Biological Sciences News:
Best named recipient of 2014 Joseph Grinnell Award
Troy Best, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has received the 2014 Joseph Grinnell Award from the American Society of Mammologists. The award was established in 1996 to honor individuals who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to education in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years.
Students receive graduate school research awards
Ten graduate students have received research awards from the Department of Biological Sciences. The students are Aubrey Sirman, Malorie Hays, Brian Folt, Mark Stuart, Chen Chih-Wei, Anothony Melton, Ruijuan Li, Jessica Gilpin, Rebecca Koch and Charles Stephen. Funds for the awards were made available through the generosity of outside donors.
Stone awarded Conservation Educator of the Year
Kay Stone, outreach coordinator for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, has been selected by the Alabama Wildlife Federation as Conservation Educator of the Year. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to conservation education. Stone educates many students in Alabama about biodiversity and conservation of natural resources. She recently joined the Department of Biological Sciences and COSAM with the transfer of the Alabama Natural Heritage Program.
Vaught’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship project published
Rebecca Vaught’s COSAM Undergraduate Research Fellowship project, “Genetic Lineage and Environmental Conditions as Drivers of Chromatosome Variation in the Anchialine Shrimp Halocaridina Rubra Holthuis 1963 (Atyidae: Decapoda),” has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Crustacean Biology. Vaught, the first author, is a senior microbial, cellular and molecular biology major and middle author, Justin Havird, is a graduate student researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences. The article looks at color variation among and within crustacean species due to morphological and physiological differences in the specialized cells, chromatophores.
Boyd gives talk at International Conference on Serpentine Ecology in Malaysia
Robert Boyd, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was invited to give a talk covering the seven prior serpentine conferences as part of the opening dinner for the 8th International Conference on Serpentine Ecology in Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Boyd also gave the keynote address, “Serpentine Ecology: Ecology Viewed through a Serpentine Lens,” to open the session talks on ecology and biogeography for which he served as co-moderator. He is one of a team of five guest editors for the conference proceedings, which will be published as a special issue of the Australian Journal of Botany. Joining Boyd at the conference was biological sciences Ph.D. student, Katherine Mincey, who presented a poster on her research on herbivory and nickel hyperaccumulator plants.
Spider phylogenomics article published
An article written by Jason Bond, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and graduate students Nicole Garrison, Chris Hamilton and Rebecca Godwin, has been published online by Current Biology and selected as a feature article by Nature News. The article, "Phylogenomics Resolves a Spider Backbone Phylogeny and Rejects a Prevailing Paradigm for Orb Web Evolution," examines the evolution of the spider and was written in collaboration with faculty at the University of Vermont and San Diego State University.
Geology and Geography News:
Graduate student receives Barringer Family Fund award
Geology graduate student Erik Heider has received the prestigious Barringer Family Fund award for his master’s thesis research at Wetumpka impact crater in Elmore County, Alabama. The Barringer Family Fund award is given annually to a select number of students around the world for outstanding proposed graduate research projects in meteorite impact craters. Heider was the only student from the United States chosen this year.
Mathematics and Statistics News:
Graduate students accept postdoc offers
Ph.D. graduates accept positions
- Glenn Hughes, advised by Gary Gruenhage, will join the Department of Mathematical Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago.
- Cadavious Jones, advised by Pete Johnson, accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Alabama State University. Carl Pettis, the department chair at Alabama State University, is a former Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Auburn.
- Kelly Bragan, also advised by Pete Johnson, accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Mathematics at Tuskegee University.
- Hank Harmon, advised by Randall Holmes, accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at South Puget Sound Community College in Washington.
- Keith (Dan) Brauss, advised by A.J. Meir, accepted a visiting assistant professor position at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Former graduates Judy Kennedy, Kumer Pial Das and PJ Couch are also with Lamar University.
- John Asplund, advised by Chris Rodger, accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at Dalton State College in Georgia. Robert Ford, former Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is also a professor at Dalton State College. Ford attended the retirement colloquium talk in honor of Gary Gruenhage and Phil Zenor.
Li named winner of 2014 Robert K. Butz Award
The Faculty Award Committee selected Xiaoyu (Sophie) Li as recipient of the 2014 Robert K. Butz Award for Teaching Excellence in Mathematics. The award recognizes an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics for outstanding teaching in undergraduate mathematics courses and grants a $1,000 honorarium to the recipient.
