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Science ConnECtions

December 17, 2010

Science Fair

An interactive column specially for the playful, lighter side of science.
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What Do You Remember from Science Class?

1) Which of the following meristematic tissues is involved in secondary growth of plants?
A. Vascular cambium
B. Protoderm
C. Ground meristem
D. Procambium

2) In zoology terminology, what is the serial repetition of organ systems and the body into similar body segments?

3) Hell is said to contain brimstone, also known as molten sulfur. Since molten sulfur solidifies at 119 degrees Celsius, at what temperature does hell freeze over (sulfur solidify) on the Fahrenheit scale?

4) A metal sphere is connected to ground through a (closed) switch and a positive charge is brought near it. The charge is taken away and the switch is then opened. The sphere is now:
A. Neutral
B. Negatively charged
C. Positively charged
D. Charged, sign?

5) Which of the following elements is least likely to form an ion?
A. Magnesium
B. Argon
C. Fluorine
D. Beryllium

6) John drive a car into Eckerd College and goes around and around the traffic circle (assume it is horizontal and circular) at 20 mph. What force provides the acceleration on his car?
A. Friction
B. Weight
C. Normal
None of the above

A special thanks to the following faculty for their contributions to the quiz:

-Jon Cohen, Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Science
-Anne Cox, Professor of Physics
-Harry Ellis, Professor of Physics
-Teresa Restom Gaskill, Assistant Professor of Botany
-Reggie Hudson, Professor of Chemistry
-Alan Soli, Professor of Chemistry


Dr. David O. Conover ’75, Dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University, has accepted a position as the Director of the Ocean Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Julie Huber ’98, an Assistant Scientist at the Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution at the Marine Biological Laboratory, has been awarded the Neal Cornell Career Development Award.

Brian Zielinksi ’07 was featured demonstrating a toxicity assay in a National Geographic television special about the oil spill titled “Can the Gulf Survive?” Brian is a Ph.D. student in Marine Microbiology at USF. Biology and Marine Science Professor Jon Cohen made a brief appearance in the segment exposing zooplankton to oil.

Dave Onorato ’91 was second author of an article titled “Genetic Restoration of the Florida Panther,” which was featured in the September 24 issue of Science magazine. A Perspective titled “A Bit of Texas in Florida” also appeared in the same issue.

A committee of alumni, faculty, ASPEC members and Dean's Council on Science members judged the four oral and 27 poster presentations at the Second Annual Eckerd College Science Symposium on Saturday, November 6.

The Best Oral Presentation Award goes to Tom Battey ’11 for
by Battey, T., A. Biffi, A.M. Ayers, K. Schwab, A.J. Gilson, N.S. Rost, J.N. Goldstein, A. Viswanathan, S. Greenberg, J. Rosand.

The Best Poster Presentation Award goes to Kyle Newman ’11 for
by Newman, K., C. Riggs, G. Gerdeman.

The Best Oral Presentation and Best Poster Presentation award winners each received $200. Thank you to all of the student presenters for sharing their research, the faculty for their help and all of the attendees who made the event such a success.

A special thanks also goes to the presentation judges: Guy Bradley ’85, Davis Farmer (P ’08), John Ferguson, Professor Denise Flaherty, Professor David Hastings, Professor Reggie Hudson, Andy Judd ’94, Eric Lehr ’97, John Lillibridge, Norm Smith, Jim Sweeny ’65, John Sweeny ’65 and Bob Stoffels.

A directory of all poster-session participants and their abstracts can be viewed here.

Future Events

Environmental Film Festival
Friday, February 18, 2011, through Saturday, February 26, 2011, Miller Auditorium

Natural Sciences Collegium Faculty

Laura R. Wetzel
Collegium Chair and Associate Professor of Marine Geophysics


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.


2010 Science Symposium Recap

For a faculty member who has been at Eckerd College for 32 years, the Second Annual Science Symposium, held November 5-6, during Alumni Weekend, was a three-day natural high. I felt like a neutrino in a mixed state, alternating among being (1) excited at reconnecting with former students whom I had not seen in years, (2) proud at how far “my kids” had come professionally and (3) in awe of, and maybe just a little intimidated by, their accomplishments.

