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Science ConnECtions

September 24, 2010

Science Fair

An interactive column specially for the playful, lighter side of science. Submit your response to campaign@eckerd.edu.

Photo ID Who are these Florida Presbyterian Science students? Where are they and what are they doing?

Join the Science Fellows

Every significant project requires a group of lead investors. For Eckerd's proposed Center for Molecular and Life Sciences, this group is the Science Fellows. Through their support, these Trustees, alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff will have a lasting impact on the College's future and tomorrow's science leaders. Become a Science Fellow with a gift of $5,000 or more for the new facility, payable in increments or in lump sum by June 30, 2012.


Scott Burnett and two co-authors published an article on maxillary premolar accessory ridges, a morphological trait found in the human dentition, in the February issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Greg Gerdeman was featured in the February 2010 issue of Danish magazine Illustreret Videnskab (Science Illustrated), in an article about the neurobiology of “runner's high.” His NSF-funded collaboration with David Raichlen of the University of Arizona investigates potential evolutionary benefits of the release of endocannabinoid molecules during endurance running.

Emma Hiolski '09 has been accepted into and is now deciding between the UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis toxicology programs.

Andrew Keane '10 has been accepted into a graduate program at the University of Maryland at College Park. Andrew majored in Chemistry and Physics, and is interested in material sciences.

Moses Michelsohn '08 is in Florida State University’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, studying amphibian phylogeography.

Lily Raines '10 will join Johns Hopkins University’s interdisciplinary program in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Her particular interest is pharmacology. Lily was also accepted into Vanderbilt and University of Texas at Houston.

Travis Richards '08 has accepted an offer to begin graduate school this fall in Florida State's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, where he will be funded to study the effects of habitat quality on estuarine fishes.

Kate Rost '11 (Marine Science), Stephanie Kyle '11 (Biomolecular Sciences), Thomas Battey '11 (Marine Science), Zoe O'Donoghue '12 (Marine Science), Adrian Bruce '11 (Biology and Sociology), Kristine Crowe '12 (Biology and Psychology), Shannon Bean '11 (Neuroscience concentration), Dylan Finneran '12 (Biochemistry and Physics), Lauren Van Woudenberg '12 (Marine Science) and Evan Playle '11 (Biology) studied at the Harvard Medical School Center for Human Genetic Research during the summer.

Lillian McCormick, a senior majoring in Marine Science, was awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) from Sigma Xi for her proposal, "Vision in the Fast Lane: Evaluating the Effects of Lateral Asymmetry and Polarization Sensitivity on Predatory Efficiency in the Squid Lolliguncula brevis." Eckerd's Natural Sciences Collegium recently instituted a program that matches research grants obtained by students up to $500. Lillian was awarded the first one, providing additional support for her exciting experiments on squid vision.

Melissa Gilbert '05 went on a Marine Science research cruise to the Pacific Ocean with her advisor, Dr. Joe Needoba, as part of her thesis work at theCenter for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction atOregon Health and Science University.

Samantha Loomis '11, a Marine Science major, was awarded an NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) fellowship to work at BIOS, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science.

Terill Hollweg '04 recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Ph.D. in Marine Chemistry. Her thesis was titled "Mercury Cycling in the Ocean." Following her doctorate, Terill was awarded a prestigious NOAA Knauss Fellowship, where she will work withthe Office of Habitat Conservation/Habitat Protectionat NMFS/NOAA.

Biology Professor Denise Flaherty and Amy Zeifman '10 presented a poster on their work called "Affects of Commonly Used Florida Pesticides on Neurological and Reproductive Stress in C.elegans" at the 2010 international "Aging, Metabolism, Pathogenesis, Stress and Small RNAs in C. elegans Topics Meeting." Lindley Maryoung '10, Connor Dwyer '11, Alexandra Kaudy '11 and Marissa Swope '11 were co-authors.

Polina Maciejczyk received the 2010-2011 American Fellowship Short Term Publication Grant from the American Association of University Women. Her manuscript titled "Oxidant Generation Capacity of Source-Apportioned PM2.5" was just accepted to publication in Inhalation Toxicology. Part of this research with Eckerd Chemistry student Tianshui Wang '12 was presented at the 2010 Specialty Conference of the American Association for Aerosol Research.

Dr. Carlos F. Barbas III ’85 was recently featured in Angewandte Chemie, the world’s leading chemistry journal.