In Memoriam: Libby Butz
COSAM mourns the loss of Elizabeth (Libby) Ann Hodges Butz, wife of Robert K. Butz, former faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 1958 to 1988. All of us in COSAM extend our deepest condolences to the entire Butz family as they mourn the loss of Libby. Her obituary is reprinted below:
Elizabeth Ann Hodges Butz, of Auburn, passed away June 8, 2014. Born July 20, 1926, Mrs. Butz was a native of Birmingham, AL. Elizabeth (Libby) Butz was preceded in death by her husband Robert Kent Butz. She is survived by her six children: Floyd (Sandy) Williams of Gulf Shores; Bob Butz of Auburn; Martha (Bob) Dumas of Auburn; Don (Beth) Butz of Auburn; Mary Wilson of Williston, FL; Margaret (Jim) Kuhn of Columbus, OH; and her 14 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. She was a member of Chapter E, P.E.O., Auburn, AL and Auburn United Methodist Church. A memorial service was held June 12 at Auburn United Methodist Church in Founder's Chapel with visitation held prior to the service in Founder's Chapel. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to The United Methodist Children's Home, 3140 Zelda Court, Montgomery, AL 36106-2607, East Alabama Medical Center Foundation, 2000 Pepperell Parkway Opelika, AL 36801 or Southern Care Hospice, 7067 Sydney Curve, Montgomery, AL 36117. Funeral arrangements were handled by Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home.
Professors receive emeritus status
Gary Gruenhage (left) and Steve Stuckwisch (right) have each received emeritus status following their retirements in spring 2014. Gruenhage's areas of interest are general topology and set-theoretic topology. Stuckwisch's interests include numerical analysis, mathematical modeling, non-linear filtering and web-based instruction.
Henry named new associate dean for research and graduate studies
Raymond Henry, the William P. Molette Professor of Biological Sciences, has been named the associate dean for research and graduate studies for the College of Sciences and Mathematics. A faculty member at Auburn since 1983, Henry was the Marine Biology Undergraduate Curriculum Coordinator from 1990-1995 and the assistant department chair from 2002-2012. Since 2010 he has served as the director of the Auburn University Cellular and Molecular Peaks of Excellence Program. He is also the co-director of the Teaching Enhancement Award Program, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Henry is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Director’s Research Award from the College of Agriculture, and the Dean’s Research Award from the College of Sciences and Mathematics. He was named an Alumni Professor from 1996-2001, and a Scharnagel Professor from 2002-2005.
Henry’s primary area of research is in the area of comparative physiology and biochemistry of invertebrates and lower invertebrates, focusing on how animals adapt to harsh and unstable environments. More specifically, he studies the central and multiple physiological and biochemical functions of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase in processes, including respiratory gas exchange, acid-base balance, salt and water balance, cell volume regulation, and nitrogen metabolism. Most recently he has used the carbonic anhydrase gene as a molecular model for how gene expression is regulated by changes in environmental conditions. He has published papers in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the Journal of Experimental Zoology, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, and the American Journal of Physiology, among others.
Henry received both a bachelor of science and a master of science in biology from the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He received his doctorate in zoology and marine science from the University of Texas at Austin, and he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine before joining the faculty at Auburn.
His term as ADR will begin Aug. 16. For more information on Henry, visit his website.
Warren writes second book, “No Place to Hide”
COSAM adjunct faculty member Dr. W. Lee Warren has written a book, “No Place to Hide,” documenting his experience as a neurosurgeon in a combat zone in Iraq. Warren is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in the minimally invasive management of brain tumors, brain and spinal cord trauma, epilepsy, aneurysms, facial pain and movement disorders, spinal cord and spine disorders, and peripheral nerve problems at the Auburn Spine and Neurosurgery Center. He is an affiliate professor of biomedical sciences at Auburn University and co-founder of technology developer Warren Innovation. Click Here for more on Warren and his book.
