Newsletter, May 2017
As part of its charitable contribution plan, Battelle, a global nonprofit research and development organization, recently donated $20,000 to support student research in the College of Science at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU).
The check presentation ceremony was held in the New Science Building on EKU’s campus on April 5, 2017. Dr. Gerald Pogatshnik, Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate School welcomed the Battelle team to EKU. Representing Battelle from the Richmond site were Mark Needham (Battelle Site Manager), Steve Downing (Laboratory Manager), Dr. George Lucier (Deputy Chief Scientist), and Ms. Heather Grant (Chemical Personnel Reliability Program Coordinator).
Dr. Tom Otieno, Interim Dean of the College of Science received the check on behalf of Eastern. “Undergraduate research is a high impact practice with demonstrable effect on student learning and student engagement. The gift from Battelle will enable us to provide three students with the opportunity to focus on undergraduate research during the summer,” Otieno said. “The gift will also benefit additional College of Science students by providing support to students traveling to conferences to present the results of their research.”
Noting that Battelle founder Gordon Battelle’s vision was for business and scientific interests to work together as forces for positive change, Mark Needham praised the developing relationship between Battelle and EKU. “Our business relies significantly on personnel with background in STEM and we currently have a number of EKU alumni working for us. I am glad we can support you in training more students in STEM areas and I hope some of them will become our employees.”
The students receiving the awards were selected on a competitive basis. Charles Greif, a senior forensic science major will work on a project in the area of synthesis and applications of peptides in the laboratory of Dr. Margaret Ndinguri, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Angel Shelton, a senior geology major, will be researching the use of satellites in mapping geologic stress fields on Mars. She will be supervised by Dr. Christopher Hughes, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences. Dr. Tanea Reed, an Associate Professor of Chemistry will supervise Meranda Quijas, a senior biomedical sciences major. Quijas will be researching lipid profile of moderately traumatic brain injured rats using multidimensional treatments strategies.
According to Greif, “An undergraduate research experience will be incredibly beneficial to my aspirations because it will give me a glimpse at what fully dedicating myself to research is like. Graduate school is almost all research, and this foundation will help me comprehend the complexities of graduate level research.”
Battelle is a global nonprofit research and development organization involved in the development and commercialization of technology for a wide variety of industry and government customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle’s commitment includes supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiatives that can make the greatest impact. Battelle in Richmond is a teaming partner supporting systemization activities at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) as part of the Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass Joint Venture.
Job growth and salaries are important considerations for today’s students and their families. The two fastest growing job opportunities in Kentucky for the next 10 years are in the fields of healthcare practitioners and healthcare support. 9 of the top 10 starting salaries for new college graduates are in the engineering field. The College of Science has programs uniquely positioned to provide our students with pathways to these careers. Students can identify a number of “pre-professional” areas including pre-medical science, pre-dentistry, pre-optometry, pre-physician assistant, pre-veterinary medicine, pre-pharmacy, and pre-engineering. These programs are designed to help prepare students for professional schools following graduation.
Professional schools generally do not require a specific major, provided that their prerequisite courses are taken. However, many EKU students declare majors in biomedical science or chemistry if they are pursuing a pre-health profession path, or physics if their interest is in a pre-engineering path. In addition to having faculty advisors in these disciplines, students in pre-professional programs have the added benefit of a pre-professional advisor from the College of Science to assist them. Dr. James Luba currently works with our pre-health professions students and Dr. Anthony Blose works with our pre-engineering students. These advisors work closely with each student to help plan programs of study and prepare them for the process of gaining admission to their chosen professional school. EKU also has a Pre-Medical Advisory Committee that assists students in the application process and prepares committee letters of evaluation for them.
Starting in Fall 2017 the College of Science will offer, for the first time, a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparation course. The course will help students become familiar with the mechanics of the MCAT exam, identify subject area deficiencies, and develop and execute a plan to address their deficiencies. It will also help students develop skills in multidisciplinary thinking.
For students pursuing an engineering degree, EKU has an articulation agreement for a dual-degree program in which students spend three years at EKU and then take two years of work in engineering at the University of Kentucky or Auburn University. Through this process they have the opportunity to earn both a baccalaureate degree from EKU in Physics or Chemistry and an engineering degree from the University of Kentucky or Auburn. The university also has a similar agreement with Marshall University Pharmacy School in which students are able to obtain a chemistry degree from EKU and a pharmacy degree from Marshall.
For more information about pre-professional programs in the College of Science, go to: http://science.eku.edu/pre-professional-programs.
