Longtime faculty member to receive award
Lawrence Wit, associate dean for academic affairs for COSAM, has been selected to receive one of two, 2012 Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The award is a prestigious honor which recognizes those faculty members who demonstrate effective and innovative teaching methods, and a continuing commitment to student success through advising and mentoring inside and outside the classroom. The award carries a $10,000 stipend for each recipient. Emeritus senior administrators, Gerald and Emily Leischuck, established the endowment in 2005 to recognize the university’s teachers, and Auburn presented the first Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards the same year. Click HERE for more information about Wit, including video.
COSAM recognizes achievement at the 2012 Honors Convocation
COSAM held its yearly Honors Convocation on April 13. The convocation was held in honor of Marllin Simon, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics (pictured left with Interim Dean Charles Savrda). During the ceremony, students were recognized for outstanding academic achievement for the 2011-2012 school year. Interim Dean Savrda also congratulated several COSAM students, faculty and staff for exceptional performance including the following:
2012 COSAM Dean's Medalists: Paul M. Bergen, Biological Sciences; Erika K. Bisgaard, Biological Sciences; Shaista S. Walji, Biological Sciences; Audra A. Brawley, Biomedical Sciences; Melissa K. Link, Biomedical Sciences; Daniel J. Johnson, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Kristen E. McCall, Geology and Geography; Bryan T. McMeen, Mathematics and Statistics; and Kelsie A. Niffenegger, Physics.
Outstanding COSAM Graduate Teaching Assistant: Maria Mazzillo-Mays, Biological Sciences; and Jeff Keevan, Geology and Geography.
Outstanding COSAM Faculty Advisor: Professor Roland Dute, Biological Sciences.
Outstanding COSAM Teacher: Professor Andras Bezdek, Mathematics and Statistics.
Biological Sciences News:
The Auburn Tiger Trapdoor Spider - A new species discovered from a college town backyard
Researchers at Auburn University reported the discovery of a new trapdoor spider species from a well-developed housing subdivision in the heart of the city of Auburn, Ala. Myrmekiaphila tigris, affectionately referred to as the Auburn Tiger Trapdoor spider, is named in honor of Auburn University’s costumed tiger mascot, Aubie. The research team, directed by Biological Sciences professor Jason Bond, lead investigator and director of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, and Charles Ray, a research fellow in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, was excited at the prospect of such a remarkable find just underfoot. Bond and Ray actually live in the neighborhood where the new species was discovered.
Myrmekiaphila tigris belongs to a genus that contains 11 other species of trapdoor spider found throughout the eastern U.S. and includes the now-famous species Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, from Birmingham, Ala., named for Canadian rocker Neil Young.
Due to superficial similarities, Myrmekiaphila tigris was previously believed to be a different species, M. foliata, according to a taxonomic study of the group that was published a few years ago. However, closer examination revealed considerable differences in appearance, particularly in their genitalia, that were supported by additional DNA studies.Trapdoor spiders, related to tarantulas, funnel web spiders, and their kin, construct subterranean burrows that they cover with a hinged door made of a mixture of silk and soil. Female spiders spend nearly their entire lives in a single silk-lined burrow from which they forage as sit-and-wait predators. Prey are captured, usually at night, when an insect or other animal causes a vibration, provoking the spider to leap from the burrow entrance, bite and envenomate the unsuspecting victim, and then return to the bottom of the burrow to feast on its prize.
“Despite the physical uniqueness of these specimens, the use of DNA as an alternate, less subjective line of evidence for recognizing the species was warranted, given our excitement with discovering a new species literally in our own backyards,” Bond said.
Members of the species are rarely encountered individually. However, once males reach sexual maturity at around 5 or 6 years old, they emerge from their burrows to find a female with which to mate. Wandering males can be found in relatively large numbers on neighborhood sidewalks, in swimming pools and even in homeowners’ garages for a brief time during the months of November and December. Females, on the other hand, are much more secretive, living relatively long, 15 to 20-year lives in their below-ground burrows. They often have more intricate burrows that include side chambers with additional underground trapdoors. Burrows can be found along the banks in relatively young, secondary growth forests in neighborhood natural areas.
Bond said, “The discovery of a new species in a well-developed area like this further demonstrates the amount of biodiversity on our planet that remains unknown; we know so little about our home planet and the other organisms that inhabit it with us.”
For full story, including video, click HERE.
