COSAM Today is a newsletter that provides alumni and friends of the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, with a smart way to stay on top of the latest news and updates from the college.

Friday, July 14, 2017


Forward propulsion: COSAM physicist Edward Thomas named next Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

Edward Thomas, Jr., the Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professor in the Department of Physics, is no stranger to the inner workings of Auburn University. He has been a faculty member for the last 17 years, and he’s also an alumnus, having received his doctorate in physics from Auburn. In his new role as associate dean, Thomas hopes to lend some of his enthusiasm for science toward “helping faculty and students achieve even greater success in building their research programs.” Thomas knows about success. A plasma physicist, he has secured upwards of $7.2 million in grant funding. He also designed and constructed a fully operational, high magnetic field laboratory built around the Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment, a one-of-a-kind, superconducting, variable configuration, high-magnetic field system device for studying plasmas and dusty plasmas under conditions that were previously inaccessible for experimentation.


Golf “fore” a cause at the COSAM Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic

Register now and join COSAM alumni and friends for the 22nd annual COSAM Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic at Robert Trent Jones Grand National in Opelika on Friday, September 15. The annual event has awarded more than 50 scholarships to COSAM students. Registration also includes lunch, dinner, player gift packs and a silent auction. For more information, contact Brook Moates at or 334-844-2931.


STEM Summer Bridge 2017 ends with symposium

The 2017 STEM Summer Bridge program welcomed 24 students to campus. STEM Summer Bridge is a four-week, residential program for highly motivated students that takes place on the main campus of Auburn University and emphasizes academic preparedness, development, and enhancement of study and time management skills. This year’s participants were: Diamond Alexander, Jada Ashford, Jordan Ashford, Kiana Barganier, Kelly Bazel, William Burdett, Carley Coleman, Vaniya Davis, Rukhsana Ferdousi, Hayleigh Hallam, Austin Holley, Brianna Jarvis, Taylor Jones, Alonzo McGhee, Foyinsola Olabisi, Shreya Patel, Angel Perry Jackson, Abbrianna Robert, Kiana Shula, Lauren Smith, Naja Williams, Messiah Williams, Alexia Wilson and Danny Xiao. A photo gallery of the STEM Summer Bridge Symposium, which included research presentations, an awards ceremony, and luncheon, is on the COSAM Facebook page.


Snakes on a brain: COSAM alumnus is ruled by reptiles

The Auburn University Alumni Association recently featured COSAM alumnus Matthew Metcalf, zoology ’10, who came to Auburn with the intention of pursuing veterinary school, but a herpetology class got him hooked on reptiles. Currently a master’s student in ecological sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University, he says his dream job is to work with a federal agency that will allow him to explore solutions to Florida’s python problem, and at the same time, work to conserve native species that are disappearing. In his free time? He and his friends look for snakes in the swamps of south Florida. 


In memoriam: James L. Dobie

James “Jim” L. Dobie, former professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, passed away on June 29, 2017. A herpetologist by training, Dobie generated an extensive skeletal collection and taught general biology and vertebrate comparative anatomy throughout most of his career. He performed important research on the demography and distribution of the Alabama Red-Bellied Turtle, anatomy of neck muscles of extant turtles, and taxonomy of fossil turtles in Alabama. His expertise on fossil vertebrates was widely appreciated, leading to a fossil coelacanth from Kansas being named in his honor (Megalocoelacanthus dobei). He retired to Texas, but returned to Auburn to be near his daughter.

Gifts in Dobie’s memory can be made to the Auburn University Museum of Natural History. Checks made payable to the "Auburn University Foundation" can be mailed to 101 Life Sciences Building, Auburn, AL, 36849.


Are you climate change literate? (part 3 of 7)

Joni Lakin, associate professor in Educational Research, Methods, and Analysis, took COSAM Associate Professor Karen McNeal’s “Climate Change Literacy and Communication” course last spring semester.

“I took the climate change class because I'm really interested in how we educate students on challenging science topics where they have many preconceptions,” said Lakin. For her student project, Lakin developed a classroom activity video where students engage in an engineering design process to make a plan for carbon capture. The goal of the video is to show students how climate change, particularly carbon emissions, affect them directly and how there is an economic benefit to addressing carbon emissions.


Getting oriented: Camp War Eagle participants and parents weigh in on joining the Auburn Family

For those who might not be aware, Camp War Eagle is Auburn's summer orientation experience for incoming freshmen and their guests. A two-day, one-night program, Camp War Eagle is intended to familiarize incoming students with Auburn's campus, traditions, and numerous student services and programs. Students also register for their fall classes. We caught up with a couple of incoming COSAM students and their parents to get their thoughts on the transition from high school to the Auburn Family.  


COSAM to host Science Pub at Red Clay Brewing Company

The COSAM Office of Outreach will host a Science Pub at Red Clay Brewing Company in Opelika. Science Pub is a bi-monthly, family friendly, outreach event that provides an opportunity for the community to discuss scientific topics with an Auburn University scientist. The Science Pub will take place on Thursday, July 27, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and will feature Charles Savrda, professor in the Department of Geosciences. Savrda’s talk is titled, “Trace Fossils: Dino Tracks, Trilobite Trails, and Worm Burrows.” No scientific background is required to participate, and no question is too silly to ask. There is no cost to attend the Science Pub, but please note, proceeds from the purchase of each Drymarchon Berliner Weisse, a drink featured at Red Clay, will benefit the Alabama Natural Heritage Program at Auburn University and their efforts to conserve rare species in Alabama, such as the Eastern indigo snake. Sodas and pizza will also be available for purchase at the Science Pub.


Vote while you can!

Today is the last day to submit your vote for winners in the Davis Arboretum 2017 Photo Contest! To vote, go to the Davis Arboretum photo album gallery on Facebook and select from among several categories, including Flora, Wildlife, Other, Trees, and People. Simply “like” your favorite images to place your vote!


Get to Know Auburn University President Steven Leath

Steven Leath became Auburn University's 19th president on June 19, 2017. Prior to arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath served for more than five years as president of Iowa State University (ISU), one of the nation's top research institutions with an international reputation in science and technology. While president, Iowa State achieved its highest student graduation rate, lowered student debt, grew research expenditures, set fundraising records and secured the university's largest private gift for an academic facility. He also led efforts for the 200-acre expansion of ISU's research park, creating new jobs and attracting new companies, industry partnerships and government collaborations. To learn more about him, watch this video.

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