Chemistry and biology graduate programs ranked top 25 in nation
Graduateprograms.com, an organization which strives to provide helpful information to prospective graduate students through peer-written ratings and reviews, recently released the first-ever Top Graduate Programs rankings. The rankings enumerate the best graduate programs in the country in a variety of fields based solely on ratings and reviews from current or recent graduate students posted on graduateprograms.com.
COSAM’s graduate program in chemistry was ranked fifth nationally, and the biological sciences graduate program was ranked 25th.
Program rankings, compiled using data gathered between Sept. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013, encompass reviews posted by more than 40,000 students participating in more than 1,300 graduate programs nationwide. Ratings are based on a 10 star system, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. Students were asked to evaluate their graduate school experience in a variety of areas, including academic competitiveness, affordability, education quality and social life. For a complete list of rankings for individual programs, visit graduate school rankings.
COSAM senior named Rhodes Scholar finalist and Marshall Scholarship finalist
COSAM senior Patrick Donnan has been named a finalist for both the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship as well as the highly selective Marshall Scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship carries with it an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Donnan, a native of Auburn, Ala., will interview Nov. 22-23 in Birmingham, Ala., as part of Rhodes District 7 to possibly be chosen as one of only 32 U.S. students named a Rhodes Scholar. Approximately 1,000 students are endorsed annually for the scholarship by their respective universities, with 200 being named finalists. The criteria include high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.
“Patrick has excelled throughout his academic career at Auburn,” said Melissa Bauman, Auburn University assistant provost and director of the Honors College. “He has earned many honors due to commitment and hard work and is an excellent representative for the Auburn family. We are thrilled about the possibility of adding the Rhodes Scholar title to his list of accomplishments.”
If selected for the Marshall Scholarship, Donnan will have an opportunity to study in the United Kingdom next year at his choice of any U.K. university. He will interview at the British Consulate in Atlanta on Nov. 12 to determine whether he will be chosen as one of only 40 U.S. students named a Marshall Scholar and have an opportunity to attend. Approximately 900 students are endorsed annually for the scholarship by their respective universities, with 160 being named finalists.
The Marshall Scholarship program was established in 1953 by an act of British Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall as an expression of Britain’s gratitude for economic assistance received through the Marshall Plan after World War II. The program is overseen by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.
“Patrick is a wonderful candidate for the Marshall Scholarship because of his leadership in the classroom, the laboratory and to advancing science in the community,” said Bauman. “We are excited for Patrick and wish him the best in his final interviews.”
Donnan, who has a 3.98 grade-point average, is a student in the Honors College double-majoring in physics and music, concentrating on the bassoon, and minoring in mathematics. He is also a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.
He conducts research in COSAM’s Department of Physics as a member of the theoretical and computational atomic physics group. His work examines Rydberg atoms, which appear in virtually every subfield of atomic physics and have widespread interest in the atomic physics research community.
He is an editor of the Auburn University Journal of Undergraduate Studies and has co-authored four peer-reviewed publications, including articles in Nature: The International Weekly Journal of Science. He is president of the Auburn chapter of the Society for Physics Students and a member of the Undergraduate Research Board. In addition, he is principal chair with the bassoon in the Auburn University Symphonic Band and a member of the Auburn Community Orchestra.
Upon graduation from Auburn in May 2014, he aims to complete a doctorate in theoretical atomic physics and ultimately become a physics professor. If awarded the Rhodes, Patrick will work with faculty at the Center for Quantum Computation at Oxford.
Paul Harris, associate director for national prestigious scholarships in the Honors College, said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Patrick throughout the application process. As a double major in physics and music, he is not only bright and intellectually engaging, but he also gives generously of his time and talents whether promoting research among his fellow physics majors or sharing his love for music as a member of the Auburn symphonic band.”
Three from COSAM named top 20 finalists for Miss Auburn
Three COSAM students were among the top 20 finalists for Miss Auburn: Alexis Jackson, microbial, cellular, and molecular biology; Tori Jones, biomedical sciences; and Ana Burcham, cellular and molecular biology. Jackson also serves as a COSAM Leader, an exemplary group of students who serve the college as official ambassadors.
A tradition since 1935, Miss Auburn has served as the official hostess of the university. Miss Auburn is open to undergraduate female students who are currently in at least their third academic year and hold a 2.5 to 4.0 cumulative grade point average. The final five candidates were named Thursday, Nov.7, and campaigning is set to officially begin Feb.5 and conclude Feb. 11. For more information, see the story that ran in the Auburn Plainsman.
