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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.”

Posted in Biology, CNAS, CNAS faculty | Tagged | 1 Comment

CNAS Faculty & Staff Awards 2017 Results

CNAS recognized outstanding faculty and staff for the sixth year at a reception held on April 28, 2017.  The award winners were nominated by departmental personnel committees, department heads or students.  The nominations were then reviewed by a faculty committee for the faculty/staff awards and by a student committee for the student-nominated award.  We are proud to announce the following award winners for 2017!  The award winners receive a certificate and a small monetary award.

CNAS Excellence Award – Staff

  • Ben Dalton – Laboratory Supervisor, Department of Biology
  • Sarah Morrissey – Administrative Assistant, Cooperative Engineering Program
  • Linda Allen – Administrative Assistant, Department of Chemistry

Ben Dalton, laboratory assistant for the department of biology does consistently excellent work in a job that requires flexibility, patience and outstanding organizational skills.  He serves the college as coordinator of the Region VII Science Olympiad with over 1000 students participating in 2016 and the SW Region of Missouri Junior Academy of Science.  He also recruits and oversees the judges for the Ozarks Science and Engineering Fair.  Ben serves the biology department by serving as an academic advisor for pre-vet students and coordinating many aspects of the department head’s research lab.

Sarah Morrissey, administrative assistant for the cooperative engineering program, is introduced during tours of the department in the following way, “This is Sarah, the fountain of knowledge for the Engineering program.”  Sarah coordinates all of the administrative work for the cooperative engineering program – interacting with both Missouri State University staff and Missouri S&T staff on a regular basis.  Sarah always has a smile on her face and that smile is the first thing you see when you enter the office complex for engineering.

Linda Allen, administrative assistant for the department of chemistry, goes above and beyond in performing her duties for chemistry.  She organizes class schedules in consultation with the department head, administers most p-cards in the department and supervises office student workers.  She provides administrative support to several departmental committees and takes care of all routine tasks – all of this with a level of professionalism that is exceptional.  Linda is always willing to answer questions from her peers.

CNAS Faculty Excellence in Service Awards

  • Matt Pierson – Cooperative Engineering
  • Matt Siebert – Chemistry
  • Brian Greene – Biology
  • Brian High – Chemistry
  • Michelle Bowe – Biology

Matt Pierson, associate professor in the cooperative engineering program, serves as faculty advisory for the student chapters of American Society of Civil Engineers and Missouri Society of Professional Engineers as well as for the steel bridge and concrete canoe teams that compete each year.  He serves on the Springfield/Green County Environmental Taskforce and the City of Springfield Stormwater Taskforce.  He plans and conducts Discovery Engineering Day each February and assists with Math Counts and model bridge contest –all MSPE events.

Matt Siebert, assistant professor in department of chemistry currently serves as immediate past chair of the Ozarks section of the American Chemical Society (the end of the three year commitment.)  He reviews articles for two professional journals and he is the administrator of the chemistry department’s website.   Matt serves as faculty advisory for Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society and a co-advisor for the Premedical Society.   He served as the campus champion for NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program.

Brian Greene, associate professor of biology, has chaired the university’s animal care and use committee for the past eight years.  This committee requires significant time and effort including shepherding colleagues’ protocols through the review process.  Brian also serves on the university’s Honors and academic appeals committees; coordinates the department’s seminar series; and serves as the faculty sponsor for the University Running Club.   Finally, Brian is active on committees for the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Brian High, senior instructor in the department of chemistry, chairs the department safety committee, which recently developed a safety checklist for lab TA’s, students and stockroom workers.  He also serves on the CNAS IT and Awards Committees.  As a member of the departmental dual credit committee Brian sponsored many visits by dual credit high school classes and many others.  Brian is the departmental expert on the use of Camtasia, mastering chemistry clickers and adobe products.

Michelle Bowe, senior instructor in the department of biology, is the curator of the MSU Herbarium that requires supervision of students and active preparation and cataloging of specimens.  She responds promptly to outside requests from the herbarium.  She is the faculty advisor for the Optometry Club and serves on the college’s equipment repair committee.  Michelle is professionally active in the Missouri Native Plant Society.

