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August 2014 - 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!

Biological Sciences News:

Students study in Southern Africa
SwazilandStudents in the Department of Biological Sciences are studying abroad in the Kingdom of Swaziland in Southern Africa as part of the department’s field biology and ecology course. The course, directed by Troy Best, Christine Sundermann and Michael Wooten, offers students a unique, hands-on research experience. Students observe animals in their natural environments and learn field-research techniques such as data collection. Swaziland is a land-locked country that is bordered on the east by Mozambique and on other sides by Southern Africa. It is the smallest country in the Southern Hemisphere and is home to more than 100 species of mammals. Click here for more on the course.  

Goertzen receives NSF Collaborative Research grant
GoertzenLes Goertzen, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the John D. Freeman Herbarium, has received a National Science Foundation Collaborative Research grant in the amount of $69,990. The grant, titled “Digitization TCN: The Key to the Cabinets: Building and Sustaining a Research Database for a Global Diversity Hotspot,” will focus on imaging and databasing plant collections in herbaria. It is a four-year, $2.5 million collaboration among multiple institutions including the universities of Alabama and South Alabama.

Biological sciences professors receive four-year National Science Foundation grant
nsfJason Bond, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, along with Charles Ray, professor of entomology, and Jack Feminella, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, have been awarded a four-year NSF grant in the amount of $308,289. The grant, titled “Collaborative Research-Digitization TCN: InvertEBase: Reaching Back to See the Future: Species-Rich Invertebrate Faunas Document Causes and Consequences of Biodiversity Shifts,” is part of a $2.2 million collaborative project with the Field Museum of Natural History, the Delaware Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State, Harvard University and the Smithsonian.

Stone receives award for Conservation Educator of the Year

Left to Right: Jo Lewis, Natural Heritage Section Chief; Kay Stone, outreach administrator for the Museum of Natural History; Patti Powell, director, State Lands Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Kay Stone, outreach administrator for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, was awarded Conservation Educator of the Year at The Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards ceremony August 8 at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill in Prattville. Stone works closely with the State Lands Division at the Robert G. Wehle Nature Center in Bullock County, as part of the Black Belt Environmental Science and Arts Program providing environmental education opportunities to fourth and fifth grade students. What began with only 40 students has grown to well over 500 students with four counties participating in conservation, land stewardship and natural resource programs, and since 2005, her programs have held 143 field days for more than 5,400 students from 13 different public schools within the Black Belt region. For more information on Stone, and other recipients, visit the website.

Chemistry & Biochemistry News:

Duin awarded National Science Foundation grant
duinEvert Duin, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has received a National Science Foundation Chemistry of Life Processes grant in the amount of $375,000. The grant, “Collaborative Research: Understanding Electron Bifurcation in Methanogenic Archaea,” is a multi-disciplinary project which depends on the cooperative effort of groups with complementary expertise. Duin and his group will be responsible for the biophysical characterization of the heterodisulfide reductase. The goal of the proposed research is to gain a detailed understanding of the electron bifurcation process in the heterodisulfide reductase complexes from Methanothermobacter marburgensis and Methanococcus maripaludis. For more information on the grant, visit the website.

Mathematics & Statistics News:

Lin receives National Science Foundation grant
linJunshan Lin, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has received a National Science Foundation grant in the amount of $144,812 for his research project, “Modeling and Computation in Elastography.” Elastography is an emerging imaging modality that seeks to non-destructively determine the mechanical properties of elastic/viscoleastic media from their response to external forces and offers a wide range of applications in medical diagnostics and non-destructive testing. The objective of this project is to examine fundamental mathematical issues and develop efficient computational methods for solving the direct and inverse problems in elastography. Click here for more on the award.

Ph.D. graduate accepts position

  • Daniel Brice, advised by Huajun Huang, has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Mathematics at Tuskegee University.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics welcomes new faculty
professorPhilippe Gaillard has joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as director of the Statistical Consulting Center and associate professor. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and has broad statistical consulting experience.
Ana Mamatelashvili and Füruzan Özbek have joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as post-doctoral fellows. Mamatelashvili received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and Ozbek received her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

Oeding to speak at University of California, Berkeley
Luke Oeding, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Sciences will be presenting two talks at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley on Sept. 3 and 5. Oeding will speak on tensor decomposition as an introduction to this semester’s program on algorithms and complexity in algebraic geometry. For more information about the Sept. 3 talk, click here. For information about the Sept. 5 talk, click here.  

Zalik and Govil to speak at Indian Institute of Technology
zalik govil
Richard Zalik (left) and Narendra Govil (right), professors in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics have been invited to deliver plenary talks at the International Conference on Recent Trends in Mathematical Analysis and Applications at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India in December. For more information on the conference, visit the website.

Physics News:

Fogle and Landers receive NSF grant for molecular physics research
fogle landersMike Fogle (left), assistant professor, and Allen Landers (right), professor, both of the Department of Physics, received a three-year grant in the amount of $244,455 from the National Science Foundation’s Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics program. The grant, titled, “Electron-driven Correlated Dynamics of Complex Systems”, will allow Fogle and Landers to investigate the interaction of electrons with polyatomic molecules. Electron-molecule interactions play a significant role in almost all chemical processes relevant to areas such as radiation damage, environmental chemistry, industrial processing of materials for micro and nano electronics and modern lighting applications. The grant will also support outreach to outstanding high school students through the annual Summer Science Institute held by the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Department of Physics professor awarded National Science Foundation grant
dongJianjun Dong, professor in the Department of Physics, has received a three-year NSF grant in the amount of $210,000. The grant, “Ab Initio Phonon Models of Lattice Thermal Conductivity of Lower Mantle Minerals,” will examine modeling heat transport properties of complex materials systems. The proposed study is made possible by the availability of large parallel supercomputers and the successful algorithm/data-structure parallelization and optimization by Dong’s group. For more information about the grant, visit the website