Biological Sciences News:
Halanych and colleagues discover new trait in acorn worm species, linking the deep sea creature to the dawn of life on earth
Professor Kenneth Halanych, Stewart W. Schneller Endowed Chair in the Department of Biological Sciences, and his colleagues made a new scientific discovery: the acorn worm, found in deep waters surrounding Antarctica, secretes a tube around its body. The discovery of an acorn worm with the ability to make tubes is significant as the only other worms of this type known to make tubes lived more than 500 million years ago near the dawn of animal life on earth. The discovery comes on the heels of the first of two Antarctic cruises. Last January, Halanych and a team of scientists from COSAM spent six weeks on a research cruise exploring the genetic diversity of marine organisms found in the waters surrounding Earth’s southernmost continent.
“Our observations suggest the acorn worms with tubes have the same behaviors of fossil worms, and some of the behaviors we observed have arguably been conserved for more than 500 million years. Arguably, some behaviors of these animals appear to be among the earliest known animal behaviors that are still around today,” Halanych said.
The research team traveled to areas where no one, to date, had sampled the deep dwelling animals of the ocean floor, and the discovery has captured the attention of the scientific community. A paper on the discovery titled, “Modern Antarctic acorn worms form tubes” was published in the prestigious scientific online journal, Nature Communications.
“The discovery of these relatively common animals in polar seas emphasizes our lack of biodiversity knowledge in these regions and suggests close ties between polar continent shelf animals and the deep sea from more northern regions,” Halanych said.
The research is sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant titled, “Genetic Connectivity and Biogeographic Patterns of Antarctic Bethnic Invertebrates.” Halanych is the principal investigator on the project and Scott Santos, associate professor of biological sciences at Auburn, and Andrew Mahon, assistant professor of biological sciences at Central Michigan University and former postdoctoral fellow at Auburn, are co-principal investigators.
The team will soon set sail on a second cruise from Nov. 21 to Dec. 20, and once again they will explore the biodiversity of the Antarctic seas and search for evolutionary relationships between species. Beginning Nov. 18, a daily blog will be available to follow on the Antarctica Cruises website at www.auburn.edu/antarctica. Follow them on twitter: @Icy_Inverts_AU.
Society for Conservation Biology travels to Gulf Coast
Students in the Society for Conservation Biology recently went on a weekend trip to the Gulf Coast where they visited the Gulf Coast Zoo, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and Splinter Hill Bog. The group received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gulf Coast Zoo and even got to interact with baby tigers. They toured the beach and dunes at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, which provide a habitat for the federally endangered Alabama Beach Mouse, and learned about conservation efforts in place to protect the species from extinction. They also explored the fauna and flora of Splinter Hill Bog. For more information on the Society for Conservation Biology, visit the website.
Santos Lab published prolifically in scientific journals
Associate professor Scott Santos’ lab recently published three consecutive articles, each highlighted in three separate scientific journals. The first article titled, “Invasive fishes in the Hawaiian anchialine ecosystem: investigating potential predator avoidance by endemic organisms” was the featured cover and published in the October edition of the journal Hydrobiologia, a scientific journal dedicated to original research, reviews and opinions investigating the biology of aquatic environments. The article was co-authored by Auburn doctoral student Justin Havird, former biological sciences undergraduate student Jeffrey Weeks, and Skippy Hau, an aquatic biologist with the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. The work presented was supported by a National Science Foundation grant Santos received in 2010 to examine the microbial communities of from coastal anchialine ponds and pools in the Hawaiian Islands.
The same NSF grant also partially supported work reflected in a second article that was the September 2013 Editor’s Pick and featured cover article for the journal The Biological Bulletin, which is dedicated to disseminating outstanding original research with an overarching goal of explaining how organisms develop, function and evolve in their natural environments. The article is titled, “Multiple colonizations lead to cryptic biodiversity in an island ecosystem: comparative phylogeography of anchialine shrimp species in the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan,” and was co-authored by Santos, David Weese, former Auburn doctoral student and current post-doctoral researcher at University of Michigan, and Yoshihisa Fujita, a researcher with the University Education Center at the University of the Ryukyus and Marine Center in Japan. Funding for the research was also partially supported by an NSF East Asia & Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) for U.S. Graduate Students Fellowship that Weese had while working toward his doctorate at Auburn.
The third research article, “Population genetic data of a model symbiotic cnidarian system reveal remarkable symbiotic specificity and vectored introductions across ocean basins” was published in the journal Molecular Ecology, which is dedicated to disseminating news related to work that utilizes molecular genetic techniques to address consequential questions in ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation. The article was co-authored by Santos, Daniel Thornhill, a conservationist at Defenders of Wildlife, Yu Xiang, a former master’s student in Santos’ lab, Tye Pettay, a post-doctoral researcher in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment at the University of Delaware, and Min Zhong, former doctoral student and current lecturer in Auburn’s Department of Biological Sciences. A commentary on the article by Christian R. Voolstra, of KAUST, Red Sea Research Center in Saudi Arabia, was published in the same issue.