CNAS Faculty Excellence in Research Awards

  • Bob Pavlowsky – Geography, Geology and Planning
  • Kyoungtae Kim – Biology
  • Peter Plavchan – Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science
  • Albert Barreda – Hospitality Leadership

Bob Pavlowsky, distinguished professor in the department of geography, geology and planning secured $522,000 in external funding in 2016 and supported seven graduate students in his research group.   In 2016 the group published nine peer reviewed publications and/or technical reports.  The group made presentations at four regional/national conferences including Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium, Annual Conference of the American Association of Geographers, Annual Conference of the Geological Society of America and the Binghamton Geomorphology Conference.  These studies looked at Mark Twain National Forest, mining contamination along Big River in SE Missouri, continued studies in Jamaica and local studies of PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and metal contamination in urban areas.

Kyoungtae Kim, professor in the department of biology, has published six peer-reviewed journal articles with his students as co-authors in the last two years.  Over the same time his students have given 26 research presentations at both regional and national conferences.   The lab’s research interests lie in understanding the molecular mechanisms of endocytosis and endocytic and recycling traffics. Understanding these mechanisms in budding yeast (similar to cancer) might help shed light on the mechanism responsible for cancer cell motility and may providing alternative drug targets.

Peter Plavchan, assistant professor in the department of physics, astronomy and materials science studies the radial velocities of exoplanets. He has received funding from NASA, NASA-Missouri Space Grant Consortium and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  In 2016 he authored eight peer-reviewed publications and gave nine invited research seminar presentations in Missouri and California.  He has involved many students in his work – high school students, undergraduate students and now graduate students.  Peter is passionate about his research and transfers that passion to the students in his research group.  Peter recently received funding from NASA to investigate the scientific feasibility of a space mission to search for exoplanets, or planets like ours orbiting nearby stars.

Albert Barreda, assistant professor in the department of hospitality leadership has authored six peer-reviewed publications since the fall of 2015 and currently has six articles under review!  He has made presentations at national and international conferences this past year.  Albert’s research covers a number of diverse topics such as consumer perception of knowledge-sharing in travel-related online social networks and who are the bulls and bears in global lodging markets.  His most recent presentation looked at pricing practices in large scale sporting events – a Case of Rio de Janeiro during the FIFA World Cup.

 CNAS Faculty Excellence in Teaching Awards

  •  Doug Gouzie – Geography, Geology and Planning
  •  Brian Greene – Biology
  •  Rajinder Jutla – Geography, Geology and Planning
  •  Laszlo Kovacs – Biology
  •  Mark Rogers – Mathematics
  •  Matt Siebert – Chemistry

 Doug Gouzie, professor in the department of geography, geology and planning is graduate director for the department.  Both his teaching and the well-being of undergraduate and graduate students are his main priority.   Student evaluations are consistently outstanding for principles of geology (100-level), speleology (300 level) and geohydrology (graduate level).  Two of Doug’s graduate students successfully defended their MS thesis and graduated in 2016.  All good instructors in GGP lead field trips and Doug is no exception to this.  He has led one day and weekend field trips to Ouachita Mountains, Round Spring Cave and Bluff Dwellers Cave.

Brian Greene, associate professor in the department of biology, consistently receives outstanding evaluations from students across the range of courses that he teaches – including general ecology, conservation biology, animal population methods and herpetology.  Brian also mentors students in his lab – last year seven graduate students and two undergraduate students.  His students were co-authors on four conference presentations (2 state and 2 international). He also serves as advisor for 58 biology majors.

Raj Jutla, professor in the department of geography, geology and planning taught courses from 100 level to graduate level – understanding cities, geography of south Asia, history and introduction to planning, communication techniques in planning and site planning and design.  He completed the assessment report for planning 100 this past year and supervised five undergraduate students conducting independent research projects.  Raj also plans appropriate field trips for his classes.

Laszlo Kovacs, professor in the department of biology, revised BIO235, Genetics, in the past year and has also developed a new course called Genome Biology.  He also wrote the laboratory manual for genetics.  Laszlo is currently working with 2 graduate students and 4 undergraduate students in his research lab. Laszlo serves as advisor for 34 biology students.

