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February 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!


Marie Wooten 5K to take place in April
wooten 5kThe 3rd Annual Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K run and one-mile walk will take place on Saturday, April 6, at 7 a.m. The event will begin at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum and raise money for the Marie W. Wooten Memorial Scholarship in COSAM.
Wooten was widely recognized for her contributions as a mentor, scientist, scholar and academic administrator. She was committed to student training and outreach, was co-founder of the Institute for Women in Sciences and Engineering, and she provided leadership in developing numerous education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Wooten was also a member of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, which focuses on enhancing diversity in STEM fields. Prior to her passing, she had planned to combine her loves of running and COSAM and host a 5k to raise money for scholarships. In honor of her memory, the 5k began in 2010 to see her vision fulfilled.
To register, Click Here.

Celebrating Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson
E O WilsonJoin COSAM on Wednesday, April 10, for Celebrating Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson. The event commemorates the opening of the Biodiversity Learning Center with a dinner at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The dinner will include a presentation by world-renowned biologist, E.O Wilson. Wilson was the Joseph Pellegrino University Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Wilson comes home to share his thoughts on the current state and emerging trends of biodiversity.
After months of construction and years of planning, the Biodiversity Learning Center is the new home of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History and will house the museum’s hundreds of thousands of specimens. The museum represents the rich history of Alabama, the Southeast and beyond.
Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased for $100 per person or tables of 10 for $1,000. A reception will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to allow participants an opportunity to meet Wilson one-on-one. The reception and dinner is $250 per person, and tickets are limited.  Proceeds from ticket sales will support the Auburn University Museum of Natural History.
To order tickets or for more information, call 334.844.7780. For sponsorship information, call 334.844.8645.

Warren featured on CBS Evening News
lee warrenDr. Lee Warren, a COSAM adjunct faculty member, was featured on CBS Evening News. Warren has a medical practice, Auburn Spine and Neurosurgery Center, which is located in the Auburn MRI Research Complex. He was featured for his work as a neurosurgeon in a combat hospital at Balad, Iraq. Warren wrote a book about his experience, "Called Out: A Brain Surgeon Goes to War," which is available on his website, auburnspine.com. To see the segment that appeared on the CBS Evening News, Click Here.

Biological Sciences News:

Antarctic research cruise daily blog now available
antarctic cruiseOn Jan. 1, a team of scientists from COSAM embarked on a research cruise to one of the world’s most secluded and mysterious places, Antarctica. The voyage will last approximately six weeks, and the team is exploring the genetic diversity of marine organisms found in the waters surrounding Earth’s southernmost continent. Participants from COSAM include graduate students, one undergraduate student and Kenneth Halanych, Stewart W. Schneller chair in Auburn’s Department of Biological Sciences. Read the daily blog detailing the adventure on the Antarctica Cruises website. To read the full story about the research cruise, Click Here.

