Dear Faculty and Staff,
Another Spring Semester is finished. Another class of graduates celebrated their commencement amidst the applause of the college faculty and 5,000 of their family and friends. We are proud to have them join the ever growing number of CSULB alumni.
Despite the myriad of challenges brought on by the dismal state budget, we continue to see the importance of higher education. A recent report in the news estimates that California will need more than five million college graduates with bachelor's degrees and certificates to stay economically competitive. Thus, we are pleased as we hear of our students' successes in obtaining employment or acceptance to advanced degree programs as they travel beyond the CSULB and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
In fulfilling our mission for excellent teaching supported by faculty and student research, the College was successful this year in finding a highly qualified Proteomics Specialist for the Center for Education in Proteomics Analysis (CEPA), Yuan-Yu (Kent) Lee. He is introduced with a brief description of his proteomics research later on in this newsletter. I am pleased to announce that Kent will be holding a summer proteomics workshop on July 12 and 13 that will provide an introduction to mass spectrometry, sample preparation, and the new instrumentation in CEPA. It will also cover data acquisition and provide a case study in proteomics. A reduced registration fee of $50 is offered to CSULB faculty, staff, and students. Registration information was sent out to all in the college by email.
This newsletter is a look back over the year at the many ways the CNSM faculty and staff have contributed to the highly valued education that our students receive by the time they graduate. In this edition of Highlights, you will see a review of the many accomplishments in our college that keep the CNSM alive with academic vitality.
Wishing you all wonderful summer adventures, be they here on campus or wherever your travels may take you.
Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach
What do Faculty do when they retire? Former Biological Sciences Professor Kenneth Maxwell (1963-1973) might be considered the "poster-boy" for life-long learning and productive scholarship. He has just completed a 400 page manuscript for a new book about the biological context of "healing" and he will celebrate his 104th birthday this September. Congratulations!
One of the wonderful things about the end of the Spring Semester is the recognition of excellence in the CNSM. We receive announcement after announcement of college faculty, staff, and students receiving well-deserved awards, scholarships, and grants. Here is a sampling of those we have received notice of in the College office over the past semester.
The 2012 Distinguished Alumnus is John Leonard who graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry in 1969, and a Master's degree in Biochemistry.
Kimberly Johnston, B.S. Biology (Physiology), was named the CNSM Outstanding Graduate. Kim received her her B.S. in biology, with an option in physiology and a minor in chemistry. Her academic work has earned her numerous scholarships, including the 2011 Dumont and Hawthorn Excellence Scholarship; membership in two honor societies; given research presentations at the American Chemical Society Conferences; and has done volunteer work at St. Mary's Medical Center and the Long Beach Rescue Mission. After graduation, Kimberly will begin her M.S. degree in physician assistant studies at the College of Pharmacy and Health Science in Boston. She named Stephen Mezyk, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as her most valuable professor.
This year, six theses, one from each department, were found to meeting the standard of the Outstanding Thesis Award:
The Graduate Dean's List of University Scholars and Artists recognizes graduating Masters students who are in the top 1%. Two CNSM students were named this year. Gregory Lee DeHoogh, M.S. Geology, completed thesis research that analyzed seismic reflection data from offshore southern California, known as the California Continental Borderland. This research contributes to a better understanding of earthquake hazards to southern California. Thomas Edward Baker, M.S. Physics, entered the CSULB Physics graduate program as a rather low performing physics student but is emerging as one its highest performing students ever with the most recent accolade in accomplishment of winning the CSU System-wide Student Research Competition.
The College awards the Robert D. Rhodes Award for Outstanding Baccalaureate annually to a graduating student in each department: This year's recipients are: Biological Sciences' Andrew Nguyen, B.S. Biology (Physiology); Chemistry and Biochemistry's Mariko Yokokura, B.S. Biochemistry; Geological Sciences' Bryan Economy, B.S. Geology; Mathematics and Statistics' Daniel Bergman, B.S. Mathematics; and Physics and Astronomy's Ovidiu Icreverzi, B.S. Physics. In Science Education, the Rhodes award is a given to the outstanding student teacher of the year. This year, Dana Brandlin was the recipient.