In total, the Santos Lab has published seven research articles in 2013 and has an eighth pending. For more information, visit the Santos Lab website.
Chemistry & Biochemistry News:
Chemistry-themed tailgate held for science enthusiasts and football fans
The Auburn local section of the American Chemical Society, the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, and the Chemistry Graduate Student Association sponsored a chemistry-themed tailgate on Saturday, Oct. 26. Chemistry enthusiasts and football fans gathered on the chemistry building lawn and participated in fun, family-friendly chemistry demonstrations that ended with using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. The tailgate was held in recognition of National Chemistry Week. To see photos from the event, go to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry facebook page.
Ortiz and Auburn Graduate Students Attend Annual NOBCChE Meeting
Vincent Ortiz, Ruth W. Molette Professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and four graduate students from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, attended the 40th Annual National Meeting of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, or NOBCChE, in Indianapolis in October. The students, Symon Gathiaka, PaviElle Lockhart, Olive Njuma and Selamawit Ghebreamlak, participated in technical symposia, professional workshops and recruited prospective graduate and undergraduate students. Graduate student Zenda Davis from the Department of Chemical Engineering also attended the event.
NOBCChE initiates and supports local, regional, national and global programs that assist people of color in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields and encourages college students to pursue graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or “STEM” disciplines. Auburn University and NOBCChE currently have a Technology Education Partnership that promotes access to opportunities in research and education.
Mathematics & Statistics News:
Liao publishes new book
Professor Ming Liao recently published a new book, "Applied Stochastic Processes." The book presents a concise, graduate-level treatment of applied stochastic processes, emphasizing applications and practical computation. It also establishes the complete mathematical theory in an accessible way. Published by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, the book is available on Amazon.
Abebe and Jenda to give keynote presentations at SAMSA conference
Professors Ash Abebe and Overtoun Jenda are invited keynote speakers at the Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association Conference which will take place Nov. 25-29 in Cape Town, South Africa. SAMSA is an organization with a primary objective of furthering research and teaching of mathematical sciences in the Southern African countries and beyond through conferences, workshops, academic exchange visits and research stays involving collaborations, as well as through research schools or institutes. Over the last 32 years, SAMSA conferences have served as an avenue for the exchange of knowledge, information and provoking new ideas in problem solving among seasoned researchers, upcoming mathematicians as well as students from the Southern Africa’s academic, industrial and commercial sectors, and beyond. The conferences have also provided opportunities for networking and learning.
The 2013 conference will be co-hosted by the four leading universities in the city, namely University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch, University of Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Auburn University has a partnership with SAMSA through the Masamu program, which has a primary emphasis on research in mathematical sciences.
The theme of the conference is, “Capacity building in the Mathematical Sciences: prospects, successes and challenges in the Southern African context.”
Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment Update
In 2011, Edward Thomas, the Lawrence C. Wit Professor and director of the Plasma Sciences Laboratory, received an NSF award through the Major Research Instrumentation program. The total amount awarded to Thomas was $2.1 million, which includes a 30 percent cost-sharing by Auburn University. The funding represents one of the largest MRI projects ever awarded to Auburn University.
With the funds, Thomas and his primary collaborators from the University of Iowa and the University of California - San Diego have been designing and building a Magnetized Dusty Plasma device that will allow for the study of coupling between neutral atoms, ions, electrons and charged microparticles in a fully magnetized plasma environment in which the magnetic force is comparable to electric, gravitational or other inter-particle interaction forces. The new experiment, called the Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment, or MDPX, enables laboratory investigations of phenomena relevant to plasma physics, astrophysics, fusion and fluid systems, and represents a multi-user, next-generation, superconducting, high magnetic field plasma physics research instrument. The device will also allow investigations into scientific topics that were previously inaccessible in earlier experiments such as grain charging (e.g., ion/electron gyro-orbits less than inter-grain distances), wave phenomena (e.g., electrostatic dust cyclotron wave), magnetic field effects on dust transport (e.g., drift), and the behavior of plasma with embedded paramagnetic particles.
Over the last six months, the MDPX has continued to make progress. Currently, the construction of the new laboratory is essentially completed, and the MDPX team, which includes faculty, post-doctoral researchers, a technician, and graduate and undergraduate students, is working to refine the diagnostics and control systems. Construction of the magnets is also nearing completion, and the magnets will be delivered to Auburn University in the next few weeks. Once the magnets are delivered and the MDPX is fully operational, dusty plasma research efforts will ensue.