Americans spent nearly $41 million to purchase trees, flowers, seeds and vegetables in 2016. But how do we know what species we should and shouldn’t plant? How do we learn to identify the species of plants that will grow in our area without being a nuisance to our native plant and animal species?
These are just a few questions that botanists try to answer. Many botanists spend most of their lives in the pursuit and study of plant specimens in order to help them better understand plant diversity. Dried and pressed specimens are studied, preserved, and arranged in a facility called a herbarium. The Ronald L. Jones Herbarium, which is housed at Eastern Kentucky University, is just one of these facilities.
The Ronald L. Jones Herbarium at EKU houses the largest collection of its kind in Kentucky with over 75,000 research-quality specimens and is an essential resource for understanding plant diversity in the Southeastern United States, one of the most floristically diverse regions in North America. Specimens in the herbarium represent a valuable data source for many avenues of research including the taxonomy and evolutionary history of plants, as well as the response of vegetation and species to climate change, human development, and rapid migrations of introduced species.
Most of the specimens housed in the herbarium are from central and eastern Kentucky, but there is also a significant representation of specimens from western Kentucky and the southeastern United States. Additionally, the collection contains a set of woody plant specimens from tropical America. Nearly all of EKU’s specimens are vascular plants (ferns, gymnosperms, wildflowers, vines, shrubs, and trees).
The herbarium also houses a number of locally important specimens including sets from EKU-owned natural areas (Lilley Cornett Woods, Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory, and Taylor Fork Ecological Area), as well as sets of collections from Pine Mountain, Breaks Interstate Park, Brodhead Swamp, the headwater regions of the Green River, private collections of Mary Wharton, E.T. Browne, and Raymond Athey, and county sets from Boyle, Clinton, Madison, Estill, Jackson, and Garrard Counties. In addition, the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission recently donated its entire collection, consisting chiefly of rare and endangered species, to the herbarium.
The herbarium at EKU was founded by Dr. J. Stuart Lassetter in 1974. Through the efforts of Dr. Ronald L. Jones, who served as curator from 1981 until 2015, and Dr. Bradley (Brad) Ruhfel, the current curator, it has expanded to become the extensive collection that it is today. During his tenure as curator, Dr. Jones collected and deposited nearly 8000 plant specimens in the herbarium and authored two definitive books on the flora of Kentucky: Plant Life of Kentucky: An Illustrated Guide to the Vascular Flora, and Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee: The Complete Winter Guide to Their Identification and Use (with B.E. Wofford as coauthor), both published by the University Press of Kentucky.
In 2014, Dr. Ruhfel, in collaboration with curators and faculty from 12 other states in the Southeast, received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an imaged and databased set of more than 3 million Southeastern plant specimens from 107 herbaria in the region. This grant allowed for the purchasing of equipment and the hiring of student workers at EKU to capture images of 75,000 specimens, and this work has recently been completed. Images and data from these databasing and imaging efforts can now be viewed on the Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections Symbiota portal (http://www.sernecportal.org). This publically available resource allows data from the herbarium to be used by scientists and students around the globe.
To date, EKU faculty and staff associated with the herbarium have produced over 30 peer-reviewed publications and technical reports and 18 master’s theses based on research conducted with EKU’s collection. The herbarium also supports several courses in EKU’s Department of Biological Sciences including Aquatic and Wetland Plants, Dendrology, Field Botany, General Botany, and Plant Systematics. Engaging opportunities for students also exist in the form of co-op and independent research experiences.
The herbarium is currently located in the Memorial Science building. In the next few months it will be relocating to the New Science Building. This new home will provide much needed space to expand the collection, as well as opportunities to enhance research capabilities, public outreach, and education programming. In 2015 the EKU Board of Regents approved the naming of the facility after Dr. Jones.
To learn more about the Ronald L. Jones Herbarium at EKU, including ways to engage in research, teaching, and outreach opportunities, please visit the website (http://herbarium.eku.edu) or contact Dr. Brad Ruhfel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“What would you call a faculty member who started his EKU career with an empty hydrological research lab and a significant curriculum gap in hydrogeology, and a year later had equipped the lab, redesigned the hydrogeology curriculum, and developed a robust research program consisting of five collaborating faculty, four student workers (so far), and three funded grants? A miracle worker? A rising star? In the Department of Geosciences, we call him Dr. Jonathan Malzone,” says Dr. Melissa Dieckmann, Chair of the Department of Geosciences.