In addition, each department recognized students for honors. The following graduate students were recognized with Department Graduate Student Honors: Melissa Kaye Jones, M.S. Biology; Megan K. McKinzie, M.S. Biology; Gwen Jordaan, M.S. Biochemistry; Straun Phillips, M.S. Chemistry; Andrew Parker, M.S. Biochemistry; Charles Fair, M.S. Geology; Brian Bauer, M.S. Geology; Courtney Marshall, M.S. Geology; Michael Porter, M.S. Mathematics; Karen Yang, M.S. Mathematics – Applied Mathematics; Lianbing Feng, M.S. Applied Statistics; Andrew Lewis, M.S. Mathematics – Mathematics Education for Secondary School Teachers; Thomas Baker, M.S. Physics; Sam Koshy, M.S. Physics; Ramsey Noah, M.S. Physics; and Charles Kopczak, M.S. Science Education (Informal Science Education). The following undergraduate students were recognized by their departments with Departmental Undergraduate Honors: Rikki Alley, B.S. Marine Biology; Tiffany Lynn, B.S. Marine Biology; Matt Ma, B.S. Marine Biology; Anica Sayoc, B.S. Biology – Cell & Molecular Biology; Jeanice Rodriguez, B.S. Biochemistry; Joselyn Del Cid, B.S. in Biochemistry; Christopher Castillo, B.S. Geology; Michael Manos, B.S. Mathematics; Cavin Miller, B.S. Mathematics; Michael Richards, B.S. Mathematics; Andrew Baker II, B.A. Physics; Brian Cacha, B.S. Physics; and Victoria Marsh, B.A. Physics.
The CNSM continues to have an impressive grant funding rate. Among the grants funded during the Spring 2012 semester are:
Two CNSM faculty members were recognized for their achievements this year. Stephen Mezyk, Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the Academic Affairs Award for Outstanding Faculty Mentor for Student Engagement in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity. Chris Lowe, Biological Sciences, received the Academic Affairs Awards for Impact Accomplishment of the Year in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity.
Throughout the year, colleges and departments on campus choose their "Employee of the Month." This year, Irene Howard, Administrative Coordinator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was named employee of the month this year in the CNSM.
Thomas Gufrey, a lecturer in Chemistry and Biochemistry is now not only well-known on campus for his popular Introductory Chemistry Courses, but he has gained nationwide recognition, as well. He was named one of America's top undergraduate professors by the Princeton Review, in partnership with RateMyProfessor.com.
Maryanne Horton, the CNSM Director of Development was recently acknowledged for her volunteer service as a Board Member of the Boys & Girls Club of Cypress with an Orange County "Eddy Award."
At the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Annual Symposium in January 2012, CNSM students were recognized for excellence. CNSM graduate biology student Melissa Kaye Jones received the 2012 Don Eden Graduate Student Research Award for for identifying a fruit fly gene that can be useful in diabetes and other biological studies. Other CNSM students who received awards at the CSUPERB Symposium include Chemistry and Biochemistry undergraduate student Tuyen Ngoc Tran, a Chemistry & Biochemistry student in Assistant Professor Vasanthy Narayanaswami's laboratory, who won the Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholar Award for his proposal to study to study how secondhand smoke exposure may predispose women to heart disease.
On Friday, February 24, 2012, California State University, Long Beach held its 24th Annual Student Research Competition. The purpose is to showcase excellence in scholarly research and creative activity conducted by CSULB undergraduate and graduate students in the full range of academic programs offered by CSULB. This is a student academic conference featuring oral presentations to an audience of fellow students and a jury of distinguished faculty. Students with the best presentations in each category will win cash prizes ($100 for first place winners, funded by the President's office), certificates, and an impressive entry for their resumes. This year's winner in the Physical Science and Math section was Physics graduate student Thomas Baker, who went on to first place in his division in the CSU Student Research Competition in May. In the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Category, Tuyen Ngoc Tran received a 3rd place honorable mention.
The Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) awards $9,000 to graduate students who show potential for success in scholarly and creative activity as well as interest in advanced study. Students submit applications for a competitive review at the college level. The awardees conduct year-long research with a faculty mentor. Two CNSM graduate students, Sarah E. Grefe (Physics and Astronomy) and Thanh Q. Luong (Mathematics and Statistics), are among the recipients of the award this year. Grefe's research, "Optical investigation of single particle QDs using a novel high resolution optical technique available at CSULB - image QD samples at nanometer resolutions using s-SNOM," will be mentored by Assistant Physics Professor, Yohannes Abate. She plans to go to a Ph.D. program in nano-optics and pursue a scientific research career. Luong's research, "Analysis of online instructional math resources in order to understand student utilization (what they actually learn)," will be mentored by Assistant Mathematics Professor Joshua Chesler. He will pursue a Ph.D in educational leadership and a career as a school leader.
CNSM Scholarships: This year, the College awarded scholarships to the following outstanding students:
Congratulations to all of these students, and the many more students throughout the college who have won awards and scholarships.
The CNSM Faculty Research Symposium is now in the fourth year of fulfilling its mission to provide a forum to disseminate research within the college and to act as a platform for exchange among CNSM faculty fostering collegial interaction and encouraging collaboration between the disciplines within the College. Every year, CNSM faculty participants have the opportunity to see the diversity and variety of research that goes on in the CNSM. This has led to collaborative efforts between faculty from different departments. A book of abstracts is published each year of the research presented, and is posted on the CNSM Research website. We invite you to review this year's presentations, and make plans to join us next year on Friday, March 1, 2013.
Bert Conrey, the first CSULB Geology professor in 1955, and his wife Ethel created an enduring legacy when they bequeathed a $600,000 estate gift to the department to create CSULB's first $1 million endowed chair. Their vision for the department has since shaped graduate student learning in the department. This, coupled with the downturn of the economy, a factor that traditionally signals an upswing in geology programs across the nation, created an excellent opportunity for the department to attract new students. The Department's focus on improving the graduate program has also created a positive impact on the undergraduate program as well. Students are completing the B.S. in geology better prepared to go onto post graduate study as evidenced by a recent baccalaureate graduate receiving an NSF graduate student fellowship.
The CNSM faculty is committed to promoting student learning through the research experience, and bringing the research experience into the classroom. Teaching is more effective when fused with research, and a vital graduate program in a department is an important factor in this equation. The Department of Geological Sciences has kept this principle in focus as they changed their graduate program, and as a result, have realized a substantial increase in graduate enrollment and an overall decrease in time to completion of degrees within the past few years.
The department's efforts to improve their graduate program infrastructure could not have come at a better time. One of the few positive outcomes of the current dismal economic climate is an increase in the pool of prospective students seeking a geology degree. The field of geology and related industries hiring demands runs, in general, inversely to the general economy. When the economy is down, the price of energy usually goes up and energy companies, particularly oil companies, invest in hiring more geologists. Enrollment in geology degree programs generally follows this trend. In addition, geologists hired in the last economic downturn are retiring, creating an even larger hiring need. Thus, more students are pursuing advanced degrees in geology to meet workforce demands - an investment with the potential to reward them handsomely.
Despite increased interest in geology programs, many CSU geology programs are struggling to maintain their programs in the face of ever decreasing funding from the state. Some have closed and others are on the verge of no longer being able to sustain graduate offerings. In contrast, CSULB's Department of Geological Sciences graduate program is growing in robustness, and finds itself in the unique position of turning deserving students away. From a low point of six continuing graduate students in 2008, they have strategically leveraged opportunities to support graduate students and graduate student research.
With the establishment of the Bert and Ethel J. Conrey endowed chair in Hydrogeology in 2008, the Department hired Hydrogeologist Matthew Becker to develop a geohydrology program to meet the growing demand for hydrogeologists in southern California. In addition, the Johnson Conrey Graduate Research Fellowship provides full support for a graduate student enrolled in the program. Since 2008, the department has admitted 15 new students in each subsequent year and now has about 45 active and continuing graduate students.