33 new trapdoor spider species discovered, one named in honor of Barack Obama
barakobamaiJason Bond, biological sciences professor and curator for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, has discovered 33 new trapdoor spider species from the American Southwest. The newly described species all belong to the genus Aptostichus that now contains 40 species, two of which are already famous – Aptostichus stephencolberti, named for Stephen Colbert, and Aptostichus angelinajolieae, named for Angelina Jolie.
Bond has named one of the newly discovered spiders Aptostichus barackobamai (pictured above), in honor of Barack Obama, 44th president of the U.S. and reputed fan of Spiderman comics. Another species that was found in Joshua Tree National Park, Aptostichus bonoi, is named for Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2. The genus also now includes other notable names such as: Aptostichus sarlacc, found in the Mojave Desert and named for George Lucas' Star Wars creature, the Sarlacc from the fictional desert planet Tatooine; Aptostichus edwardabbeyi, named in memory of environmentalist and author Edward Abbey (1927-1989); Aptostichus pennjillettei, named in honor of illusionist and intellectual Penn Jillette; and Aptostichus chavezi, named for Mexican American civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez (1927-1993).
Bond, who is a trapdoor spider expert, was excited at the prospect of such a remarkable and large find of new species in the U.S. and particularly California.
"California is known as what is characterized as a ‘biodiversity hotspot.’ Although this designation is primarily based on plant diversity, the region is clearly very rich in its animal diversity as well. While it is absolutely remarkable that a large number of species from such a heavily populated area have gone unnoticed, it clearly speaks volumes to how little we know of the biodiversity around us and that many more species on the planet await discovery," Bond said.
Like other trapdoor spider species, individuals are rarely seen because they live their lives in below-ground burrows that are covered by trapdoors, made by the spider using mixtures of soil, sand, and/or plant material and silk. The trapdoor serves to hide the spider when it forages for meals at the burrow entrance, usually at night.
Aptostichus species are found in an amazing number of Californian habitats including coastal sand dunes, chaparral, desert, oak woodland forests, and at high altitudes in the alpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Bond said, "This particular group of trapdoor spiders is among some of the most beautiful with which I have worked; species often have gorgeous tiger-striping on their abdomens. Aptostichus, to my mind, represents a true adaptive radiation – a classical situation in evolutionary biology where diversification, or speciation, has occurred such that a large number of species occupy a wide range of different habitats."
Bond also noted that while a number of the species have rather fanciful names, his favorite is the one named for his daughter, Elisabeth, Aptostichus elisabethae.
"Elisabeth's spider is from an incredibly extreme desert environment out near Barstow, California, that is the site of a relatively young volcanic cinder cone. The spiders make their burrows among the lava tubes that extend out from the cone. It is a spectacular place to visit but the species is very difficult to collect because the spiders build rather deep burrows among the rocks."

Mathematics and Statistics News:

Tam invited speaker at international conference
TY TamTin-Yau Tam, chair of mathematics and Lloyd and Sandra Nix Endowed Professor, has been invited as a plenary speaker of the International Linear Algebra Society 2014 Conference, which is one of the main satellite conferences of the International Congress of Mathematicians taking place at Coex, Seoul, KOREA. The 19th annual ILAS conference will be held at Sung Kyun Kwan University, Suwon, Korea, from Aug. 6 - 9. ILAS provides a broad view of the latest advancements in both theoretical and applied linear algebra. More than 200 internationally renowned math professors from around the world will attend the conference.

Department announces two new awards
math awardsThe Department of Mathematics and Statistics recently received two new awards: the Dr. Kevin Doheny Annual Graduate Fellowship; and the Dr. Marie Kraska Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Doheny fellowship is a $1,000 that will be awarded each year to a graduate student or incoming graduate student who is seeking a degree in mathematics and has a minimum 3.0 GPA. Selection of the recipient shall be made by the Chair and the Graduate Program Officer of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
The Kraska Award for Excellence was established by Dr. Marie Kraska to recognize an associate or full professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for outstanding teaching in statistics. The recipient of the award must be an innovative, challenging teacher who is respected by the faculty and students. The recipient of the award will be named by the Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, in consultation with a selection committee. The amount of the annual Kraska Award is $1,000.

Physics News:

New antimatter method to provide major experimental advantage
Francis RobicheauxResearchers at Auburn University, including physics professor Francis Robicheaux  and undergraduate Patrick Donnan, have proposed a method for cooling trapped antihydrogen, which they believe could provide a major experimental advantage and help to map the mysterious properties of antimatter that have, to date, remained elusive.
The new method, developed by a group of researchers from the U.S. and Canada, could potentially cool trapped antihydrogen atoms to temperatures 25 times colder than already achieved, making them much more stable and a lot easier to experiment on.
The method involves a laser which is directed at antihydrogen atoms to give them a ‘kick,’ causing them to lose energy and cool down.
Antihydrogen atoms are formed in an ultra-high vacuum trap by injecting antiprotons into positron plasma. An atomic process causes the antiproton to capture a positron which gives an electronically excited antihydrogen atom.
Typically, the antihydrogen atoms have a lot of energy compared to the trapping depth, which can distort the measurements of their properties. As it is only possible to trap very few antihydrogen atoms, the main method for reducing the high energy is to laser-cool the atoms to extremely low temperatures.
“By reducing the antihydrogen energy, it should be possible to perform more precise measurements of all of its parameters. Our proposed method could reduce the average energy of trapped antihydrogen by a factor of more than 10,” said Robicheaux, co-author of the study. “The ultimate goal of antihydrogen experiments is to compare its properties to those of hydrogen. Colder antihydrogen will be an important step for achieving this.”
This process, known as Doppler cooling, is an established method for cooling atoms; however, because of the restricted parameters that are needed to trap antimatter, the researchers need to be absolutely sure that it is possible.
“It is not trivial to make the necessary amount of laser light at a specific wavelength of 121 nm. Even after making the light, it will be difficult to mesh it with an antihydrogen trapping experiment. By doing the calculations, we've shown that this effort is worthwhile,” continued Robicheaux.
Through a series of computer simulations, the researchers showed that antihydrogen atoms could be cooled to around 20 millikelvin; trapped antihydrogen atoms so far have energies up to 500 millikelvin.
In 2011, researchers from CERN reported that they had trapped antimatter for over 1,000 seconds – a record. A year later, the first experiments were performed on antihydrogen while it was trapped between a series of magnets.
Even though the processes that control the trapping are largely unknown, the researchers believe that the laser cooling should increase the amount of time for which antihydrogen can be trapped.
“Whatever the processes are, having slower moving, and more deeply trapped, antihydrogen should decrease the loss rate,” said Robicheaux.
Colder antihydrogen atoms could also be used to measure the gravitational property of antimatter, which has never been done.

