Biological Sciences News:
Singh receives Fulbright grant
Narendra Singh, professor of biological sciences, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach and conduct research in India from August to December 2013 at SRM University. Singh's research and teaching involves the molecular biology of stress tolerance in plants, genetic manipulation of higher fungi, and edible vaccines that can be mixed with feed to ward off diseases that cause massive damage to the poultry industry. In India, he will teach and co-teach graduate courses in plant molecular biology and biotechnology, and offer a senior seminar course for undergraduate students. He plans to focus his research on the elucidation of mechanism of action of a plant protein he discovered in 1985 and named osmotin.
"This is an interesting protein which has many different roles depending upon its location within the plant cell," said Singh. "Although the sequences of amino acids in the proteins are very different, the folded, three-dimensional structure of osmotin is similar to human adiponectin, which plays an important role in fat and sugar metabolism in humans and mammals."
Singh will work with M. Parani, professor and head of the Department of Genomics and Genetic Engineering at SRM University. He will also spend some time at the National Center of Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India, and the Center for Cell and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, India.
"We have demonstrated that the expression of truncated osmotin can provide both drought and salinity tolerance in some important crop plants like cotton and soybeans. It can also provide resistance to a number of fungal pathogens in some plants, so the expression of this gene in transgenic crop plants can have great potential for its agricultural application in India and elsewhere," said Singh. "Since I am originally from India and had all my undergraduate and graduate education in India, personally it means a lot to me to be able to go back for some time and provide my expertise and assistance in any way that I can."
Singh was selected by the 12-member William J. Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, part of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding among United States citizens and those of other countries.
SRM University is one of the top ranking universities in India with 33,044 students and 2,358 faculty across all the campuses, offering a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in engineering, management, medicine and health sciences, and science and humanities. The private university is recognized by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the Government of India's Department of Higher Education as a category "A" institution, the highest category ranking.
Guyer named Marguerite Scharnagel Endowed Professor
Professor Craig Guyer was named the Marguerite Scharnagel Endowed Professor in COSAM. The award recognizes excellence in teaching, research and outreach in the college. Guyer is widely recognized as an expert in the field of herpetology. His research and teaching interests also include tropical ecology and biogeography, and he is the curator of the amphibians and reptiles collection for Auburn's Museum of Natural History. Additionally, Guyer and his graduate students frequently provide live animal demonstrations for both the university and general public, where they instruct participants on basic reptilian and amphibian biology, describe current challenges for conserving reptiles and amphibians that are native to Alabama, and challenge traditional thinking on species such as snakes. In recent years, Guyer has also been instrumental in a project that seeks to reintroduce the eastern indigo snake to its native habitat in Alabama. For more information on the eastern indigo snake project, click here.
Bond receives NSF grant to study millipedes
Jason Bond, professor of biological sciences and director of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, received a three-year, $548,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology for his research proposal titled, "Millipede Systematics: Developing phylogenomic, classification, and taxonomic resources for the future." The grant funding will allow Bond to conduct research on millipedes which are in the arthropod class Diplopoda, comprising some 12,000 described species distributed worldwide in nearly every biome. According to Bond, the group has a deep evolutionary history that includes some of the first terrestrial animals, dating from the mid-Silurian over 400 million years ago. Despite their ecological importance as decomposers in forests, wealth of diversity with an estimated 20,000 to 80,000 species, and prominence as chemical warriors owing to their vast array of defense secretions, the group is woefully understudied. Bond and his team will revise the current ordinal and family-level classification systems using a modern phylogenomic framework based on next-generation sequence data and then employ these data to explore the evolution of chemical defense secretions and their precursors.
The project will enhance accessibility of millipede diversity through the development of a morphological atlas for the group, production of the first illustrated key to millipede families, and publication of the first complete millipede species catalog. The team will also develop a strong collaborative research and training network and partner with collaborators worldwide. During the project, a broad range of individuals will be trained in millipede systematics, morphology and genomics, including high school students and teachers, undergraduate researchers, a postdoctoral trainee, and students participating in organized training workshops that will be held in the Southeastern U.S. and Bangkok, Thailand. For more information on Bond, visit his website.