Mark Rogers, associate professor in the department of mathematics, has taught a variety of courses over the last five years to include MTH138 (pre-calculus), MTH181 (trigonometry), MTH 261 (Calculus I), MTH532 (introduction to abstract algebra), MTH533 (linear algebra), and MTH732 (Abstract Algebra II).  Mark receives outstanding evaluations for each course and every semester he writes new lecture notes making his approach to classes fresh every time he teaches it.  Last year Mark’s graduate student successfully defended his thesis.

Matt Siebert, assistant professor in the department of chemistry, has taught organic chemistry courses for the past several years.  He has enhanced the classes with supplemental “chemistry lectures on demand” – videos which were funded by an internal FCTL grant.  These videos allow students to revisit difficult concepts and study at their own pace.  Matt developed an intersession course “preparing for organic chemistry” that has been quite popular and he has submitted a manuscript to the Journal of Chemical Education highlighting the student success outcomes of the course.  He advises all chemistry undergraduate students who have declared pre-pharmacy.

CNAS Student Nominated Awards for Faculty/Staff Excellence

Fourteen faculty were nominated by students for this award and the nominees included Tina Hopper (BIO), Janice Greene (BIO), Erica Cox (BIO), Paul Schweiger (BIO), Paul Durham (BIO), La Toya Kissoon-Charles (BIO), Eric Bosch (CHM), Erich Steinle (CHM), Katie Fichter (CHM), Ken Vollmar (CSC), Raj Jutla (GGP), Yungchen Cheng (MTH), Les Reid (MTH) and Jorge Rebaza (MTH).  In the words of the students, these faculty/staff truly understand the power of knowledge and they are always willing to help.  They provide a learning environment where every student has the potential to succeed.   One student also said that the nominee was the most effective teacher that he had ever had!  The students chose four award winners this year.

  • Yungchen Cheng, MTH  – For showing exemplary dedication to students that needed more help past office hours.
  • Jorge Rebaza – For going above and beyond his duties as a professor.
  • Ken Vollmar – For encouraging non-traditional students to pursue a college degree regardless of the circumstances surrounding their decision.   
  • Eric Bosch – For having a positive and influential impact on students and for showing unequaled passion in chemistry.

 Atwood Research and Teaching Award

The Atwood Research and Teaching Award was endowed by Dr. Jerry Atwood a 1964 graduate of MSU and now an internationally known chemist.  He started his career at University of Alabama in 1967 but was the department head at University of Missouri-Columbia from 1994 to 2016.  In addition, he was appointed a Curators Professor starting in 1999.  The award winner receives a certificate and $1500 to be spent over the next year on students, research supplies, summer salary or travel.

The 2017 recipient of the Atwood Research and Teaching Award is Bob Mayanovic from the department of physics, astronomy and materials science.

Dr. Mayanovic’s research group studies synchroton x-ray studies of condensed matter, materials in supercritical aqueous fluids, high pressure-temperature studies and mineral physics.  His group has seven peer-reviewed publications in 2016 and three published in 2017.   Bob and his students made 23 presentations at conferences over the last five years.   In recent years, Bob has received external funding from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.  Today he is working on a project with a local company.  Bob has supervised seven undergraduate research projects over the past five years and as many graduate thesis projects.  He currently has six graduate students working on their thesis research projects.  Bob’s passion for teaching and mentoring is strong and enduring.  He teaches everything from PHY203 and 204 – Foundations of physics to modern physics, experiments in modern physics and introduction to materials science.  His teaching evaluations are always outstanding.  During senior exit interviews with the department head, many students have noted Dr. Mayanovic’s positive influence on their lives.

Posted in Biology, Chemistry, CNAS, CNAS faculty, CNAS Staff, CNAS students, Computer Science, Engineering, Geography Geology and Planning, Hospitality Leadership, Mathematics, Physics Astronomy and Materials Science | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CNAS Undergraduate Research Day & Graduate Interdisciplinary Forum 2017 Results

THE 8th ANNUAL CNAS UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH DAY was held on Friday, April 28.  There were 65 poster presentations in a variety of categories.  Pictures and abstracts of all presentations will soon be posted at http://science.missouristate.edu/Undergraduate-Research-Day.htm  The following CNAS Faculty mentored the student projects this year:

