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September



Message from Dean Giordano - September 2018

Dean Giordano

09/04/2018

As we start a new school year, it is a good time to reflect on how the college has changed over the past year and what new is in store for us in the coming year. We have welcomed another large freshman class which will push Auburn’s enrollment to another new record. The official enrollment numbers will be finalized in mid-September and it seems likely that our enrollment will pass 30,000 for the first time. This record shows that an Auburn University degree is in great demand; students and their parents recognize that Auburn is an excellent value, which is a testament to our excellent faculty and staff. COSAM has a special obligation to these new students, as we teach the core math and science courses taken by all Auburn students, and which are especially important as foundational for freshman students.

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High School Student Conducts Research in COSAM’s Biology Lab

09/25/2018

Leslie Dees spends his days attending Auburn High School and after school ends, he conducts detailed research in Dr. Haruka Wada’s laboratory at Auburn University. Dr. Wada is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences within the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). “Being part of Dr. Wada’s lab allows me to explore my interest in science through both technical and academic aspects of research,” explains this outstanding high school senior. Dees has always had an interest in science and began this research project when he was just a junior in high school. He shares that this work will help him learn more about science, which he has always had a passion for ever since he was very young.

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Geosciences Student Conducts Geospatial Analysis Overseas

Megha Shrestha

09/25/2018

Megha Shrestha, a student in the Department of Geosciences, spent her summer on a three-month internship in Freiberg, Germany. As one of the 25 Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) professional alumni for 2018, she worked for a mining company, and analyzed and scripted geospatial works. This opportunity was provided by the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD. “From work to travel to food to meeting new people, there was a new memory every single day,” explains Shrestha. In addition to her position in Germany over the summer, she also traveled to historical cities throughout Europe including Leipzig, Chemnitz, Heidelberg, Munster, Frankfurt, Prague, Budapest and Amsterdam. Shrestha is aspiring to be a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth System Science at Auburn University. She says that she “is looking forward to working in the research and development sector where she can work towards urban sustainability using cutting-edge geospatial technologies especially in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS) and programming.”

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Donald E. Davis Arboretum Fall Plant Sale Features Auburn Azaleas

Auburn Azaleas

09/25/2018

Orders are now being accepted for the fall plant sale at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum. This annual sale includes the Auburn Azalea series, which is a collection of hybrid native azaleas that were created through the tireless efforts of Auburn scientists, faculty and staff over the course of decades. The azaleas are planted throughout the university landscape and are available a variety of beautiful colors, including multiple shades of orange.

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Inside COSAM Labs – Dr. Tonia Schwartz – Functional and Ecological Genomics

09/25/2018

One look into Dr. Tonia Schwartz’s lab in the Department of Biology at the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), and you can see there is a lot of energy and positivity. With one postdoc, five graduate students and eight undergraduate students, Dr. Schwartz keeps busy asking many research questions that fall underneath the umbrella of how animals respond to the environment. Schwartz looks at genes and groups of genes to understand a variety of different processes involving stress response, growth, reproduction, cellular protection, and longevity. Dr. Schwartz has five major areas of research being conducted in her lab, with one studying the mitochondrial function and relationship to the nucleus. Grad student Randy Klabacka helps head these experiments and uses comparative genomics and physiology to collect data in whiptail lizards that are hybrids of two parental species. These hybrids, which have an asexual reproduction, have a mitochondrial genome that has to work with two different nuclear genomes (one from each parent species). Schwartz explains that if the nucleus and mitochondria in cells evolve at different rates and cannot work together, energy cannot be produced effectively. This research is valuable to humans as well as to lizards because we have many mitochondrial diseases and identification of mutations and genes that alter mitochondrial function can assist understanding these diseases.

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Chemistry Colloquium – NSF CAREER Awardee Brad Merner

Brad Merner.

09/25/2018

Dr. Bradley Merner, a 2017 recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, is a James E. Land Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University. On September 20, he spoke to an audience of more than 70 people about New Strategies for Complex Molecule Synthesis Using Macrocyclic 1,4-Diketones as Key Building Blocks. Dr. Merner spoke about the challenge of selective functionalization of a class of benzenoid macrocycles, known as cycloparaphenylenes, and the application of his group’s work to addressing this problem. Prof. Merner also discussed how his group has developed a three-step protocol to create macrocyclic butane-1,4-diones. He then explained the process to streamline synthesis of macrocyclic, 1-4 diketones, their application to complex molecule synthesis, and the development of new strategies for longitudinal pi-extension of strained benzenoid systems, including an investigation of the Scholl Reaction.