Havird and Santos receive NSF grant
Justin C. Havird (pictured left) and Scott R. Santos (pictured below), both of the Department of Biological Sciences, are the recipients of a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology. The research proposal is titled, "Assessing evolution of euryhalinity in anchialine shrimps," and the funding will allow Havird and Santos to further investigate the evolution of the molecular mechanisms of osmoregulation in shrimp species from coastal ponds and pools. According to Havird, the molecular mechanisms of ionic and salt regulation in crustaceans have only been characterized for a narrow range of species, mainly crabs with a marine ancestry.
"Shrimp from coastal ponds and pools represent an opportunity to address this lack of knowledge since they have a decisively freshwater ancestry but have adapted to live in environments with drastically fluctuating salinities," Havird said.
Havird previously found that Halocaridina rubra, a shrimp species endemic to Hawaii, has atypical patterns of gene expression following salinity transfer. Havird and Santos will examine this discovery in an evolutionary context by investigating the molecular mechanisms of osmoregulation from additional shrimp species from the Ryukyus Islands in Japan. They will employ high-throughput measures of gene expression, or RNA-sequencing, in their study.
"These shrimp species represent independent invasions of these habitats, from both freshwater and marine environments, and will further our limited understanding of the evolution of osmoregulation in crustaceans," Havird said.
Havird and Santos will also collaborate with Raymond Henry of the Department of Biological Sciences.
For more information on Havird and Santos, visit The Santos Lab website.
Department hosts SETCA annual meeting
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry recently hosted the 2013 Southeast Theoretical Chemistry Association Annual Meeting. The association comprises theoretical and computational chemists from the Southeastern U.S. This year's conference at Auburn featured poster presentations, a conference banquet and presenters from higher education institutions including Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, the University of Florida and Tulane University. For more information on the meeting, go to the website.
John Gorden named Father’s Day Grill-Off Contest winner
John Gorden, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, is the Father’s Day Grill-Off Contest Winner, sponsored by The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The contest called for the public to nominate dads who are grill masters. To enter the contest, participants had to submit dad’s best grilled recipe, a photo of him at the grill, and a photo of the dish. John was nominated by his wife, Anne Gorden, also of the Department of Chemistry, and their son, Ian, for his Fajitas with Mango Habanero Sauce. The Gordens will receive a free Father’s Day Buffet meal for the family at Ariccia, a restaurant inside the hotel that typically features rustic Italian cuisine. John’s fajitas will also be featured on the grill in the restaurant on Father’s Day. Congratulations John!
Geology and Geography News:
Summerlin attends international SEGF student field course, receives grants
Geology graduate student Erin Summerlin recently attended the Society of Economic Geologists Foundation’s 11th Student Field Course titled, “Precious Metals Deposits of the Southwestern U.S.” Selection for the program is rigorous and 19 total participants were accepted from the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Bulgaria and Mongolia. The course involved a weeklong trip to Nevada, Arizona and California, visiting both open-pit and underground mines that produce precious ores, including gold, silver, copper and molybdenum. Participants learned key dynamics of both high- and low-epithermal sulfidation and porphyry systems. Students received the opportunity to view these systems in the field, seeing firsthand how to recognize and characterize the deposits from both academic and industry experts. Participants also toured active mines to view daily mining operations, including the entire milling-through-refining process. Participating in lectures and discussion with trip leaders and industry professionals was also part of the trip.
Student trips funded by SEGF offer opportunities to further prepare for careers in economic geology and provide attendees with the chance to network with both professionals and future colleagues within the economic geology discipline.
Summerlin received three grants during the spring 2013 semester for her thesis titled, “Understanding PGE mineralization at the Allard Stock: Implications for the porphyry to epithermal transition, La Plata Mountains, Colorado.” She was awarded $2,500 from the Society of Economic Geologists from the Hugh McKinstry Fund, which supports study, research and teaching of the science of economic geology, or related projects with preference given to field and related laboratory research by graduate students. She received $1,000 from the Colorado Scientific Society’s Memorial Research Fund from the Edwin B. Eckel Memorial Fund. Eckel was a famous mining geologist who worked extensively in Colorado and particularly in Summerlin’s field area in the La Plata Mountains. Summerlin also received $1,000 from the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America.
Cobb conducts internship with World Food Programme’s Emergency Preparedness and Response team in Italy
Avery Cobb, an undergraduate student majoring in geography, is in Rome, Italy, conducting an internship with the World Food Programme’s Emergency Preparedness and Response, GIS Team. She recently wrote a reflection on her internship, and it is published below:
As one dream has led to another, I somehow find myself here, in Rome, Italy, interning with the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting world hunger. I don’t think I ever actually imagined that any of this would have happened to me, but here I am. “They” always asked me what I would do with a degree in geography, and now I have an answer as to what I am doing.