Antimatter fast facts:

  • Every particle has an antiparticle. For example, an electron’s antiparticle is the positron and a proton’s antiparticle is an antiproton.
  • An antiparticle is exactly the same as its corresponding particle but carries an opposite charge.
  • If a particle and its corresponding antiparticle meet, they destroy each other. This is known as annihilation.
  • The combination of one positron and one antiproton creates antihydrogen.
  • Theories suggest that after the Big Bang, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have formed. As the universe today is composed almost entirely of matter, it remains a great mystery why we don’t have this symmetry.
  • Scientists such as the ALPHA collaboration at CERN have been trying to measure the properties of antihydrogen to find clues as to why this asymmetry exists.

The study, “A proposal for laser cooling antihydrogen atoms,” can be found in the Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, or Click Here.

Physicists secure time on supercomputer
super computerAn international consortium headed by atomic and molecular physicists at Auburn University and Los Alamos National Laboratory was awarded 10.2 million CPU hours for 2013 at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center in Oakland, Calif. Large-scale calculations will generate atomic and molecular collision data in a form useful for the modeling of laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. The collisions will directly support divertor and wall erosion studies for the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER). The calculations will also support science at advanced light sources and heavy particle collision facilities. The consortium includes faculty and students in the Department of Physics at Auburn.

Outreach News:

COSAM Outreach kicks off new afterschool science program, TASSAL
tassalCOSAM Outreach, in partnership with the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Teaching and the Truman Pierce Institute, received funding to design a new statewide afterschool science program. The initiative, “The Alabama STEM Studio for Afterschool Learning,” kicked off on Jan. 26, with a one-day workshop attended by over 30 educators from across the state. TASSAL utilizes a series of hands-on, inquiry based activities that integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles in a fun, non-threatening learning environment. For more information, contact Mary Lou Ewald at 334.844.5745.

COSAM to host February GUTS science event for first- through sixth-grade students
gutsGetting Under the Surface (GUTS) is a monthly evening science program for first- through sixth-grade children and their parents or grandparents. Each GUTS session includes dessert followed by a 90-minute, hands-on science activity involving a “Getting Under the Surface” theme. The February GUTS program will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. February course offerings include “Science Buffet” for first- through third-grade children and “Cardinal Colors” for fourth- through sixth-grade children. The cost to participate is $20 per parent/child pair. Spaces are still available. To register, complete a registration form on the GUTS website. For more information contact Erin Percival at 334.844.7449.

Registration is now open for COSAM's Science Matters summer enrichment academy
science mattersCOSAM is now registering children 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. Registration deadline is May 10. For more information contact Kristen Bond at 334.844.5769 or kdb0022@auburn.edu.

