Dear Faculty and Staff,
With the end of the spring semester comes Commencement, the highlight of the academic year, when we recognize and celebrate our students' accomplishments. Earning a degree in math or science is a special achievement that deserves all the celebration that our commencement ceremony can give to it. In addition to our students' achievements of degrees, students in this college accomplish many other things along the way to graduation. This edition of Highlights will try to capture a few of these many achievements as well as those of our faculty and staff. In addition, the college is celebrating the completion of our new building, the Hall of Science or HSCI as it has become known in the campus lingo. One of our alums, Bob Decker, visited the building during its construction and had this to say about it:
As a former Dean of Research at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, I was involved in the construction of two research and education buildings. Your new Hall of Science is perhaps the best multi-purpose science building that I have ever seen. The teaching laboratories were remarkable in their style and flexibility; the lecture halls are intimate and comfortable…they seemed designed to foster student-faculty interactions; and the roof-top botanical glass houses are ideally suited for student teaching and research projects. I especially liked the telescope mounts; I'd love to return for some night viewing.
We were given "conditional occupancy" for the Hall of Science on March 28th and began by moving all the college offices, the SAS Center, and three of the department offices (Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Science Education) during spring break. Since then, others have been gradually moving in, including the other two department offices (Physics & Astronomy and Geological Sciences). We have until June 30th to move everyone (and almost everything else) out of PH1 and PH2, a time that is rapidly approaching. Mark Zakhour, the campus project manager, tells me that signing over of the building from Hunt Construction Group to the college will occur at the end of May – meaning it is really finished! It has been interesting, and actually fun, being in the building while the contractors have been going through the commissioning process and the punch list (list of items to be repaired or completed). It's a major, time-consuming move for our college – but the benefit of being in outstanding, new facilities and closer to each other is already evident. We will finish settling in over the summer and be ready to dedicate the building in September.
Please accept my thanks to all of you who work with the students and help them achieve their goals and successes. The excellence we achieve in this college is because of you.
Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.
Dean College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach
CNSM gains recognition from the accomplishment of student and faculty research every semester, and the start of 2011 was no exception. Here are some of the accomplishments of CNSM students and faculty:
Florante Ricarte, a senior baccalaureate student in Biological Sciences received the Glenn Nagel Undergraduate Student Research Award at the 23rd Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium held at the Hyatt Hotel Orange County in Garden Grove on January 7 & 8. Florante's research was mentored by Editte Gharakhanian and presented in a poster presentation, "Novel genes ENV7, ENV9-11 were uncovered in a genome-wide screen in S. cerevisiae and are involved in vacuolar biogenesis, trafficking and function." Florante also won Best Poster in the Cellular Sciences at the American Biological Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last November.
Also presenting at the CSUPERB symposium held at the Hyatt Regency Orange County Hotel in Garden Grove were six other CNSM faculty mentors and their 19 students:
From Biological Sciences, Jesse Dillon, associate professor and graduate student Lindsay Darjany, presented "Development of Novel Stable Isotope Approaches To Evaluate the Fate of Carbon in a Restored Southern California Salt Marsh." Also, Elizabeth Eldon, associate professor, and undergraduates, Ebony Flowers, Giovanna Pozuelos, and Claudia Sanchez presented a poster, "Epithelial migration in Drosophila ovaries." A third Biological Sciences faculty member, Lisa Klig, professor, mentored graduate student Gayani Batugedara and undergraduates Natasha Jackson, Karen Sierra and Eliseo Villarreal. Their poster presentation was the "Effect of salt stress on inositol metabolism in Drosophila melanogaster."