Thomas and Uwe Konopka, associate professor in the Department of Physics and researcher in the Plasma Sciences Laboratory, were recently awarded two new grants from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation totaling $765,000 for the project titled, “The Physics of Magnetized Dusty Plasmas.” The awards provide continuing support for Auburn University students and researchers involved in the MDPX, and the funds will also bring a diverse team of national and international researchers to Auburn to perform experimental and theoretical studies using the MDPX device.
Already the project has leveraged the expertise of the entire dusty plasma research community as well as many researchers with interests in fusion, astrophysics and fluid mechanics. As a multi-user instrument, the device will be a valuable tool for the dusty plasma research community, and it will enable a wide variety of collaborative research projects, ranging from the physics of planet formation to the control of contamination during microelectronics manufacturing. The project also creates new training and research opportunities for the next generation of plasma scientists, and because dusty plasmas are a highly visual phenomenon, the project provides a highly effective platform for engaging students and the public in plasma science.
For more information on the Plasma Sciences Laboratory and the MDPX, visit the website.
Physics Researchers contribute at international fusion workshop
James Hanson, department chair and professor, Mark Cianciosa, postdoctoral fellow, David Maurer, associate professor, and Stephen Knowlton, emeritus professor, presented their research findings at the Joint 19th International Stellarator Heliotron Workshop and 16th International Energy Agency-Reversed Field Pinch Workshop, held in Padua, Italy, in September. Hanson gave an invited plenary talk describing a novel data analysis and interpretation computer code he developed with co-workers in industry and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The code is increasingly being used in fusion energy research around the world, with application to stellarators, like the plasma physics research device at Auburn, tokamaks, which is the current mainstream approach to fusion energy development, and reversed field pinches.
“The joint workshop held at Padua brought together scholars from around the world interested in understanding the effects of three-dimensional magnetic field structures and how they can be used to improve confinement of high temperature fusion plasmas,” Maurer said. “It was very exciting to see computational tools developed and tested here at Auburn for the understanding of 3-D magnetic fields being used by such a broad international set of researchers.” Knowlton added, “The linked experimental and theoretical physics studies at Auburn continue to explore the pathway to reliable fusion power production, which remains a very challenging target. It is indeed gratifying to see fundamental university work making a recognized impact in an international research program as complex and integrated as plasma physics for fusion energy.”
Maurer, Knowlton and Cianciosa each presented posters on results obtained by the research team of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and research faculty on the Auburn fusion research experiment.
Museum of Natural History News:
Open house event a success
Hundreds gathered at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History for a special open house event held in October. For the first time, the museum opened its doors to the public and offered the community a unique opportunity to meet the curators and explore the more than 1 million specimens found in the museum’s eight collections. Giveaways and live-animal demonstrations were included. To see photos from the event, visit the Facebook page. For more information, click here.
Diversity & Multicultural Affairs News:
COSAM hosts Minority High School Visitation Day
The COSAM annual Minority High School Visitation Day was held Oct. 18, in the Auburn Student Center ballroom. Publicized as a capstone event for college-bound junior and senior high school students, the 2013 event attracted many enthusiastic students, parents and guardians, and high school counselors. The event received an “outstanding rating” from students, parents and participating Auburn University staff. High schools represented included Auburn, Opelika, Loachapoka, Daphne, LAMP, Oak Mountain, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate and Robert E. Lee, and counselors representing several Georgia schools. Nearly 100 individuals registered on site. Registrants included local presenters, and guests and visitors from 20 high schools in Alabama and Georgia. Of those surveyed, 83 perecent said they are applying to Auburn University. Assistant vice president for Student Affairs, Kimberly Frazier, extended greetings, and COSAM associate dean of academic affairs, Vincenzo Cammarata, extended a welcome on behalf of the college. Campus-based representatives included administrators, faculty advisors and student representatives. Students and staff were also available to answer questions and interact with potential students. Overall, the execution of this year’s event was highly successful. Eighty-three percent of students surveyed indicated they had already applied or are currently applying to Auburn University. The event received a rating of 3.9 on a 4.0 scale, which reflects the outstanding rating on the part of the attendees. Four categories received the highest ratings: positive experience; information was helpful; admissions information; and scholarship information.
For more information, email Bianca Evans, minority programs coordinator for the COSAM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334.844.4642. You can also visit the website.
Alumni and Friends Highlights:
Hinkle named to national medical board
Tate Hinkle, biomedical sciences/pre-med ’06, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine's Huntsville campus, was elected the student board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians for 2013-2014. In this position, Hinkle represents more than 1,000 medical students from across the country participating in the organization. The AAFP Board of Directors develops policy and position papers on issues that concern family physicians.