Diversity News:

K!DSPARK Conference promotes science education
k!dsparkThe 2013 K!DSPARK Conference, “Explore the Future and Plan for Success,” was held on Saturday, Jan. 19, at George Washington Carver High School in Birmingham. COSAM’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs served as a key component of the K!DSPARK Conference, a day-long conference coordinated by AT&T Alabama and the Birmingham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to encourage and promote education in the sciences. A table was set-up for students and parents to visit during check-in. Parents and students were encouraged to start planning for college, especially if interested in careers in mathematics and sciences. Participants were given information about COSAM majors and related programs. More than 125 Birmingham-area middle and high school students and their parents gained valuable advice on how to prepare for future careers. Speakers included Bell Rogers, education chair for Alabama AT&T Pioneers, Glyn Agnew, director for AT&T External Affairs, Michael Moore, deputy director for the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office, Rickey Morgan, chapter president of Alabama AT&T Pioneers, and Sarah Mitchell, president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Birmingham Alumnae Chapter. The keynote speaker was Andrea Billingsley Whitfield, elementary teacher with Birmingham City Schools and author of two books, “Restoring Classroom Behavior” and “Felicia Fights Fat with Phone Fitness.” The event was organized by long-term Summer Bridge supporter and AT&T Pioneer Bell Rogers. The goal of the event was to engage the community to empower students and parents to explore the future and plan for success.

Arboretum News:

Arboretum celebrates 50 years
arboretum 50The Donald E. Davis Arboretum is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, events will be scheduled throughout 2013 that showcase the facility’s mission to: display native woody plants of the Southeastern U.S.; function as a teaching resource for university classes; and promote ecological education through the study and observation of plants and their natural habitats. Visit the arboretum website for continued updates on special events.

Parkerson Mill Creek Showdown to take place Feb. 23
invasive plantsJoin the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the “Parkerson Mill Creek Showdown,” an invasive-plant cleanup event taking place behind the McWhorter Center on campus along Parkerson Mill Creek. The event is part of the arboretum’s 50th anniversary celebration and is designed for nature lovers and environmentalists who are concerned about the impact of invasive plants on local habitat, including the restriction of growth of beneficial native plant species. Registration is encouraged, and participants should wear close-toed shoes or boots. Please bring work gloves and pruners if you have them. Parkerson Mill Creek Showdown will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, and all participants will be treated to a chili lunch at noon. There is no cost to attend. To register, send an email to Kaye Christian at jernikja@auburn.edu. The event is sponsored by Auburn’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Office of Sustainability, Athletics, Department of Horticulture, and Facilities Management, and Parkerson Mill Creek Project, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Alabama Invasive Plant Council. For more information, visit the arboretum website.

Rainwater Harvesting Workshop to take place in April
rainwater harvesting workshopThe Donald E. Davis Arboretum will host a workshop on harvesting rainwater on April 4, from 5:00 to 7 p.m. The event will instruct participants on the benefits of harvesting rainwater and various methods for capturing and storing rainwater. The workshop will be 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 will also tour installed rainwater collection systems in the arboretum and have a chance to place an order on a large rainwater storage tank for a bargain price. Registration for the event begins at 5 p.m. on the day of the workshop. For more information Click Here, or contact Dee Smith at drs0001@auburn.edu.

A Night in New Orleans:
Night in New OrleansCOSAM will host a benefit for the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Saturday, April 20, at 6 p.m. The benefit, “A Night in New Orleans,” will include a dinner of traditional New Orleans fare, music, entertainment and silent auction. The event will take place in the arboretum and individual tickets are available for $100. To make a reservation or find out about sponsorship levels, contact Kim McCurdy at kcm0021@auburn.edu or 334.844.7780.

Development News:

Dinner held in honor of Stewart W. Schneller chair
Kenneth HalanychKenneth Halanych, alumni professor and former coordinator of the marine biology program in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the inaugural recipient of the Stewart W. Schneller Chair, which was established by friends, alumni, students and colleagues in honor of Schneller. A dinner was held recognizing Halanych and Stewart Schneller, former dean of COSAM, on Nov. 5, 2012.
Halanych received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Wake Forest University in 1988, followed by a doctorate in biology from the University of Texas in 1994. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University, University of Pretoria in South Africa, and Rutgers University. His research focuses on the molecular systematics, phylogeography and evolution of marine invertebrates. He is also active in research pertaining to the environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, he has authored close to 80 articles in publications, and his work has garnered more than $4.5 million in grant funding. He is the co-director of the Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, the 2010 Dean’s Faculty Research Award winner, and a recipient of the 2006 Auburn University Alumni Professor Award. He is also a program committee member for Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Schneller, professor of chemistry, came to Auburn University in 1994 after a distinguished tenure at the University of South Florida, where he served as chair of the Department of Chemistry. During his 16 years as dean of COSAM, Schneller’s influence was profound and far-reaching. Some notable achievements include: a 65-percent increase in undergraduate enrollment from 2000 to 2009; an increase in undergraduate scholarships awarded annually from zero to nearly $900,000; the establishment of a flourishing K-12 outreach program; the establishment of faculty awards for teaching, research, outreach and advising, along with an annual undergraduate honors convocation; and the conception and construction of the $40 million, state-of-the-art Sciences Center complex.
Schneller continues to direct research in antiviral drug design and discovery, a program that has attracted more than $15 million from federal agencies. A prolific writer, he has authored more than 135 papers in professional literature, 60 invited papers worldwide and has made in excess of 500 presentations at various professional meetings. Twenty-eight postdoctoral associates have spent time in his laboratories, along with four professors who used their sabbatical leaves to do so. He merged teaching and research by directing the doctorate dissertation and master’s research of nearly forty students, and the undergraduate research of countless others, including several honors theses.

Logan Chair celebrated with recognition dinner
Chris RodgerOn Jan. 15, a dinner was held 
in recognition of Chris Rodger, the inaugural recipient of the Logan Chair, established by Don and Sandy Logan. Rodger is the associate dean for research and graduate studies for COSAM. The Logan Chair is designed to support superior faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics who possess academic leadership in the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and university and professional service, including outreach activities, within the department, with each category weighted equally. Additionally, the recipient of the Logan Chair is expected to work to strengthen and enhance mathematics, and serve as a positive role model for students and colleagues.
Rodger, who holds bachelor's and master’s degrees from the University of Sydney, Australia, and a doctorate from the University of Reading, England, has been at Auburn for more than 25 years and is the recipient of a wide range of awards and accolades, including: the 2006 Scharnagel Professorship for teaching, research and outreach; the 2008 Auburn University Outreach Award; and the Hall Medal, given by the Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications. He has also received numerous grants for his outreach work and was among the six principal investigators on a $9 million National Science Foundation grant for the program, “Transforming East Alabama Mathematics,” or “TEAM-Math.” The purpose of TEAM-Math was to improve mathematics education in 14 local and regional school districts.
As associate dean for research and graduate studies, Rodger leads continuing efforts to assist faculty on grant and contract opportunities and proposal development, and he maintains grant and contract records for the college. He also promotes and develops multidisciplinary research initiatives across Auburn’s campus. He was selected to be the Logan Endowed Chair of Mathematics by a committee appointed by Interim Dean Savrda, and he will hold the distinction for five or more years, or as determined by the dean. 
Don Logan and his wife, Sandy, provided the Logan Endowed Chair in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Don graduated magna cum laude from Auburn University with a degree in mathematics in 1966. His achievements were recognized in 1997 with an honorary doctorate from Auburn and in 2004 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Auburn Alumni Association. Some of his career highlights include being named president of Oxmoor House, the book publishing division, and becoming chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Progress, which was later acquired by Time Inc. As chairman of Time Warner’s Media & Communications Group he oversaw America Online, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable and the Time Warner Book Group. He retired in 2006. Sandy is from Decatur, Ala., and serves on the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art Advisory Board. She was also the visionary of an organization that promotes sciences and mathematics to women and girls, the Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics. The COSAM-sponsored organization strives to inspire the next generation of women by exposing them to today’s female leaders and role models in sciences and mathematics. The Logans have two grown sons, Jeff and Stan, both of whom are graduates of Auburn University.

Upcoming Events:


February 19, 2013
February GUTS

Showdown at Town Creek

February 23, 2013
Parkerson Mill Creek Showdown

rainwater harvesting workshop

April 4, 2013
Rain Harvesting Workshop

wooten 5k

April 6, 2013
Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K

E O Wilson

April 10, 2013
Celebrating Biodiversity with
E. O. Wilson

Night in New Orleans

April 20, 2013
Night in New Orleans



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Last updated: 03/08/2013