The Symposium was planned and co-chaired by Karin Musier-Forsyth ’84, Ohio Eminent Scholar, Biological Macromolecular Structure, at The Ohio State University, and Jeff Dodge ’84, Research Fellow at Eli Lilly and Company. There were 13 invited presenters and more than 40 posters with abstracts by alumni, students, faculty and friends describing research results. Many of the students were involved in on-campus research this past summer. Perhaps my greatest pleasure was seeing our current students be really, really impressed by the work their predecessors are doing. I and other faculty can talk about what a bright future is possible for an energetic student in science and/or medicine, but it is much more effective when our students see living proof.

The keynote address by Carlos Barbas ’85 was a highlight. While I know that the phrase “a hope for a cancer cure” is much overused, in this case it is appropriate, although perhaps “immunity” is more precise than “cure.” Carlos is a chaired professor at Scripps Research Institute and heads a laboratory where dozens of scientists perform world-class research. Cindy Zahnow ’83 described her medically related biological research at Johns Hopkins. Andrew Judd ’94 reported on his work developing pharmaceuticals at Abbott Laboratories. Sue Slaugenhaupt ’85 introduced the group of 10 Eckerd students who participated in summer internships at Massachusetts General Hospital, where they worked in the human genetic research group she leads. Several of these students reported on their summer work.

There were many other impressive alumni present: Liz Lense ’84, who went to dental school at Emory after graduating from Eckerd and is now the Director of Oral Health for the State of Georgia; Mark Lewis ’92, who received his Ph.D. at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, and is now on the faculty at Cornell; and Eric Seiber ’94, who is on the faculty at Ohio State and works just a couple of buildings away from Karin Musier-Forsyth’s labs. Many other notable alumni were in attendance as well.

I look forward to what I hope will be an equally impressive event next year. I don’t see how it could be any more successful, but I’m hoping for rough equivalency.


Harry P. Ellis (P ’11)
Professor of Physics

View photos of the Symposium here.


Republished from March 2010 Booknotes

Eckerd Author: Professor Peter Meylan
by Eddy Burns

Peter Meylan, Richard R. Hallin Professor of Natural Sciences, has recently published a book on the Biology and Conservation of Florida Turtles. He edited the volume, wrote most of the introductory chapters and contributed to three of the 25 chapters that make up the body of the text, each one describing the biology of one of the species of turtle found in Florida. Each chapter also discusses threats and proposes solutions to counteract those threats. Forty different turtle experts from across the U.S. contributed to the volume.

Professor Meylan’s research interests focus on reptile biology and paleontology. Research with his wife, Anne, on marine turtles has led to travel throughout the Caribbean and long-term projects in Bermuda and Panama. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, Busch Gardens, Sea World and others. In addition to the book on Florida’s turtles, he has recently published a major study of the evolution of side-necked turtles (available in Armacost Library). He teaches Zoology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Ecology of Amphibians and Reptiles in the Collegium of Natural Sciences. He involves students from many different majors in his long-term turtle research project on the Rainbow River. For further information see www.chelonian.org. To order his new book, contact RhodinCRF@aol.com.

Work by Aaron O’Connell ’05: Breakthrough of the Year

Work by Aaron O’Connell ’05, an Eckerd Physics and Math major and current University of California (UC), Santa Barbara, Ph.D. student, was voted by Science and AAAS (the publisher of Science Careers) as the 2010 Breakthrough of the Year. O’Connell became the first person to experimentally induce and measure quantum effect in the motion of a humanmade object. Read about this work, released in March, here.


Dean’s Council Member Wins Alumni Award

The 2010 William H. Kadel Alumni Medal was awarded to Dean’s Council member John Sweeny ’65 and his twin brother, Jim Sweeny ’65, during November’s Alumni Weekend. The Kadel award, named in honor of President William H. Kadel, recognizes an alumnus/a who has demonstrated a clear commitment to excellence in his or her career.