*We would like to acknowledge that the 2010 Winter Term trip: Science at Sea, highlighted in our last newsletter, was co-led by Dr. Jeannine Lessmann, Associate Professor of Marine Science.


Dr. Carlos F. Barbas III '85: Barbas III, C.F. (2009) Anti-Selective Asymmetric Michael Reactions of Aldehydes and Nitroolefins Catalyzed by a Primary Amine/Thiourea. Angew. Chem. 121, 10032-10036.

Dr. Jianqiang Zhao: Zhao, J. (2010) Multi-polylogs at twelfth roots of unity and special values of Witten multiple zeta function attached to the exceptional Lie algebra. g2. J. of Alg. and Its Applications 9 327-337.

Zhao, J. (2010) Standard relations of multiple polylogarithm values at roots of unity. Documenta Mathematica 15 1-34.

Zhao, J. (2010) On a conjecture of Borwein, Bradley and Broadhurst.J. Reine Angew. Math. 639 223-233.

Future Events

Dr. Randy Blakely, The Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience: “Serotonin and Autism: From Molecule to Mouse to Man”
Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 3:00 p.m., Sheen Auditorium

Dr. Elin Torell, Coastal Manager, Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island: “From Cockle Collectors to Jewelry Makers—Balancing Coastal Conservation and Community Development on Zanzibar, Tanzania,” part of The Plight and Promise of Africa
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 7:30 p.m., Miller Auditorium

Dr. Maurice Elphick, Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience, Director of Science and Engineering Graduate School, Queen Mary, University of London: “Evolution of Neural Signaling Molecules”
Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 7:00 p.m., Sheen Auditorium

Dr. Maurice Elphick, Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience, Director of Science and Engineering Graduate School, Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr. Rainer Reinscheid, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of California, Irvine: “Evolution of Neuropeptides as Regulators of Behavior”
Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 3:00 p.m., Sheen Auditorium

Second Annual Eckerd College Science Symposium: Exploring Critical Issues in Science (during Alumni Weekend 2010)
Friday, November 5, 2010, through Saturday, November 6, 2010, Sheen Science Complex

Dr. Sanika Chirwa, Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Meharry Medical College; Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University: “Brain Disease Burden in the Global South,” part of The Plight and Promise of Africa
Saturday, November 6, 2010, 9:00 a.m., Sheen Auditorium

Sigma Xi Student Research Conference
Friday, November 12, 2010, through Saturday, November 13, 2010, Raleigh, North Carolina

Natural Sciences Collegium Faculty

Laura R. Wetzel
Collegium Chair and Associate Professor of Marine Science and Geosciences


Gregg R. Brooks
Professor of Marine Science


Trevor M. Cickovski
Assistant Professor of Computer Science


Jonathan H. Cohen
Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science


Anne J. Cox
Professor of Physics


Kelly R. Debure
Professor of Computer Science


Steven H. Denison
Associate Professor of Biology


David S. Duncan
CPT Assistant Professor of Marine Science


Harry W. Ellis
Professor of Physics


Eduardo Fernandez
Associate Professor of Physics and Mathematics


Denise B. Flaherty
Assistant Professor of Biology


Elizabeth A. Forys
Professor of Environmental Sciences


Teresa G. Gaskill
CPT Assistant Professor of Botany


Gregory L. Gerdeman
Assistant Professor of Biology


Shannon Gowans
Assistant Professor of Biology


David D. Grove
Professor of Chemistry


Yelda Hangun-Balkir
Assistant Professor of Chemistry


David W. Hastings
Associate Professor of Marine Science and Chemistry


Reggie L. Hudson
Professor of Chemistry


David W. Kerr
Assistant Professor of Mathematics


Jeannine M. Lessmann
Assistant Professor of Biology


Polina B. Maciejczyk
Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Holger Mauch
Assistant Professor of Computer Science


Nazarre Merchant
Assistant Professor of Mathematics


Peter A. Meylan
Professor of Biology


Peter Sandusky
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Chris Schnabel
Associate Professor of Chemistry


Michael Seifert
Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics


Nancy F. Smith
Associate Professor of Biology


Alan L. Soli
Professor of Chemistry


William A. Szelistowski
Associate Professor of Biology


Joel B. Thompson
Associate Professor of Marine Geochemistry


Walter O. Walker
Associate Professor of Mathematics


Stephen P. Weppner
Professor of Physics


Jianqiang Zhao
Associate Professor of Mathematics


Questions? Comments?
Contact campaign@eckerd.edu.


