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February



Mathematics and Statistics nationally ranked No. 54 in the NSF HERD Rankings

02/25/2022

Auburn University is ranked in the top 11% of U.S. research institutions, coming in at No. 100 among 915 universities, according to the National Science Foundation’s recent Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, Survey. Among public universities, Auburn is ranked No. 67 out of 415 institutions.

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EmpowHER Conference celebrates girls in STEM, inspires a new generation to seek out science

Students holding a large snake during a presentation

02/22/2022

Fittingly held on Feb. 11, designated as the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the second EmpowHER Conference was an inspirational success for more than 80 girls from local schools in attendance. The goal of the mini conference, presented by the Office of Outreach in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) and sponsored by the Society of Women in Science and Mathematics (SWSM), aimed at encouraging 8th-10th grade girls interested in pursuing STEM majors to come and see that there is no particular way a scientist has to look and realize they can be a scientist, too.

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Mass spectrometers enhance COSAM’s mission for transformative research

02/22/2022



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Through continued partnership with SCORE, Hyundai propels robotics education to include Montgomery public high schools with $78,800 grant

Check Presentation Photo with a group of people holding a check

02/22/2022

On Jan. 28, 2022, middle school students from Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) participated in a robotics competition held at the Hyundai Training Center in Montgomery, AL. Hosted by Auburn University’s Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE), the competition was a first-time event for these students and a chance to put newly learned STEM skills to action. 

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R. Graham Cooks from Purdue University delivers Kosolapoff Award and Lecture

R. Graham Cooks

02/22/2022

The 36th annual G.M. Kosolapoff Award and Lecture will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. with a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Sciences Center Auditorium.

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Tiger Giving Day is tomorrow, February 23!

Tiger Giving Day

02/22/2022

The Donald E. Davis Arboretum is renovating an existing meadow space to enhance the educational experience.

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Spotlight on COSAM Projects for Tiger Giving Day: Davis Arboretum’s Meadow Renovation Project

02/15/2022

With Auburn University’s 2022 Tiger Giving Day just around the corner on Feb. 23, the Donald E. Davis Arboretum has an exciting new project in bloom. The Auburn Family can donate to the Meadow Renovation Project during this annual 24-hour online fundraising initiative. 

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Spotlight on COSAM Projects for Tiger Giving Day: SCORE’s Simon-Knowles Innovative Learning Library (SKILL)

SKILL

02/15/2022

Auburn University is gearing up for Tiger Giving Day on Feb. 23, 2022 – its annual online crowdfunding initiative. One project will be the expansion of the Simon-Knowles Innovative Learning Library (SKILL), an outreach initiative designed to loan classroom sets of robotics devices to schools and provide professional development training to K-12 educators in Alabama. 

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Superfood research: Courtney Leisner receives $281,173 USDA grant to understand natural product biosynthesis in blueberries

Courtney

02/15/2022

Courtney Leisner is the recipient of a $281,173 New Investigator Seed Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture to identify and characterize genes in commercial blueberry cultivars that are responsible for production of iridoid compounds, which are metabolites with known human health benefits.

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Snyder, Walker, and Grate: DMS recipients of 2022 COSAM Academic Awards

02/14/2022

DMS recipients of 2022 COSAM Academic Awards

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A match made in Parker Hall: How one calculus class equated to a lifetime of love for Russ, Andrea Hardwick