Skotnicki writes “Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships”
Michael Skotnicki has penned “Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships,” a book that argues that Auburn should claim a National Championship for the 1910, 1913, 1914, 1958, 1983, 1993 and 2004 seasons in addition to the 1957 and 2010 National Championships. Skotnicki graduated from Auburn with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology. He is also a magna cum laude graduate of the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University. For more information about Skotnicki and his book, visit the website.
In memoriam: Hank Hartsfield, 2007 COSAM Distinguished Alumnus
Col. Henry (Hank) Warren Hartsfield, physics ’54, passed away on July 17. He was born in Birmingham, Ala., on Nov. 21, 1933. After graduating from Auburn, he performed graduate work in physics and astronautics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and Duke University. Hartsfield joined the Air Force in 1955 and graduated from the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he served as an instructor when he was recruited as an astronaut trainee for the Manned Orbital Laboratory.
The program was canceled in 1969 and Hartsfield was assigned to NASA as an astronaut. Prior to joining NASA he earned a master’s in engineering science from the University of Tennessee.
Hartsfield held various positions with the Astronaut Office, most significantly providing the pilots input on the development of the space shuttle entry flight control system. Also at NASA, he piloted Space Shuttle Columbia's fourth and final orbital flight test in June 1982, commanded the first flight of Space Shuttle Discovery in August 1984 and commanded Space Shuttle Challenger on the German D-1 Spacelab mission in October 1985. He also held management positions at the Johnson Space Center, NASA Headquarters and Marshall Space Flight Center.
Hartsfield retired from NASA in 1997 and joined Raytheon, serving as vice president for aerospace engineering services in Houston. He retired from Raytheon in April 2005.
Hartsfield received numerous awards and honors throughout his career including the General Thomas D. White Space Trophy in 1974, NASA DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 1982, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from Auburn University in 1986. He was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also elevated to fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots in 2006. Hartsfield is survived by his wife Fran, daughter Judy Hartsfield Gedies and grandsons Robert Hartsfield Gedies and Michael Warren Gedies, brother Earl Hartsfield and numerous family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter Keely, who worked as a contractor to the Space Shuttle Program and died in March 2014. Visitation will be held at Crowder Funeral Home in Clear Lake, Texas on Friday, July 25, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A church service will follow on Saturday, July 26, at Clear Lake United Methodist Church at 11 a.m.
The College of Sciences and Mathematics extends our deepest sympathy to the Hartsfield family.
In Memoriam: Billie Ann Rice
Billie Ann Rice, age 77 of Big Canoe, Ga., passed away at her residence on June 7.
As a former educator, she utilized state-of-the-art teaching methods and philosophy in the classroom. Rice received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Auburn University in 1959, a master’s degree in mathematics from Auburn in 1961, a second master’s degree in computing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in mathematics from Georgia State University. She worked for several years at Georgia Perimeter College, then called DeKalb College, where she helped transform the mathematics, sciences, and computer curriculums of the multi-campus college into a cutting-edge system. Rice, along with colleague Linda Boyd, led the transformation with the help of two grants they received in the 1980s: a National Science Foundation Needs Grant and a National Science Foundation Cause Grant. Rice used the grant money over a three-year period, enhancing the quality of learning at Georgia Perimeter College.
During the first year of the grants she conducted testing to measure how well students were learning content in sciences and mathematics with an overarching goal of offering alternative forms of instruction in a new learning center. While the test results were being analyzed, Rice devoted the second year of the grants to the acquisition of new computers and equipment with the intention of offering computer-programming instruction, and she eventually brought the computing curriculum to the college. During the third year of the grants, Rice initiated the creation of an instructional video catalogue for the learning center. The videos were designed to provide students with additional tools for better learning sciences and mathematics concepts based on the research results.
With the success of the learning center and a new computer science curriculum under way, Rice remained at the college for several years before starting her own company, Computer Systems Resources, Inc. She developed a software package for law firms which enabled a more accurate and effective means of tracking and billing hours. Eastman Kodak purchased an exclusive license for the software package, and in 1990, Rice left Eastman Kodak and took a position as a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.
She is survived by her husband, Ken Rice; daughters and sons-in-law, Annette and Nelson Hall, Kathleen and Bo Ingram; and grandchildren Emily and Roy Ryan.
Memorial donations can be made to Big Canoe Chapel or Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics.
The College of Sciences and Mathematics extends our deepest sympathy to the Rice family.