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, December 15, 2017


There is still time to be a part of historic Auburn campaign!

On Dec. 31 Because This is Auburn ­— A Campaign for Auburn University will end. The success of this historic, $1 billion comprehensive campaign has been a testament to the loyalty of the Auburn Family and how you have risen to this challenge.

With a focus on students, faculty members, programs and facilities, the College of Sciences and Mathematics is creating new scholarships; ensuring we remain competitive in faculty recruitment and retention; solving complex, real-world problems; and constructing spaces to keep pace with changes in learning and teaching styles.

We do this to prepare for a future we can’t see, so our children and grandchildren inherit an Auburn whose values are the same and whose name is known around the world.

It can’t happen without you.

If you haven’t yet, please consider being part of this historic campaign and making a gift to the College of Sciences and Mathematics before it ends on Dec. 31 at

For more information, please contact Brook Moates, development associate for the College of Sciences and Mathematics, at 334-844-2931 or via email at


Meet COSAM Graduation Marshal Jess Choi

Each semester, COSAM names one student to serve as the Graduation Marshal. The marshal represents the college by carrying the banner and leading the COSAM graduates in the academic procession that begins the commencement. Marshals are selected by faculty based on qualities such as an outstanding academic record and leadership qualities. Jess Choi has been selected to be the fall 2017 Graduation Marshal. Choi is a first-generation college student who will receive a bachelor of science in microbiology and a minor in plant pathology. Choi moved to Auburn from Suwon, South Korea, with her family when she was 13. After graduation, she will go to graduate school to pursue a doctorate in microbiology.


If COSAM faculty, students and alumni travel to Tanzania, how many people will be affected?

Five COSAM faculty, two COSAM students, and three COSAM alumni traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, for the seventh-annual Masamu Advanced Study Institute, or MASI, and Workshops in Mathematical Sciences. The program was co-founded by COSAM mathematicians and designed to enhance research in mathematical sciences within Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association institutions through promotion of international research collaboration. The program continues to grow, and this year, in addition to adding new research topics, a STEM education workshop for Tanzanian school teachers and university faculty was held to instruct on ways to incorporate hands-on learning in the classroom. Mathematicians from the U.S., six Sub-Saharan African countries, and the United Kingdom were in attendance.


What should I major in?!?!

Undergraduate student Tasha Williams was certain she wanted to take a traditional route to medical school. After completing a study abroad program in Scotland with the Department of Geosciences, she is uncertain of which academic path to take—but she’s thrilled about her newly discovered options. Her travel to Scotland was supported by a new Geosciences Diversity and Multicultural Award, which is designed to give students like Williams more opportunities.

“Personally, I am greatly indebted to our department’s advisory board for their vision and generous support that made this award possible,” said Mark Steltenpohl, chair of the Department of Geosciences. “This award stemmed from a great deal of discussion and effort by our board on how we might improve the diversity of our student body. Clearly, their efforts are already paying dividends for us.”


COSAM alumna recognized by The Greater Birmingham Auburn Club

The College of Sciences and Mathematics would like to congratulate alumna Linda Stone, chemistry/pre-med ’79, who was recently honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award by The Greater Birmingham Auburn Club. Every year, the GBAC honors a Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna, a Distinguished Former Athlete, and a Distinguished Award for Service to Auburn. This year was the sixth Annual GBAC Distinguished Awards Dinner, and those honored were selected by a nominating committee made up of honorees from previous years, the executive director of the Auburn Alumni Association, Auburn’s director of athletics, and the event co-chairs. Rob Crabtree, one of the event co-chairs, commented that, “Linda was an extremely deserving recipient based on her commitment to Auburn and for all of her accomplishments as a leading pediatrician in Birmingham.”


COSAM hosts South’s BEST Robotics Championship

The 2017 South's BEST Robotics championship at Auburn University featured the top 54 teams from five southeastern states. BEST, which stands for “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology,” is a middle school and high school robotics program, now in its 25th year nationally and 17th year in Alabama. BEST Robotics is the only robotics program in the nation that is offered to schools at no cost. 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 the South’s BEST championship, which is hosted by Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. The first-place BEST Award, which is the top honor of the competition, went to Merrol Hyde Magnet School from Hendersonville, Tennessee. A photo gallery of the South’s BEST Robotics Championship is available on the COSAM Facebook page.


Geoffrey Hill and J.V. Ortiz named AAAS Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, or AAAS, announced that both Geoffrey Hill, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and J. V. Ortiz, the Ruth W. Molette Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have been named Fellows of AAAS. The distinction honors the two COSAM professors for their exemplary scientific work in their respective fields. Hill is a biologist and ornithologist who studies behavioral and evolutionary ecology. Ortiz is a physical chemist who was honored for developing propagator methods for calculating electron binding energies, and for interpreting these results with Dyson orbitals, especially for molecular anions with novel electronic structure.  

The AAAS was founded in 1848 and aims to advance science and serve society through various initiatives. The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874, and this year 396 members were awarded the distinction of Fellow because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.


Carpenter named 2017 Outstanding Teacher of Graduate Students in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Mark Carpenter, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of Graduate Students Award. The award is presented by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to recognize a faculty member who provides outstanding graduate level instruction. The awardee is selected by the department’s graduate students.

“Words can't describe how deeply honored and humbled I am over receiving the Outstanding Teacher of Graduate Students Award,” said Carpenter. To my graduate students (inside and out of the classroom), your desire to learn and willingness to work hard have been true gifts to me. To the entire math and stats graduate student body, please know that, directly and indirectly, you make us better researchers and teachers. In many ways, you are our calling cards to the rest of the world and we are proud.”

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