Alumni News:

Auburn alumna develops healthy nail care line
Dr. Cary Gannon, a 1999 biomedical sciences graduate and board certified podiatrist, has developed a line of healthy, carcinogen-free nail care products that allows women to enjoy manicures and pedicures while nourishing their skin and nails.
“I was selling a competitive product in my office that claimed to have healthy properties, but after much investigation, I realized it was just regular nail polish,” said Gannon. “I was really upset with their marketing and thought it was dishonest.”
Gannon decided then that she would make her own product that promotes natural therapies and lacks the harmful chemicals. Soon, the Nashville-based company, AILA Cosmetics was developed.
“Our products are physician-developed and are classified as 5-free,” Gannon said. “Nail products are classified by what is not in them, so our products are free of toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor.”
According to Gannon, products that contain these carcinogens can cause yellowing of the nails and harboring of fungus.
AILA’s products contain beneficial oils and vitamins to nourish nails and kill surfactant nail fungus.
“As women, we sacrifice health for beauty all the time,” said Gannon. “We’re offering products that allow women to have the best of both worlds.”
Gannon collaborated with a chemical-free cosmetics developer to create the AILA formulas. Her best friend and roommate while at Auburn, Sonny Han, a product development professional, worked with Gannon to market and brand the AILA line.
The two Auburn grads hold the university dear to their hearts and have affectionately named several products after Auburn people and places. AILA will even be launching an Auburn-inspired orange and blue this fall.
Gannon hopes to see AILA continue to grow while giving back through the AILA Gives program and bringing recognition to Sensory Processing Disorder, of which Gannon’s daughter, Aila, the company namesake, suffers.
SPD is a condition where the brain cannot properly receive or respond to information coming from the senses. Some children may experience hypersensitivity while others are unresponsive to things in their environment. 
“Making people aware of SPD is very important to me because there are so many children suffering from this disorder that aren’t properly diagnosed,” said Gannon. “We hope to fund additional research for children like Aila by giving a percentage of our proceeds from our color ‘Five Senses’ to the SPD Foundation.”
The AILA Gives program recently established an annual scholarship for pre-health majors through the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics that will be funded this year.
“Being able to give back to Auburn, which gave so much to us, is very important to Sonny and me,” Gannon said.
Gannon’s initial interest in the pathology of the foot and ankle began when she was a competitive member of Auburn’s track and cross country teams.
While at Auburn, she shadowed world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and after earning her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences, attended the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland. 
Gannon is a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and currently practices at the University Foot and Ankle Center located in Brentwood, Tenn., and their new office in Spring Hill, Tenn.
For more on Gannon and AILA products, visit the website.

Development News:

Marie W. Wooten Memorial Run set for Sept. 20
runThe fourth annual Marie W. Wooten Memorial Run will be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, beginning at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum Pavilion. Proceeds will benefit the Marie W. Wooten Memorial Scholarship in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. The 10k, 5k and 1-mile walk will be held rain or shine. Click here for more information, including the event schedule, or to pre-register, or contact Brook Moates at 844-2931 or brook@auburn.edu. For updates on the event, visit the Marie W. Wooten Memorial Run Facebook page.

COSAM Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic to be held Sept. 26
golfThe 20th annual COSAM Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic is set for Friday, Sept. 26, at Grand National, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, in Opelika. All proceeds from the tournament benefit annual scholarships in COSAM. For more information, or to register, visit the website  or contact Brook Moates at 844-2931 or brook@auburn.edu.

Outreach News:

COSAM Outreach to become biomedical sciences Project Lead The Way affiliate for Alabama
pltwBeginning this fall, COSAM will lead one of Project Lead The Way’s newest programs, biomedical sciences (BMS), at Auburn University. Auburn will be the first and only university or college offering this innovative, professional development program in the state. As the Project Lead The Way affiliate university for the state, Auburn facilitates the delivery of Project Lead The Way programs by providing professional development to middle and high school teachers through its core training, counselor conferences, college-level recognition, program initiatives, statewide/regional support and communication. For additional information about Project Lead The Way, visit the website or contact Affiliate Director, Mary Lou Ewald at ewaldml@auburn.edu

Science Matters summer enrichment academy for elementary students wraps up
science mattersThe 2014 Science Matters Summer Academy for elementary students ended Aug. 1. The summer programming included 17 unique weeklong courses for rising 1st through 6th grade students. The program impacted almost 200 elementary school students and 369 seats were filled. Registration for next year’s Science Matters Academy will open on Feb. 9, 2015 at the website 

Robotics University trains teachers on project-based learning approaches
This summer, COSAM faculty and outreach personnel, along with faculty from Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana conducted “Robotics University,” a series of robotics education workshops. Each workshop consisted of 4 days (approximately 25 hours) of intense training on the VEX robotics design systems; the same systems used in the BEST Robotics program. During this training, teachers enhanced technological skills through hands-on training in robot design, construction, operation and computer programming with Easy-C programming language. Science and math content lessons related to optimizing robotic function were integrated throughout the training. Topics included simple machines, motion, force and power, along with the basic algebra and trigonometry used in applying these concepts to real situations. Thirty-five middle school teachers from 21 counties in Alabama participated in the Robotics University workshops. Instructors included Allen Landers (Department of Physics), Christina Steele (Auburn University Science in Motion physics specialist), TJ Nguyen (COSAM Outreach) and VEX robotics experts from VisualEdge based in Indiana. 

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