Calling All Scientists!

The Second Annual Eckerd College Science SymposiumExploring Critical Issues in Science: Environmental, Medical, Educational and Global—will be held on campus November 5–6 during Alumni Weekend. The program will begin with luncheon remarks by Ernst Peebles, Associate Professor of Biological Oceanography at the University of South Florida, who has been part of USF's oil spill research team. Following the luncheon will be plenary sessions by:

  • Dr. Cynthia A. Zahnow '83, Assistant Professor of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University;
  • Dr. William R. Roush, Executive Director of Medicinal Chemistry, Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of the Kellogg School of Science and Technology Graduate Program at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in Florida;
  • Dr. Andrew S. Judd '94, Medicinal Chemist, Abbott Laboratories; and
  • Dr. Reggie Hudson, Professor of Chemistry at Eckerd College, and Luca Bell, a senior Biochemistry and Economics major.

The first day will conclude with Symposium keynote Dr. Carlos F. Barbas III '85, Kellogg Professor and Endowed Chair of Chemistry and Molecular Biology at TSRI and 2009 ACS Cope Scholar. Day two will include presentations by Dr. Sanika Chirwa, Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at Meharry Medical College and Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Jay Labov, Senior Advisor for Education and Communication of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council, who will lead a discussion on teaching and learning 21st century science.

Alumni and student poster sessions on Friday and Saturday, respectively, will offer attendees an opportunity to share their field and laboratory research. This is the first year alumni will have the opportunity to present their posters at the Symposium, and friends are welcome to do so as well. Eckerd students, alumni and friends wishing to present a poster must register its title and abstract by Friday, October 8.

No registration is necessary to attend the Symposium, though a reservation for the luncheon is strongly recommended as limited seats are available. Last year, the Symposium attracted nearly 300 participants, and we anticipate an even greater turnout this year. All events are free and open to the public, so please plan to join us and bring your friends and colleagues!


Jeffrey A. Dodge '84 and Karin Musier-Forsyth '84

Symposium Co-Chairs


Introducing Dean Betty Stewart

Earlier this month at the College’s 51stConvocation, President Donald R. Eastman III officially introduced Dean Betty Stewart to Eckerd students.

"We are delighted to welcome Dr. Betty Stewart to our campus this fall as our new Vice President and Dean of Faculty. Dr. Stewart earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Mississippi State University and her Ph.D. in Protein Biochemistry from Carnegie-Mellon University. Before joining the senior administration of Eckerd College, Dr. Stewart served as Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and Professor of Chemistry at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Professor and Chair of Chemistry at Austin College.

"Her many fellowships and awards include her selection as the 2008 Midwestern State University Chemistry Professor of the Year and as a 2005 Woman of Achievement of the American Association for University Women. Of her more than 25 research publications, I personally found her paper on 'The Effect of Structural Variation on Substrate Enantioselectivity in Mandelamide Hydrolase' absolutely riveting, as I am sure you would, too," joked President Eastman.

"Besides being a distinguished scientist who has been awarded numerous grants from private foundations and from the National Science Foundation, she has already played a significant role in building one science building—at Midwestern—and has the hard hat to prove it. She has also played a significant leadership role in national science initiatives for attracting more women into the sciences and in premier science organizations such as Project Kaleidoscope.

"Dr. Stewart has been hard at work here at the College since she arrived on July 1 and has already begun to take us in new and promising directions."

Dean Stewart is the first woman to hold the post of Dean of Faculty at Eckerd College and the first African-American to serve on the College's Executive Staff. She also was the first black female Dean at Midwestern. She succeeds Dr. Lloyd Chapin, who retired in June after 31 years at Eckerd. Dean Stewart is responsible for the academic program and the hiring of all faculty, and works at the right hand of President Eastman.


Eckerd Students Perform Cutting-Edge Research at Massachusetts General Hospital

By Susan A. Slaugenhaupt ’85, Ph.D.

This summer six colleagues and I had the pleasure of hosting 10 Eckerd summer interns in our laboratories at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research. MGH is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and the largest academic research hospital in the U.S.