Chemistry professor gives two energy lectures
Thomas Meyer, Arey Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gave two seminars in April. The first lecture, "Our Energy Future: Science and Technology Challenges for the 21st Century," was meant for a general audience and was held on April 11. The second lecture, "Solar Fuels," was on April 12. Meyer is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published over 600 papers and was recently awarded the 2012 Kosolapoff Award (pictured with award). The Kosolapoff Award is the highest award offered by the Auburn section of the American Chemical Society and is named for the late Gennady Kosolapoff, a former professor of chemistry at Auburn University and an internationally renowned expert on organophosphorus chemistry.
Climate change educators gather at Auburn symposium
On April 26, COSAM hosted a symposium titled, “Global Climate Change in Education.” The symposium was the culmination of a program funded by NASA that began with the development of three learning modules that have since been incorporated into grades 9 to 12 biology, chemistry and physics classrooms across Alabama. By the time implementation is complete, potentially over 200,000 students will have had the opportunity to delve into the science of global climate change.
The aim of the program is to improve both high school and public knowledge about climate change issues, and the symposium was another step toward that goal. The success of the program has resulted from a unique partnership between Auburn University and the Alabama Science in Motion, or ASIM, program, which is funded by the Alabama State Department of Education.
Present at the symposium were all three critical components of the four-year effort: teacher fellows, ASIM specialists from all 11 in-service districts across the state, and faculty from Auburn University. Also attending were teachers working with the fellows, faculty and students from colleges across the university, and members of the public.
The symposium featured five climate change experts, each of whom gave a presentation in their area of expertise and participated in an open panel discussion (pictured). Each expert was integrally involved in research or dissemination of scientific approaches to global climate change issues. One is a teacher, one is from academia and three have NASA backgrounds. They are: Peter Griffith, chief support scientist of NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Office; Berry Lyons, director of the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University; Jorge Vazquez, scientist for Sea Surface Salinity, Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center; Greg Craven, a high school physics and chemistry teacher from Oregon; and Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
To see a video about the conference, click HERE.
For more information on global climate change in education in Alabama, visit the website.
Arboretum to celebrate Public Gardens Day
On Friday, May 11, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum will celebrate National Public Gardens Day with programs and tours. The celebration is an opportunity for the public to experience some of what the Arboretum has to offer. The tour starts in the morning with a close look at carnivorous plants and azaleas. Participants can bring their own lunch for a picnic at the pavilion. Then, the afternoon will start with learning about the Arboretum’s relationship to local and international plant groups, and end with a tour of the flagship collection, the oaks. All events are free. For a detailed schedule, visit the Arboretum website.
Arboretum photo contest winners announced
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum 2012 photo contest winners were announced on April 20. The contest, a collaborative effort between the arboretum and the Department of Art, featured nearly 100 entries that were judged in five categories. To see the winning photos and learn more about the contest, click here. To learn more about the arboretum, visit the Arboretum website.
PASS program hosts recognition luncheon
On April 26, the Promoting Academic Success for Students, or PASS, Mentoring Program held its 2nd Annual Recognition Luncheon. The luncheon focused on “Mentorship Matters.” Mentors and mentees dropped in to be recognized for a great 2011-12 school year. Awards were distributed to each participant in the program. A new addition to the recognition luncheon was the Mentor of the Year Award. To receive the award, mentees had to submit a nomination form detailing the reasons why their mentor should be chosen. This year’s winner is sophomore Marissa Bolling (pictured). A biomedical sciences major with a concentration in pre-dentistry, Bolling was nominated by her mentee, Tamara Barber. Barber stated that her mentor helped her in both academic and social settings. This pair is a great example of the positive impact that mentors play in someone else’s life. For more information about the PASS Mentoring Program, click here.
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COSAM alumnus receives award for outstanding contributions in chemistry
Ivy Carroll, chemistry ’57, received the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry during the 2012 Ceremony and General Meeting of the American Chemical Society on March 27, in San Diego, California. The award is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and is given to recognize outstanding contributions to research in medicinal chemistry. Carroll is an RTI, or Research Triangle Institute, International distinguished fellow. He is an internationally recognized organic and medicinal chemist with more than 50 years of scientific leadership and accomplishment at RTI. He has made major scientific contributions in drug discovery and development, as well as in other research areas. Among his most recognized scientific contributions is the development of compounds as potential treatments for cocaine addiction, nicotine addiction, and other central nervous system disorders. Carroll is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honors including the North Carolina Award in Science in 2010, the 2002 Medicinal Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society, the 2001 Herty Award, the 2000 Southern Chemist Award, the 1993 Distinguished Lecturer Award from the North Carolina section of the American Chemical Society, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence 2006 Nathan B. Eddy Award. In addition, he was honored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse with the 1993 Pacesetter Award and the 2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse Public Service Award for Significant Achievement. In 2007, he was inducted into the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame. Carroll received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published 441 peer-reviewed publications, 34 book chapters and 43 patents, as well as several current patent applications in the fields of organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry and drug abuse research. Pictured from left is: Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, president, American Chemical Society; Ivy Carroll; and Paul Feldman, senior vice president, Enteroendocrine Discovery Performance Unit, GlaxoSmithKline. For more information on Carroll, visit his website.