“This is a great opportunity,” Hinkle said. “The American Academy of Family Physicians has always been very supportive of student issues and student leadership development. It’s exciting to be an active participant on the board of an academy that has such a big influence on health care. I’m expected to give my input as a student while keeping in mind the fiduciary responsibilities of the board.”
Hinkle entered the UAB School of Medicine through the Rural Medicine Program in COSAM. The Rural Medicine Program at Auburn was created in 2006 and is jointly sponsored by the UAB School of Medicine and COSAM. The goal of the program is to increase the number of primary care physicians serving rural communities in the state of Alabama.
The curriculum includes a combination of sociology and science courses, which prepares the student for the many scenarios encountered in a rural setting. After completing these two semesters, Rural Medicine Program students matriculate to the UAB School of Medicine where they complete the first two years of medical school. During the third and fourth years, they complete their clinical rotations at the UAB School of Medicine's Huntsville Regional Medical Campus.
Originally from Lanett, Ala., Hinkle says he was drawn to family medicine by the continuity of care and comprehensive approach primary care physicians can provide.
“I enjoy forming relationships with people and serving as their doctor,” he said. “I enjoy taking care of the whole family – kids, teens, adults, grandparents.”
Hinkle said the Rural Medicine Program has given him valuable experience in two medical environments – the major academic medical center in Birmingham and a community-based care model in Huntsville – that has shaped how he relates to patients.
“If you’re treating a patient in Huntsville and they have to go to Birmingham, you know what they’re going to experience there. Also, if you see a patient in Birmingham and they’ve come from a smaller area, you know where they’re from, you know their environment.”
Hinkle also was recently named a Larry A. Green Visiting Scholar by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in Washington, D.C. Beginning January 2014, he will participate in a four-week health policy immersion program working alongside Graham Center staff to develop original research with the goal of national publication and dissemination.
*Story contributed by UAB School of Medicine with edits by COSAM.
Alumna named regent of Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry
Katie Bell, biomedical sciences/pre-dent '12, was recently elected regent of Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry for Region 3, which includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Bell is currently in dental school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. During her time at Auburn, she served two years as treasurer of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-biomedical sciences honor society. Beverley Childress, director of COSAM’s pre-health programs recalls her fondly stating, “She is an amazing young woman.”
“She's a great student of whom Auburn can be proud,” added Steven Filler, associate dean of students, alumni and external affairs at UAB School of Dentistry.
The Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry is a national, student-driven association that was established to promote and support students’ lifelong commitment to ethical behavior in order to benefit the patients they serve and to further the dental profession. The objectives of the association are to act as a support system for students in strengthening their personal and professional ethics values and to collaborate with leadership of the dental profession to effectively advocate for the association’s members.
Dr. Baumann is featured expert in Men’s Health
COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council member Dr. T. Lee Baumann, a medical consultant in Birmingham, Ala., and author of the book, “Clearing the Air: Art of the Bowel Movement,” is quoted throughout a story that appears in this month’s edition of Men’s Health magazine, the world's largest magazine for men. The story is titled, "The Scoop on Poop," and it describes important health indicators that can be assessed from bowel movements. He discusses signs to look for such as color, texture and frequency.
Baumann was a member of the charter class at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Harrisburg Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa., and was certified in 1980 by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He practiced medicine for 20 years before beginning a career as a writer and medical consultant. His first book, "God at the Speed of Light," helped to inspire a CBS television series, "Joan of Arcadia," and he has been featured for his writing and theories in the realm of quantum spirituality in several television documentaries. For more information on Baumann, see the Dean’s Leadership Council Member Spotlight that appeared in the October 2012 edition of e-Journey .
Arboretum native plant sale is happening now
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum and the Environmental Awareness Organization, a student group dedicated to environmental awareness and sustainability, are currently hosting a native plant sale. A list of native plants and order forms are available on the Davis Arboretum website. All orders must be placed by Monday, Nov. 11. Plants will be available for pick-up during the week of Nov. 18-22. To request a plant list and order form via email, contact Dee Smith, curator of the Davis Arboretum, at email@example.com or call 334.844.5770.