  • Mahua Biswas (PAMS)
  • Dan Crafts (HL)
  • Rohit Dua (EGR)
  • Paul Durham (BIO)
  • Katye Fichter (CHM)
  • Nikolay Gerasimchuk (CHM)
  • Razib Iqbal (CSC)
  • Kyoungtae Kim (BIO)
  • La Toya Kissoon-Charles (BIO)
  • Laszlo Kovacs (BIO)
  • Chris Lupfer (BIO)
  • Alicia Mathis (BIO)
  • Sean Maher (BIO)
  • Ron Malega (GGP)
  • Robert Mayanovic (PAMS)
  • Matt McKay (GGP)
  • Gary Michelfelder (GGP)
  • Tayo Obafemi-Ajayi (CSC/EGR)
  • Theresa Odun-Ayo
  • Bob Pavlowsky (GGP)
  • Peter Plavchan (PAMS)
  • Jorge Rebaza (MTH)
  • Michael Reed (PAMS)
  • Les Reid (MTH)
  • Chuck Rovey (GGP)
  • Ridwan Sakidja (PAMS)
  • Matt Siebert (CHM)
  • Patrick Sullivan (MTH)
  • Ryan Udan (BIO)
  • Alexander Wait (BIO)
  • Matthew Wright (MTH)
  • Keiichi Yoshimatsu (CHM)

Biology: Ecology, Conservation and Wildlife

1st Place:  Kenzie Medley


Faculty Advisor: Alicia Mathis


2nd Place:  Katy Gardner


Co-Author: Ben Dalton

Faculty Advisor: Alicia Mathis


Biology: Cellular, Microbiology and Genetics

1st Place:  Abbigale Mabary


Co-Authors:  Thomas Freeman, Angeline Rodriguez, Hazar Abysalamah

Faculty Advisor: Christopher Lupfer


2nd Place:  Jared Smothers


Co-Author:  Uma Saimani 

Faculty Advisor: Kyoungtae Kim



1st Place:  Amber Zurliene, Katee Moor, Kendra Larsen

RECOMBINANT EXPRESSION OF Pfu dna polymerase in e. coli

Faculty Advisor: Keiichi Yoshimatsu


2nd Place:  Brennon Foster


Faculty Advisor: Katye Fichter


Computer Science

1st Place:  Jeff Dale, Radeeb Bashir, Robert Norton, Jiangfeng Pian, Roman Wisdom


Faculty Advisor:  Razib Iqbal


2nd Place:  Mark Godsy, Ryan Jenkins, Andrew Byrd, Derick Hockett, Matthew Addler, Brent Eaves, Tara Walton


Faculty Advisor:  Razib Iqbal



1st Place:  Alex Cook, Calvin Roebuck, Carter Knuckles


Faculty Advisor: Rohit Dua


2nd Place:  Chris Eakins, T. J. Orlandi, David Vernier


Faculty Advisor: Rohit Dua


Geography, Geology and Planning

1st Place:  Brad Dishman


Faculty advisor: Charles Rovey


2nd Place:  Josh Hess


Faculty Advisor: Robert Pavlowsky


Hospitality Leadership

1st Place:  Rebecca Rice, Carly Sherman, Alec Shlater, Morgan Schuette, Zachary Stonecipher


Faculty Advisor:  Dan Crafts


2ND Place:  Julia Bliss, Rachel Bower, Abbey Brinkley, Zach Bruckerhoff, Hannah Chu


Faculty Advisor:  Dan Crafts



1st Place:  Adam Somers


Faculty Advisor: Les Reid


2nd Place:  Daniel Ayasse


Faculty Advisor: Matthew Wright


Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science

1st Place:  Ryan Hall


Faculty Advisor:  Peter Plavchan


2nd Place:  Jesse A. Underwood


Faculty Advisor:  Robert Mayanovic and Ridwan Sakidja



Fifty-two graduate students from CNAS presented their results at the Graduate College Interdisciplinary Forum.  All abstracts are posted at http://graduate.missouristate.edu/currentstudents/IDF.htm  The following CNAS Faculty mentored student projects this year:

  • Chris Barnhart (BIO)
  • Albert Barreda (HL)
  • Rich Biagioni (CHM)
  • Mahua Biswas (PAMS)
  • Eric Bosch (CHM)
  • Dave Cornelison (PAMS)
  • Toby Dogwiler (GGP)
  • Paul Durham (BIO)
  • Kevin Evans (GGP)
  • Nick Gerasimchuk (CHM)
  • Kartik Ghosh (PAMS)
  • Doug Gouzie (GGP)
  • Brian Greene (BIO)
  • Melida Gutierrez (GGP)
  • Laszlo Kovacs (BIO)
  • Jun Luo (GGP)
  • Sean Maher (BIO)
  • Alicia Mathis (BIO)
  • Bob Mayanovic (PAMS)
  • Judy Meyer (GGP)
  • Xin Miao (GGP)
  • Gary Michelfelder (GGP)
  • Kevin Mickus (GGP)
  • Saibal Mitra (PAMS)
  • Bob Pavlowsky (GGP)
  • Peter Plavchan (PAMS)
  • Ridwan Sakidja (PAMS)
  • Alan Schick (CHM)
  • Paul Schweiger (BIO)
  • Matt Siebert (CHM)
  • Maria Stepanova (PAMS)
  • Tom Tomasi (BIO)

POSTER PRESENTATION Honorable Mention Awards to CNAS Students

Rachel Bradley – GGP

Geomorphic Disturbance and Anthropogenic Modifications in Big Barren Creek, Mark Twain National Forest, Southeast Missouri

Faculty Advisor – Bob Pavlowsky



 Zachary Wilson – CHM

Quantum Chemical Calculations Describing the Thermal Cracking of the Fatty Acid Methyl Ester Methyl Linoleate

Faculty Advisor – Matt Siebert


Joseph Nash – GGP

Monitoring engineered log structure implementation in the North Fork of the White River, Missouri Ozarks

Faculty Advisor – Bob Pavlowsky


ORAL PRESENTATION Honorable Mention Awards to CNAS Students

Stacy Armstrong Smith – GGP

Concentration and Trends for Summer Bacteria levels in Local Streams

Faculty Advisor – Bob Pavlowsky


Snow Popis – CHM

The Silver Cyanoximate Bullet:  Investigations into Biocidal Effects of Silver complexes in Medical Resins

Faculty Advisor – Nikolay Gerasimchuk


Kendell Loyd – BIO

Synchronization of Spawning by Temperature in Deertoe Mussel (Truncilla Truncata)

Faculty Advisor – Chris Barnhart


Zachary Harris – BIO

Long Non-Coding RNAs in Grapevine

Faculty Advisor – Laszlo Kovacs


Shah Alam Limon – PAMS

Iron Ion Transit in Ferritin Studied by Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Faculty Advisor – Maria Stepanova


Dylan Maag – BIO

First season results on the spatial ecology and habitat selection of pygmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius) in Southwestern Missouri

Faculty Advisor – Brian Greene


Michal Bulak – PAMS

Analogues of atmospheres of hot rocky planets outside of the solar system

Faculty Advisor – Dave Cornelison


Wesley Weichert – GGP

Cyclostratigraphic Trends of d13C in Upper Camrian Carbonate Cycles:  Implications for Astronmical Forcing

Faculty Advisor – Kevin Evans


Shannon Rentz – GGP

Incremental development of the magma reservoir beneath the Mogollon Datil Volcanic Field, New Mexico:  Insights from U-Pb geochronology and trace element geochemistry of zircon

Faculty Advisor – Gary Michelfelder

OTHER AWARDS to CNAS Students and Faculty

Outstanding TA – Kendall Loyd (BIO)

Posted in Biology, Chemistry, CNAS, CNAS Staff, CNAS students, Computer Science, Engineering, Geography Geology and Planning, Hospitality Leadership, Mathematics, Physics Astronomy and Materials Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alum, department head initiate new GO CAPS program

Alum Steve Nunn and physics, astronomy and materials science department head David Cornelison recently joined forces to develop a new program for GO CAPS focusing on the Matlab programming language and voice recognition.

Steve Nunn, 1978 alum of the engineering physics program, had an idea to spread his knowledge to future generations. He knew he had unique experience in voice recognition and hoped that by showcasing some cutting-edge technology, he could inspire the next work force to leap into STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math,-related careers.

He worked with Cornelison and the College of Natural and Applied Sciences to find the best way to reach out to these future scientists. They formed this course through GO CAPS.

The program, which introduces students to the MatLab scientific programming language, incorporates concepts from speech processing and voice recognition. Nunn has prior experience with voice recognition software—he taught scientific programming to college interns while he was at the Navy’s largest research and development laboratory.

