Missouri State University
CNAS NewsWatch
An online publication for the alumni and friends of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences

Life-long learners

Watch out, online students!

Using the Digital Professor Academy Bootcamp through the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, these College of Natural and Applied Sciences professors are ready to tackle best practices for online and blended courses.

Just like students, faculty are always learning.

FCTL participants

Instructors who completed the course from left to right:

Jun Luo (GGP), Katie Fredrick-Hudson (BIO), Stacy Rice (Instructional Designer – FCTL), Brian Greene (BIO), Carolyn Shand-Hawkins (MTH), Chris Lupfer (BIO), Helena Metzker (CHM), Toby Dogwiler (GGP), Damon Bassett (GGP), Deb Corcoran (GGP), Raj Jutla (GGP) and Randy Meredith (Instructional Designer – FCTL).  Not pictured: Dan Beckman and Becky Baker.

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Biology Awards Outstanding Graduating Seniors

Every year the biology department gives out an award to the Outstanding Graduating Senior. With a number of great candidates, this year there was a tie: Brian Blankenship and Tanner Hoog were given this honor, and they certainly deserved it.


Blankenship earned this award for his heavy involvement in and out of the lab. According to his undergraduate research advisor, Dr. Paul Durham, “Brian has worked as the equivalent of a second year graduate student for the past year in the lab – even though he is a senior undergraduate.”

Blankenship has also worked on ensuring other students are as prepared as he is by sharing his knowledge about  cryosectioning, immunostaining, microscopy and behavioral studies.

Though his time-consuming family commitments may have deterred others, he still worked diligently in the lab as well as academically, even volunteering to come in on weekends to assist with experiments.

Blankenship currently has been awarded pre-admission to the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine, where he is a Lester Bryant Scholar.

lab equipment


One of Hoog’s claims to fame is his research grant though the national Tri-Beta Biological honor society. He used this grant to research congenital heart defects in mice in the lab of his undergraduate research advisor, Dr. Ryan Udan.

He was accepted into the SMART summer internship program at Baylor University’s College of Medicine. To be competitive for this opportunity, he taught himself OPT imaging and image processing. He co-wrote a book chapter on lightsheet imaging of mouse embryos and is an excellent problem solver. Angela Plank, a biology lab supervisor comments that one favorite recollection of Hoog is when he was hired for the prep lab: “He was set to report for the first time on a particular day. As it turned out, he was in the hospital (that day) with a collapsed lung but e-mailed me his apology for missing work!” Along with being accomplished, Hoog is courteous!

After his schooling is complete, Hoog plans to attend graduate school and eventually become a professor.

Well done, Brian and Tanner!

Read more about Hoog’s research with congenital heart defects.

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Moving Forward with Missouri State

Two College of Natural and Applied Sciences professors are taking on extra responsibilities this year by

Kyoungtae Kim

serving as new associate deans.

Kyoungtae Kim

Dr. Kyoungtae Kim is currently a professor of biology and started his new associate dean of research and graduate programs appointment June 1. Last year Kim won the Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence in addition to the Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.


Xiaomin QiuXiaomin Qiu

Dr. Xiaomin Qiu, a geospatial scientist, is currently an associate professor in geography, geology and planning. Qiu will start her associate dean of student success position July 1.

Congratulations, Kyoungtae and Xiaomin!

Read more about Kim’s dedication to student success.

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Biology graduate student earns grant money to continue research

Biology graduate student Briana Anderson had a busy semester. Not only has she stayed on top of her graduate course work and been a successful TA, she also applied for and received grants

Briana Bat

this year for the bat research associated with her thesis. This research is investigating the immune function of hibernation bats when they get white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in North America in the last decade.

Sigma Xi

One of Anderson’s grants is a $1000 Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma Xi.  According to her advisor, Dr. Tom Tomasi, only about 15 percent are funded.

American Society of Mammologists

 Another Grant-in-Aid of Research Anderson received comes from the American Society of Mammologists for $1,500. With this competition open to Master’s and PhD students, Anderson rose to the challenge and conquered.

Both grants will be used to purchase lab supplies to collect data on the levels of immune signaling proteins, measurements made in Dr. Chris Lupfer’s laboratory.

Congratulations, Briana! We cannot wait to see what advances you give the world with these grants.

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REU opens doors

On June 12, 12 undergraduate students from Cornell University, Evangel University, Hastings College, Hofstra University, Missouri State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Tuskegee University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Merced, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, University of Rochester and University of West Florida joined us on campus for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Mathematics.Rebaza and students

This is an eight-week adventure, including cutting-edge math research and weekend social events.

Historically, participation in an REU program such as this one has dramatically improved a student’s attractiveness to and readiness for graduate schools.

Drs. Jorge Rebaza, Les Reid, Steven Senger and Xingping Sun are hosting the event.

Read more about sample research projects for summer 2017 REU.

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Using theoretical math to prove the physical world

Congratulations to Dr. Shouchan Hu, professor of mathematics, on his research with differential equations, dynamical systems and nonlinear analysis. His work is featured on the Mind’s Eye blog and will be featured in the 2017 issue.