-edited with contribution from RTI
COSAM graduate is executive chef
Michael Bertozzi, biomedical sciences-pre-pharmacy ’10, is the executive chef for the new Central restaurant in Montgomery, Ala. A Florida native, Bertozzi has worked in restaurants since he was 15 years old. He says he cooked his way through college, working at several restaurants in Auburn including Skybar Café and IN ITALY Ristorante & Bar. He also served as Sous Chef at Auburn’s famed Amsterdam Café, where he worked with executive chef David Bancroft to design and cultivate their two acre “Chef Garden” as part of their campaign to “Buy Fresh, Buy Local.” In November 2010, Bertozzi was recruited to one of the top restaurants in the country, Atlanta’s TWO urban licks, to work with Chef Cameron Thompson. A recipient of Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List,” Bon Appetit’s “Hot 50 Tables,” and one of Rachael Ray’s “favorite restaurants” in the country, TWO urban licks was where Bertozzi honed his culinary skills. Today, Bertozzi says he is thrilled to be back in Alabama where he is turning out wood-fired classics for Montgomery diners. At Central, Bertozzi pulls from the region around him to highlight all it has to offer. Utilizing fresh Gulf seafood, local meats and greens, and more, Bertozzi strives to offer a straightforward approach to American classics. For more information, visit Central’s website.
-Contributed by Central restaurant’s website, with edits by COSAM.
COSAM alumnus honored at dinner, speaks at spring commencement
Dr. Kirby Bland, chemistry/biology ’64, was honored at the Greater Birmingham Auburn Club Distinguished Awards dinner on May 3. Bland was also the speaker at the spring commencement ceremony on May 7 at 10 a.m., which featured graduates from: COSAM; Engineering; Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; and Nursing. A surgeon, oncologist and researcher, Bland attended medical school at the University of Alabama School of medicine. He has served in various capacities at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Louisville, the University of Florida, and Brown University. He returned to UAB in 1999 as Fay Fletcher Kerner professor, chair of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-chief at University Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic. He serves as director of General Surgery and, until 2009, served as deputy director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, followed by an appointment as senior advisor. Bland is immediate past president of the American Surgical Association. For more information on Bland, read the story on page 36 that appeared in the 2012 edition of Journey magazine by clicking here.
COSAM student takes first place at SEC championship tournament
The fifth-ranked Auburn women's golf team won the Southeastern Conference Championship on Sunday, April 22, and Patricia Sanz, a senior in biomedical sciences, won the individual title at the championship tournament. Sanz's individual title is the first tournament victory of her career. A native of Madrid, Spain, the victory came after finishing no higher than a tie for 16th this season. "I'm the happiest person in the world," Sanz said. "This came at the best time. I'm a senior, our team won, I just couldn't have asked for anything better.” Continue reading...
-Photo by Todd Van Emst
Society for Conservation Biology update
Members of Auburn University’s chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, or SCB, participated in an invasive species cleanup project on April 22, in honor of Earth Day (pictured). Participants worked in Auburn to eliminate privet and other nuisance plants that were choking out native species. The event was led by Sharon Herman, assistant research professor in Biological Sciences, and John Kush, research fellow in Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
On May 5, students in SCB traveled to Conecuh National Forest to help release 33 snakes for the ongoing Eastern Indigo Snake Project. The largest snake in the U.S., the eastern indigo snake may once again have a thriving presence in extreme south Alabama thanks to the project, which represents a collaborative effort between Auburn University and various agencies interested in the preservation of this threatened species. The non-venomous eastern indigo snake is native to Alabama; however, there have been no verified sightings of the snake since the 1960s. Classified in 1978 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species, this large, rare snake is thought to be extirpated from Alabama. In an effort to reintroduce the eastern indigo snake to its native habitat in Alabama, Auburn University is a leader in raising juvenile eastern indigos to be released in the wild. To read more about the project, see the 2011 story, which includes video, Here. For more information on SCB, visit the SCB website.