Dr. Malzone obtained his B.S. degree in Geology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He Joined EKU as an Assistant Professor of Geology in August 2015, immediately after completing his doctoral studies, and has already distinguished himself among his peers, as illustrated by the above statement.
According to Dr. Dieckmann, “Dr. Malzone completely revamped the department’s hydrogeology curriculum, infusing geotechniques, incorporating more mathematics, and most importantly, developing a robust field experience for the two courses.”
Dr. Malzone also takes teaching and learning outside of the classroom through a robust and engaging research program. His area of expertise is surface water-groundwater interaction, an area of study that aligns well with issues of water quality facing Kentucky.
Dr. Malzone always dreamt of becoming a professor because he loves to pursue his own scientific ideas and recreate experiments in the classroom with students. He found just the right environment at Eastern. “EKU not only encourages research pursuits but provides a wonderful environment for collaboration. I have found enthusiastic collaborators in geology, geography, biology, chemistry, and construction management while developing my research. I also like teaching in the smaller class sizes because I really get to know the students and can grow their passion for the subject matter by focusing course material on their interests.”
Students play a huge role in Dr. Malzone’s research. He takes 2 to 4 undergraduates a year and develops a complete project with them, including experimental design, field work, laboratory work, analysis, and conference presentation. To keep his students motivated, he breaks his projects into manageable parts. “Students usually cut out a chunk of my larger research and complete a smaller part of the project."
Research in Dr. Malzone’s group is currently focused around two main projects, the first of which is the restoration of ridge top wetlands in Daniel Boone National Forest. This forest contains both natural and constructed wetlands on ridge tops. However they do not provide the same habitat for vegetation and animals. The group is studying how natural ridge top wetlands recharge shallow groundwater and support forest vegetation so that constructed wetlands can be designed to mimic this behavior.
The group’s second major project pertains to groundwater and surface water sources of nutrient contamination. Kentucky has many areas where thin soils lay over fractured bedrock. Dr. Malzone's group is studying how nutrient contamination seeps into groundwater and runs off the surface in streams. This research is part of a larger collaboration effort aimed at developing more effective strategies of capturing the contaminants.
To support his research, Dr. Malzone has secured 5 internal and external worth over $40,000 grants as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.
What is the best thing about being a math major? According to Claire Crouch, “For me, it’s a puzzle…it’s getting to look at a puzzle every single day. It’s a different mystery to figure out and then I get to teach others how to figure it out too.”
Claire is from Danville, Kentucky and attended Danville Christian Academy. She is an EKU Regents scholarship recipient and earned the Central Kentucky youth leadership and Boyle County youth leadership awards. She started at EKU in fall 2015 and is a double major in Mathematics and French.
Claire has an especially interesting background in that her first language was sign language and her second language is spoken English. She has a deaf father and hearing mother. This is perhaps why she tends to have an interest in learning other languages and went on to also learn Japanese and French.
When looking at colleges, Claire considered EKU and Cedarville College in Ohio. She said she ultimately chose EKU because “EKU has everything I wanted, was closer to home, and also had a ‘home’ feel to it.”
Thanks to support from her high school math teacher, Claire began tutoring math as early as high school. She said “It was terrifying at first, but the more I did it the more I realized I loved showing someone how to break a problem down and put it back together again.” Claire continues her tutoring here at EKU as a senior math tutor. As a senior tutor, she supervises other tutors and works more hours than regular tutors. She is also involved in the Math and French clubs and a member of Baptist Student Union. She also puts her American Sign Language skills to work interpreting for BCM and others.
Initially, Claire was interested in teaching high school. However, after tutoring at the college level, she is considering going to graduate school to earn a masters and/or Ph.D. in order to pursue college teaching. Alternatively, she may consider becoming a translator/interpreter full- or part-time after graduation.
Claire said that independence is what she has learned the most at EKU so far. “Once you get on your own, your faith becomes your own... I didn’t know what it took for me to do something until I had to do it on my own.”
In her spare time Claire builds metal models. When asked “Models of what?” she said “Of anything I can find…” She went on to explain that her father is an engineer so she gained from him a curiosity to figure things out. She also has an artistic side and experiments with painting for fun. Claire plans to graduate in May 2019.
Mr. Frederic Arbogast is a two-time Eastern Kentucky University alumnus. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management in 1985. He spent several years in the building construction industry before returning to EKU in 1989 to pursue his passion for science. He earned a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Mathematics in 1990.