Get your 2014 Arboretum calendar
The 2014 Donald E. Davis Arboretum calendars are now available for purchase. Calendars are $7 at the Auburn University Bookstore and $5 through the Davis Arboretum. The calendar features award-winning images from the 2013 Davis Arboretum photo contest. To purchase a calendar through the Davis Arboretum, call 334.844.5770 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a tour on the Audubon Trail in the Arboretum
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum took part in a collaborative publication with the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, a book titled, "Audubon in the Arboretum: A Field Guide." The book showcases works by Audubon along with a detailed description of the plants featured in each print. Readers will gain insight into the natural world Audubon encountered, and the publication coincides with the openings of the exhibition "Audubon in the Arboretum" at the museum and the Audubon Trail in the Davis Arboretum. Readers can tour the museum's exhibition of Audubon plates and take a walking tour of the Audubon trail at the Davis Arboretum, which features the plants in each plate. The book was published by the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, with research support from the Auburn University Libraries, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum and COSAM. “Audubon in the Arboretum: A Field Guide" is on sale at the Davis Arboretum and at the Museum Shop at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. For more information, contact Dee Smith, curator of the Davis Arboretum at email@example.com or call 334.844.5770
Nancy Morris Named COSAM Distinguished Alumna
Nancy Mitchell Morris, a native of Griffin, Ga., was named the 2013 COSAM Distinguished Alumna. A dinner was held in her honor on Sept. 13, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National. During the dinner, Morris was presented with the award.
Morris received a bachelor’s in chemistry and education from LaGrange College prior to earning a master’s in inorganic and analytical chemistry from Auburn University. Her education prepared her for a 30-year career with the United States Department of Agriculture.
As a research chemist with the USDA, she used spectroscopic techniques to study agricultural products, chemically modified products, and their interaction with the environment. Morris’ research has been reported in more than 60 publications and presented at more than 40 conferences, both national and international.
In 1977, Morris was a member of the Technical Paper Competition Committee, which won second place at the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists National Technical Conference in Atlanta. She received the USDA Award for Overall Research Performance in 1983, and is a three-time recipient of the USDA Appreciation Award for Performance. In 1991, she was presented the Superior Service Award for the USDA, an award she would receive for the next six years. Once listed in the Outstanding Young Women of America, Morris is a member of Iota Sigma Pi, which is the chemistry honor society for women, and Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.
She met her late husband, Cletus, in the chemistry library at Auburn. As students, they spent many hours together in Ross Hall where they discovered a shared love of chemistry research. Each spent rewarding careers as distinguished researchers at the USDA Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans.
While in New Orleans, Morris organized “Fun Sciences for Families,” a joint venture of the American Chemical Society, Jefferson Parish Schools and local scientists. She served on several advisory committees in the Jefferson Parish School System and headed the first “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” in 1995.
Even in retirement, Morris stays busy as an integral part of many historical, civic and philanthropic organizations. She is a charter member of COSAM’s Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics, and she has established scholarships in COSAM, including one in memory of her husband.
Morris is the ninth person to receive the award which is given out yearly to recognize outstanding COSAM alumni. To be eligible for consideration, candidates will have achieved significant stature in their chosen field, whether business, academic, military or government. In addition, nominees should have a history of commitment to Auburn University and COSAM, such as working with alumni, fundraising endeavors, and/or personal financial support. Nominations are welcome from COSAM alumni and the general public and must be received by May 1. For more information, contact the COSAM Office of Development at 334.844.2931.
Four scholarships awarded at COSAM golf tournament
COSAM held the Dean's Scholarship Golf Classic on Friday, Oct. 11, at Grand National in Opelika, which is part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. All proceeds from the tournament benefit annual scholarships in COSAM, and this year, four, full-tuition scholarships were awarded. Pictured are the scholarship recipients, and they are, from left, Dion Moore, Sarah Jo Crotts, Erin Schmale and Austyn Grissom.
Moore is a junior in pre-medicine who is originally from Huntsville. He is assistant captain for Auburn’s ice hockey team, spirit chair and new member educator for the Hockey E-Board, and he hopes to attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of South Alabama, or University of Georgia. In his spare time, Moore enjoys spending time with friends, going to Auburn’s new Recreation and Wellness Center, and playing hockey. Moore said being on the green space before the Iron Bowl with thousands of people and feeling the Auburn Spirit is his favorite Auburn experience, thus far.
Crotts is a native of Alpharetta, Ga., and a junior majoring in biomedical sciences with a pre-medicine concentration. She said she hopes to attend Emory Medical School upon graduation. Crotts is a member of the Auburn Women’s Lacrosse team, as well as the Auburn Chemistry Society, the Microbiology Club, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and a social sorority. Joining a sorority has been her favorite experience at Auburn because of the people she has met and the relationships she has formed.
Schmale is a native of Harvest, Ala., and is a senior majoring in microbiology. She plans to pursue a master’s in public health. Schmale is a member of the American Chemical Society, Microbiology Club, the Wesley Foundation and the Brony Club, and she is a Tiger Tutor. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, and watching sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and movies. Schmale said her favorite experience at Auburn was participating in a worldwide scavenger hunt with a team of people primarily from Auburn.