Andrea and Russ Hardwick

02/08/2022

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in the spring of 1997. Campus is abuzz with students driving down the concourse and playing hacky sack near the Eagle’s Nest. Dinner with friends might include Brand X Pizza, Willie’s Wings or Mr. Gatti’s pizza buffet, but you won’t know final plans until you can get back to your dorm and check voicemails on a clunky machine. Russ Hardwick and Andrea Lockhart were both students at Auburn University that spring. Although they didn’t know each other at the time, fate would have it that Calculus II in Parker Hall Room 364 was listed on both their schedules. Little did they know that this class would not only get them one step closer to graduation, it would also be the foundation of the rest of their lives. Flash forward 25 years to Jan. 28, 2022. Campus is abuzz with students walking down the concourse, grabbing snacks from local food trucks and enjoying some welcomed winter sunshine outside of the newly constructed academic classroom and laboratory complex, or ACLC, building and The Edge at Central Dining. For a fun trip down memory lane, Russ and Andrea had a chance to return to Parker Hall on this day and recount their memories from the special place. “This place still has chalkboards,” recalled Russ, noting his first impressions while entering room 362 of Parker Hall. This classroom is adjacent to room 364, where Russ and Andrea were in Calculus II together. Room 364 has been converted into office spaces. “I remember our instructor was Lynn Weathers, and there were about 20 or so people in the class. I sat in the second row in the second seat from the door,” recalled Andrea. “Russ sat in the third row.” Russ was taking the class as a math education major in the College of Education, and Andrea as a zoology major in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM. “One of the neat things is that we’re still friends with some of the people who were in that same class,” said Andrea. “Dr. Will King was in the class with us, and his practice, King Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, is located next to my optometry practice, Hardwick Vision Center, in Auburn.” During the class, the Hardwicks formed a friendship and remember participating in a few study groups in the math annex. After the class ended, Russ played club soccer, and Andrea and her friends were “soccer sweethearts” who came to games to support the teams. Yet, it would be years later after a few chance encounters before they would start dating. They both went on to graduate from Auburn–Andrea in 2000 and Russ in 2001. After graduation, Andrea took a year off and moved to Colorado while applying for optometry school. In 2001, she started optometry school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or UAB, while Russ went on to attend graduate school at Auburn University at Montgomery, or AUM. One evening, Russ met up with a friend in dental school in Birmingham, and they happened to run into Andrea. They recognized each other and struck up a conversation. “This memory reminds me of one of the things I love about Auburn University,” said Russ. “I always tell my students that the great thing about Auburn is that it’s so big that you can meet new people each day, yet still small enough to make meaningful connections.” In the spring of 2002, Russ and Andrea began dating, and they made a long-distance relationship work with Andrea living in Birmingham and Russ in Montgomery. After dating for almost three years, in December 2004, Russ told Andrea one evening that they were going to see a ballet in Atlanta.  “There was no ballet,” they both recalled, laughing while sitting next to each other in the Parker Hall student desks. Instead, Russ proposed atop the rotating Sun Dial restaurant amid Atlanta’s skyline views. Andrea would graduate from UAB’s optometry school in 2005, and Russ would graduate from AUM with a master’s in business administration in 2004 and a master’s in education administration in 2005. The two were married in July 2005, and after living in Montgomery for a year, they moved to Auburn in 2006, where Andrea established her practice, Hardwick Vision Center, in 2007. Russ initially taught math in Smiths Station for two years and later moved over to Opelika City Schools, where he has remained for the past 14 years and currently serves as assistant principal at Opelika High School. After a 25-year journey that circled back to campus, Russ reflected on why they call Auburn “home.” “We just love the size of Auburn and its location in proximity to Atlanta,” he said. “We enjoy being so close and attending Auburn events and football games. When I’m here, I’m reminded of my time as a student when it was such a fun time in athletics. “Our football team played against Peyton Manning in the 1997 SEC Championship game. Chris Porter was on the men’s basketball team from 1999-2000, and the team was great.” The Hardwicks reminisced about other favorite Auburn memories in great detail. Even though they didn’t see each other that night, Russ and Andrea both recalled “Toomer’s 2000” as a night to remember–complete with a huge crowd and Times Square-esque ball drop to commemorate Y2K. Andrea recalled that students had to travel beyond campus to eat at Chick-Fil-A at either the mall or the Kroger at Glenn Avenue and Dean Road. “I still remember I could order a number one with a Dr. Pepper, and I’d write a check for $4.67,” she said. Russ remembered his parents bought him a word processor to bring with him to Auburn. “When a professor cancelled class, he or she would send an email, and we remember thinking, ‘What’s an email?’” he said. “We also can’t forget to mention parking tickets,” Russ stated, recalling that he somehow obtained an A-zone tag from a convertible, and later, while parked on a one-way street facing the wrong direction, Parking Services figured out that the A-zone tag didn’t quite match his vehicle’s description. Surrounded by the dusty, black chalkboards of Parker 362, the Hardwicks recalled how significant this building has been in their journey not only through Auburn, but in their relationship with each other. “It’s where we met. We can trace our entire story back to this place,” said Andrea. Further reflecting on the importance of Parker Hall, Russ stated, “It’s amazing to think about how many prominent astronauts, fighter pilots and scientists who once attended Auburn all had to have math classes here.” Andrea echoed Russ’s sentiment, adding she has fond memories of her COSAM experience that involve prominent alumni. “I remember attending a COSAM leadership event with Andrew ‘Earl’ Hartsfield where I got to meet Andrew’s brother, Henry ‘Hank’ Hartsfield—a NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force colonel,” she said. “Both brothers have since passed, so it’s a very special memory I have.” Hartsfield earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from COSAM in 1954 and was later honored as a 2007 COSAM Distinguished Alumnus. Through the Hardwicks’ story, the memories and connections formed in Parker Hall remain. Because of a chance pairing in a Calculus II class, the foundation of a marriage began, friendships were created and memories were made that will ultimately last much longer than the building in which they were formed.

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Biological Sciences graduate student receives grant through the Alabama Chapter of the Audubon Society to enhance conservation efforts in Black Belt Prairie

Amelia Grider

02/08/2022

Amelia Grider received her first grant from the Alabama Chapter of the Audubon Society to conduct research on how birds utilize perennial grasslands in the state of Alabama. 