Remembering his days in the Physics program, Fred recalled “We found ways to have fun in the program. There were late night study sessions in the Moore building where we gathered in the large classroom, played music over the PA system and worked out thermodynamics problems on the big chalkboards. We formed a softball team one year and enjoyed winning against the Fraternities. I also recall we had a ping-pong table in one of the labs and had many “tournaments” to break up the studying.” These are Mr. Arbogast’s fond memories of how students in the Physics program supported each other.
He attributes much of his success in the Physics program to the professors of the day. “Drs. Faughn, Teague, Cook, Sousa, and Laird had such a passion for the subject that one couldn’t help but be drawn in to learn. During my first degree at EKU, I was required to take a basic physics course. This was Dr. Cook’s course the year I took it. I was a middle of the road physics student in high school. Dr. Cook presented and taught the material in a way that clicked with me. I did very well in that class. Years later, when I was ready for a change from the construction industry, I recalled that class with Dr. Cook. This motivated me to return to EKU for a degree in physics. Looking back, that class with Dr. Cook was a pivotal moment in my life.”
In order for students aspiring to get a degree in physics to maximize their employment opportunities, Fred offers the following advice: “First, work to excel at what is right in front of you. A strong foundation in physics, or any science, can be a basis for many different directions. Second, be open to opportunities and alternate paths. In my working career I’ve encountered many individuals who have used their science base and critical thinking skills to be successful in research, engineering, and business. When the solutions to problems aren’t known, and perhaps seem out of reach, I value most my colleagues who can think through the problem and persist until a solution is found. The critical thinking and rigor developed during a scientific education can be invaluable skills in this area.”
Recently, Fred and his wife, Tanya, established an endowment fund known as the Fred and Tanya Arbogast Endowed Scholarship for Women in Science at EKU to enable a lasting and meaningful vehicle to directly support women's education in science.
Fred and Tanya were motivated to establish this scholarship by three factors. First, both have advanced degrees in science. Second, they have two daughters who are interested in mathematics and science. Third, they wanted a platform to make a meaningful financial contribution that would result in tangible benefits. “Creating a scholarship for women in science is a clear way to bring these three together. Selecting EKU is my way of honoring those who helped me succeed, changing the direction of my life, and allowing me to in turn, help others to succeed,” said Mr. Arbogast.
The generosity displayed by the Arbogasts did not come as a surprise to Dr. Jerry Cook, the former Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy (now retired). Dr. Cook taught Fred’s first physics course at EKU and remembers him very well: “I always try to follow the careers of my former students. Fred was easy. As a student he was on top of his game in both physics and his personal persona. He was always concerned about others and that has stood out in his life as a whole. Not only has he excelled in his professional life but he has continually sought opportunities to help those who need assistance. We pride ourselves in our mission to educate the whole person and we really did it this time."
In addition to his EKU degrees, Mr. Arbogast holds a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University (1993). After obtaining the later degree, he worked for a company developing respiratory diagnostic equipment and got involved in software development. He joined Abbott Laboratories in 1997 as part of the diabetes business and has held roles of increasing responsibility in software development and product development. Most recently he worked on developing the FreeStyle Libre system. He is currently a Technical Director, Research and Development, Software, for Abbott Point of Care in Princeton, NJ.
Tanya Arbogast holds a Bachelor of Science (1993), Master of Science, and a Doctor of Science in Audiology (2003) from Boston University. She has held various positions within the hearing sciences field and is currently a Clinical Research Audiologist for Ear Lens Corporation in Menlo Park, CA.
Dr. Barbara Ramey is a biologist who spent 27 years with the Department of Biological Sciences at Eastern before retiring in 2010. She came to EKU in 1983, largely because she saw the position as her “dream job.” The classes she was assigned to teach, the presence of a Master’s degree program, and the overall emphasis on student success was something she was looking for in her career. During the early years, Ramey was the only female faculty member in the Department, which presented its own series of challenges. Perhaps because of these challenges, she also became involved in the administration of the Department, first serving as Graduate Coordinator, and then as Department Chair for 8 years. During that time, she mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in research projects, mostly in the area of aquatic toxicology, worked with the Honors Program, both as an instructor and as an advisor to students working on their Senior Thesis, and served as an academic advisor for those students seeking entrance into medical and dental schools.
Dr. Guenter Schuster, a retired colleague who has known Ramey for over thirty years had this to say about her: “No one in our department knew our courses, programs and their requirements as well as Barb did. She was always a great ambassador for our department across campus and at scientific meetings. She was always respected by her fellow departmental faculty as well as administrators and faculty across campus. Her students loved her and she would bend over backwards to help students. Her door was always open and students were always her top priority. Her lasagna parties at her house for her upper division students were legendary.”