At the World Food Programme, you will find me at my desk, quaintly located on the fifth floor of the yellow tower, amongst the rest of the Geographic Information System team, part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response unit. The specific focus of this unit is in fact responding to emergencies, and, if possible, even foreseeing them and preparing for them in advance. Knowing that I am working on a bachelor’s degree in geography, you have probably already guessed that I make maps on a daily basis. Yes, it does seem that I am that stereotype, but I’m here to fill you in on the true value of these seemingly mind-numbing projections. It is my job as an intern to produce maps focused on infrastructure, transportation routes, locations of beneficiaries, and sometimes even possible security threats. These maps are necessary to assess every possible method of delivery and every factor that could affect the delivery of life-sustaining food to a community. As much as I am learning from this hands-on experience by manipulating numbers and computer software to depict the situation as accurately as possible, the real significance comes from realizing that every symbol on that map represents a person, or perhaps information that will in some way lead to the delivery of sustenance to an individual. This is indeed a most incredible realization.
In all, I will only be with the World Food Program for three months, having begun at the end of April and therefore finishing at the end of July, but I can only imagine how my perspective will have changed by the end of my time here. Within the first month and a half, it has already been incredible to learn how my skills as a geographer can be put to use in a way that will impact the lives of others. Once again, I must return to dreaming. I can only further imagine that one day, I will get the opportunity to personally enter the mission field to assist in these efforts and touch the lives of others, because after all, “I [truly] believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.”
-Avery Cobb, June 6, 2013, Rome, Italy
Mathematics and Statistics News:
Rodger and Lindner invited to present at 2013 CIMPA workshop in Thailand
Chris Rodger, associate dean for research and graduate studies and Don Logan Endowed Chair of Mathematics, and Curt Lindner, distinguished university professor, were invited to give presentations at the 2013 CIMPA workshop, “Graphs, Codes, and Designs,” which took place in May at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, Thailand. CIMPA is the International Center for Pure and Applied Mathematics and is sponsored by several organizations, including the French Government and UNESCO. During the two-week program, Rodger and Lindner both gave multiple workshop lectures. The workshops were geared toward graduate students and provided updates on current research efforts. Rodger’s research topics were: amalgamations and Hamilton decompositions of multipartite graphs; existence of decompositions of multipartite graphs, some gregarious and some fair; and embeddings and enclosings of multipartite graph decompositions. Lindner’s topics were: existence of Steiner triple systems; maximum packings of Kn with triangles; Kirkman triple systems; the intersection problem for Steiner triple systems; and embedding of Steiner triple systems, both partial and complete. About 50 participants were present at the workshop, with more than half coming from countries outside Thailand, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Pakistan and Iran.
“The last two weeks was one of the best experiences of my life,” wrote student participant Kashif Shafig. “The school was excellent in terms of its contents and the invited speakers. To be honest, I was not expecting it to be that useful for me, but it turned out to be the best workshop I have ever attended.”
For more information, visit the CIMPA 2013 website.
Gruenhage selected for national selection committee
Professor Gary Gruenhage was invited to join a national, five-person selection committee that will determine the recipients of the newly established Mary Ellen Rudin Young Researcher Award, sponsored by Elsevier, a leading provider of science and health information serving more than 30 million scientists, students and health and information professionals worldwide. The award was announced at the 47th Spring Topology Meeting in New Britain, Conn., and the award's namesake, Rudin, was a well-known set-theoretic topologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The annual award was established to encourage young talent in mathematicians. For more information on the award, visit the website.
Kuperberg invited lecturer for conferences in Ukraine and Poland
Professor Krystyna Kuperberg gave a Plenary Lecture at the Dynamical System Modeling and Stability Investigation International Conference in Kiev, Ukraine, in May. The conference had some 400 participants, and Kuperberg's lecture was titled, "Box Counting Dimension in Graphical Representation of Aperiodic continuous Dynamical Systems." Additionally, in August, she will give an invited lecture at the Topology and Nonlinear Problems Conference at the Banach Center of the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw, Poland.