Faculty members in Chemistry and Biochemistry mentored student research: Vasanthy Narayanaswami, assistant professor, had six students present including Gursharan Bains, a graduate student and a Don Eden Graduate Research Award finalist, "Developing Pyrene Fluorescence as a Powerful Fluorescence Probe to Study Protein Conformation;" Darin Khumsupan, an undergraduate, "High Density Lipoproteins: A Potential Nanovehicle to Transport Bioflavonoids of Therapeutic Value in the Plasma;" undergraduates Muhammad Rafay, Tuyen Tran and Tien Vu, "Optimizing the Expression and Purification of Recombinant Rat Apolipoprotein E;" and Raul Vera, an undergraduate, "Structural Insights into the Conformation of Lipid-bound Human Apolipoprotein E C-terminal Domain." Eric Sorin, assistant professor, and undergraduate student Mona Bakhom, presented "Investigations of the Folding Dynamics of the RNA Pseudoknot Structural Motif via Massively Parallel Molecular Dynamics." Paul Weers, professor, had four students present. These were graduate student Pankaj Dwivedi, "Role of the 1st and 5th helix in apolipophorin III stability and lipid binding;" undergraduate student Duc Le, "Lysine residues mediate antimicrobial activity of apolipophorin III", and graduate student Chris Adams and undergraduate Wendy Beck, "The role of C-terminal lysine residues in apoA-I for binding to lipopolysaccharides."
On March 4, the college held its third annual Faculty Research Symposium in the University Student Union. The Symposium is an opportunity for CNSM faculty to see the wide range of research in college and provide the opportunity for collaboration across disciplines to occur. Twenty-five CNSM faculty members presented their research in talks and posters. This event is truly a celebration of research as the basis by which our students successfully learn science and math.
This year's presentations were as follows:
CNSM faculty members and their students conduct research across a diverse range. For those who attended the symposium, this wide range proved also to be research of exceptional quality as well. Plan on joining us for next year's symposium, scheduled Friday, March 2, 2012.
These two symposiums focus attention on the outstanding accomplishments of students engaged in significant research and creative activity at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in all academic disciplines. At both symposiums, the vehicle is a student academic conference featuring oral presentations to an audience of fellow students and jury of distinguished faculty. In recognition of the quarter century mark for the statewide symposium, CSU Chancellor Reid penned in the program:
The students and their faculty mentors who are participating... are a testament to our success in preparing students to enter productive careers in California and beyond. Twenty-five years is a significant milestone, commemorating CSU's sustained commitment to student success through engagement in research, scholarship, and creative activities.
This year, CNSM undergraduate biochemistry student Duc Le was a first place winner in Biological Sciences in both the CSULB and the CSU state-wide symposiums for his research as a biochemistry major in the lab of Professor Paul Weers, Ph.D., Chemistry and Biochemistry. He presented his research, titled: Lysine residues mediate antimicrobial activity of apolipophorin III, in oral presentations at both competitions.
Four other students were awarded at the CSULB Student Research Symposium held February 25, 2011. In the Physical and Mathematical Sciences of the CSULB Student Research Symposium, first place was received by graduate applied mathematics student, Minh Tran, who was mentored by Professor Eun Heui Kim, Ph.D., Mathematics and Statistics. Tran's research was titled: Wildfire Spread Models Using Advection-Diffusion-Reaction Equation. Second place was awarded to graduate applied mathematics student Jose Pacheco, advised by Assistant Professor, Jen-Mei Chang, Ph.D., Mathematics and Statistics. His research presentation was A comparative Study for the Handwritten Digit Recognition Problem.
In the Biological Sciences, second place was awarded to graduate biochemistry student, Gursharan Bains, whose research was done with Assistant Professor Vasanthy Narayanaswami, Ph.D., Chemistry and Biochemistry, for her research presentation, titled: Developing Pyrene Fluorescence as a Powerful Probe to Study Conformation of Protein: A New Aspect of an Old Tool. Undergraduate marine biology major Justin Hackitt's received honorable mention for his research, Differences in tooth morphology across gender and age of the round stingray, Urobatus halleri, and the effects of testosterone on tooth development. His research was mentored by Professor Chris Lowe, Ph.D., Biological Sciences.
In addition to Le, Tran and Bains were also members of the CSULB team who presented their research at the state-wide CSU Student Research Symposium in Fresno on May 6-7, 2011.
Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms - Primo 16 – is an international symposium series that held its 2011 meeting May 15-18 in Long Beach. This meeting was put together with leadership from California State University, Long Beach and the University of California, Riverside at its helm. Zed Mason, CNSM Associate Dean, oversaw the Primo 16 website and abstract submissions and Daniel Schlenk, UCR, put together the Scientific Program. Kevin Kelley, Professor, Biological Sciences, organized the Short Course, Non-reproductive Forms of Endocrine Disruption, and was one of the three panelists presenting at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island on Sunday May 15. CSULB President F. King Alexander was one of the speakers extending a welcome to the symposium participants from 26 countries at the opening welcome reception at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The organizers of this year's meeting were especially pleased that more than 40 percent of the attendees are students, including a number for students from CSULB. CSULB presenters include:
The International Symposium series, "Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms" began in 1981 with a small group of NSF-funded investigators who were addressing questions related to "Chemical Effects and the Health of the Ocean" at a mechanistic level. The first PRIMO Symposium was held in Plymouth, UK, in 1981 with the goal of stimulating international scientific interactions in this area. The success of the first PRIMO meeting led to a second in 1983 in Woods Hole, USA, and then to biennial meetings held alternately in Europe and the United States. Although the word "marine" was used to produce the memorable acronym, the meeting has never distinguished between, and always has included, marine and freshwater organisms. For more information about the meeting, visit the website: http://www.visitlongbeach.com/PRIMO/
CSULB geology students competed through their research during the spring 2011 semester. When students enrolled in Geology 570, they enrolled in a contest. They were all part of a petroleum exploration class at CSULB that participated in the Spring 2011 AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists)-sponsored Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition under the direction of Professor Rick Behl, with the consultation of several other volunteer industry and academic professionals. The Imperial Barrel Award concept started as a graduate competition at Imperial College London, where each year, teams of Petroleum Geology Masters students competed against each other to investigate a frontier area for petroleum potential. The findings were often so good, and so similar to what the professional geologists had concluded that oil companies because very impressed. Four years ago, the AAPG started an international competition that starts at the regional level, with local winners going on to compete at the annual meeting of the Association.
The AAPG provided competing teams with a fantastic digital dataset at the beginning of February. The students were asked to evaluate Prospective Hydrocarbon Accumulations in vast offshore Bight basin, on the southern continental margin of Australia. The study area is greater than two-thirds the size of California and the team was provided with several 2D seismic datasets and partially digital records from three exploratory wells. The class had only 7 weeks to completely understand and analyze the data in order to make their interpretations and recommendations. All of the students found it to be an intensive, valuable and exciting learning experience. With this data, the team identified three petroleum systems and 6 plays in the Ceduna and Eyre sub-basins, with two leads potentially containing greater than 500 billion barrels of oil equivalents.
From the class, a team of five students became the official presentation team and presented to a panel of professionals in Bakersfield on March 25 in the Pacific Section (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii) competition. The presenters were first-year Masters students Becca Lanners, Graham Wilson, Ziad Sedki and Eric Arney, along with graduating senior Tawnya Hildabrand. In addition to the regional competition, the team has also been invited to present their findings at the May 26th lunch meeting of the Los Angeles Basin Geological Society. Undergraduate Heather Strickland will take Eric Arney's place for the LABGS presentation because he will be starting his Masters research field work in Nevada.
The geology of the Bight basin is a Jurassic-Cenozoic rifted margin that evolved through five tectono-stratigraphic phases as it progressed from continental to marine depositional environments associated with the separation of Australia from India and Antarctica. The margin is characterized by sets of listric, normal faults that are responsible for forming migration pathways and for forming many of the proposed structural traps for hydrocarbons. Potential source rocks include both deep marine and nonmarine (lacustrine and deltaic) facies, whereas most of the prospective reservoirs are deltaic and shallow marine. Plays in the Eyre sub-basin include compressional anticlines over basement and stratigraphic pinch out against basement in the Hammerhead super sequence, as well as stratigraphic traps in progradational carbonate lenses of the Wobbegong supersequence. In the larger Ceduna sub-basin, the team found fault-bounded and rollover anticlinal traps, as well as a forced-fold play over intrusive volcanic sills, laccoliths, and dikes in deltaic and shallow marine sands of the Hammerhead and Tiger supersequences. In their results, the students evaluated plays for risk and reward. An exploration and development plan is proposed in the context of Australian minerals law and procedures that could generate $14 billion in net profits for the concern.
Geological Sciences Professor Richard Behl's Monterey Formation Research – the study of a vast California deposit of rocks that has the unusual characteristic of both forming and storing oil and gas—is gaining industry support through the formation of CSULB's first industry affiliates program (IAP). Rapidly becoming known as the MARS Project, which stands for Monterey and Related Sedimentary Rocks, Behl's research is finding favor with petroleum and natural gas companies who are signing to support this research specialty.