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COSAM Faculty Focus: Dr. Cissy Ballen Researches Reducing Barriers in the Classroom to Promote Student Success

Cissy Ballen.

09/25/2018

Dr. Cissy Ballen grew up outside of Chicago, IL. She spent her childhood exploring the local ravine with her sister, catching frogs and developing a relentless love for nature. While an undergraduate in wildlife and biology at the University of Minnesota, she volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center, a raptor rehabilitation center, and was eventually offered teaching assistantships in botany, zoology, and finally the evolution and biology of sex. The ‘sex class’ was taught by Dr. Sehoya Cotner, now an associate professor in biology. Together, they conducted research on a range of questions related to the effectiveness of science teaching.

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Okey Chidume to speak at seminar in International Graduate Experience Series

09/18/2018

Okey Chidume to be guest speaker at seminar in the International Graduate Experience Series

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First Alumni Tailgate Brings COSAM Family Together

Welcome to the COSAM Alumni Tailgate Tent.

09/18/2018

At the first alumni tailgate of the season, friends and family from the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) shared stories and memories. Molly Miller-Beard, graduate of 1960, and her husband Allen Beard, whose families have lived in Auburn for decades, enjoyed the pre-game event. “I love to have the chance to be back on campus and attend alumni tailgates,” explained COSAM alumna Miller-Beard. Seth Johnson, COSAM graduate of 1972, looks forward to alumni tailgates with his wife Dora. They enjoy the good food and the opportunity to make new friends. Jim and Nancy Golson always attend because of the good friendships they made in COSAM, which have lasted for many, many years. Herman Turner, COSAM graduate of 2004, had fun at the alumni tailgate sharing stories with Dr. Larry Wit. Turner, who was a COSAM Leader, is now a member of the Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity Board. He has fond members of COSAM and appreciates the opportunity to reconnect with COSAM friends. Linda Griggs is a 1975 COSAM mathematics graduate. These tailgates hold special memories for her because she attended them with her late husband throughout the years and has wonderful memories with him.

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University of Sheffield Visits Auburn

09/18/2018

Amy Jones, International Recruitment Manager, from the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, United Kingdom, visited Auburn University and shared information about graduate studies abroad with COSAM students. COSAM built a partnership with the University of Sheffield during study abroad opportunities over the past few years. Amy Jones actively plans activities for students for these excursions.

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Alumnus Bo Cumbo at NASDAQ for Opening Bell Celebration

09/18/2018

1994 College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) Laboratory Technology (now Laboratory Science) Alumnus Bo Cumbo is the senior vice president of Global Commercial Development at Sarepta Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On September 7, Cumbo and representatives from Sarepta Therapeutics rang the opening bell at NASDAQ.

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Geosciences Colloquium – Auburn Native Matthew Therrell

Dr. Therrell speaking at the event.

09/17/2018

On September 13, 2018, Auburn native Dr. Matthew Therrell from the University of Alabama’s Department of Geological Sciences is the first invited speaker of the fall semester for Geosciences. Dr. Therrell received his Ph.D. in environmental dynamics. He is a paleo-climatologist whose specialty is climate reconstruction using tree ring data. During his dissertation research, he traveled through Mexico and South America.

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Auburn Physicists Participate in International Collaboration at World-Class Research Facility Seeking New Energy Source

Group of researchers at the Wendelstein 7-X Facility.

09/17/2018

Auburn University’s Department of Physics is one of just three universities participating in an international research collaboration at the Wendelstein 7-X at the Greifswald branch of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, in Germany. This world-class facility houses a large stellarator with modular superconducting coils to conduct experiments and research plasma physics. The Department of Physics in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) currently has three faculty and two graduate students working on collaborative research with the Wendelstein 7-X experiment as part of a renewable grant from the United States Department of Energy.

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Donald E. Davis Arboretum Photo Contest Winners in 2019 Calendar

Cover of the 2019 Arboretum Calendar

09/14/2018

The 2019 Donald E. Davis Arboretum calendar showcases original photos of trees, flora, wildlife and people in the arboretum selected through a photo contest celebrating Arbor Day.

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Let’s Get Ready! The South’s BEST Robotics Championship Starts Its Season.

Image of students looking at a life-size robotics competition set-up.

09/11/2018

With the start of school, the BEST Robotics 2018 competition is gearing up for another challenge. BEST, which stands for “Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology”, is a 25-year-old national program whose goal is to initiate robotics programs at no cost in middle and high schools. The South’s BEST Regional Championship, held by Auburn University’s College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) and Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, hosts advancing teams from local hubs all over the southeast region of the United States. The South’s BEST Championship is set to be on December 1 and 2, 2018, at Auburn University.