Xin accepts postdoctoral position
Doctoral student He Xin accepted a postdoctoral position at Beijing Normal University, a top university in China. His advisor is professor Olav Kallenberg, and his postdoctoral advisor will be professor Zenghu Li at Beijing Normal University. Li is the Chang Jiang Scholar Chair of the university and his research area is in Markov processes. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics congratulates Xin!
Fogle receives NSF grant for international collaboration
Professor Mike Fogle received a one-year grant in the amount of $21,511 from the National Science Foundation's Catalyzing New International Collaborations program, which is funded through the Office of International Science and Engineering. The grant, titled, "U.S.-Sweden Planning Visit: Research on the Dynamics of Complex Systems with Ion Storage Rings," will cover travel costs for Fogle and a graduate student to travel to Stockholm, Sweden, to develop a collaboration with Richard Thomas, a research associate at Stockholm University. Thomas' research group in Stockholm recently completed construction of a new, state-of-the-art ion storage ring facility, the Double Electrostatic Ion Ring Experiment, which will be used to investigate the detailed structure and dynamics of molecular systems under precisely controlled interaction conditions. No devices of this type exist in the U.S.
Nylen receives ASA designation
Auburn alumnus James Nylen, actuarial science '08, attained the Associateship of the Society of Actuaries designation. Nylen is the older son of Auburn mathematics professor Peter Nylen, and he is currently employed with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The ASA designation signifies completion of the following educational achievements: demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental concepts and techniques for modeling and managing risk; knowledge of the basic methods of applying those concepts and techniques to common problems involving uncertain future events, especially those with financial implications; and participation in a professionalism course covering the professional code of conduct and the importance of adherence to recognized standards of practice. To attain the ASA designation, the candidate has to complete a rigorous system of examinations. For more information about the ASA designation, go to the Society of Actuaries website.
COSAM alumnus Cara Tupps joins Peace Corps
Cara Tupps, a May 2013 graduate with a bachelor of science in microbiology, joined the Peace Corps and will teach biology to middle and/or high school students in the Republic of Mozambique in Africa. In preparation for her two-year commitment to the Peace Corps, Tupps will donate her long hair for the fourth time to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.
“I probably won’t have many opportunities for a haircut once I am in Africa, and donating to Locks of Love is just something I like to do,” Tupps said.
She will also spend the summer with family at her home in Conyers, Ga., before reporting for duty in September. Once in Mozambique, Tupps will go through an extensive, three-month training process with the Peace Corps where she will learn about the culture, history, politics and economic structure of the country. She will also be expected to learn the local language, Portuguese, and participate in a workshop about the education system and strategies for teaching in the classroom. Once training is complete, Tupps will be assigned a village in Mozambique where she will teach for two years. In addition to teaching, she hopes to pursue secondary projects, like hosting AIDS awareness classes in the community.
Tupps was recently featured on the Auburn homepage for her after-graduation plans. To read how she ultimately decided to join the Peace Corps, see the full story here.
Franklin named number-one lawyer for the third time
Behind the scenes of Auburn University’s Athletic Department is an attorney who is involved in any NCAA compliance issues that arise. His name is Sam Franklin, mathematics ’69, and he was recently named the number-one lawyer on Business Alabama Magazine’s Alabama Super Lawyers List for the third time. Although he is regarded as one of the top attorneys in Alabama, Franklin followed an indirect path to practicing law, and his journey began as an engineering student at Auburn.
“I stayed in engineering almost three years,” Franklin said. “During the summers I worked in the field. I worked for two summers in Huntsville and two summers with IBM in Colorado. I realized that I did not like the lifestyle of an engineer.”
After his realization, Franklin decided to change majors, and he graduated from Auburn with high honors and a bachelor of science in mathematics and a minor in physics. Following graduation, he made the decision to attend law school at the University of Alabama.
“My undergraduate experience at Auburn was great preparation for law school,” Franklin said. “Because of my background in mathematics and science, I was used to learning a set of rules and applying them to solve a problem. This process fit perfectly with what studying and practicing the law is all about. Many people in law school had never been given a problem with the expectation of working through it to find the results. I felt like I was as well prepared based on my undergraduate degree as anyone else in my law school class.”
After law school, Franklin attended Harvard University where he received his LL.M. degree. Following graduation from Harvard in 1973, he attended Officer Basic Camp and served three months of active duty with the United States Army. Franklin then set out to begin what has turned into a 41-year career. Reflecting back on the early days of his career, Franklin says he believes his background in sciences and mathematics helped him, especially when working in the area of products liability.