"IAPs are a mainstay of funding research at a lot of schools that have strong industrial ties like Stanford, University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, Penn State and others. But we don't have anything like that here," he explained.
Behl worked with CSULB's Office of Research and External Support to develop the MARS project, which he expects to have up to 8 to 10 founding member firms by summer. To make the program more appealing to prospective supporters, Behl invited Dr. Michael Gross from Florida International University to be a co-leader. "He's one of the world's experts in the deformation of these kinds of rocks and how they fracture – both naturally and artificially," Behl said. "He filled in a hole in my expertise that lets the MARS Project present a more complete research package."
Firms will provide an annual donation to support the work of Behl and his undergraduate, masters and postdoctoral students, with a portion going to the Gross lab. In return, the MARS Project will provide members with yearly benefits including an annual symposium at CSULB to hear research updates, participation in a Southern California field study to see firsthand what the professors and students have learned, and by attending a one-day short course on a geological topic of value to their firms.
In addition to providing value to the industry supporters, Behl also is excited about the potential of funding a whole group of Masters' students. Moreover, "It's going to be putting these students face-to-face with quite a few petroleum geologists from different oil companies, who will be able to see what my students know and what they can accomplish. The MARS Project activities are going to be a very good recruiting device for the oil companies and great career opportunities for students working in the program," Behl said. "They're going to be presenting at the symposium to these petroleum geologists and they will be assisting on the field trips. We have our work cut out for us, though – we need to be productive enough that the companies feel they're getting something beneficial out of it, so we'll be working hard at that."
CSULB's Department of Geological Sciences is well positioned for success with a petroleum and natural gas focused IAP. Besides Behl, the department has several other faculty members with experience in the petroleum industry: Thomas Kelty worked in international exploration for Shell before he earned his PhD and department chair Robert D. Francis worked for Getty and Texaco. All three professors teach petroleum geology and have guided students in an industry-sponsored oil exploration competition. CSULB's geology department also houses the Los Angeles Basin Subsurface Data Center, a major collection of geologic records such as well drilling logs donated by gas and oil companies and other researchers.
Although new green energy sources are expanding, oil and gas will remain part of the global energy mix for years to come. And, with renewed political interest in making the United States less dependent on foreign oil, university experts like Behl are reaching out to exploration and production companies to help them find new sources as well as provide trained geologists to join their workforce.
Behl is an expert on sedimentary geology—how mud, sand, rocks, and organic material from plants and animals form layers that change through pressure and heat over millions of years. Behl notes that part of the renewed interest in the Monterey Formation correlate with the energy industry's interest in obtaining oil and gas from sedimentary rocks called shale. Those deposits often are prime sources of hydrocarbons. "With the discovery that hydrocarbons could be extracted from these kinds of rocks, the U.S. has gone from being behind Russia in gas reserves to being the world leader." However, the extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has led to environmental concerns in some places where the reserves are at a relatively shallow depth, and that needs to be addressed, Behl said.
Behl observed that petroleum firms' interest in the Monterey Formation has fluctuated since the beginning of the last century, when they realized California had rich oil supplies. The last significant research into the Monterey took place in the 1970s and '80s when many of the state's offshore oil platforms were built. But, since then, there has been little scientific research in these particular rocks.
"I found myself in the strange position of being one of the last non-retired broad experts on this formation," Behl said. "I've always loved working with these rocks. I did my doctoral dissertation on them and I've done a small amount of consulting over the years and kept working at it in a low-key way, even though most of my work was on paleoclimate studies. But, it's very fascinating because it covers a wide variety of different aspects of geology."
Behl is a member and a past distinguished lecturer of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists as well as past president of the Pacific Section of the Society for Sedimentary Geology. His diverse research interests also include the potential role of methane in global warming, and he recently was invited to write a commentary article for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Note: The information in this article is courtesy of Anne Ambrose, CSULB Publications, and will be part of an article that will appear in a forthcoming publication.