When the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) announced that we could apply for individual grant supplements to offer summer internships, I approached them about the possibility of submitting one application that ‘bundled’ existing grants to provide a unique group experience. We were extremely fortunate to obtain funds to provide 10 Eckerd students with a $4,800 stipend each to spend the summer performing cutting-edge research and learning valuable laboratory skills. Students selected to participate were Kate Rost ’11 (Marine Science), Stephanie Kyle ’11 (Biomolecular Sciences Concentration), Thomas Battey ’11 (Marine Science), Zoe O’Donoghue ’12 (Marine Science), Adrian Bruce ’11 (Biology and Sociology), Kristine Crowe ’12 (Biology and Psychology), Shannon Bean ’11 (Neuroscience Concentration), Dylan Finneran ’12 (Biochemistry and Physics), Lauren Van Woudenberg ’12 (Marine Science) and Evan Playle ’11 (Biology).

Over the course of their 10-week internship, they engaged in molecular research aimed at understanding a wide variety of human genetic diseases, including Huntington’s disease, autism, Batten’s disease, Mucolipidosis Type IV, familial dysautonomia, stroke, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In addition, they had the opportunity to attend research seminars, and several Harvard faculty and graduate students offered information sessions on graduate and medical school admission.

Stephanie Kyle ’11 said of her CHGR experience, “I truly love my internship and enjoy every minute I am in Boston. I am confident that my undergraduate education at Eckerd College has prepared me for a promising future in science.”

The combination of rigorous academic study and real-world experiences in active laboratories leads students to become successful scientists. As a member of the Dean’s Council on Science, I encourage all alumni and parents, no matter your discipline or field of work, to consider hiring Eckerd students as interns. Admission to graduate and medical schools is extremely competitive, and unique research experiences like these will help Eckerd students succeed.


Selecting an Architect

Donors have made more than $25 million in gifts and pledges to support the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences. The Science Fellows—a group of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends who have individually invested $5,000 or more toward the project—now comprises 103 members.

With less than a year left in the Many Experiences, One Spirit Campaign, volunteers and College staff will work with donors to secure the balance of $5 million needed to fully fund the project, which includes the new building and renovations to existing ones.

Even as fundraising continues, Eckerd College has begun to plan for the new Center, selecting Cannon Design—a national, award-winning architectural firm—to partner on design and construction.

“After a rigorous, six-month process that culminated with on-campus interviews of five of the country’s leading architectural firms, the Board of Trustees, members of our Science faculty and a team of others have enthusiastically supported the hiring of Cannon Design for this project,” said Donald R. Eastman III, Eckerd College President. “Cannon’s team exhibited not only the technical know-how and leadership to create a world-class building, but they also showed inspiration and creativity, which reflects the educated imagination we seek to foster in our Science students.”

Cannon’s project team will be led by Ken Wiseman (P ’11), President of Professional Services for the firm and parent of Eckerd student John Wiseman. Under Ken’s leadership, Cannon designed the GO Pavilion, an open-air recreation facility currently under construction on Eckerd’s campus. Among his many other accomplishments, Ken was design principal for the Richmond Olympic Oval, which served as the home for long-track speed skating during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which was declared the “Foremost Sports Facility of the Year” by the International Sports Summit; and the Texas Christian University Student Recreation Center, which has been honored with four awards for design excellence.

The College’s portion of the project team will be led by Betty Stewart, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty; Bill McKenna, Director of Planning, Development and Construction, who will serve as Project Manager; and Laura Wetzel, Chair of the Natural Sciences Collegium and Associate Professor of Marine Science and Geosciences, who will serve as Project Shepherd on behalf of the faculty.

The timeline for the project proposes that design will take about 15 months and construction another 18 months. The College expects to welcome students and faculty into the building for Fall Semester 2013.


Many Experiences: One Spirit

P.N. “Bud” Risser III and his wife, Fran, longtime supporters of Eckerd College, made a generous gift in 2007 to establish the Risser Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship, which has made it possible for students with financial need to experience other cultures through study abroad. A member of the College’s Board of Trustees since 1992, Bud made a second gift to the College’s Campaign, this one to support Eckerd’s central initiative, the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences.

This Risser Laboratory Challenge was established to encourage donors to provide support for the Center’s four largest laboratories in Biology and Chemistry. The naming right for each laboratory (two General Chemistry, two Cell Biology/Genetics) required a contribution of $250,000.