About GO Caps

The Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies, or GO CAPS program, provides high school students with the chance to test drive future careers before they begin a four-year degree program. The program is a unique learning experience that introduces students to exciting careers in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. Missouri State, the College of Natural and Applied Sciences and the department of physics, astronomy and materials science are proud partners of GO CAPS.

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Civil engineering students compete in Arkansas

Student civil engineering teams were recently in Fayetteville, Arkansas April 21-22 to compete in steel bridge and concrete canoe competitions.

The steel bridge team was unfortunately disqualified during the construction round for missing a bolt and the bridge failed to hold the 2,500 pound required load.

The concrete canoe team braved heavy rain and cold temperatures to earn seventh place overall out of the 14 team competing. They also placed third in the women’s sprint.

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Unraveling geological history in the Middle East

Dr. Kevin MickusDr. Kevin Mickus, distinguished professor of geology, recently had his paper accepted by the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences.

That paper, which features two co-authors, focuses on Mickus’ research in the Western Desert of Iraq.

“We analyzed gravity and magnetic data for crustal structure,” said Mickus. “The goal was to determine the structure beneath the sedimentary rocks and relate them to the tectonic history of the region. We also wanted to determine the thickness of the sedimentary rocks and relate this to petroleum exploration.”

One of the co-authors was Ahmed Mouza, a visiting PhD student from Iraq who has his BS in geophysics from the University of Baghdad.

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The capacity to improve daily life

Two students working with a robot

“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” This famous quote may echo in the minds of some when the term “robot” is brought into a conversation. Though we don’t have fully autonomous, human-like robots just yet, they are being used for a number of jobs and functions already.

“Robots have been a significant part of our lives for quite some time,” said Anthony Clark, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri State University. “A large part of automated manufacturing and fabrication is completed with robots, and we are starting to see these industrial-style devices work their way into more applications, such as brewing coffee and preparing food. They are also used quite heavily in scientific exploration.”

Robots in centimeters

Clark’s research focuses on small—think centimeters—autonomous robots. He studies how the adaptability and robustness of robotic devices can be improved. To conduct this research, Clark uses different methods:

  • Evolutionary optimization – A population of robots compete against each other and the better robots are preferentially chosen to create the next generation.
  • Bioinspiration – Researchers take design ideas from living animals. For example, the flexibility of a fish’s caudal fin, or the adhesive properties of a gecko’s appendages.
  • Adaptive control theory – This includes a large amount of rigorously proven methods and practices for dealing with varying environmental conditions.
  • Soft robotics – Traditional rigid components and actuators are incorporated with flexible materials to improve the performance and safety of designs.

‘Robots have the capacity to improve lives’

Though a majority of robots are used in manufacturing, they can also be used in environments that are too hazardous for humans, such as locating victims during disaster recovery or assisting humans in dangerous occupations such as mining and firefighting.

Robots have also started being used in the field of health care.

“Two applications that we’ll see soon are in assistance and surgery,” said Clark. “Robotic devices are being developed to act as medical assistants where they can help check patient vitals and deliver medication at set times. This has the chance to bring down medical costs for people who cannot easily afford in-home caretakers.

“Robots are also being developed to aid in surgery and other in-hospital scenarios. The precision of robotic devices has the potential to reduce the risks of some surgical procedures.”

Robotics at Missouri State

As the field of robotics grows, so does the interest at Missouri State. Clark is currently working on an autonomous mobile robot that can adaptively adjust its traction, and some faculty members are using robots as tools in their work.

“We are in the early stages of creating a student robotics team, and several students have begun working on their own robot-based projects,” said Clark. “To address these interests, MSU’s library is establishing a robotics space where students can come check-out mobile robots and learn to program them.”

For more information, contact Clark at 417-836-5438.

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Students, faculty attend microbiology conference

From left to right: Jared Smothers, John ‘Wes’ Short, Hazar Abusalamah, Abbi Mabary, Chelsea Campbell, Angie Rodriguez, Sara Woodman, Mariel Delgado Cruz

Numerous CNAS faculty and students attended the annual joint meeting of the Missouri and Missouri Valley Branches of the American Society for Microbiology held March 17-18 on the Missouri State campus.