Annually, the University recognizes achievement excellence in both faculty and students. The 2011 CNSM award recipients of University Achievement Awards are:
Student Interns are invited to participate in the University Annual Internship Essay Contest sponsored by the CSULB Career Development Center. This year's winner is Ricardo Ramirez, a post baccalaureate student in the Biotechnology Certificate Program and an intern in the 2010-2011 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) stem cell interns in the grant program led by Lisa Klig, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Eldon, Ph.D., both Biological Sciences. He won both the College and the University-wide competitions, and was awarded a plaque and $1000.
Commencement is when we recognize students' accomplishment of their degrees and also those who have been outstanding in their work. This year, Commencement recognitions include the following:
The Graduate Dean's List of University Scholars and Artists recognizes graduate students who are completing their programs in the top one percent of their peers. Recognized for this achievement are CNSM Graduate students Yufei Li, M.S. Chemistry, Arti Patel, M.S. Biochemistry, and Michael Valinluck, M.S. Microbiology.
Michael Valinluck, is also the recipient of the Outstanding Thesis in the Life Sciences Award. His thesis, titled: Studies on Nuclear Migration and Cell Morphogenesis, was advised by Flora Banuett, Ph.D., Professor, Biological Sciences. The recipient of the Outstanding Thesis in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Award is Miguel Angel Camacho Fernandez. His thesis, titled: Spectroscopic and DFT Studies of Thiol and Olefin Coordinated Non-Heme Iron Dinitrsyl Complexes, was advised by Lijuan Li, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Kimberly Anne Rickman, is the CNSM recipient of the Alumni Association's Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate Award. She is receiving a B.S. in Biology, option Cell and Molecular Biology, and has minored in Chemistry. She is a recipient of an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Scholarship for her water research work, one of only 45 scholarships awarded nationwide. She will be attending the M.D./Ph.D. program at Cornell University next year. She has named her research mentor, Stephen Mezyk, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry as her MVP – Most Valuable Professor.
The Robert D. Rhodes Award, one of the oldest awards established in the college to recognize scholarly achievement is awarded annually to one student in each of the Departments of the CNSM. This year's recipients are: Biological Sciences: Danielle Flores, B.S. Biology (Physiology); Chemistry and Biochemistry: Jason Barca, B.S. Biochemistry; Geological Sciences: Melissa Joy Bernardino, B.S. Geology and Earth Science; Mathematics and Statistics: Michelle Butkivich, B.S. Mathematics – Applied Mathematics; and Physics and Astronomy: Christopher Reed, B.S. Physics. In Science Education, the outstanding Student Teacher is recognized: Guadalupe De La O, Single Subject Credential, Biological Sciences.
In addition to recognizing scholarly achievements in the classroom and outside research, each department has recognized the following students with Departmental Honors: Kerri Loke, M.S. Biology; Michael Valinluck, M.S. Microbiology; Scott Vande Wetering, M.S. Biology; Danielle Flores, B.S. Biology (Physiology); Florante Ricarte, B.S. Biology (Cell and Molecular Biology); Justin Hackitt, B.S. Marine Biology; Joanna Hoegerman, B.S. Biology (Biology Education); Carling McMichael, B.S. Biology; Charlotte Hirsch, M.S. Chemistry; Arti Patel, M.S. Biochemistry; Yufei Li, M.S. Chemistry; Edsel Abud, B.S. Biochemistry; Wendy Beck, B.S. Biochemistry; Garrett McKay, B.A. Chemistry; Melissa Joy Bernardino, B.S. Geology and Earth Science; Lindsay DeVeny, M.S. Mathematics – Mathematics Education for Secondary Teachers; Tristan Grogan, M.S. Applied Statistics; Minh Tran, M.S. Mathematics – Applied Mathematics; Delora Gaskins, B.S. Mathematics and Chemistry; Matthew J. Wong, B.S. Mathematics; Christopher Reed, B.S. Physics, Zachary S. Nuño, M.S. Physics; Jorge L. Guerra, M.S. Physics – Applied.
The Department of Geological Sciences has received a grant of $225,000 payable over five years from the Carl W. Johnson Foundation to establish the Carl W. Johnson-Bert Conrey Graduate Fellowship in Geological Sciences. Up to two renewable $15,000 Fellowships will be awarded each year which will be leveraged with teaching assistantships or research assistantships. The goal of the program is to transform the culture of the Department at both the undergraduate and graduate level through a research-centered graduate program that can compete for quality fulltime students with the UC system and other major institutions, and provide students with graduate training more aligned with their professional goals.