John graduated from Florida Presbyterian College with a B.S. in Physics and began his career in the field of dialysis as a Field Service Engineer for the Milton Roy Company. He quickly progressed to the position of Technical Trainer and eventually to his present position as Global Renal Training Manager with Baxter Healthcare. John has been lecturing for the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists for more than 25 years and has received numerous awards for his educational activities. With more than 40 years in the dialysis industry, John will retire from Baxter Healthcare this month. His work has enriched and prolonged the lives of countless individuals.

Jim graduated from FPC with a B.S. in Chemistry and received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Yale University. He enjoyed a long tenure in Research and Development at the Coca-Cola Company. Upon his retirement in 2002, Jim returned to St. Petersburg and joined the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College, where he has been engaged in preparing talks and recruiting speakers for the Science and Society and Visual Arts interest groups.

John and Jim both reside in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Eckerd Alumni, Parents Gather for Science and Service in Chicago

Dean’s Council member Darius Keblinskas ’93 and his wife, Claudia Hawkins, hosted “From Science to Service: How Eckerd Is Changing the World” on October 20 in Chicago, Ill. Held at the Burnham Park Yacht Club, the event gathered Eckerd alumni and parents for camaraderie and discussion on how to support two of Eckerd’s greatest strengths—the Natural Sciences and Service.

A highlight of the evening, Dar announced his major gift to support the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences and asked everyone present to earnestly consider joining him in this initiative. All gifts of $5,000 or more made to the Science facility will qualify for the Wrenn Science Fellow Challenge match as well as the Eckerd Science Challenge match, tripling the impact of the gift.

Also celebrating Science and Service were Melinda Baldwin (P ’13), Julia Anne Goodwin ’72, Alex Hock ’00, Cindy and Harry Johns ’90, Al Keblinskas (P ’93), Julie Martin ’09, Tom Phillips ’69, Nancy Lu Rosenheim (P ’13), Jonathan and Nancy Siedlecki (P ’02), Bridget Thornton ’05 and Patrick Thornton (P ’05), Lynne Warren (P ’12) and Stephanie Wojcik ’08.

Jeff Dodge ’84 Joins Board of Trustees

Dean’s Council member Jeffrey A. Dodge ’84 was elected to the Eckerd College Board of Trustees. Jeff’s service to the College includes his contributions through the Dean’s Council on Science as well as two years chairing the Eckerd College Science Symposium.

After graduating from Eckerd with a B.S. in Chemistry, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California, Irvine, and was an NIH post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a Senior Research Fellow with Eli Lilly and Company in the Women’s Health Research Division since 1991. Jeff’s research involves the discovery of new drugs for breast cancer, osteoporosis, post-menopausal diseases, fibroid tumors and endometriosis--such as Evista. He resides with his family in Indianapolis, Ind.

Eckerd looks forward to Jeff’s continued thoughtful and dedicated service to the College now as a member of the Board of Trustees.


Science Building Leadership Team

A leadership team has been developed to review planning for and construction of the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences, as well as planning for and renovations to the Sheen Science Complex. The team is comprised of members of each discipline within the Natural Sciences Collegium (NAS), representatives from the Behavioral Science Collegium (BES) and the Creative Arts Collegium (CRA), as well as staff:

Kelly Debure, Professor of Computer Science

John Duff, Director of ITS

Eduardo Fernandez, Associate Professor of Physics and Mathematics

Denise Flaherty, Assistant Professor of Biology

Diana Fuguitt, BES Collegial Chair

Jennifer Gilkey, Biology Lab and Stockroom Supervisor

David Grove, Professor of Chemistry

Bill Junkin, Director of Instructional Technology

Peter Meylan, Professor of Biology

Alison Ormsby (BES), Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

Chris Schnabel, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Linda Swindall, Registrar

Kirk Wang (CRA), Professor of Visual Arts

Laura Wetzel, Chair, Natural Sciences Collegium, Associate Professor of Marine Geophysics

These 14 team members will function as representatives of the faculty and staff as they work with Cannon Design, Biltmore Construction and other consultants. In particular, this group will reflect on the following issues:

  • Addressing instructional space requirements for lecture, studio and laboratory classes;
  • Enhancing student and faculty research with new spaces and equipment;
  • Creating informal places for student-student, student-faculty and faculty-faculty interactions;
  • Utilizing state-of-the-art instructional technology;
  • Facilitating interdisciplinary approaches by planning optimal adjacencies amongst faculty offices, research spaces and instructional laboratories; and
  • Compromising to create the best new and renovated Science facilities possible within a fixed project budget.