Greg Holk, Associate Professor of Geology and the department's Graduate Advisor, spends about an hour a day responding to emails from prospective students. Applications to the program have increased so much that the department now only accepts 30% of their applicants. This is changing the profile of students admitted to the department and students are entering better prepared with fewer deficiencies in the prerequisite course requirements. This has shortened the time to degree rate, and has allowed a greater number of students to capitalize upon financial aid, which is currently capped at 45 units for graduate study. Students entering the program generally have a degree in geology, hydrogeology, or civil engineering. Students lacking the required background but interested in a degree are offered the option of earning a second bachelor's degree in geology. With these changes, the program is attracting a greater diversity of students including a strong international presence. Students from several countries are enrolled in the program, including a student from Saudi Arabia fully supported by Saudi Aramco, as well as the recipient of the Johnson Conrey Fellowship, a student from China. The program has attracted the attention of Fulbright, and this year a Fulbright Scholar from Kazakhstan chose CSULB for his study. Fulbright has indicated interest in sending more scholars to the program.
Additional efforts by the department to obtain external funding benefit the graduate program. The recent creation of the Monterey and Related Sedimentary Rocks (MARS) program has been instrumental in creating a relationship between the department and the oil industry and is credited with supporting up to seven graduate students this year. In addition, research active faculty members in the department have had success in obtaining grants to help support graduate student research. Currently, about 20 of the graduate students in the department are either employed as petroleum geologists or have their research funded by the petroleum industry. The support gained through the department's efforts to obtain external funding makes a significant contribution to graduate student research. Each research active faculty member in the department is currently advising between six and ten students, up from an average of two or three students a few years ago. Another factor credited in the overall improvement in the department's in growing a graduate program is the availability of instrumentation. The Institute for Integrated Research in Materials, Environment, and Society (IIRMES) provides the ability for students to conduct research at the level of an R1 institution. IIRMES also fosters interdisciplinary approaches as the Center is used also by students and faculty from biological sciences, physical geography and physical archaeology.
As the department has focused on building a strong infrastructure for its Geology graduate program, it is becoming a recruitment tool. The recent opening up of field camp to students from other universities draws in more students as they become better acquainted with the faculty and their research through their time at the field camp. Another pipeline for both the graduate and the undergraduate program is being built by the alumni. Both Pam Hill and Paul Day are alums of the CSULB geology graduate program that have since gone on to UCLA for further study. They remain connected with the campus and have brought awareness of Geology @ The Beach to prospective students in the UC system. Interested students are also finding geology at CSULB through the research being published by the faculty and their students. Research topics of recent M.S. theses reflect the breadth and depth of the faculty research interests. Topics include tectonics in Mongolia, astronomical cycles recorded in marine sediments of the Santa Barbara, the earliest strigraphic record of the Antier orogeny in north-central Nevada, geochemistry of sediments from the Cascadia subduction zone, and neotectonics of the Palos Verdes fault system. For students who seek exposure to all that geology has to offer, now is a good time to be a MS student in Geology at CSULB.
The Lowe Shark Lab continues to reach out into the community. In January, the latest addition to the shark lab, a remote controlled shark, joined the outreach effort as Chris Lowe visited area schools to increase understanding of sharks and marine ecosystems.
Chris Lowe and Gwen Goodmanlowe, and six alumni of the Shark Lab co-authored seven of the 32 chapters of the Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark, from CRC Press.
On March 17, 2012, the Math Department hosted the 13th Annual Math Day at the Beach. 210 students in 6-member teams from 35 high schools across southern California competed in competitions held in the University Student Union, courtesy of this year's principal sponsor, the Cassaday Family. This year's competition included five schools which had not previously fielded teams: Edison HS (Huntington Beach), Harvard-Westlake School (North Hollywood), La Sierra HS (Riverside), Flintridge Preparatory Academy (La Cañada) and Yorba Linda HS. Welcomed back to the competition after some years absence were: Sunny Hills HS (Fullerton) which had last competed in 2009, and South HS (Torrance) which had last competed in 2003. In addition, we had two tables of "Independent" students, one of which included the representatives from Palos Verdes HS.