It is no wonder that Ramey won the first EKU Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award and also the Outstanding College Teacher Award from the Kentucky Academy of Science, an organization that she later led as President.
Schuster’s sentiments are shared by Barbara Ruppard, the long serving administrative assistant who worked with Ramey. “Dr. Ramey was an excellent advisor, helping guide students to make wise choices for their education and future. She enjoyed teaching and set high standards for her students as well as for herself. I am so glad our paths crossed because a friendship was formed that is endless.”
Ramey grew up in Freeport, Illinois, the daughter of a registered nurse and a steel worker. It was in the Freeport school system where she developed first her love of teaching and then her passion for science. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and it was through the mentorship of her high school biology and chemistry teachers that she gained a love of biology. While in high school, Ramey participated in the science fair program sponsored by the state of Illinois. Her two-year study on the distribution of blood types in her community took her to the state-level science fair, where she received an outstanding award in her category.
When she went to college, Ramey knew she was going to be a biology major and initially had plans of being a high school teacher. Her academic advisor at Cornell College (Iowa) encouraged her to get a Master’s degree, which she did at Miami University (Ohio). To ensure that she wanted a Ph.D., Ramey took an academic appointment at Wilmington College (Ohio) for two years, teaching introductory biology, zoology, embryology, and scientific methods for teachers. The experience affirmed her desire to pursue a career in college teaching, and she enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Biology at the University of Kentucky. Her experience at UK was wide-ranging. She conducted research in both developmental neurobiology and aquatic toxicology and spent two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor, where she taught embryology and comparative anatomy. These experiences prepared her for the challenges of teaching at a regional public university.
When asked about significant changes or events at EKU, Ramey immediately mentioned the efforts to build a new science building. Phase 2 of the project will be open for the 2017 fall semester and the building will be the showcase for science at EKU. Ramey served on the committee responsible for the design and implementation of the new building from its inception until she retired. Her contributions did not go unnoticed. Dr. Ronald Jones, a long term colleague who retired in 2013 observed: “As department chair Barbara worked closely with architects and faculty in developing the plans for the new science building. Now that this building has come to fruition, her influence and impact will be long-lasting.”
Another significant change that Dr. Ramey noticed during her career at EKU was an increased emphasis on the involvement of students in scientific research, which continues today. “This is a very positive development because only with hands-on experiences will students learn the true meaning of being a scientist,” she said.
Ramey’s commitment to science education is also reflected in her involvement with the initiation and development of a state-wide science fair affiliated with the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair. Along with Dr. Robert Creek, she served for 11 years as Fair Co-Director for the state fair, which brought middle and high school winners of regional fairs to EKU’s campus to compete for scholarships and prizes. The high school winners went on to participate in the INTEL International Fair, where Kentucky students had the opportunity to compete with students from every U.S. state and 50 foreign countries. Eastern’s support of the state fair has contributed to its success, which brings over 300 budding scientists to campus each spring. This year, one of her former graduate students, Wasana Sumanasekera (an international student who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Penn State and is now an Associate Professor at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy), is bringing her son to the state fair to compete. Commitment does come full circle. Ramey continued her involvement with the Fair, even after her retirement from EKU.
Retirement has afforded Ramey the chance to do some things she couldn’t do when working. She travels to Florida each winter for a month of warmer weather. She also plays bridge, a game she learned as a teenager, and is a member of three local bridge groups. She continues hobbies that include needlework and a new endeavor, designing and making jewelry. Many enjoyable hours also have been spent reading something “other than science”. She comments that she must not forget the hours spent at the gym trying to maintain her mobility. Her social life is rounded out by attending plays and concerts, both at Eastern and the surrounding area, and events at the EKU Center for the Arts. She also enjoys watching movies in theaters before they come out on Netflix.
When asked to reflect upon her life in a couple of sentences, Ramey said without hesitation: “I feel very lucky to have had such as a good life. I miss the students and I am pleased whenever they get in touch. I feel like my years at Eastern went by too quickly and I hope to maintain my association with EKU in the future.”
A reception, for graduates and their families, will be held following the ceremony in the Fred Darling Auxiliary Gym (Alumni Coliseum).
Summer Classes Begin
Summer classes begin for the following sessions:
• 1st six week session
• 1st eight week session
• 12 week session (full summer term)