Under the terms of the Challenge, a donor could receive the naming right to one of the aforementioned laboratories—a $250,000 naming opportunity—for a gift of only $100,000. The donor’s gift would be matched in full by the Eckerd Science Challenge (I), which matches dollar for dollar gifts of any amount made to support the Center. The donor’s gift would be matched again in the amount of $25,000 by the Risser Challenge, which in turn would be matched by the Eckerd Science Challenge (II). This would take the donor’s total credit toward the naming opportunity to the required $250,000. In short, a donor could earn the naming right to a large laboratory by making a $100,000 gift.

As of August 2010, Eckerd donors have fulfilled the Risser Laboratory Challenge, and all four labs in the Science facility will be funded through this effort. Eckerd College would like to thank the following generous donors who made this possible: Louie and Laurel Buntin (P ’13); former Parent Council Chairs Michael and Susan Graham (P ’08, ’11); Susan Lukens, wife of the late Trustee Jay Lukens ’77; and an anonymous donor. “The new Science building will benefit the entire Eckerd community. It’s important that we all do what we can to ensure the success of this top Campaign priority,” said Michael Graham (P ’08, ’11).

See the names of others who are doing their part as Science Fellows, and please do your part by taking advantage of the Eckerd Science Challenge and making a gift of any amount to the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences.


The National Science Foundation Funds Renovations to Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory

September 14, 2010

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a grant of $870,720 to MARINE: Modernizing Academic Research INfrastructure at Eckerd for the renovation of five research training areas in the College’s Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory (GMSL).

Under the direction of Laura Wetzel, Natural Sciences Collegium Chair and Associate Professor of Marine Science and Geosciences, and Jon Cohen, Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science, the project will update the 16-year-old building to accommodate the needs of Eckerd’s most popular major—Marine Science. In the last 10 years, 279 undergraduates have conducted research training projects in the GMSL. Such experiences have resulted in Eckerd students receiving more NOAA Hollings Scholarships than any other institution and numerous Goldwater, Fulbright and NSF Graduate Fellowships.

Of the 495 proposals submitted to NSF’s Academic Research Infrastructure, Recovery and Reinvestment Program, Eckerd’s was among the 25 percent to receive an award. The College also received a grant in 2008 for the NSF International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) competition, which supported six Marine Science students who conducted research in China at Xiamen University and Hong Kong Baptist University this summer.

In addition to bolstering the Marine Science program, renovations to the GMSL will complement the top priority of the College’s Many Experiences, One Spirit Campaign—the $30 million Center for Molecular and Life Sciences. This top Campaign priority also will refurbish existing Sheen Science buildings, which currently house the Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science disciplines of the Natural Sciences Collegium. The Center will provide much-needed laboratory space to support the more than 50 percent of Eckerd students who come to Eckerd to study Science.

Renovations to the GMSL—including the W.M. Keck Lab and the unique flow-through seawater system connected to Boca Ciega Bay—are slated for the summer of 2011.

Alumni Profile: Science Gene Runs in the Family for Urban Ecologist Jeffrey Ackley '08

Edward B. Fiske Selects Eckerd College as One of Top Ten Environmental Studies Schools in the Nation

Eckerd College's New Dean of Faculty, Betty Stewart, Has Impressed Before
By Kameel Stanley, Special to the St. Petersburg Times
In Print: 6/02/2010

Eckerd Student Rachel Harbeitner '11 Awarded Summer Fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Eckerd College Featured by The Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council in Guide to 286 Green Colleges

Eckerd College Is Monitoring the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Ten Eckerd Students Selected to Conduct Research at Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research

Floating Dock at Fort DeSoto Park Is Refuge for Least Terns
By Steve Heisler, Special to the St. Petersburg Times
In Print: 4/28/2010

A Perfect Spot for Nesting
By Yvette C. Hammett, Special to the Tampa Tribune
In Print: 4/25/2010

American Volunteers Performed Work in Zoo
By Edgar Chinchilla, Special to the Peridico Al Dia, San Jose, Costa Rica
In Print: 4/15/2010

Once Ubiquitous, Florida's Brown Lizards Scarce After Cold Winter
By Terri Bryce Reeves, Special to the St. Petersburg Times
In Print: 4/14/2010

Science Alumni Profile: Senior Physicist Dr. Marion Marshall White '74

Eckerd College Office of Advancement - 4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33711 - 727.864.8222