The Society for Women in Sciences and Mathematics hosts symposium
The Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics, or SWSM, a philanthropic group in COSAM, held the sixth annual Leadership Symposium on May 1. The purpose of the symposium was to bring together and showcase distinguished women in the fields of sciences and mathematics to serve as leaders and role models for the next generation of women. The one-day symposium began with a panel discussion featuring accomplished women from various disciplines. Following the panel discussion were two breakout sessions and a luncheon featuring the Marie W. Wooten Distinguished Speaker, Anda A. Ray ’78, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Environmental and Support Services at the Tennessee Valley Authority. For more information on SWSM, visit the SWSM website.
Annual festival held for students and teachers
On April 26, the Department of Outreach hosted AU Explore, an annual science and math festival offered to fifth- through eighth-grade students and their teachers. Featured activities included a variety of live, large-scale science demo shows, including the Birds of Prey Show hosted by the Southeastern Raptor Center. COSAM faculty and students also offered dozens of hands-on mini-courses called "Science Fun Shops" in which participants did things like build a motor and dissect sheep eyes. Additionally, students had an opportunity to handle live animals. More than 1,200 middle and high school students attended the event. For more information on AU Explore, including a video of the event, click HERE. For more information on COSAM’s Department of Outreach, visit the Outreach website.
"A Night in New Orleans" success
COSAM held a benefit for the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Saturday, April 14. The event, "A Night in New Orleans," was held at the arboretum and included a dinner of traditional New Orleans fare, music, entertainment and a silent auction.
Each year, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum welcomes hundreds of local students for alternative classroom hands-on experiences; last year alone, the arboretum hosted more than 2,500 kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. Additionally, the colleges across campus make extensive use of the arboretum each semester through classes, projects and research. The evening event honored these outreach efforts and raised funds to help ensure Auburn is able to preserve the arboretum for generations to come.
More than 150 people attended the inaugural event and approximately $10,000 was raised. Coach Pat Dye was present and auctioned off one of his Japanese Maple trees for a winning bid of $800. All funds will be used for Arboretum enhancements.
Anyone wishing to donate who could not attend the event can still make a 100 percent tax-deductible donation. Checks should be made out to Auburn University Foundation and sent to the College of Sciences and Mathematics Office of Development at 315 Roosevelt Concourse, Auburn, Ala. 36849. Credit cards also may be used by calling (334) 844-2931.
Scholarships funded from memorial 5K
The second annual Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K Run was held on April 21 in recognition of Wooten's contributions as a mentor, scientist, scholar, and academic administrator and her commitment to student training and outreach.
Around 175 people participated in the run, and proceeds funded four scholarships. Major sponsors of the event include Auburn Spine and Neurosurgery Center, Herb Martin Family, AuburnBank, Sprayberry Orthodontics, War Eagle Society, RFKC Consulting, Auburn Network, and Amsterdam Café.
For more information about the Marie W. Wooten Memorial 5K Run, go to www.facebook.com/wooten5k or contact Brook Moates at (334) 844-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spirit of Auburn scholarships help best and brightest students
The Auburn Scholarship Campaign is an initiative started by President Jay Gogue that is dedicated to building funds to support current students and compete for future scholars who will enhance the intellectual capability on our campus. This unique opportunity offers an increased return on donor investments while providing considerably larger scholarships to named recipients. The campaign is dedicated to providing Auburn’s brightest students — the Spirit of Auburn and Academic Scholars — additional scholarship funds. Spirit of Auburn Scholarships are designated for Alabama residents and Academic Scholarships for non-residents. Earnings from the endowed scholarships are paired with current Spirit of Auburn or Academic Scholarships, ranging from $2,500 to more than full tuition annually. As a result, the student receives a more attractive and competitive scholarship award. In addition, the entire amount is awarded in the donor’s name.
The endowed scholarship minimum is currently $12,500, half of the usual $25,000 minimum, for first-time endowment donors. Donors can designate their scholarship for College of Sciences and Mathematics general scholarship fund or for a specific department. The payout is approximately four percent or $1,000 for every $25,000 given. The scholarship is available to the recipient for four years if the continuation requirements are met (a minimum cumulative, unadjusted 3.0 GPA and a minimum of 24 credit hours each year).
This special scholarship campaign concludes in June 2012.
For more information, contact Tammy Beck Hartwell, Director of Development, at email@example.com or 334.844.1449.