Many Experiences: One Spirit

Momentum Builds Laboratories, Inspires Challenge

More than $26 million of the $30 million goal for the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences has been raised. The Science Fellows, a group of donors who have made gifts of $5,000 or more to the Science building, is 139 members strong. Eckerd parents, rallied by the Parent Council, have given nearly $900,000 in support of this Campaign priority. Through the Risser Laboratory Challenge, naming rights to four of the future Chemistry and Biology laboratories have been secured.

Simply put, the momentum created by each gift to the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences has inspired the next, including that of Campaign Chairman and Trustee Grover Wrenn ’64. On November 5, with $4 million yet to be raised to reach the $30 million goal, Wrenn announced a new challenge at the Science Symposium. The Wrenn Science Fellow Challenge will match new or increased Science Fellow-level gifts up to the sum of $250,000, thus making a $500,000 impact on the Science facility.

“It’s essential that all of us, scientists and non-scientists alike, make our contributions to ensure the realization of this building. It’s the future of Eckerd College. Suzie and I hope this Challenge will inspire you to be a part of it,” Wrenn said.

Wrenn, a member of the founding class of Florida Presbyterian College, majored in Chemistry and went on to earn his M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of North Carolina. He is a Director and Chairman of Axolotl Corporation and a former Director of Safety-Kleen Corp, EnSys, and Strategic Diagnostics, Inc. He and his wife, Suzie, live in Denver, Colo.

To learn how you can make a difference through the Wrenn Science Challenge, contact Matthew S. Bisset, Vice President for Advancement, at 727.864.8482 or bissetms@eckerd.edu.


New Plant Trail at Eckerd College Campus

What is that interesting-looking tree with thorns and gorgeous white flowers near the library?

Now you don’t have to wonder. If you have walked around the Eckerd College campus since last May, you probably have noticed signs identifying some of the campus’ trees. This is the result of a project led by Dr. Teresa Restom Gaskill, Continuing Part Time Professor of Biology, that involved four ASPEC members: Bill Stickley, Julie MacNary, Ginny Oppenheimer and Fred Wolf, and three Biology and Marine Science students: Nicola Zenzola ’12, Scott Adams ’12 and Adrian Padilla ’12. The project was funded by an ASPEC/SunTrust Learning Grant, the Natural Sciences Collegium and the Environmental Studies discipline.

From left to right: Fred Wolf, Ginny Oppenheimer, Nicola Zenzola ’12, Teresa Restom Gaskill, Adrian Padilla ’12, Julie MacNary, Bill Stickley and Scott Adams ’12.

The trail, which overlaps considerably with the Admissions trail for prospective students, is intended to be used by classes and as a tool to increase environmental awareness of the whole campus community. The trail features 27 species of native and non-native Florida trees, including eight species of palm trees and two plant communities: the Florida-friendly plants of the Sheen Quad and a coastal/mangrove community by Frenchman’s Creek.

Each identification sign depicts the scientific and common names of the plant and its origin. In addition, the group produced a brochure with a map of the trail and additional information about each plant. If you would like a copy of the brochure or if you have any comments about the trail, contact Dr. Teresa Restom Gaskill at: gaskiltg@eckerd.edu.

Map of campus showing the plant trail (in red) and the numbered location of each tree featured in the brochure.

New chief of gulf restoration effort has ties to Tampa Bay area
By Craig Pittman, Special to the St. Petersburg Times
In Print 11/09/2010

Local to lead Gulf spill cleanup
By Peter Guinta, Special to the St. Augustine Record
In Print 10/31/2010

National Science Foundation Funds Renovations to Eckerd's Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory

Research Projects by Three Eckerd College Faculty Selected for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Funding 09/05/2010

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