The morning competition began with the individual round (20 questions, 15 of them multiple choice and 5 of them free response). This was followed by the team round: 8 questions for the 6 members of each team to work on together and submit one answer sheet for the team. This was the seventh year schools were divided into two categories. Division A was for schools who had competed within the past two years and finished with high rankings. Division B is for the remaining schools, including first time teams. The remaining 23 schools (including all of the new schools) were designated as Division B.
The Division A first place winner was University High School of Irvine. This school has never finished lower than second in twelve years of participation. The Division B first place school was the newly participating Harvard-Westlake School from North Hollywood, led by the 10th grade twins Larry and Kevin Zhang. Harvard-Westlake placed second overall, as well.
Following lunch catered by Subway, the guest speaker, Yingkun "Roger" Li, gave a talk on elliptic curves. Li was the 2003 Math Day at the Beach Individual Winner, and a 2005 graduate of Mark Keppel High School in Al Hambra. He went on to Cal Tech for his Bachelor's Degree, and is now a doctoral student at UCLA.
On March 27, the The Academic Support Services in the College (Academic Advising Center and Jensen SAS Center) hosted an Open House. It was well attended, with staff and faculty guests from all over the College and the University. We shared information about our advising programs, student programming, and opened the spaces up for guests to mix, mingle, and explore.
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists held its 2012 annual convention in Long Beach and CSULB's Department of Geological Sciences was well represented. Professor Rick Behl, Geological Sciences, served on the organizing committee. In addition he led a professional field trip for the Society of Petroleum Engineers on April 12, organized a short course for 100 professionals held at CSULB and made an oral presentation at the meeting as sole author of "The Monterey Formation of California: New Research Directions" and as co-author with geology graduate student Courtney Marshall on "Sedimentation in an Active Fold and Thrust Belt, Santa Barbara Basin, California: Local and Regional Influences on the Spatial and Temporal Evolution of Sedimentation from 1.0 Ma to Present." As a result of winning the the AAPG Pacific Section's Imperial Barrel Competition, the department also sent a team forward to compete in the AAPG's final round of the Imperial Barrel Award Competition.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
California State University, Long Beach
Tianni was born in China and moved to the United States when she was a teenager and spent two years in Chicago, the Windy City, before moving to Northern California. During the first years of her college education, she concentrated on taking courses in biology but always felt something was missing. When she reflected about this, she realized she also had an affinity for quantitative science so she began to take some math and statistical courses. This led to graduation with two degrees: a B.A. in Biological Science and a B.S. in Statistics. Eager to apply her combination of knowledge in both areas to the health industry, she enrolled in a graduate statistics program that emphasized biostatistics at the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Davis. While in graduate school Tianni worked at Office of AIDS in the California Department of Public Health, Center for Infectious Diseases, as a post graduate researcher for two years to gain hands-on experience with real problems. She did her thesis under the direction of Professor Robert Shumway, focusing on the state space model with switching.
After completing the Ph.D. program, she joined the faculty of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California as Assistant Professor of Research where she collaborated with investigators from the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the world's leading children's cancer clinical research organization in search of a cure for children with cancer. COG is comprised of more than 210 hospitals which treat more than 90% of the children with cancer in the United States. As a researcher, she worked with faculty members within the department as well as with research doctors across the country to identify, develop and apply the sound statistical foundations essential for advances in the field of childhood cancer, in particular, for pediatric brain tumor research.
In her spare time, Tianni loves to travel to discover new places and meet great people. She tries to stay healthy by going to the gym regularly which she also finds to be a form of stress-relief. She loves to try all types of food and finds that she enjoys nearly all of them. Her favorite times include mellow weekends when she can curl up with a good book, cook, sip hot chocolate next to the fireplace on a cold winter's day, or watch a good movie at home. She also enjoys taking long walks on the beach and exploring the outdoor beauty of Los Angeles.