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COSAM Student Spotlight: Aishah Lee

Aishah Lee

02/01/2022

Aishah Lee’s love of science began at the early age of six.  Specifically, she enjoyed astronomy and wanted to be an astronaut. Lee, a senior majoring in biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), was initially drawn to science in general at a young age, describing its appeal as an intriguing, undiscovered frontier. As she grew older, Lee began to focus more on chemistry, and as a homeschool student growing up in Montgomery, AL, her mother - as her teacher - was able to introduce her to more chemistry-focused educational resources that interested her.  Lee began college early at age 17, initially attending Auburn University Montgomery in fall 2017 and later transferring in spring 2019 to COSAM at Auburn University. “I transferred to Auburn for two main reasons – my sister was transferring to Auburn, and my older brothers were at Auburn, so it just felt familiar to me."  In spring 2020, she received an email from the president of Auburn’s chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). “I previously wasn’t aware of this national organization or Auburn’s chapter, so it was great timing to join because I was looking for a community and a place to fit in and belong."  In summer 2021, Lee made history by becoming the first undergraduate student to hold the position as president of the Auburn chapter of NOBCChE. “Through NOBCChE, I was able to attend two virtual conferences, and it was motivating to see and hear other black chemists where I aspire to be.”   Reflecting on Lee’s leadership, Dr. Vincent Ortiz, Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor and AU NOBCChe Faculty Advisor, stated, “Our first undergraduate President of AU NOBCChE, Aishah Lee, has been a dedicated leader with a student’s perspective on the ability of this organization to inform and inspire young people who are seeking opportunities to develop their talents.” Lee began her COSAM research in summer 2019, working with Dr. Doug Goodwin, Professor and Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department in COSAM. In Dr. Goodwin’s lab, Lee’s research focused on evaluating the function of tryptophans near KatG’s heme dependent active site, and she had the opportunity to present a poster session on her research in April 2021 at the Southeast Enzyme Conference “Through my research and presentations, I’ve sharpened my skills in public speaking by learning how to explain scientific information well and worked with different scientific instruments such as UV-vis spectrophotometer, stopped-flow, and oxygraph. I’ve also learned how to write lab reports and how to quickly problem solve. Dr. Goodwin has taught me the basics of how to be a scientist, how to speak precisely, and how to take constructive criticism,” said Lee. “Aishah has been a fantastic addition to our lab,” said Dr. Goodwin. “From the beginning she has been asking thoughtful and insightful questions. Her intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm for science, and fearless spirit have enabled her to dive deep into her project and make great progress on a difficult question in redox enzymology: How do these enzymes utilize the extremely reactive intermediates necessary to catalyze difficult chemical transformations, and at the same time, protect themselves from inactivation? Aishah has been able to bring a wide range of methods and techniques to bear on the problem. It has been a joy to watch her grow in all facets as a scientist.” Research Focus:  Evaluating the Function of Tryptophans near KatG’s Heme-Dependent Active Site.    COSAM Accomplishments & Awards:  • Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Scholar  • David B. Haggard Scholarship  • AU Board of Trustees Scholarship  • Marks Family Undergraduate Research Scholarship  • Auburn Together We Will Scholarship  • Recipient of NSF Molecular Biology Grant  • Presenter at SURC and SEC Conferences  COSAM Involvement:  • Phi Lambda Upsilon (Chemistry Honory Society)  • Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED)  • Black Student Union  • American Chemical Society student chapter  • NOBCChE (first undergraduate president of Auburn chapter) Advice for Students:  “When you come to a larger college like Auburn, it can initially be overwhelming, but finding a community of people with related interests as you is important because you’re all on a similar path and can encourage each other along the way.” “At Auburn, you will start off running! Be willing to learn and study, yet also take time to explore the many other social opportunities that Auburn has to offer.”  Favorite COSAM Memories:  During her time in COSAM, some of Lee’s favorite memories have included her involvement in student organizations, hearing guest speakers in chemistry, and talking with other students about their research.  “Through my research and presentations, I’ve sharpened my skills in public speaking by learning how to explain scientific information well." Beyond Auburn:  Lee plans to apply for an MD-PhD program and is open to a wide range of school options.    Click on the research poster to view a larger image.   Questions for Aishah? Email her at akl0047@auburn.edu.    Click on the timeline to view a larger image.  

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COSAM’s Meredith Powell and ‘Advising 2 Bits’ team receive NACADA’s Region 4 Excellence in Advising Award

02/01/2022

Meredith Powell, an academic advisor in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), is part of a team that has been awarded NACADA’s Region 4 Excellence in Advising – Advising Program Certificate of Merit for their ‘Advising 2 Bits’ podcast at Auburn University. NACADA, The Global Community for Academic Advising, will formally present the award to the podcast team at the Southeast Region 4 Conference on April 10-12, 2022, in Atlanta, GA. 

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Dual major in physics and mechanical engineering explores undergrad research and earns a nomination for a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

Noah Kim

02/01/2022

Noah Kim is one of four current students nominated by Auburn University for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This highly competitive program prepares the next generation of researchers in natural sciences, engineering and math to make significant contributions in honor of the five-term Arizona Senator.

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