alfred Rényi Mathematical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. Kuperberg and Tóth were recently invited to continue their research this November. The ongoing project explores the translation and supplements to the classical monograph in discrete geometry on packing and covering theory, written in German by László Fejes Tóth, Tóth’s father, and titled, "Lagerungen in der Ebene, auf dem Kugel und im Raum." The original text was published in 1953, with a second edition in 1972, also in German. The updated English edition will meet the great demand among a more general audience of research mathematicians including aspiring university students, math educators, engineers, chemists, and even among advanced high school students.
Dhar receives grant from the National Science Foundation
Sarit Dhar, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, was awarded a $598,777 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation program. The grant will support collaborative research between Auburn University and industry partners CoolCAD Electronics, LLC, in College Park, Md., and United Silicon Carbide, Inc., in Monmouoth Junction, N.J. CoolCAD Electronics performs design, analysis and prototyping for cryogenic SiC and IR electronics, and United Silicon Carbide works on the design, fabrication and commercialization of SiC technologies. The grant, “Building Innovation Capacity,” is focused on building the basic foundations of a silicon-carbide-based, high-temperature, integrated circuit technology. The final goal is to demonstrate a major polytype of silicon carbide (4H-SiC) metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect-transistor (that is, a 4H-SiC MOSFET)-based operational amplifier, operating at 250°C or higher. The research will increase U.S. technological competitiveness, increase the viability of small business partners, and develop students capable of contributing to the semiconductor industry. Click here for more information on the grant.
Liu receives grant from the National Science Foundation
Kaijun Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, received a three-year, $240,444 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. The project, “An Integrated Study of Fast Magnetosconic Waves in the Radiation Belts,” aims to comprehensively understand the excitation of fast magnetosonic waves, or “equatorial noise,” and their interactions with relativistic electrons in radiation belts. Liu and his team will use satellite data analysis, linear kinetic dispersion theory, kinetic plasma simulations, and test-particle computations to carry out an integrated study. For more information on Liu’s grant, click here.
Whitaker featured on New York Times website for work with chimpanzees
Jennifer Whitaker, who holds two undergraduate degrees from Auburn-botany and microbiology '98 and horticulture '00-is the executive director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash., and she was featured on New York Times website in a story and video detailing the challenges and successes of providing sanctuary to chimpanzees that were previously used in scientific laboratories.
“This is an amazing time to be working with chimpanzees,” Whittaker said in an email. “The National Institutes of Health recently announced they are going to retire most of their federally owned and supported chimps, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they are going to list chimpanzees as endangered species rather than threatened. I have been involved in negotiations to make this happen…”
Whitaker went on to say that working at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is a “dream job,” and reflected on how doors opened for her as soon as she graduated from Auburn.
To read the full story and watch the video that features Whitaker at work with the chimpanzees, click here.
Photo by Leah Nash for The New York Times.
Leadership Council Member Spotlight: Paul DePriest
Paul DePriest, mathematics ’75, is a cyber-information assurance analyst for Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers. In his spare time he enjoys racquetball, Frisbee golf, reading and performing information assurance research. DePriest lives in Madison, Ala., with his wife, Donna, and they have a 31-year-old daughter, Kathryn. He said when he was first introduced to the COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council 12 years ago, he was impressed by the accomplishments of the other members on the council, making his decision to join an easy one.
Why else did you agree to participate on the Dean’s Leadership Council?
Several reasons: It gave me an opportunity to get re-connected with COSAM; it has given me the opportunity to meet and become friends with other COSAM graduates and supporters; it has allowed me to gain insight into the issues Auburn is facing in today’s economy and in competition with other universities; and it provided me with an excuse to visit with the math professors and better understand their concerns and desire to provide a quality product for Auburn’s students.
What talents and/or qualities do you possess that make you a valuable member of the Dean’s Leadership Council?
I’m not sure that I possess a particular talent that makes me a valuable member, but I do have a strong desire to help Auburn in any way I can, and I believe that I provide support to the dean and to COSAM in several ways. This includes providing input to him when requested, as well as assisting in student recruiting.
What do you believe are the greatest strengths of the College of Sciences and Mathematics?
I believe COSAM’s greatest strengths are the concern and support that both the administration and professors show and demonstrate to the students, both COSAM majors and other students alike. I have talked to several Auburn graduates and each of them has related a story that demonstrates this quality in COSAM.
Of what in your career, thus far, are you most proud?
I have worked for two companies since I graduated from Auburn, both of which are United States Department of Defense contractors. I have worked on numerous defense contracts ranging from radar systems, to missiles, to computer and network security. I guess one item I am proud of is that I was invited by the University of Alabama in Huntsville to generate graduate-level engineering classes in information assurance 10 years ago, and even though I only have a bachelor of science, I am the primary instructor for the series. This has provided me an opportunity for the past 10 years to pass on knowledge that I have gained over my career to today’s college students.