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COSAM Junior Researches Cancer Treatments at Duke University

Alexis Stokes

09/11/2018

Over the summer, Alexis Stokes, a junior in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) attended a 10-week program at Duke University in the Department of Pathology. The program provides students with hands-on research experience with her work focusing on prostate cancer treatments. For Stokes, a biomedical sciences, pre-med major, this was her first research experience and she enjoyed the entire program, especially presenting at the symposium. She also was impressed by the level of collaboration within the Duke Cancer Institute Research Laboratories. Stokes applied for the all-expense paid program through the advice of a mentor. “Dr. Mulligan, director of COSAM’s Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity, encouraged me to apply to summer research opportunities to increase my awareness to the field of biomedical research,” explains Stokes.

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COSAM Faculty Focus: Astrophysicist Dr. Dennis Bodewits Uses Comets to Study the Origins of Our Solar System

Dennis Bodewits

09/11/2018

“Comets are left-over snowballs from the very time when our solar system formed.” The core question about comets is always what properties are linked to that era, and how they have changed over time explains Auburn University Astrophysicist Dr. Dennis Bodewits. “As you get closer, the detail comes to life and the images from the spacecraft reveal a surface that is both absolutely unique and incredible.” Dr. Bodewits loved learning about astronomy from an early age. Growing up in Hoogezand in the Netherlands, he was a regular at the local planetarium and was fascinated by black holes. He continued his education at the University of Groningen, a 400-year-old institution with a world-famous astronomy department. In the beginning of the 20th century, the astronomy department was so valued by the community that the top person held the power to actually turn off the lights in the town to conduct research.

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Auburn Alumni, Students and Community Members Tee Off at the 23rd Annual Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic

Dean Giordano with Players in the 23rd Annual Dean's Scholarship Golf Classic

09/11/2018

On Friday, September 7, College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) alumni and friends participated in the 23rd Annual Dean’s Golf Scholarship Golf Classic held at the Grand National Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. Since its inception, the scholarship golf tournament has provided more than 65 COSAM students with scholarship support through generous donations.

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Rodger, Billor, Stone, Jenda, and Nylen awarded two NSF grants

09/08/2018

Rodger, Billor, Stone, Jenda, and Nylen awarded two NSF grants for project "Promoting Success in Undergraduate Mathematics through Graduate Teaching"

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Davis Arboretum as Garden of the Day on Instagram

Instagram - Arboretum

09/04/2018

On August 28, the American Public Garden Association’s Garden of the Day on Instagram was Auburn University’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum, a 13.5 acre facility with a core plant collection including Oaks, Azaleas and carnivorous Pitcher Plants. “It is an absolute honor to be selected by such a prestigious organization as the American Public Garden Association,” shares Morgan Beadles, curator.

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Chemistry Colloquium - Philip Dawson from the Scripps Research Institute

09/04/2018

The August 30, 2018 Chemistry Colloquium was presented by Dr. Phillip Dawson from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA – his first time in the state of Alabama. Dawson, who has given more than 100 invited lectures at universities, spoke on, Exploiting Organic ‘Name Reactions’ for Chemoselective Protein Engineering, with standing room only at the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University. In addition to serving as Dean of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies at Scripps, Dr. Dawson is also the President of the American Peptide Society.

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“Topping Out” Celebration for the New Leach Science Center Addition

Three AU staff looking at the new Leach Sciences Center.

09/04/2018

A “Topping Out” Celebration was held on Friday, August 31, 2018, and marked the significant milestone of all of the concrete being poured for the construction of the new Leach Science Center Addition. The $24 million, 62,500-square-foot project includes new classrooms on the first and second floors. The first floor will also include open group study areas. More students will be able to participate in astronomy classes and sky-watching events. “Students will have the ability to learn about astronomy with 18 remote-controlled telescopes mounted on a rooftop terrace,” says Dr. James Hanson, Chair of the Department of Physics.

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COSAM’s Open House Welcomes Students and Shares a Passion for Conservation

09/04/2018

The annual Open House for the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) brought together students from an array of majors to meet advisors, check out student organizations and clubs, and learn more about animals from Wild Animal Safari in Georgia. Students love seeing different types of animals, however, these specific guests were here to increase awareness of conservation. “It is important to showcase conservation and the need to preserve the natural world,” explains Dr. Robert Boyd, an alumni professor in Biological Sciences. As he was showing students species such as the coatimundi, a member of the raccoon family, and the New Guinea singing dog, he connected with many students about why they should learn about conservation.

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