“I didn’t have to be totally knowledgeable about the products we dealt with, but my science background certainly helped,” Franklin said.
Besides acting as one of Auburn’s NCAA compliance attorneys, Franklin is also a partner at the Birmingham-based firm he co-founded more than 20 years ago, Lightfoot, Franklin and White. He specializes in civil litigation, primarily on the defense side. Franklin estimates nearly 90 percent of the cases he has handled are litigation oriented. Included in his resume are several highly publicized cases. For example, when the state of Alabama sued the ExxonMobil Corporation over a miscalculation of royalties on natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico, Franklin was called to defend the ExxonMobil Corporation. He also represented Auburn University when, under then-Governor Don Siegelman’s leadership, the state of Alabama experienced a proration funding crisis in public education.
“The impact of the funding crisis and the proration allocation was greater on Auburn University than it was on K-12,” Franklin recalled. “The court eventually ruled that the burden should be applied equally.”
Franklin’s firm has developed a national practice in the NCAA compliance field, led by attorneys Gene Marsh and William King. Franklin, along with King, represented Auburn in the NCAA investigation surrounding allegations about Cam Newton. Franklin also defended then-head football coach Pat Dye in the Eric Ramsey case.
“I feel very blessed to have been so successful in my career,” said Franklin. “For the most part, my work is still a lot of fun, and on most days I really look forward to it.”
For more information on Franklin, visit his firm’s website at www.lightfootlaw.com.
Alisha Jane Hicks
Alisha Jane Hicks, 24, of Haleyville, Ala., entered into rest Friday, June 7, 2013. Alisha was born January 16, 1989, in Jasper, Ala. She was saved June 29, 1997, at Bethel Baptist #2 where she was a member. She attended Haleyville High School and graduated in 2007. Alisha continued her education at Auburn University, graduating with a degree in Biomedical Science in 2011. Alisha met the love of her life, Fuller, while at Auburn. She was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She was currently attending Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. Alisha was a beloved daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Her selfless nature made her one of a kind. She was loved by all that knew her. While traveling to further her education, she never met a stranger, always making new friends. During her visits home, her first and favorite stop was to play with Warren. Alisha devoted much of her time to helping others. Her dream was to volunteer on a medical mission trip after completing school. Alisha is survived by her parents, Keith and Reba Frederick Hicks; brother, Lane (Sara Nan) Hicks; nephew, Warren; grandparents, Royce and Lula Frederick; grandmother, Annie Lee Hicks; loving boyfriend, Fuller McCabe; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her grandfather, Elbert Hicks; and cousin, Jason Price.
Leon Cunningham Jr.
Leon Cunningham Jr., professor emeritus of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, died June 8. Dr. Cunningham was born in Columbus, Ga., on June 9, 1927, to Anne Thomas Bussey Cunningham and Leon W. Cunningham. He was preceded in death on September 15, 2007, by his wife of 59 years, Jean Roberta Swingle Cunningham. They were married August 21, 1948, and had three children, Hugh Alan Cunningham (Donna) of Dalton, Ga.; Pamela Cunningham Hawkins (Ray) of Nashville; and Sue Ellen Cunningham Miller of Nashville; four grandchildren, Kate Audley Cunningham Barske (Scott) of Groton, Mass.; Kelly Alden Cunningham Marksbury (John) of St. Louis, Mo.; Erick Kristopher Hunt-Hawkins (Hailee) of Nashville; and James Walker Leon Miller of Nashville; and one great-grand daughter, Ella Mae Barske of Groton, Mass. He had one brother, Thomas Bussey Cunningham (Jeanne), of Columbus, Ga., and one sister, Martha Anne Cunningham, deceased. Dr. Cunningham was educated in the public schools of Columbus, Ga., and at Auburn University; the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL; and the University of Washington. He received a bachelor of science in chemistry from Auburn in 1947 and a doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1951. From 1943-45 he served in the United States Navy. From 1951-53 he participated in research in the biochemistry of proteins at the University of Washington. In 1953 he joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as an assistant professor, participating in teaching and continuing his research of enzyme chemistry with support from the National Institutes of Health. In 1961-62 he received a Special Fellowship from the NIH to expand his research studies at the Netherlands National Defense Laboratories in Rijswijk, Netherlands. The early connection with Holland grew over the years as an important part of his life and that of his family. In 1965 he was promoted to professor of biochemistry, and in 1967 he became the first associate dean for Biomedical Sciences (Research) at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, invited to the role by his colleagues to undertake the direction of a new school-wide effort, funded by the NIH. In 1973, he was selected to be chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt School of Medicine. He was named Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor in 1988. After leaving the chair in 1989, he returned to teaching and research until retirement as professor emeritus in 1994. He was a member of several scientific societies including the American Society for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. He contributed over 100 papers and to seven books in the field of protein structure, enzyme mechanisms and glycoproteins. He was a member of peer review biochemical study sections of the NIH and of the editorial boards of journals in the fields of connective tissue and glycoproteins. Over the late 1980s until his retirement, the Department of Biochemistry achieved regular national recognition as one of the top three departments nationally in National Institutes of Health research funding. His major professional satisfactions were the successful overall achievement by Vanderbilt's School of Medicine faculty in the 1990s of the goal set in 1967 of major international recognition in biomedical research, and especially the major role of his colleagues in the Department of Biochemistry. He always regretted that the laboratory research and association with graduate students that first led him into his career in biochemistry was abbreviated by his later, broader commitment to the School of Medicine. He was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church from 1953.