Grissom, a Piedmont, Ala., native and senior in biomedical sciences, will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in the fall. In addition to working as a lab assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, he is the pre-dental representative for Alpha Epsilon Delta, event mentor for Auburn University’s Relay for Life, a COSAM Peer Advisor, member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and he has conducted research in Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy. Grissom said he enjoys playing golf and is training for his first marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2014.
For more information on the Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic, visit the website.
Leadership Council Member Spotlight: The Hansfords
Dr. William (Bill) ’64 and Gerrie ’63 Hansford have served on the Dean’s Leadership Council since 2007. The couple met when they were 13 years old at Blue Lake Methodist Camp in Andalusia, Ala.
“I first went to the altar there, and that resulted in a longtime spiritual commitment - which Gerrie and I share - finding a future wife, and meeting my long term friend, Dr. Mark Rutland, who just retired as president of Oral Roberts University,” said Bill. “It appears Gerrie was meant for me as our paths continued to cross at Auburn and when I was in medical school. But we had no commitment until I was in my medical internship. We saw each other for years while I was in medical school at the Medical College of Alabama in Birmingham, but we did not marry until the day after I completed my internship. We moved immediately to Fort Worth, Texas, where I worked with young drug addicts.”
Following his work with drug-dependent youth, the Hansfords moved to Arizona where Bill worked with the U.S. Public Health Service on a Navajo Indian reservation. In the 2007 edition of Journey magazine, COSAM’s yearly print publication, Bill described working closely with the medicine men on the reservation.
“There was a real need for the medicine man on the reservation. They served as minister, psychologist and healer, and were often so correct in their understanding of the patients’ needs,” he said. “When someone came in with a spiritual or psychological problem, it was clear I could not help them as much as the medicine man. When it was evident it was a medical problem, they always looked to me to take the lead.”
Bill provided primary care to the Navajo and describes it as one of the most rewarding experiences of his life, an experience that changed the trajectory of his medical career. He left Arizona to begin an ophthalmology residency but quickly realized, based on his enjoyment of working closely with the Navajo and building personal relationships, he was better suited for family practice. As a result, he completed a Lloyd Noland residency training program in pediatrics, which included intensive care neonatology, pediatric hematology and pediatric neurology at The Children's Hospital of Alabama. He then established a family practice in Opp, Ala., where he worked for nine years. The Hansfords then moved to Birmingham, Ala., where Bill served at Lloyd Noland Hospital as a staff physician and medical director of Family Care Outpatient Clinics and later as chairman of the Department of Family Practice. After working four years as a part-time physician advisor in Health Management, he joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama as a medical director.
"Fortunately, I have had a broad background in medicine. I am interested in rural health, missionary work, and the morals and ethics of medicine. Also, I have a good knowledge of insurance and how it works, having been a medical director of BCBSAL,” Bill said. “I enjoyed my education at Auburn, and I am very interested to see COSAM become the leading academic school in the south and see it become the number one school for pre-health studies in the south.”
Gerrie, who graduated from Auburn with a degree in medical technology, agrees: “COSAM has excellent leadership, outstanding instructors and amazing advisors who truly care about the students. We are interested in seeing Auburn and COSAM become a very elite academic institution.”
Gerrie’s background is also in the medical field, and before “starting her main career as a mother” she completed a one-year internship at Carraway Methodist Hospital in Birmingham, was a board certified medical technologist through the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and had special training in blood bank technology at Ortho Pharmaceutical in Raritan, N.J. She also led the effort to have the blood bank at Carraway Hospital certified by the American Association of Blood Banks. The couple’s common background in medical science is the driving force behind their support of the college.
“Bill and I have established a scholarship in COSAM and continue to give to COSAM,” she said. “We were fortunate to get our education at Auburn and would like to know that we have helped someone else do the same.”
The Hansfords are also members of the 1856 Society and the Petrie Society, as well as Life Members of the Auburn Alumni Association. Beyond financial giving, Bill takes a personal interest in the pre-biomedical sciences students at Auburn and volunteers his time by talking to undergraduates in Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-health honor society, in large-group settings as well as one-on-one, imparting some of the wisdom he has accrued during a career that has spanned nearly 45 years.
“I believe medicine is an art, not a science. I think this concept should be introduced to students in pre-medicine or before. One should be taught to be compassionate, understanding and a good listener by allowing patients to express their concerns and problems and ventilating their feelings - ventilating can be curative,” Bill said. “Science is absolutely necessary, but loving your patient, touching your patient and true concern for your patient must come first. Some of this has been lost in the rush of modern medicine.”