Yuan Yu (Kent) Lee, Ph.D., was hired in January 2012 as the Proteomics Specialist to manage operations in the Center for Education in Proteomics Analysis (CEPA) at IIRMES. Kent earned his B.Sc. degree in Life Science at the Fu Jen University, Taiwan, and completed his M.S. and Ph.D. training in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. He then went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) where he spent 4 years as a postdoctoral associate in the group of Xian Chen in Biochemistry and Biophysics departments.
His recent research has been developing and applying proteomics analysis methods to study a wide array of biological research problems, such as identifying potential cancer epigenetic biomarkers including post-translational modifications (PTMs) for diagnosis and therapy. In particular his past research has focused on the discovery of novel cancer-related PTMs and other dynamic interactions involving chromatin by quantitative, high throughput MS-based methods. Validation of his MS-studies has been conducted by confocal microscopy, immunoblotting, bioinformatics and the use of knock-out mouse models. More recently he has been undertaking collaborative research with engineers profiling the inter- or intra-molecular dynamics of DNA in response to damage. These research projects have the potential to advance our fundamental understanding of the effects of environmental stresses on the chromatin remodeling which could lead to advances in the clinical treatment of cancer at the molecular level. Kent enjoys participating in interdisciplinary collaborations and assisting others in applying new proteomic technologies to address emerging biological problems.
In his free time outside of the work, Kent enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife have two children. Despite moving from North Carolina to California just a few months ago, they have already fallen in love with Los Angeles area for its friendliness and culturally diverse atmosphere. Kent and his family grasp every opportunity to explore the surrounding area, trying new restaurants, and visiting local attractions and exploring the coats and mountain scenery. Kent is also an avid photographer. Not surprisingly, his wife and two kids are major actors in his shootings. He dreams of taking a road trip around the whole US with his family, and capturing it on film. Cooking is another passion of Kent's. So far his reputation for his Taiwanese beef stew is a secret only known to his family and friends, but he is thinking to attend a cooking competition to see what happens.
Angela Tuan, Advisor, CNSM Academic Advising Center
A father's pursuit of his dream brought a daughter's career choice full circle...
Angela Tuan muses that her life has come full circle. As a three-year-old child she first encountered CSULB when her father moved his family from Taiwan to Long Beach, California to pursue a Master's in Engineering at CSULB. Now, many years later, she is again at CSULB and helping Math and Science students get their degrees. Among her childhood memories of Long Beach are many hours spent solving math problems together with her father. This fostered a love of math that was present throughout her childhood schooling. But although she loved math as a child, she discovered that college math was much different, and much more challenging. She even doubted that she could be successful with a math major. But with the support of her friends, and the student support systems she persevered. Angela graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego.
By the time she graduated, however, she realized that teaching high school math, her original career choice, was not for her. Angela then embarked on a series of jobs that crisscrossed across the country, including a year's stay in Madison, Wisconsin working with Hmong refugee families. As she pursued her search for a new career path, she came to realize how important her college days were. College was where she developed herself, set her values and principles. This, coupled with the realization that it was the support she received when she was so challenged by Math that made the difference for her in college, led to the decision to that brought her back to CSULB to pursue an M.S. in Counseling with an option in Student Development in Higher Education (SDHE). As a graduate student, she spent two years as a graduate assistant in the College of Engineering Recruitment and Retention Center. Then, in 2010, the position of program coordinator for the PhysTech program opened up, and Angela joined the staff of the CNSM Jensen SAS Center. Angela's graduation with her M.S. and subsequent job search coincided with the opening of the CNSM Academic Advising Center. With her background and education, Angela has been deemed a perfect fit for the lead advisor in the newest center in the CNSM.
As a CNSM academic advisor, Angela's goals are in line with the vision of the new CNSM Academic Advising Center to integrate students' classes and support services to create a college experience that reaches beyond classroom learning and contributes to student success in completing their degree programs. The support that contributed to her own success in college is now being passed on to the students who come to her office.