The time is right to launch a graduate fellowship program. Not only has the quality and reputation of the Geological Science Department grown in recent years, but neighboring institutions such as CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU LA have either eliminated their geology major or ceased accepting graduate students in all but one sub-specialty, making the need for viable Geology graduate programs in Southern California even more critical. The Department has seen an exponential growth in the number of graduate students enrolled in the MS program which speaks both to the need for graduate Geology training and the perceived quality of the program. Additionally, the faculty has been increasingly successful in attracting grant funding with a success rate of 70%, more than 4 times the national average at the National Science Foundation. The Carl W. Johnson-Bert Conrey Graduate Fellowship in Geological Sciences will help sustain this growth by enhancing the remaining component of a successful graduate program: quality full-time students.
The John and Elizabeth Leonard Scholarship awarded its first two $5,000 scholarships this year, one to undergraduate microbiology major Hea Jin Hong, and the other to graduate biology student Lisa Oliveira. The scholarship is planned to be offered yearly, one graduate and one undergraduate. The scholarships will be awarded to students who have been contributing to their own education costs through part or full-time work. The intent of the scholarship is to assist students by replacing or augmenting those earnings, thereby affording the student more time for academic mastery, research, or major-related internships.
John Leonard, Ph.D., is an alumnus with a B.S. in Chemistry (1969) and an M.S. in Biochemistry (1972) who gives back because his education at CSULB made it possible for him to get where he is today -- Sr. Vice President for Development at Vaccinex, Inc. Prior to joining Vaccinex, he spent over 20 years at Biogen IDEC where he led the development of Rituxan®, Zevalin® and Tysabri®, all highly successful therapeutic antibodies used in the treatment of non-hodgkins lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
The James L. Jensen Undergraduate Research Fellowship was awarded this year to undergraduate chemistry major, Samantha Cao, who will do research on Characterizing the bind of enzyme inhibitors at the molecular and ensemble levels, with Eric Sorin, Ph.D., in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.
The James L. Jensen Undergraduate Research Fellowship awards $1,000 to a declared undergraduate major in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to engage in undergraduate research with a CNSM faculty member. This fellowship is awarded in honor of Dr. James L. Jensen, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics during the years 1993-1995. As a young faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Dr. Jensen was known for his excellence in teaching and mentoring students engaged in research. At the time of his premature death in 1995, he had amassed a record of over 28 publications in leading science journals, had co-authored 23 abstracts with CSULB students, and had presented papers at 50 conferences worldwide. He is also credited with bringing NIH funded minority student research programs to CSULB (MARC and MBRS), as well as the University's first Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant in Biological Sciences.The Jensen Undergraduate Research Fellowship has been established to recognize and support an outstanding undergraduate engaged in research during the summer or fall semester with a faculty member in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Twenty seats sold so far to alums from 1955 to 1990, as well as four emeriti professors. The campaign has the potential to net over $350,000 in support of research and technology in the college.
Women & Philanthropy awarded three of this year's four awards to Chemistry and Bichemistry undergraduate students Samantha Cao and Carolyn Kusaba of Eric Sorin's Lab, and Garrett McKay of Stephen Mezyk's Lab. These awards will be used to support these students' summer research activities.
Two CSULB Graduate Research Fellowships for $9,000.00 each were awarded by the Graduate Dean's Office to CNSM graduate students RoseMary A. Puhr, Department of Biological Sciences, and Thomas Baker, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Ms. Puhr's research will be done with Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Simon Malcomber, Ph.D., and will be in plant genetics, specifically looking at the expression patterns of SP/1 genes in economically important grasses, such as rice, sorghum, and Brachypodium (closely related to barley and wheat). Mr. Baker's research will be done with Physics and Astronomy Professor Andreas Bill and aims to describe the emergence of new states of matter when magnetic thin films are brought in close proximity with superconducting thin films.