Bill is originally from Andalusia and Gerrie grew up in Luverne, Ala. They have three grown children, Anne, Amy and William, and five grandchildren, Jay, Ellie, Cass, Cooper and Neva. The couple resides in north Shelby County in Birmingham, and they attend Canterbury United Methodist Church where Gerrie started a group called the “Knit Wits,” a prayer shawl ministry. In addition to knitting, she enjoys needlework, reading, travel, and spending time with their children and grandchildren". reading and needlepoint. Both are involved in Bible study groups and enjoy their enormous collection of Navajo art that is displayed throughout their home. Bill’s hobbies include growing camellias, gardening, reading, studying, traveling, collecting Indian artifacts, collecting antiques and collecting art paintings. He also enjoys studying architecture and designing buildings and building additions.
“My parents attended University of Alabama, and I came to Auburn as an architect student,” Bill said. “When my parents left me at Auburn to begin my freshman year, my mother had big tears running down her cheeks. I still do not know if it was because she was leaving me at Auburn or because I was going to Auburn.”
For more information on the Dean’s Leadership Council, contact the COSAM Office of Development at 334.844.2931. To read previous Leadership Council Member Spotlights, click here.
War Eagle BEST Robotics winners announced, five teams advance to South’s BEST
Answering the nation’s need for more and better-prepared workers in scientific, industrial and technological fields, BEST Robotics (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) is a middle school and high school robotics program, now in its 21st year nationally and 13th year in Alabama, that is available to all schools at no cost. BEST is the third-largest educational robotics program in the nation and is the only one that is free to schools. The not-for-profit, all-volunteer program challenges students to design, build and market a robot to use in a six-week-long series of competitions, culminating in a regional championship.
War Eagle BEST is the local competition in east Alabama and west Georgia. The War Eagle BEST competition occurred at Auburn University in October, and the event brought together 23 middle and high school teams.
During the 2013 competition, teams compete in a series of head-to-head matches on a playing field designed for this year’s game titled, “Gatekeeper.” The theme behind Gatekeeper is to upgrade a fictitious robot, “Squeaky,” with the fastest and “BEST CPU” on the market. Each team designs and builds a robot that can complete specific tasks related to the upgrade. On the playing field, the student-built robots are mounted on a trolley that moves in a 90-degree angle, giving the robots access to three stages. At each stage, the robots encounter challenges that mirror real-world engineering concepts: stage one requires students to guide the robot to collect transistors to make gates; in stage two, the robot uses previously built gates to fabricate integrated circuits; and in stage three, the robot uses previously built integrated circuits to fabricate the BEST CPU.
In addition to robot performance, teams compete to receive awards in other categories, such as engineering design notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit, interview, team spirit and sportsmanship. Awards are given based on criteria, such as demonstrated teamwork, a positive attitude and enthusiasm, school and community involvement, and creativity. The highest award a team can receive is the BEST Award, given to the teams that most embody the concept and spirit of the competition. Winners are judged on a combination of project engineering notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit and interview, and team spirit and sportsmanship.
The winners of the 2013 War Eagle BEST program are:
BEST Award Winners:
1st Place: Brewbaker Technology Magnet School (Montgomery, AL)
2nd Place: Wetumpka High School (Wetumpka, AL)
3rd Place: Springwood School (Lanett, AL)
4th Place: Columbus High School (Columbus, GA)
1st Place Robotics: Wetumpka High School (Wetumpka, AL)
2nd Place Robotics: Lee-Scott Academy (Auburn, AL)
3rd Place Robotics: Saint James School (Montgomery, AL)
4th Place Robotics: Springwood School (Lanett, AL)
Winners Advancing to South's BEST, December 7-8 at Auburn University:
Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School
Saint James School
Wetumpka High School
The public will have an opportunity to witness firsthand the enthusiastic, sports-like environment surrounding the BEST Robotics program as one of the 2013 regional championships, South’s BEST, will take place on the Auburn University campus in the Auburn Arena on Dec. 7-8.
COSAM Outreach, in partnership with the Sam Ginn College of Engineering, will host the South’s BEST Regional Championship, which will feature the top 56 teams from multiple states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana.
The primary objective of the BEST Robotics program is to: provide students with a real-world engineering experience that incorporates the practical application of math and science; prepare students to be technologically literate and thus better prepared to enter the workforce; help students develop leadership, project management, teamwork and organizational skills; and develop confidence and competence.
“BEST works because students are the sole participants and primary decision-makers, designers and builders for the competition,” said Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. “BEST is successful because students have an opportunity to interact with industry leaders, technical professionals, scientists and engineers who act as mentors, guiding them through the challenges they face while designing, building, promoting and competing in the BEST Robotics program. Students gain skills and hone talents they will use as members of the future workforce, including: abstract thought, self-directed learning, teamwork, project management, decision making, problem solving and leadership.”
There is no cost to attend the South’s BEST championship. More information on South’s BEST, including a detailed game description, can be found at the website at www.southsbest.org.