Student Services News:
McGinty to retire after nearly 26 years of service
Regina McGinty, administrative support associate for COSAM’s Office of Student Services, will retire this month after working at the university for almost 26 years. She began working at Auburn in 1987 and started her tenure with COSAM in 1996. A retirement reception was held in her honor on June 6 at The Alumni Center.
During the reception, several people expressed their thanks for her dedication to COSAM and the university.
“It takes a special group of gifts to do the job that you have done, Regina, so effectively for so many years … I think you have to be personable and kind and outgoing and steady,” said Lawrence Wit, professor emeritus of biological sciences and former dean for academic affairs for COSAM. “In many ways, Regina was kind of the front door of the college for so many students. I have no way to estimate the thousands of students, parents, visitors and sundry other lost people who have marched up to her desk to ask her about something. And Regina just always seemed to be able to handle it, and she did it in such a steady fashion.”
She was also described by Wit as being organized while handling the paperwork for 3,000 COSAM students, and as an employee who would often take an opportunity to have a “teaching moment” when working with students and co-workers alike.
He also read some comments from others who have worked with Regina:
“I was always amazed that she could really set a student straight while keeping her kindness and her respect for them. She knows that allowing them to get away with bad behavior is ultimately what is unkind,” said Beth Yarbrough, director of student services.
“What comes to my mind is a loyal friend,” said Glenelle Lindsay, administrative support specialist for academic affairs.
In recognition of her years of service, the college presented Regina with a rocking chair. Pictured in the rocking chair is Regina surrounded by advisors from COSAM’s Office of Student Services. They are from left: Beth Yarbrough, Beverley Childress, Kristin Smith and Anna Burchett. Regina’s last day is June 28. A video of the reception is available online. To see photos of the reception, like us on Facebook.
Arboretum awarded Level III accreditation through ArbNet
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum was awarded Level III accreditation through the ArbNet program. The accreditation recognizes the arboretum’s collection, display and dedication to woody plants such trees and shrubs for public benefit, scientific knowledge and conservation. The arboretum boasts almost 900 trees, including a post oak called the “Founder's Oak,” which measures 88 feet tall, 47.3 inches in diameter, and 89 feet across the crown width. For more information on the Level III accreditation through Arbnet, visit the website here.
Bennett family establishes Ralph B. Bennett Memorial Endowed Fund for Excellence
The Dr. Ralph B. Bennett Memorial Endowed Fund for Excellence was established for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The endowment was established in memory of Ralph Blount Bennett by his wife, Donna V. Bennett, and daughters, Rebecca Ruth Bennett and Leah Elizabeth Bennett Edwards, for the purpose of providing funds for excellence in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Ralph Bennett served as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at Auburn from 1966 to 1971. Donna Bennett served as managing editor of the journal Topology Proceedings at Auburn for many years and retired in 2001.
At the memorial service held shortly after Ralph Bennett's untimely death at the age of 32, one of his first graduate students, Jerry Williams, described Bennett's complete dedication to mathematics, to teaching, and to each of his students. The scholarship is the family's way of sharing that dedication with future generations.