Dr. Paul Schweiger and Dr. Chris Lupfer were the organizing committee hosts for the meeting, and biology faculty emeritus Dr. Jack Steiert is the current society president.

The following awards were won by Missouri State biology students:

  • Marshal Blank won second place in the graduate general and environmental microbiology short talk category. His faculty adviser is Dr. Paul Schweiger.
  • Angeline Rodriguez won second place in the undergraduate short talk category. Her faculty adviser is Dr. Chris Lupfer.

Several students also presented at the conference:

  • Hazar Abysalamah
  • Marshal Blank
  • Chelsea Campbell
  • Mariel Delgado Cruz
  • Samantha Fredrickson
  • Abbigale Mabary
  • Pelin Makaraci
  • Angeline Rodriguez
  • John Short
  • Sara Woodman
  • Jared Smothers

Several additional students also attended the conference:

  • John Paul
  • Michael Pilkenton
  • Meagan Rippee
  • Ashley Prince
  • Justin Valdez

Several faculty also attended the conference:

  • Kyoungtae Kim
  • Christopher Lupfer
  • Paul Schweiger
  • Jack Steiert
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Student presents at KME convention

Math problems on a white boardMathematics student Hayley Hutson had the chance to present at the biennial National Convention of Kappa Mu Epsilon (KME), the National Mathematics Honor Society. The convention was held April 6-8 in Springfield.

“I got to give a presentation on the research I did this summer with Dr. Rebaza and Savannah Bates—from Jacksonville University—on stability analysis of a model of Zika virus,” said Hutson. “Presenting was nerve-wrecking. It was the largest crowd I’ve ever presented to, and public speaking is not my forte, but I think it went well.”

There were several workshops at the convention, ranging from R programming to origami to mathematical art.

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Professor, students publish paper on adaptive integration in flowers

Flowers in front of the PSUWhen planning a corporate event, each individual job is important and works together to make the event a success. If the venue for the event suddenly changes, every individual–the DJ, the caterer, the florist—have to adapt in order to make the event happen despite the change.

The same is true in nature—this is called adaptive integration.

Adaptive integration

“Flowers on the same plant can vary greatly in size,” said Dr. John Heywood, professor of biology. “If several flower parts interact to promote pollen removal and deposition by a pollinator, those parts must vary in a coordinated fashion across flowers in order to consistently promote successful pollination, a pattern that is referred to as adaptive integration.”

In flowers, this process has previously been difficult to demonstrate. Heywood’s team was able to demonstrate adaptive integration of flower parts in a Missouri prairie plant called Ruella humilis, or the common wild petunia, by including appropriate controls for background levels of correlation.

“Our study was also novel in that we were able to obtain separate estimates of integration in response to genetic and environmental sources of variation in flower size,” said Heywood. “This was important because adaptive integration should be apparent in the face of both genetic and environmental variation, whereas this is not necessarily the case for background correlations.”

The team, composed of Heywood and six undergraduate students, found strong evidence for genetic and environmental integration of flower parts that interact to promote the removal and deposition of pollen. Surprisingly, for other pairs of flower parts the patterns of genetic and environmental correlations were largely discordant, suggesting a lack of adaptive integration.

They published the study in “Annals of Botany.”

Involving students

This study was part of a larger project directed at understanding the consequences of a recent loss of pollination services in the Missouri population of this species.

“Obtaining separate estimates of genetic and environmental correlations between traits requires a large population of plants generated by an explicit breeding design, followed by precise measurements of multiple traits on several flowers per plant,” said Heywood.

Heywood emphasized the importance of student undergraduate research.

“There is nothing quite like learning something about the natural world that nobody before you has known,” said Heywood. “That kind of experience is often what inspires a student to pursue graduate studies with the goal of becoming a practicing scientist.”

Getting published

Heywood and six undergraduate biology students recently published a paper on their research project titled “Genetic and environmental integration of the hawkmoth pollination syndrome in Ruellia humilis (Acanthaceae)” in “Annals of Botany.”

The students who contributed to the article and project were:

  • Joseph Michalski
  • Braden McCann
  • Amber Russo
  • Kara Andres
  • Allison Hall
  • Tessa Middleton

“Data were collected over three years by a team of dedicated student researchers, without whom a project of this magnitude would not have been possible,” said Heywood.

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