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is in the business of solving problems, and Professor Kent Merryfield champions problem-solving beyond the walls of CSULB to local high school students. On Saturday, March 19, 2011, the department, with Merryfield's leadership, hosted the 11th Annual Math Day at the Beach supported by a grant from Beckman Coulter Foundation and other organizations. Math Day at the Beach features teams of math students from local area high schools solving problems in competition with one another. Each participating high school brings a team of six students, led by a teacher who is their coach. Five schools which had never competed before fielded teams: Cathedral City HS, Walnut HS, Burbank HS, Valley Christian HS, and La Canada HS. In addition, the competition welcomed back Long Beach Millikan HS and Chadwick School (Palos Verdes) from the years before 2010. This year saw two tables plus two more individuals of "Independent" students.
This was the sixth year in which the competitors were divided into "Division A" and "Division B." Based on results from either 2009 or 2010, eleven schools were designated as Division A; the remaining 22 schools (including all of the new schools) were designated as Division B. Competition began in the morning with the individual round: 20 questions, 15 of them multiple choice and 5 of them free response. Next, the competition moved on to the team round: 8 questions for the 6 members of each team to work on together and submit one answer sheet for the team.
During lunch, catered by Subway, Scott Crass, Professor, Mathematics and Statistics, spoke on "The Nature of Fractal Geometry." After lunch came the relays. The relays were done in two sets for three-member teams (each school having two such teams). Each successive person in the relay uses a number passed to him or her as part of the data in his or her problem. Bonus points are awarded for getting the answer in an exceptionally short time.
After that, the competition turned to the last round, the oral "Faceoff" round. The top individuals on the individual round are brought up onto the stage in pairs. Each pair is given a question, also shown to the audience. The competitor who rings a bell first, Jeopardy style, is given a chance to answer; if the first answer is incorrect, the other has a chance to ring in. The four competitors from the morning individual competition were Simon Wu (11th grade, University HS), Raku Watari (12th grade, Corona Del Mar HS, and took MATH 364A at CSULB in Fall 2010), Bryan Brzycki (9th grade, Fullerton Troy HS), and Kevin Yin (12th grade, San Marino HS). The finals came down to Kevin Yin versus Bryan Brzycki, with Kevin Yin emerging victorious.
Math Day at the Beach draws schools from throughout the Los Angeles and Orange Counties area. In order of the competition results, the schools that competed this year are:
Eight CNSM staff members were recognized at the University Service Awards Reception on May 19 at the Pointe.
Vasanthy Narayanaswami, Ph.D, AKA Dr. Vas was recruited as an Assistant Professor to the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in Fall 2008. She comes to Long Beach from the Bay Area in Northern California, where she holds a joint appointment as an Associate Scientist at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Vas was born in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), a coastal city drenched in sunshine (and humidity) and steeped in culture. She completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Madras University and is a proud alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras), where she carried out her graduate studies in Biochemistry from the Department of Chemistry. Her graduate work investigated the role of selenium in glutathione and hydroperoxide metabolism and in oxidative stress. Vas then did her postdoctoral training at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany with a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, an organization that actively promotes cultural and scientific exchange of scholars. "This was one of the most exciting times in my life," recalls Vas. "I had a fantastic time traveling and experiencing the rich cultural atmosphere around me in Europe".
She then moved on to Edmonton, Canada, where she continued her postdoctoral training in lipoprotein research and obtained a Canadian citizenship. The transition from a place where she was accustomed to ambient temperatures of 33 C to one where -33 C was considered chilly by the locals was indeed challenging, to state it mildly. In Edmonton, she enjoyed the aurora borealis and the long daylight hours during summer and she remembers those days fondly. Her current research program involves investigating the role of apolipoprotein E and its role in cholesterol metabolism particularly in disease states such as cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease and in aging. She loves to interact with students and is passionate about research and education.
Vas likes to read and hopes to travel more someday. She has an 18-year old son with whom she likes to hang out. She is interested in eclectic ethnic vegetarian cuisine and enjoys applying art and chemistry to cooking. Vas is pleased to represent women in science and would love to see more women in the area of neuroscience. She is eager to support the cause of removing disparities in minority health related issues and in increasing the diversity in health and disease research programs through research and education. On a personal note, Vas is normally mild-mannered and soft-spoken; however, she apparently becomes extremely aggressive when playing Pictionary!