“I would like to take this great opportunity to express appreciation to the Bennett family on behalf of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The family has provided strong support and contributions to the department over the last several decades,” said T.Y. Tam, chair and Lloyd and Sandra Nix Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “The fund will be used to recognize outstanding graduate students in the form of the Dr. Ralph B. Bennett Memorial Graduate Fellowship. The fund may also be used for undergraduate scholarships for students in mathematics or statistics.”
Ralph Bennett was born in Galveston, Texas, on Dec. 28, 1939, but spent most of his formative years in the Chicago area. After graduating from The Illinois Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, he enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Tennessee. When he left Knoxville four years later, he took with him a doctorate, a beloved wife and a new daughter. Following a short stint at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., the young family, now larger by one more daughter, arrived in Auburn in 1966.
Upon his arrival at Auburn University, Ralph Bennett proceeded to immerse himself in the academic life he so treasured. His few short years at Auburn were filled with teaching, advising, researching and publishing his findings. The chairman of the math department at the time, L.P. Burton, called Ralph Bennett a new creative talent who brought scholarly excellence and a love of teaching to a department in great need of (such) inspiration.
His contributions to the university were recognized when, in 1969, Ralph Bennett was given a special appointment as an Alumni Associate Professor. One of the final accolades to his work came in 1971 when he was awarded a grant for study and research at the Polish Academy of Sciences from the National Academy of Sciences.
Ralph Bennett was characterized as a quiet, reserved, patient person who related to others in a friendly, genuine manner. He was known as an independent thinker, with a subtle, charming sense of humor. In the words of Burton, "Ralph Bennett was respected and loved by all who knew him."
Diversity and Multicultural Affairs News:
COSAM welcomes 22 Summer Bridge participants
On June 2, the COSAM Summer Bridge program welcomed 22 student participants. This year's program includes students from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas. Student majors for the fall include actuarial science, biochemistry, biomedical sciences and chemistry, with concentration interests in pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, and pre-veterinary medicine. The students were selected for an outstanding academic enrichment and stimulating learning experience. The four-week intensive program includes: non-credit instruction of mathematics and chemistry courses; educational development of study skills, time management and financial literacy; and enhancement of social skills.
During orientation, students were welcomed by Charles Savrda, interim dean of COSAM, and Summer Bridge program coordinator, Bianca Evans. They also received an overview of the program by Summer Bridge counselors, Marissa Bolling, Olivia Cook, Andrea Jackson, Quenton Mosley and Dillon Thompson. Student activities thus far include presentations from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the Harrison School of Pharmacy, the Auburn Experience, Student Affairs, Student Counseling Services and the Department of Biological Sciences. On June 8, students visited Chewacla State Park. Additional scheduled activities include departmental visits, field trips and community service. The Summer Bridge program will conclude with the Awards Luncheon on June 27. For more information about the Summer Bridge Program, visit the Summer Bridge website.
COSAM’s Science Matters summer enrichment academy in full swing
Science Matters is a summer enrichment academy for elementary students in rising first through sixth grades offering youngsters a cross-curricular, age-appropriate science experience. The Department of Outreach began offering the weekly program on June 3 and will conclude on Aug. 2. During the week, participants have an opportunity to explore the world of science through real experiments, technology and art projects, electronic journaling, and hands-on, make-n’-take activities. The action-packed program offers courses such as “DNA Detectives,” “Kitchen Chemistry,” “LEGO Mania,” and many more. The program offers a Regular Day option from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and an Extended Day option from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and prices range from $170 to $235 per week, per child. For more information, visit the Science Matters website, or contact Kristen Bond at 844-5769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
24 high school students on campus for Summer Science Institute
The Summer Science Institute began on Sunday, June 9 and will end on Saturday, June 15. The academically competitive program is for students who are currently in the 10th or 11th grade, reside in Alabama or Georgia, and show a heightened interest in a career in the sciences or mathematics. Students enrolled in this year’s institute have an opportunity to explore cutting-edge research topics in biology, chemistry, geology, physics and mathematics as they work with faculty members from COSAM under the leadership of Allen Landers, associate professor of physics and Howard Carr Professor of Outreach. In addition to exposure to advanced concepts in each of the five disciplines in COSAM, participants receive seasoned advice from academic professionals. Examples of Summer Science Institute workshops include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum of Natural History, hands-on chemistry courses in the Sciences Center Lab Building, and a demonstration of the particle accelerator in Leach Science Center. For more information, go to the SSI website.