Using his theoretical question-driven field, he helped launch the international journal Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems and has served as the editor-in-chief ever since.

Read more about Hu’s research and roles at Missouri State University and beyond.

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Knowledge is Power

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes

Dr. James O’Brien has dedicated his life to making science more accessible to the general public. This time, his efforts were awarded with the Elizabeth Wood Science Writing Award from the American Crystallographic Association. This award is given every three years to a person who has written books or articles that bring science to the attention of a wider audience.

O’Brien’s career at Missouri State University started in 1969. Since then, he has won numerous awards, published 31 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and he has since been given space on Missouri State’s Wall of Fame. He has given many talks about his 2013 Edgar Award winning book, “The Scientific Sherlock Holmes,” and his Famous Mad Hatter talks about mercury poisoning. His latest project has been a chapter entitled “Sherlock Holmes: Forensic Science Pioneer” that has been accepted for a future novel.

To read more about his work and other works that bring science to a wider audience, check out his collaboration with Dr. Tamera Jahnke.

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Welcome to Campus, Astronomy Lovers!

With the Mid-States Region of the Astronomical League convention beginning June 9, the College of Natural and Applied Sciences wants to welcome you to

Baker Observatory and Sky
One of the stops during the convention, Baker Observatory.

campus and thank all of you for your love of the stars. With astronomy-centered events, tours and speakers, we hope you are ready for a fun-filled weekend!


We wanted to take moment and recognize all of the people it takes to make the Mid-States Region of the Astronomical League a success. This convention is sponsored by the Ozarks Amateur Astronomers Club, the Springfield Astronomical Society and the physics, astronomy and materials science department. We also want to thank Baker Observatory for the amazing tour that will take place June 9.

A huge thank you goes to Dr. Peter Plavchan who will serve as the keynote speaker for this event. We would also like to thank the rest of our speakers, attendees, vendors and astronomy enthusiasts.

We hope you have an astronomically great time!

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Missouri Inorganic Chemistry Day 2017 Draws Large Missouri State Representation

Saint Louis University hosted the 2017 Missouri Inorganic Chemistry Day event on May 7 with talks from many area universities, including Dr. Gerasimchuk and graduate student Chideraa Nwachukwu from Missouri State University.

The annual conference is held on one spring Saturday and rotates Universities year-to-year. This conference offers a good venue for graduate student poster presentations on a state/regional scale.

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Biology professor, students have seven papers published

Kim's students
From left to right: John Short, Pelin Makaraci, Uma Saimani, Dr. Kim, Mariel Delgado Cruz, Sara Woodman

The inside of your cells can be a bit of a mystery, but it’s an important one to solve. Dr. Kyoungtae Kim and several of his students have been working to research diverse cellular processes in the body.

“This research includes endocytic pathways and intracellular trafficking, or movement, of proteins and membranes, as well as membrane organization and nanomaterial-mediated effects in cells,” said Kim.

Studying pathways

The study of intracellular pathways is imperative because dysregulation is directly associated with multiple human disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

“The study of these pathways at a molecular level can shed light on the development of therapeutics for these diseases,” said Kim.

But what about his nanoparticle research? How does that tie in?

“Nanoparticles are commercially used everyday, but the effects on cells are poorly understood,” said Kim. “Addressing delicate changes in gene expression patterns upon treatment of nanoparticles are crucial for the responsible use of these materials.”

An effective and persistent focus

Since 2016, Kim and his students have had seven papers published in academic journals (three in 2016 and four in 2017 thus far).

The publishing of so many papers comes from what Kim called “an effective and persistent focus.” This focus has allowed him to publish on a variety of topics.

“Two recently published review articles focus on the molecular mechanisms of protein trafficking inside the cell, offering in-depth knowledge regarding molecular components that work for the trafficking,” said Kim.

Four other papers focus on uncovering the novel roles of the yeast dynamin-like protein Vps1 in the protein movement process. A final paper, published in the “Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology,” revealed differently expressed genes upon treatment of carbon nanomaterials.

Students as researchers

Several students aid Kim in his research and are crucial to the success of his lab.

Most commonly, teams of undergraduate and graduate students in his lab design experiments and collect or analyze data. These students then write a scientific report and Kim provides feedback on their writing.

Several students work in Kim’s lab and have had a hand in his publications and projects:

  • Uma Saimani – MS in biology
  • Shiva Kumar Gadila – MS in biology
  • Michelle Williams – MS in biology; also did undergraduate research
  • Mariel Delgado Cruz – BS in biology
  • Pelin Makaraci – MS in biology
  • Hyoeun McDermott – MS in biology; also did undergraduate research
  • Bryan Banh – MS in biology
  • Sara Woodman – MS in biology; also did undergraduate research
  • Chris Trousdale – MS in biology;
  • John “Wes” Short – MS in biology; also did undergraduate research
  • Katelyn Bartlett – MS in biology
  • Katie Schmelzle – BS in biology; also did undergraduate research

“Students who are engaged in research understand easily the rationale underlying others’ research,” said Kim. “Furthermore, they can gain firsthand experience in teamwork, which cannot be taught in the classroom. Exposure to an area of research also enhances the students’ career choice in the future.”

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