Roses, photos, and math? You might ask what these have in common, and one answer is Brent Dickerson, senior clerk in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Brent's presence in the Department has resulted in 30 plus years of smooth operations at his desk in the department due in no small part to his expertise in record keeping. But Brent's flair for record keeping extends beyond the file cabinets in the department to the realm of rose gardening and photo archiving. Brent's interest in gardening Old Roses – those roses which were bred and grown before 1920 – has resulted in the publication of eight books on the subject, and international recognition for revolutionizing the study of Old Roses.
His background in English (he graduated from CSULB with a B.A. in English - Creative Writing) and his creative flair have provided him with the ability to frame his collections of facts and information with story. He approaches history with the aim of seeking to understand the lives and accomplishments of the people who came before us. In addition to the history of Old Roses (and cataloging and breeding them, and horticulture in general), Brent is interested in the history of the Los Angeles area. Brent's public foray into local history began with a web-based recounting of childhood trips to Catalina Island aboard the SS Catalina, commonly called The Great White Steamer, that traveled from Los Angeles Harbor to the island's little metropolis, Avalon. As he pieced the story together with help from photos and postcards from his childhood, he discovered that he could apply this technique to other old photos – not just his own. Acquiring photos from books, e-bay, and donations, Brent has amassed a sizeable collection of historical photos. Many of these can be seen at his website, http://www.csulb.edu/~odinthor/index.html.
Here, he pieces photos together, connecting them to one another via the story of a family's visit to Los Angeles and environs circa 1900. To turn the photos into story, Brent envisions the conversations that might be occurring between the people whose eyes are viewing the scene at hand. The resulting story invites the reader to step, Mary Poppins-like, into the pictures and experience an intimate dimension of the past by peering backwards through the lens of the camera that took the photo. He contextualizes the pictures with the everyday commonalities of relationships and conversations that frame our lives. The highest compliment he has had about his work comes from a reader who grew up in the generation next to the photos. She told him, "That's the way it felt."
Below are a few of the photos of early Long Beach one might encounter in a visit to Brent's website:
Not content to rest with these accomplishments, Brent is always in pursuit of the next step in his journey. He is currently stepping back a little further in history, and is focusing his lens on the period of 1781, the approximate founding of Los Angeles, through 1875. Using census data, Brent is constructing a look at what life might have been like for those living and visiting the Los Angeles area at that time.
Brent's collection connects him to individuals across the globe. He has been contacted by the Phillipine Airlines, Disneyland and others for use of his photos. The most recent appearance of several images from his collection is in the just-published book Chinatown and China City in Los Angeles by Jenny Cho and the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. Another image was used in a special feature in the DVD collection "Chaplin at Keystone," released last October, a collection which culminates an international effort to bring together, restore and make available Chaplin's earliest Hollywood work.
A sweet smile departed from this world on February 12, 2011. Dorothy Jeane Bright passed away following a brief illness. Jeane, as she preferred to be called, served as the Dean's Assistant in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 1985 until her retirement in 2007. Jeane began her 38-year career at CSULB in the Department of Microbiology as a Clerical Assistant in 1969, promoting to Department Secretary in 1973. In July 1985, she was hired as the Dean's Assistant, where her smile of hospitality became a hallmark as she greeted visitors to the College Office. Jeane served as assistant to eight CNSM deans: Roger Bauer, Hiden Cox, Dot Goldish, Fred Shair, James Jensen, David Soltz, Glenn Nagel, and Laura Kingsford.
A Long Beach native and beach lover, Jeane was always appreciative of southern California's mild climate, and was fond of sojourns to nearby Seal Beach. Before she retired, Jeane realized a lifelong dream to travel to Europe, and relished a cruise up the Danube River. Jeane had a special place in her heart for cats, evidenced by the longevity of her cat, Tonto, who is now nineteen years old.
Jeane is survived by her sister, Kay Belletti, the Graduate Advising Coordinator in the Department of Biological Sciences. At Jeane's request, there was no funeral or memorial service. In her memory, a tree will be planted on campus and donations are currently being accepted. Checks may be made out to CSULB Foundation and sent to the CNSM Office in HSCI 160. Please indicate donation is for "Bright Memorial Tree." In addition, Jeane was closely connected to her church, the 6th Church of Christ Scientists in Long Beach. Donations may be made in her name.