Is there a particular area of COSAM that holds significant interest for you? If so, what is it and why?
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics will always be my primary area of interest. When I attended Auburn, I was told that I could do almost anything with my math degree. I think my career has shown that’s definitely the case. I began my career performing mathematical analysis of various defense systems and then became a software developer. Since then, I have focused on computer and network security. I believe that the math department provided me with the skills I needed to solve problems, whether mathematical, software or security related.
As a COSAM donor, what colleges/programs/scholarships do you support and why do you give to Auburn? Why do you feel it is important?
I supported COSAM scholarships through the Spirit of Auburn campaign and donate to the Leadership Council Fund, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the COSAM Building Fund and the Dean’s Discretionary Fund. I believe financial support is necessary due to cutbacks in state education funding. Also, I think COSAM has demonstrated that providing scholarships has resulted in the successful recruitment of quality students and has helped Auburn maintain its status as a quality educational institution.
Diversity and Multicultural Affairs News:
COSAM programs ranked among best in the nation
In a recent edition of the newsmagazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, the Top 100 Degree Producer rankings of institutions that confer the most degrees to minority students was published. Auburn University received a top 100 ranking in 26 categories, including 49th for biological and biomedical sciences degrees, and 53rd for degrees in mathematics and statistics. Other rankings include seventh in undergraduate degrees awarded to African-American engineering students; 14th in architecture and related services; 23rd in foreign languages, literatures and linguistics; 25th in agriculture and related sciences; and 44th for finance and financial management. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education is a newsmagazine focusing on matters of access and opportunity for all in higher education. For more information, visit the website.
Arboretum to host 50th Anniversary Celebration
To commemorate 50 years of dedication to the university and community, on Sept. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Donald E. Davis Arboretum will host a 50th anniversary celebration in the garden. Friends of the arboretum are encouraged to attend the celebration where birthday cake, ice cream and lemonade will be served, and donations will be accepted to assist the arboretum in furthering its mission to display and preserve native southeastern plant communities, to inspire an understanding of the natural world, and to promote education, research and public outreach.
Sponsored by COSAM, the arboretum is located at 181 Garden Drive and is situated on 14 acres of the university's main campus. A popular Auburn University landmark, the arboretum showcases a living collection of native plants of the southeastern U.S., and the core collections include oaks, carnivorous plants and native azaleas. For 50 years, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum has served Auburn University and the broader community by offering visitors a natural setting for reflection and relaxation. The garden also supports educational programming for all ages and provides an extension of the classroom for most of the colleges on campus. For more information, visit the arboretum’s website at www.auburn.edu/arboretum.
Arboretum is a featured charity in Niffer's Gives Back program
During the month of August, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum is a featured charity for the "Niffer’s Gives Back" program. To participate, patrons who dine at any Niffer’s location should write "arboretum" on the back of their receipt and 10 percent of the cost of the entire meal will be donated by Niffer's to the arboretum. Please spread the word about this fun and easy way to support the arboretum.
The arboretum serves as an extension of the classroom for most of the colleges on the Auburn University campus. Additionally, throughout the year, the arboretum hosts workshops, presentations, guided tours and events that celebrate the biodiversity and natural heritage of the southeastern U.S. For more information on Niffer’s, including locations and menu, visit the Niffer's website.
Thank you for your support of this effort.
Outreach to host War Eagle BEST Kick-Off
On Sept. 5, the COSAM Office of Outreach and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will co-host the War Eagle BEST Kick-Off at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn. War Eagle BEST challenges 26 schools in east-central Alabama and west Georgia to design, build and program a robot from a kit of raw materials through implementation of the engineering design process. The six-week program culminates in a one-day, sports-like competition, War Eagle BEST, hosted at Auburn University. “BEST” stands for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology, and during the kick-off event, the theme of the game and the playing field are unveiled to the students, and the six-week BEST Robotics competition officially begins. For more information on War Eagle BEST, visit the website at this link: http://www.wareaglebest.org/
Middle school competition to present mathematical puzzle challenges
On Sept. 28, the COSAM Office of Outreach will host the Auburn Mathematical Puzzle Challenge, or AMP’d, for seventh- and eighth-grade students. The competition requires students to engage in real-world problem solving using practical applications of mathematics, and it promotes student competence and confidence through self-directed learning as well as leadership, teamwork and organizational skills. For more information, including how to register, click here.
Enriching young minds at the Summer Science Institute
COSAM’s Office of Outreach is providing some area high school students with an opportunity to explore cutting-edge research topics in biology, chemistry, geology, physics and mathematics through the Summer Science Institute. The academically competitive enrichment program is for rising 11th and 12th grade students who demonstrate a heightened interest in a career in the sciences or mathematics. The 2013 Summer Science Institute took place in June, and 26 students from Alabama and Georgia spent the week on campus working with COSAM faculty and staff in a series of hands-on and interactive workshops including activities from each of the five COSAM departments. To watch a video about the institute or to learn more, click here.